When I took my sabbatical to Malaysia and Borneo it was because I needed to. I needed to get away. With the exception of my folks and a couple of Skype calls to friends I didn’t really want company as such; well certainly not company that would remind me of why I had gone and who would be asking me ‘how I was’ etc etc – in fact just not having to talk about that was brilliant. I spent one week at the Perhentian Islands where it appeared most people felt the same, by day we’d all just sunbathe and do nothing and by day we’d congregate at the only little bar and chat the evening away over rum and coke or a Tiger beer; always good conversation but nothing too personal.
However, since being in France I’ve really missed company. I clearly came here for a different reason; I’ve loved what I’ve done and why I’m doing it but I have missed my friends and in all honesty I’m really looking forward to going home in a couple of weeks.
Which is why Burgundy and Beaujolais have been fantastic. As well as being stunningly beautiful I’ve also met up and chatted with loads of friends.
I stayed in Burgundy for six days in a fabulous little town called Beaune. It’s probably been my favourite place to stay so far. My friends Zoe and Fab joined me from Geneva on the Thursday night and stayed until Sunday and we had a blast. We drank lots, ate lots (including at a Michelin Star which I probably wouldn’t have done on my own), we did a great Pinot Noir tasting and tour and drove through the villages of the Cote d’Beaune seeing all the stunning vineyards. It was a great few days – non stop chatter, gossip and laughter. I’ve known Zoe for around 20 years and Fab for just three (although it feels so much longer) and it was just great to catch up with them both.
Beaujolais was my next stop. This is probably the prettiest place I have been to so far; the drive in is simply out of this world. I know I’ve talked about vineyards as far as the eye can see but this place has what the others haven’t so far… decent sized hills! So you do feel fully enveloped in it. As luck would have it Jimmy, my wine tutor from the West London Wine School happened to be here with his wife Beth on exactly the same two days as me. They kindly asked me to join them for lunch and tastings and quite simply it was a blast (well it was for me!) We had a super lunch where I tasted true coq au vin French style, a lovely walk through the hilly vines and then on to a tasting followed by another tasting the second day. I hadn’t really thought about ‘setting up’ tastings so it was great to do it with an expert (and gosh I had better not mess up any part of the Beaujolais part of the French Wine Scholar exam!) but at the same time people who have the same interests. It has been a super couple of days and I would like to thank them very much.
When I got back to the B&B I had a call from Carmen and Michelle – they were in The Monument, our post work stomping ground whenever we fancied a gossip or a rant. It was great for the three of us to connect up on FaceTime and it really felt like I wasn’t away.
I’m thoroughly excited that my friend Sue is joining me on Saturday for the final week of the trip where we’re going to be living it up in the Champagne region.
I guess the point of me writing this – as well as giving a few bits into the places I’ve stayed is that a) whilst I do like ‘me’ time I much prefer ‘us’ time and I’ve come to the realisation that whilst the last few weeks have been awesome and just what the doctor ordered, London and the UK are my home; I miss it, I miss my friends and sometimes you need to be away to appreciate just how good you’ve got it. Looking forward to seeing them all when I get back.