Today we visited my friends Jo & Gaeton. I first met Jo in 1998 when I was on holiday with Penny in Bandol. Jo a singer, was performing in one of the many bars which line the promenade of Bandol. Penny & I had had one too many wines and duly introduced ourselves to Jo, giving him a red rose as a token of our affection! He still remembers the occasion! Since then, we have become good friends, spending holidays together and many wonderful evenings. I always enjoyed Jo’s performances which include lots of dancing however, poor Jo has fallen off the stage and broken 3 bones in his foot….it’s the first time in 25 years he will not be able to perform for at least 2 months. His stage name is Joseph Pepino and you can hear him sing on this link.
Jo & his partner, Gaeton, live in a village called, Boissieres, an area not far from Nimes. Their house is 1450 years old and is an incredible building. They live on the upper floor and have beautiful views far across the valley and to the hills in the distance. A circular tower is still evident in the building which Jo explained would have been much taller, however, during the French revolution when the aristocracy were being beheaded, they also cut down the height on towers of noblemen’s houses, as a tall tower indicated wealth. Stone staircases led to many different levels and they have several terraces to sit and relax depending on the direction of the sun. A sunken pool in a stone courtyard reminded me of Riad’s in Morocco. It was a very interesting property and I loved it.
Gaeton cooked a delicious lunch and afterwards we took the dogs for a walk on a beautiful sunny day in the surrounding countryside.
Gaeton is committed to preserving the authenticity of the village and has been instrumental in creating helpful information for people visiting the village. It was his idea to stencil the ‘wild boar’ motifs on pavements indicating a route to follow around the village. Signs can be found written in both French & English on those sites of interest.
We arrived at lunchtime, parked the van at the base of the steep single track road which takes you to Penny’s house and called them to let them of our plan, as we thought this would be the safest option to avoid getting stuck either by not being able to drive up the hill as we weigh 4.25 tons or not being able to turn into Penny’s drive which has a very acute right hand turn and as we are 7.5m long, we need a lot of room to get our back end in!
Penny & John arrived and after discussing our issues, it was decided that as the road sign stated an allowance of 8t, we would risk running the gauntlet to Penny’s drive. John got in the van with me….yes, I was still driving! Carlos went with Penny in her car. I am not sure what John thought of being a passenger in our van as it choked it’s way up the hill collecting various tree branches as we went along. Still, we made it to the top where Penny & Carlos were waiting for us and on viewing the entrance, I thought there was no way we would ever get into Penny’s drive and even if we did, then absolutely no way could we attempt to drive the van down towards the house which was a steep gravel drive with deep gullies on one side.
John & Carlos thought it would be possible with a bit of manoeuvring and that the van would just fit with a squeeze at the very top of Penny’s drive. It was at this point I handed the van over to Carlos….my legs were shot and I just could not face another mis-hap with the chassis. Carlos took a chunk out of the neighbouring field but he did it and here is the photograph to prove it!
A well deserved glass of wine was had by all and as luck would have it, the sun was shining and we were able to have lunch on the veranda overlooking the magnificent view to the valley below.
Penny’s garden is beautiful with rows of olive trees gracing the terraces as well as newly planted vines, which should produce wine in four years time. Can’t wait to taste the wine from the grapes.