Wine and Food Diary of Giles MacDonogh

A Dash for the Sun

Written by Giles MacDonogh

A Dash for the Sun

Posted: 1st October 2020

In the middle of September I made a dash for Provence for a last look at the sun. Mainland Europe was and remains blighted by COVID. A half empty Eurostar took us to the Gare du Nord, then a packed regional express train to the Gare de Lyon. As I shuffled to make space I noted that a fair number of French people are as unaware as Britons that their noses are connected to their respiratory systems, although many more obey the rules. We stopped at the usual place for a beer and a sandwich, then took the TGV the rest of the way.

Again the train was not full, but the people fidgeted, unhappy with the obligation to wear masks. Noses came out, then when the inspectors had made their rounds some coverings were discretely discarded. One plump woman had thought up a wizard wheeze: if she ate she was not required to mask up. She had invested in a multi-pack of Maltesers and popped them all the way to Avignon.

For once the car rental was acquitted in a trice and thirty minutes later we were in the Ventoux Valley on our way to the Domaine des Anges. It was all very different: there was no haunch of Boris in the freezer, but the boar had been round alright and had quite methodically churned up the patch of lawn outside the door. Our host was on hand with cool champagne and a cold collation, but we were just four at table: a far cry from the noisy September meetings of the past. Our convives were tucked up behind bolted doors in Ireland and Portugal, and were much missed.

The next morning I went out to look for figs. There were plenty of little green ones on the tree by the cave. Some had fallen on the table below and dried in the sun. In the vineyard above there were delicious small black figs too. Over near the gardens that look out towards the ‘Giant’ (Mount Ventoux) a crew was making a film about climate change and no one was allowed to talk above a whisper. There were chores to be acquitted in Mazan as the barometer rose to 37C. We stopped for a beer at the bottom of the hill and used the opportunity to book La Bergerie for dinner that night. I had the pool all to myself that afternoon. It was almost too hot in the sun.


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Giles MacDonogh

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