237.

It's bon voyage to Blighty again, this time to the quaint and peaceful town of Pons, though it's really little bigger than a village, via La Rochelle.
I flew with Sleazy Jet in their brand spanking new Airbus A300 Neon, and how pleasant it was. They’ve totally redesigned the interior cigar tube, giving it a bright and airy feel, it’s quieter too with a much more roomier feel.
I’m no big fan of air travel, having spent much of the 90’s flying back and forth to NYC, but it was actually a pleasant flight, it may also have been the fact that it was only an hour and ten minute flight and I'd already been on the G & T before boarding.
La Rochelle is a beautiful, affluent coastal town, with picturesque bars and cafés stretching along the length of its attractive harbour.
Whilst sat sipping my drink, I couldn’t fail but notice how healthy and glowing most of the French looked, as they cycled and strolled by. Not shy of their food and drink, I wondered how we Brits get it so wrong in this department and then I thought, it’s the quality of our food.
The French eat far better, whilst we choose quantity over quality, epicurean food satisfies the mind and body like no amount of fodder food can.
My hotel room was simple and adequate, as I’d only be staying the one night, and most of that would be spent trawling the bars and eateries in town.
I found a delightful bar just off the front; 'Le Vinophone' run by two men who clearly love their vinyl, with a little record deck sat on the end of the bar. The rose wine was the palest, most delicate I’ve ever tasted, all I needed now was a lovely pate, ‘Voila,’ I love this place!
The following morning I awoke to find the town had been taken over by a Triathlon, and yet even more healthy looking French people in their one-piece running/swimming/cycling kit, there was much ogling amongst the women, and a few of the men too.
Still, I had a train to catch at the beautiful Garde de La Rochelle to Pons, it was 30 degrees outside and felt good to be in the cool whitewashed building.
Arriving in Pons, friends picked me up and took me to their beautiful home, a converted school with double sized ceilings, lush garden, panoramic views out over the French countryside and a swimming pool, which I didn’t hesitate to dive into; what's not to like?
Of my five days there I ventured out just once, a few miles down the road to a Cognac distillery, where I was shown the large copper stills and a room full of oak barrels wherein the cognac rested, gently ageing. I tried some but it really isn’t to my taste, so instead, I bought a case of their wine at a ridiculous price, less than £30, it tasted very good indeed.
With my phone switched off (yes, you can do it too), I spent my time in lengthy conversation, cooking, drinking fine wine, reading, pruning the flowers, dipping into the pool on the hour to cool off (I’m no sun worshipper, I just go red), and watching ridiculously kitsch movies in the cinema room in the evenings.
It all went far too quickly, my friends’ hospitality was both kind and generous, and I left refreshed and refuelled, I look forward to returning again next year; au revoir.

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