Normally on Sunday mornings, particularly the fine autumnal mornings, we fire up Tess's 2CV - the trusty Florence - and bounce over to Isle sur la Sorgue and the brilliant Sunday market. Truth to tell, we know the market so well, we spend most of our time sipping Pastis in the Cafe de France, or sipping wine in Rocky's wine bar, but a couple of weeks ago, completely out of the blue, my old friend Hector who I had not seen for years and years, turned up on our doorstep clutching his gladstone bag containing his worldly posessions, his shotgun case and his backgammon board.
'It has been such a long time, old boy' he said 'I thought I would come for Christmas to catch up on old times'.
He hadn't changed much, still slim, still immaculately, though fadingly dressed, his face, as ever like a highly burnished walnut, but despite years of hard living, his brown eyes still held their sparkle.
At the same time as Hectors arrival, I got an e-mail from my old mate Milverton-Blackfoot. So this Sunday we find ourselves with Hector who drove the works Bentley, at Blackfoots pile up in the Borders.
It is a gorgeous Sunday morning and we decide to ride down to the pub 'The Blackfoot Arms' for a pre-lunch drink. Neither Blackfoot nor Hector are up, they spent the night playing backgammon. Florence, Blackfoots wife, is swirling about in the orangery. The pub is busy, the usual old boys are playing dominoes.
Blackfoots gardener, Lovegrove, is dispensing 20 year old carrot wine, which is staggeringly good. But, it is all going to end in tears because also circulating around the pub is a two litre mug of malt whiskey donated by Mac to celebrate his birthday. The talk is of darts, parsnips and football.
Mick, the landlord is putting out plates of roasted potatoes on the bar. He disappears into his kitchen and emerges with a 15 lb pale looking turkey on a roasting tray and says to Tess 'ever seen that before Tess?' he points to a little plastic implant on the birds breast. 'It is an amazing thing' he says 'It pops out when the turkey is cooked. what do you think?' 'Cor. What will they think of next' she says. But I know what she is thinking. 'How is it this nation is obsessed with Turkeys and almost no-one knows how to cook one'.