As we have previously discussed, the Chateau comes to life when hosting families and friends, and never more so than in December. It is also at this time of the year when the writer is prone to contrasting the festivities in the Loire Valley with those of his own childhood –

Picture a grim Victorian terrace somewhere in Southampton. A gang of Teddy Boys smoke Woodbines as they shelter from the drizzle under a railway arch. A goods train passes overhead, belching out steam clouds, and the entire vista is in black & white; no one could afford to see in colour until 1996. Suddenly the writer’s father staggers through the front door –

Father: “There’s trouble at t’mill! “

Mother: “Which mill, dear?”

Father: “How should I know – I’m a quantity surveyor. Anyway, I am too tired to argue after spending 30 hours a day digging mineshafts”.

Mother: “But there are no mines in the Solent region”.

Father: “There are now. How else could I earn the 1/6d to buy the festive Christmas turnip for my beloved family?”.

Mother: “Have you been watching The Four Yorkshireman sketch again, dear?”

Father: “And Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, I like to blend my cultural stereotypes. And tell those kids to behave themselves; I work night and day to afford the fees to send them to the best Borstal in the county!”.

He exits for an evening at the Woodfall Films Memorial Hall playing dominoes with his whippets.

Happily, the Christmas holidays at the Chateau tend to be a good deal more upbeat, and we do look forward to welcoming you there in December 2023. You may even bring your own turnip, should you wish.

Merry Christmas.