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Les Armures : A Meeting 20 Years Ago Today

I met my husband 20 years ago tonight.

I had just left the UK for a new job in France having had my heart broken by a boyfriend I had known since school. I had this rather optimistic idea that if he and I met in London, one last time, I could persuade him to drop everything he was doing and start a new life with me. That failed, so not wanting to invest any more precious time in him, I decided to accept the new job I had been offered on the Swiss/French border.

I took the plane to Geneva on 23rd September 1987 and checked into the Hotel de France. I knew that when I arrived I was expected to attend a dinner at a restaurant in Geneva’s Old Town. I was starting a new job at Digital in Fernery-Voltaire and the team I was about to work with were gathering that night to eat.

It was a peculiar evening – I was tired and newly arrived, and found myself amongst a group of mostly British ex-pats (funny how Brits never refer to themselves as immigrants) – clever, technical, well-travelled young people eating Swiss cuisine in this dark medieval restaurant, with a discreet waiter service, suits of armour in every crevice, dark oak tables and candlesticks.

It was like every dreadful fake medieval evening I had attended at former works ‘dos’ in the UK, but without being dreadful or fake. This place, if not everyone in it (as it turned out), was wonderful and I was part of it.

I was introduced to R who would become my husband, that evening. He was an intensely bright Scot with a First Class Honours degree and whose intelligence was so sharp that he quickly became the favourite in the office amongst management and some of the older female workers too. That lead to some problems for me, but that is another story.

You can read his blog here.

Driving to France : The Chateau de Fere

We left Devon this morning at 6:00am on our way to Le Biot in France. It is a 900 mile journey so we have to stop over, and this time we booked one night at the Chateau de Fere near Reims.

Chateau de Fere Ruins and CastleThe chateau is an intimate french castle (if you can imagine such a thing) with gourmet dining. It’s quiet, mild-mannered and refined. That said, you don’t have to dress especially for dinner, although most people did. And one family had young children, but they were obviously used to surroundings like these and sat like miniature adults. And thankfully like everyone else, they appeared immune to the paucity of children’s options.

We drank a 1986 Chateau Bergat which was very nice. The castle borders Champagne so you can pick up some wonderful sparkling wine of the region on your travels.

Two men were fencing in the shadows of the ruined castle, enclosed by its waterless moat. It gave the place quite an ethereal feel – almost as if we were in the 21st century but fully expecting that our faces were ghostily discernible to those in another time. Well I liked it. We will stay here again. And the staff were helpful and welcoming.

Most of the foreign cars (in fact all I think) were British and of the upmarket variety. BMWs, Mercedes, Range Rovers . . .

In the morning we took to the road and 7 hours later arrived in Geneva with only a few miles to go to arrive at our French home. High up in the mountains the chalet was just as we left it.