We have forgone our annual visit to our little village house in Cazouls-les-Beziers this year. It was a difficult decision but one must eat and, if this one is to eat, this one must work. Besides, we have special plans for the spring of 2010.
Pictured at niece Maggie's graduation from Bryn Mawr are, from left to right, wife Cathey, brother-in-law and Maggie's dad Paul, Maggie, Cathey's sister and Maggie's mom Connie, Connie's twin Liz, and Liz's partner Sharon.
When the twinnies turned 50 (we call them twinnies), Connie hosted a birthday bash in her home in Houston. We decided that to celebrate the twinnies' 60th birthday, we'd host them in France. Just Connie and Paul, Liz, and me and Cathey. After much checking of schedules and a series of long-range negotiations, we settled on the last two weeks of May. The weather should be beautiful - daytime highs about 70F, lows around 60F.
Have you ever traveled in a group in a foreign country? Not a tour group. I'm talking about a group of intelligent, curious, related adults including three sisters each of whose middle name is Drama. (That may sound a bit extreme but I'll stand by it.) There's a simple way to deal with it, really. Obvious. You have to treat your time together as though you ARE on tour. You just can not wake up in the morning wondering what you are going to be doing that day. You have to have a plan...and not a plan drawn up by committee. You have to have a tour leader.
Every minute of every day will not be carefully planned. Oh, no. But out of our fourteen day stay there will be outlines for at least ten of them. Here are some examples:
Light breakfast, drive to Domaine La Croix-Belle for a lengthy tasting and to stock up on wine, home for a light lunch, second tasting at Chateau Cazal Viel, home to freshen up, dinner at Auberge de la Croisade - a fine restaurant in the country along the Canal du Midi.
Light breakfast, drive to Sete to give the girls a taste of Mediterranean oysters for lunch, back through Beziers to shop at Au Marchon for any houseware needs we discover and for groceries. Home for a light dinner.
Full breakfast, free day for the boys, the girls cook dinner for our Brit friends from Capestang.
Light breakfast, day trip to Albi - home of Lautrec, find a place for lunch, home late for a light dinner.
That may sound like a very loose schedule but it's really not. The tasting rooms of vineyards are not necessarily open every day, their schedules are seasonally adjusted, and they usually are closed for a long lunch. Lunch is served from noon to 2:00 PM in the countryside and if you show up at 1:45 you won't be seated.
So there are rules, a framework to follow. It works. I know. We've done it. You should try it next time. It works better than trying to herd cats.