One of the great delights of travelling around the world powered only by eighty word changes to your what3words geolocation code is that one minute you can be contemplating a volcano in far flung Lombok, and the next you can be strolling along a French boulevard contemplating nothing more challenging than a champagne supper. My faithful companion, Lucy the Labradoodle, and I had travelled half way around the world by doing nothing more than changing ///ironing.basket.shirt to ///washing.basket.shirt. We had been gently lowered to earth on the edge of a field near the village of Creney-pres-Troyes in the Champagne wine region of France, and we headed for the centre of the village with a feeling that, if we were not actually home, at least we were within an exploding champagne cork of home.
There was an easy familiarity about the place: we had never been there before and it was hundreds of miles away from our normal stamping grounds of West Yorkshire, but to veterans of the Arctic Circle, the Turkmenistan desert, and the Angolan plains, such as ourselves, it seemed comfortably normal. As we walked along the road, I remarked to my canine companion that we could have been walking through Gomersal or Batley. All such thoughts were rapidly removed from our minds when some blithering idiot, who was clearly driving on the wrong side of the road, nearly run us down.
Creney-pres-Troyes was quiet, indeed it was slightly sleepy, so we pressed on through the village and heading for the nearest town – Troyes. The town itself is about ninety miles south-east of Paris, and parts of it date back to Roman times. During the 12th and 13th centuries champagne fairs were held in the town and these attracted merchants from all over Europe. The British King, Henry V, married Catherine of Valois in the town in 1420. The town centre still has a wonderful collection of half-timbered houses that date from the 16th Century.
It was towards one of these half-timbered buildings that Lucy and I headed to enjoy our promised champagne supper. All this travelling is all very well, but sometimes you need to just sit down and enjoy the finer things of life: a decent steak, a glass of champagne and a bowl of water. Lucy didn’t seem to like my proposed sharing of this supper, and whilst I was distracted looking at the fine old buildings in the town square, she jumped up and gobbled down half my steak.
It should have been Lucy’s turn to choose the next word, but naughty dogs don’t deserve treats, so I decided to choose for her. As I sipped what was left of my champagne, and tried to pull one of her whiskers from the remaining piece of steak, the decision was made. It’s goodbye to France and hello to ///washing. whisker.shirt – wherever that is!