Sunday, April 19

Surprise Holiday

19th April
The journey door to door France to UK takes 16 hours. On Thursday at 5am The Director slammed the car boot shut ready to start the drive.

Then it dawned on me that we weren’t supposed to be leaving until the following day. Builders have been busy in our house and we’d agreed that they could destroy the place until Friday tea time, then it all had to be cleaned up. After a lot of tutting and eye-rolling we decided to set off anyway and stop somewhere en route - a surprise holiday.

I did a quick internet search and found an interesting-sounding place to stay that night, nearly all the B&B’s in France are run by British citizens, this one had a Russian proprietress (novelty value) and was in a rural area we were unfamiliar with.

Svetlana is as extraordinary as her house which is a combination of royal hunting lodge and the sort of sweetie-trap that Hansel and Gretel wandered into, our bedroom ceiling all pointy wooden slopes, the walls lined with deep-coloured, ornate fabric. Throughout the house there is curly-legged antique furniture and lots of gilt, in the salon a shiny grand piano. An astonishing dinner (for dessert: hot strawberries in port) was cooked and served by Svetlana who modelled a full-length, shiny turquoise evening dress. over the course of the evening we listened to her life story; she’d been a concert pianist but with the arrival of her children she’d become a music teacher at a school in an area with a lot of social problems, apparently the teachers there were expected to act as a sort of über-social worker, she’d visit the children in their homes and they stayed with her when their parents were ill or in prison.

She met her English husband in Russia and he convinced her to go to England with him for a 'better life’. In the UK she worked as a shop assistant at WH Smiths, newsagents, an isolated and friendless existence with scratchy teenage children but she persisted, got promoted and a few years ago, children now away working, she exchanged her Surrey semi for the gingerbread house.


  1. I hope the insect project will be put on hold until you return - I'd hate to think of them starting without you. Did Svetlana have a nice bum, incidentally?

  2. I hope your non-bug mission goes to plan.

    Thank you for the film tip. Will try to find it.

  3. GB - The insect project continues regardless - The Director goes back there in a couple of days and Miss Whiplash will be in charge until my return.

    xl - If it doesn't I'll be sure to report on it!
    Hope you enjoy the film, one of the directors went on to make Amelie

  4. PS - Gorilla - Svetlana's bum was obscured by the crystal-spangled train attached to her dress... should I have asked her to raise it so I could get a photo?

  5. "went on to make Amelie"

    Yes! Will be in the next Amazon order. :)

  6. Svetlana sounds like she'd be ideal to take over the bar in your village. Give Shane a run for his money.

    Enjoy your trip and we await tales of Miss Whiplash and the Camera Boys.

  7. oh my....I just found this spiffing it is.....will be back too

  8. Lulu, thank you for coming over to my blog, and I'm so happy you did as I found yours - what a treasure! I'm hooked on the narrative and will catch up on your tales when it's not so obscenely late into the night!


  9. xl - I'll be awaiting your review

    Madame DeFarge - Svetlana would be perfect in the bar, I could just see her hammering away at the piano of an evening ... My Old Man Says Follow The Band...

    Manuel - delighted to make your acquaintance

    Denise - Great to see you over here and so thrilled that I now know what to do with a spork.

  10. I love and hate B&Bs. It great to stay but I am so filled with envy at those ladies who keep them!

  11. Excellent, Svetlana playing Moscow Nights on the old Joanna in the village bar, Shane at her feet fingering her dress material and wishing he was she, Miss Whiplash behind the bar watching amusedly wile smoking Black Sobranie in a cigarette holder.

  12. I think your radar for finding unusual people is exceptionally sharp, Ms Labonne.

    I wonder if she wore an apron whilst preparing your food? Did you notice any stains down the evening dress?

    Have a good time in Blighty

  13. I am determined to work "sweetie trap" into my working vocabulary.

  14. Roshni - don't be envious - it's flipping hard work

    Gadjo Shane at her feet fingering her dress material and wishing he was she...

    Shane as Harvey Keitel... hmmm
    *scratches chin thoughtfully*

    Frenchie - I also was preoccupied with how she fixed all that dinner and stayed stain-free

    KSV Woolfoot - I'd like to hear the contexts you find to use it


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