Everyone has their own version of the French Adventure, whether it be touring France on a tandem, crossing the country on horseback or upping sticks and moving wholesale to La Belle France.
James Martin, the TV chef probably best known for Saturday Kitchen, decided to embark on a French Adventure of his own. In an homage to Keith Floyd, James took on the red and white 2CV previously owned by Keith and travelled through France, meeting the locals and cooking along the route.
A part of the adventure for James must have been staying with Val and Mike Slowther at ‘Le Vieux Relais’, tucked away into the southern corner of the Aude.
We welcomed Val onto ‘Girls Do Coffee’ and immediately understood why the programme researchers chose the couple’s welcoming Chambre d’Hôtes for this stage of James’ journey. Val’s previous life in the corporate world clearly furnished her with a range of transferable skills which she didn’t hesitate to use in rapidly whipping the business into shape. Husband Mike’s experience in hospitality matched Val’s organisational skills and before you know it, you have a thriving business.
These skills didn’t go unobserved by the powers-that-be in the small French village that the Slowthers have made their home. Before long, Val was being asked to take on the role of municipal councillor at the local Mairie.
‘Why me?’ Val asked.
‘Because you integrate and you get things done!’ came the reply.
Getting things done is Val’s forte, as she has since gone on to participate in a variety of committees in the region.
The researchers for James Martin’s French Adventure soon picked up on Val’s can-do and happy-to-help approach. In the wake of the TV crew’s departure, a visitor’s book full of positive comments testifies to the high quality of service provided by the Slowthers.
If you are thinking of following in the footsteps of James Martin, you’ll be pleased to hear that the service offered is of the same high quality, regardless of whether you arrive as you are or with a TV crew in tow.
Val’s colleagues from her previous work were worried that her new life would be too calm in comparison with her previous role, which involved frequent interactions with the world at large.
‘How will you cope?’ they asked.
‘The world will have to come to me!’ Val announced.
Val could well be right as James Martin is not the only celebrity to find his way to Slowther’s door. But perhaps it’s more that the world created by Val and Mike is so warm and welcoming that few can resist heading down to Le Vieux Relais for their very own French Adventure.
Deborah Alexander – www.reflective-writing-group.org