After ten posts on political principles, I return to my travels in France in undergraduate days. This continues with the summer of 1973 when, after my stay at the Chalet, I went after a brief stay in Italy, to another part of France, the Dordogne, for a wonderful week with my principal protege in that year, Michael Soole, now a judge.

I have a few much cherished pictures of those days which he sent me later when I had grown sentimental about the past.

The Dordogne with Michael Soole

It was sad to leave, but my summer holiday was not yet over. Michael had asked me to join him in the Dordogne, where his parents had taken a small cottage for a couple of weeks. I was his only friend from university, for the rest of the party were his friends from school, a sort of farewell I think to those with whom he realized he would have less and less in common, for none of them had got to Oxbridge. I was honoured then to have been asked, though I understood why he did not take up my suggestion that he ask Leslie too.

In England we had planned for him to join me in the week in between in Italy, where I had arranged to stay with the long-suffering Bertolottis, at their seaside flat in Arenzano. But at the Chalet he said his parents had thought they needed two cars, so he went back to England and I to Italy, taking a train the following week to the little town in the Dordogne where he had said he would meet me.

Only he and his parents were there when I arrived, and we took the two beds on either side of the fire in the sitting room, with there being only one bedroom which his parents occupied. His friends, four of them, had to stay in a tent in the garden when they arrived.

There was a primitive toilet, and a bath in a little room at the back. It had no running water but had to be filled up. My idea that one needed to bathe daily was then obviously not feasible, and I was surprised that when I did have one Michael said he could use it afterwards, a way of saving water and energy. I thought the concept strange learned later that it was not unusual in England before the plumbing in that country improved.

Michael’s schoolfriends were nice chaps but less interested in the world at large than Michael was, and had no desire to see the sights in the area. Michael’s mother however was dead keen on exploring, and his father dutifully drove her and me to lovely little churches on a couple of days while Michael stayed behind to entertain his friends.

But it was a lovely little place, with figs dropping from the trees around us, and olives, so spending time there was also great fun. And, since we needed to relieve Mrs Soole of excessive cooking, we went several times to a wonderful restaurant nearby which provided fabulous meals, seven courses if I remember aright, for a pittance. The pate and salami and cheese we could buy in the area was delicious, and of course wine too was cheap and plentiful. It was an idyllic conclusion to a wonderful and varied summer, the sea on Cape Cod and the Mediterranean, the Alps above St. Gervais, and this still markedly rural segment of France.