Away from the snow and blizzards of the UK, I have the wonderful Caroline James sitting round my pool and talking about her amazing press trip!
Take it away Caroline.....
How glorious it is today, sitting by your lovely pool, chilling out and chatting.
You've been asking me all afternoon (as we sip the most delicious white wine) to tell you about my job. Well, when I'm relaxing the last thing I want to think about is work but the sunshine and the water and the balmy heady air make me think of a trip I went on a few years ago, under the guise of 'work'…
"Come and do a press trip with me darling!" My client was insistent and I was easily persuaded - how could anyone turn down a jaunt to France to promote a new cookery school? I set off on a murky Monday morning from Manchester and soon arrived in Bordeaux in brilliant sunshine. I skipped through customs and was immediately enveloped in the warm embrace of Helena and Joline - my client and her school hostess who was a large red-head with a bolster-like bosom that bounced as she swept along in her vivid scarlet and yellow layers; a rainbow racing ahead of me! We flew along the highway in Helena's little Citroen and reached the more tranquil roads that led through the tree lined avenues of the Charente. Our destination lay in a curve, set back from the road with a lavender field to the front. I can still remember the overpowering aroma of the lavender. The property was an old farmhouse, formerly the childhood home of President Mitterrand and the gracious lime washed building welcomed us as the afternoon sun sparkled on the glistening water in the swimming pool - just as it does on your pool today. We relaxed and drank champagne as other guests arrived and assembled themselves around the pool. Journalists from around the globe partook of Helena's hospitality and after a languorous afternoon, we retired to freshen up then assembled again for a sumptuous dinner at a long table, laden with flowers from the garden, under the stars in the courtyard.
The next few days drifted by in lazy haze of pleasure. We were taken to local markets in the mornings or a trip to a porcelain factory or winery and in the afternoon cooked alongside Helena and her team, learning all about French cookery and how to make delicious dishes and sauces. Stimulating conversation (much as I am enjoying with you!) ensued at dinner and lasted long into night. On my final day I had to borrow an alarm clock as I was leaving early and Sally Burton, a journalist for the Mail on Sunday, kindly lent me a little gold clock in a red leather case. As I sat up in bed and set the clock, I noticed the initials engraved on the case - RB. I realised that this had belonged to the world renowned actor Richard Burton, for Sally was his fifth wife until his death in 1984. Holding the clock sent shivers down my spine. In the morning, a gentle chime woke me and I climbed out of bed and crossed the cool pine floor to throw open the wooden shutters. Swallows dive-bombed the mirror-like pool and beyond the lavender bushes I could see fields of giant sunflowers - a golden carpet swaying gently in the breeze. At that moment, I felt as happy as I have ever felt - a moment in time to immortalise in my memory bank. Very much like this moment Pauline - sitting with you, re-living the past!
Oh your glass is empty… here let me fill it and listen to you. Enough talk of me and my work. It’s a tough job, but someone's got to do it!
Caroline James Links: