I met Rick at orientation when I was an assistant in Nice and he was in Saint Raphael, and while we hit it off straight away, we actually only saw each other a few times in the seven months we were both living down there. However, we talk a lot on Skype and Gchat and so on and he's become a really close friend, the kind of guy you can turn to for anything and know he'll always be there to listen and give advice and annoy me by asking questions I don't have the answers to :) His three-night visit (which he promised me two years ago when I left Nice) was the longest we've ever hung out for and it was great to see click just as well spending hours on end together as we do over a webcam.
Anyway, soppy stuff over (and note to anyone with the wrong idea, we're just good friends)! I got back to Tours on Sunday afternoon and spent the next couple of hours cleaning and preparing dinner (in the course of which I managed to slice my finger open rather badly in a monumentally stupid fashion that I'm too embarrassed to describe on the blog) before Rick turned up in the evening. I made him watch the Formula One with me, which he claimed to enjoy despite falling asleep, and then it was off to bed.
The next day was spent enjoying the glorious weather we've been having, basically chilling out walking around, seeing the sights of Tours, and enjoying lunch and a cider in the sunshine before heading home to have dinner with Liz and Charlie, a couple of my friends.
Yesterday, despite much huffing and puffing on my part, we headed to Chenonceau (my third visit, hence the bitching and moaning). It was actually a nice trip, especially since I took advantage of having a willing partner in crime to take a variety of "hilarious" pictures in and around the chateau. The place was full of Russian tour groups as far as the eye could see, but it was another beautiful day and we had fun. After that, we came back to Tours and did a degustation at the Maison des Vins de Loire. This is basically an arm of the tourist office designed to promote Loire Valley wines, so you can do a degustation of 6 wines (and, in fact, she served us 7) for the bargain price of 5 euro. The wines were delicious, the woman running the place was really nice and we spent a very pleasant 45 minutes tasting, which is value for money in anyone's book, I would think. We did our degustation in French because the woman said she was more at ease in French and we didn't mind, but a group of Americans came in a bit later (you don't need an appointment, but I think they had made one) and she served them in English. So anyway, if you're ever in the neighbourhood, I would very much recommend a visit. They also do special themed degustations (for example, roses or chenin blancs or the vocabulary of wine tasting or whatever) in the evenings and weekends, which are a bit more expensive but more involved, which I would love to go to some time. Anyway, after that we wandered back to Place Plum for a few more drinks before heading home with a kebab. This morning, we had breakfast before Rick had to catch his train to Lyon & I was very sorry to say goodbye, but we had a lovely time!
Me jumping for joy at Chenonceau
Chenonceau is built over the Cher river
Me and Rick in front of the chateau
Rick on the castle balcony in front of the tower
Doing my best evil enchantress luring unsuspecting men into my chateau of death
The fourth Grace
Pretending to be a dinosaur in the chateau gardens
I'm a fancy lady!
Rick pretending to be Louis XIV
Pretending to be a... stoat?
Rick pouting at the cabinetry
This shot involved lying backwards on a window ledge over the castle moat
This would have been a nice picture if someone hadn't ruined it