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  • Attentive readers will know that my choice of house in France was "not perfect".

    This is one of the reasons - it has an outside loo.

    But what a view! Wistaria drapes the doorway, and opposite a buddleia is covered with butterflies all summer long. My favourites are the swallowtails and the hummingbird hawk moths, but the clouds and clouds of them make classification superfluous. It's like being in a child's story.

    However, it's not advisable to sit on the loo with the door open, as the road is relatively busy. One day, I was pottering in front of the house, cutting back some weeds, when a car screeched to a halt and backed up. An alarmingly young man leapt out and raced to my side.

    He loved my tattoo, he informed me. (I have a tattoo on my ankle. He must have splendid eyesight to have spotted it while driving past). He wanted to take me out on a date. Just for coffee? He was called Laurent, what was my name? I informed him that I was a grandmother (this usually works) but it only encouraged him.

    Had I ever slept with a Frenchman, he asked?

    It's a different world, I tell you.
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