The following brief article was published in the Brisbane Courier Mail some years back.
It says a lot about who I am and what I like.
The Best Day of my Life
Yes, I spent this day with my wife, but it wasn't our wedding day nor the birth of our first child. We barely knew each other then, anyway. The day savoured in my memory came with the ease of twenty years together and after our teenaged children had waved us off at the airport.
We woke in Paris, took the Metro to Gare du Nord where a Peugeot 307 was waiting with just 1.5 kilometres on the clock. I'd never driven a brand new car and certainly not on the wrong side of the road, so it was a white knuckle ride between traffic snarls. Then, miraculously, the road opened onto a shirtsleeves autumn day. Quickly, on to Malsherbes before the boulangeries close at 12.30!
With the baguette secured and the camembert softening on the dashboard we could afford a more leisurely drive through rich farmland and a dozen greystone villages that were already old when Lieutenant Cook stepped aboard the Endeavour. At Bellegarde we discovered our first chateau, abandoned and dilapidated inside but the rose garden was straight out of Beauty and the Beast.
By mid-afternoon we'd arrived at Sandillon and turned into Le Hotel Lion D'Or where the landlord showed us to a top floor room with raked ceiling and an ensuite built for pygmies. But the window opened to a planter box of geraniums and a view directly down the main street. I stood at that window for hours, watching the comings and goings of village life, the men to the betting shop and the women to the patisserie or into the church with an armful of flowers. The friendly call of 'Bonjour, ca va,' drifted up to my foreigner's ears, the shadows lengthened and my wife settled in beside me to share what I found so fascinating. I'd be standing there still, if I could.