Wednesday, 31 May 1995


Having been caught out by the weather last year, the next time we took an activity holiday abroad we headed south for the Provence cycling tour, starting at Nîmes (an easy journey by Eurostar and TGV). From a base south of Nîmes, we headed south to St Gilles which lies on the fringes of the Camargue. I would heartily recommend the Hôtel Le Cours there, for its cheap, filling, and authentic local meals - the 5 course meal for 92fr defeated me every time, even after long side-trips, such as south all the way to the Med at Stes. Maries de la Mer and back.

From St Gilles to Beaucaire, an unremarkable (indeed mildly squalid) little town, enlivened by falconry displays at the castle. They fly traditional hunting birds, owls (as shown here), eagles and even a vulture.


From there I also made a side trip to Avignon (that's the famous pont d'Avignon), and thence to St. Rémy de Provence, just north of the Alpilles, and van Gogh's retirement place. I would recommend a little crêperie there, but I can't recall its name.

The final stay was at the Pont du Gard, the famous Roman aqueduct, at the Hôtel Le Colombier (complete with dovecote) just half a mile away from the bridge on the outskirts of the town of Remoulins; and whose exquisite menu I would recommend.

Around the Pont itself, the river runs wide and shallow with sandy beaches suitable for swimming and sunbathing (it doesn't seem to matter to the locals even if you've not got a costume).

While swimming, Karen spotted a watersnake here.

Monday, 30 January 1995

Shen Kuei (3rd June 1983 - 30th Jan 1995)

A pedigree brown Burmese, who escaped from a life as a show cat by a sprinkling of creamy hairs (his mother was a cream Burmese) on one shoulder.

He was a very human-oriented cat, having grown up in a household with children, dogs and other cats, and acquired from his mother the art of opening door handles. Even when confronted with doorknobs, or sliding doors, he managed to achieve his intent by leaping up at the knob and then glaring at the nearest person. Very fixated on Karen, he would rarely allow other cats to share her lap (though he would curl up with any other cat if there was no lap available), and would scold her upon her return if she was away for any reason.

Being a pedigree cat, he also felt that he had no need to prove himself. Of course he was the boss; and of course he could help himself to scraps at any time - he often brought home bits of other peoples' Sunday lunch. Indeed, one time he tried walking off with a joint of lamb from our kitchen, and to dissuade him I doused him with the first thing to hand - the glass of wine I was carrying. He was a very squiffy puss when he'd finished cleaning himself up, and had acquired a taste for wine afterwards.

He remained the center of attention to the end, deciding to show the symptoms of a cancer the day before Karen's birthday, and expiring the following day.