Chateau do Bois Giraud has a multitude of uses – and at this time of the year, it is the ideal venue for a holiday from your Christmas holiday. For those of use of a certain nationality and age – British and born in the same year as the moon landing, Abbey Road and the Austin Maxi – the build-up to the celebrations does seem to have greatly extended. In days gone by, the weeks after Bonfire Night tended to be marked by Woolworths’ advertisements featuring Harry Worth or The Goodies and the local newsagent decked out in red tinsel.

But now, the commercial promotions appear to commence in September, and by the 1st of December, you are inundated by a certain Mariah Carey record. I have nothing against this artist – although I am more of a Johnny Halliday kind of a chap – but her disc adds to the sense of being virtually bombarded. It is not only the noise from the television and the incessant “jingles” on the radio; it is that sense of running, jumping and never daring to stand still.

And so, my thoughts turn to the grounds of the Chateau, not merely for their space but for the fact that they are timeless. The cacophony fades away, and even in early January, there are hints of spring. Of course, one would not wish the reader to gain the impression that my role model is Alastair Sim in Scrooge; if anyone is especially interested it is actually Peter Vaughan in  Smokescreen and nor have I been known to utter the word ‘humbug’ in wrath.

However, once the final Quality Street has been consumed and the last of the turkey vanishes from the ‘fridge, the gardens beckon, for a stroll in the brisk air. Scarf and coat are donned, and the lightest of frost crackles underfoot. There are far worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.