The following brief article was
published in the Brisbane Courier Mail some years
It says a lot about who I am
and what I like.
The Best Day of my Life
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
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 Captain Cook stepped aboard the
Endeavour. At Bellegarde we discovered our first
chateau, abandoned and dilapidated inside impressive 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
I'd be standing there still,
if I could.