Posted by: travelrat | October 21, 2009

Preparing for France

Yesterday, I went to the travel agent to buy my National Express ticket to Gatwick; the final link in the chain to get me to France next month. The only minor inconvenience is the long wait at Gatwick. The last bus gets in just before midnight, the flight leaves first thing in the morning’; not quite long enough to justify booking into a hotel for the night … and the ‘Yotel’ capsule hotel I posted about a couple of years ago is way too expensive.

Nearly £70 to get a couple of hours’ horizontal shut-eye isn’t really on! But, I have a couple of books and podcasts I want to catch up on.


I’m going to Carcassonne as the guest of ‘French House Party’  ( . The ‘parties’ take place in a renovated 200-year-old farmhouse, and are really courses in all sorts of creative arts. It was named ‘Top Learning Retreat’ in National Geographic’s ‘The 100 Best World-Wide Vacations to Enrich Your Life’ in 2008, and the courses on offer include Creative Writing , Books and Drama, Art and Mixed Media, Sketch, Paint and Stitch, Digital Film-making, ‘Find Your Voice and the Courage to Sing’ … if anyone can get me to sing tunefully when I’m sober, it has my vote! … and ‘GASTROACADEMY’. And, that list is by no means exhaustive.

I’ll be attending, and reporting on the launch of the ‘Gastroacademy’ … an introduction to French cuisine, over a long weekend. It doesn’t aim to make you a cordon bleu chef in that time (at least, I hope it doesn’t). But, we will be doing some cooking, rather than standing around, observing, making notes and looking writerly. We’ll also be taken to the local market, and told how to select the best ingredients.

If you’re in Britain, and want to see more of what ‘French House Party’ have to offer, they’ll be at the BBC Good Food Show at London’s Olympia 13th-15 November 2009 and at Birmingham’s NEC 25-29 November 2009.


  1. I’m very keen to see your post on this “Gastroacademy”…

  2. I also can’t wait to hear all about it. What fun. You might be the next Gordon Ramsay at this rate!

  3. I have been known to use Gordon Ramsay-type language when something’s really annoyed me … but I don’t think I’ll reach his level on a long weekend. And, I’d actually look to the bald-headed Italian guy (can’t recall his name!) as a role model.

    Seriously, though, I am looking forward to it, and shall start posting about it as soon as I get back.

    Should be quite a week-end!

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