The best house in the world

Just got back from a short trip to France, staying in the loveliest house in the world.

This is the house that features in Pear-shaped, when Sophie and James go to France.   It belongs to my friends Sophie and Sean who very generously let me stay there and make up all sorts of rude shennanigans*. The house has this cool window onto the swimming pool that I am a bit obsessed with.

It’s in a tiny village on the river Aude, in the Languedoc – very pretty:

But more importantly home of some exceptional wine, like this bone dry pale rose Pinot Gris from Gerard Bertrand.   Bertrand is an ex international rugby player, looks like super-fox Vincent Cassel and is one of France’s best wine-makers, working in an area called La Clape (insert cheap joke here.)

We went to his vineyard and restaurant, L’Hospitalet, in the hills above Narbonne, for lunch.

The chef there sure likes to gussy up a tomato:

But not as much as the chef at the place we went to for dinner, La Distellerie (both meals excellent.)

But here’s what I like to do best with a tomato:

Sprinkle salt on it and eat alongside a piece of still warm freshly baked baguette, a thin spread of butter and a slightly thicker spread of Boursin style garlicky cream cheese.   Then retire to the pool with a Kate Atkinson, a cold glass of wine and the anticipation of The Thick of It on DVD for when the sun goes down.  Simple pleasures.  Simple pleasures with butter and Malcolm Tucker.

*When my mother found out I was returning to this house, she asked if I was going to be gallivanting around naked and getting involved in weird Barbie doll role play, as per the book.  Aside from the fact that last time I went to the house was with my mate Mavis, with whom there was zero nudity, my mother seems convinced that everything I write is true.   I’m not sure whether to be insulted or flattered: does my mum think I’m entirely lacking in the powers of imagination, or is it some sort of backhanded compliment – my writing is so vivid she cannot BELIEVE it is not real.  Hmmm.  Wait till she reads the scene I’ve cooked up with Vincent Cassel, Alec Baldwin and me in a hot tub, in book two. Then I’m really going to get an earful…

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