“Where is it then?” asks Karl-Heinz. We are presiding over our habitual lazy breakfast on the terrace at the shack in France. A few softly boiled eggs, yokes oozing and richly yellow, gifted to us by our friend JC the farmer… a little creamy yoghurt with some mountain honey…a few croissants and some home made jam, the ‘usual’.
“It’s up there”, I say gesturing toward the hill beside the house, the crown of which is covered in trees making it impossible to see. Karl-Heinz squints toward it, nods emphatically – plan hatched. Stepney, likes an adventure and I can already see that he will be part of the expedition party. DJ Ozz, a slightly less willing accomplice sees his sunbed time slipping away for that day, resigns himself to the reality, squares his shoulders and takes part in the tactical debate on how best to scale the beast to it’s summit…
We begin the first dishwasher ‘run’ of the day, putting the detritus of our breakfast away and after a few yawns and stretches we wander down to the swimming pool to claim our spot for the next few hours. Mata-Hari and myself remain curiously quiet whilst the expedition is plotted and we wave off the intrepid three cheerfully, content that we weren’t roped in.
“They aren’t really dressed for it are they?” observes Mata, as the boys shuffle away in their skimpy shorts and T shirts, the only concession being the donning of trainers in place of the ubiquitus designer flip flops…
A few turns of the page later, just time for the whisper of bamboo grass in the gentle breeze…raucous laughter in the distance.
Peace disturbed… so Mata stands, hand to forehead, squinting toward the house in the brilliance of the day… “they’re coming” she says quickly lying back down and we close our eyes in mock nochalance.
Giggling and looking slightly dishevelled the expedition returns…. they are keen to tell us, that they were in grave danger. Stepney has grass ‘skids’ on his pure white shorts. Apparantly they were chased by a ‘rabid dog’…fell down, we think, whilst running away from some imagined foe.
A few cold beers over our lunch of sardines on crusty toast with ‘JC’s brother’s tomatoes’, the story has been embellished… a few V&T’s and G&T’s before dinner and those boys could give Ranulph Feinnes a run for his money….A few Armangacs late into the night and they were injured, war torn, ravaged by the experience…
“But did you find the Chateau?” enquires Mata….
“Nearly, very nearly”…comes the reply.