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East, West, Our Village Show’s Best

UNESCO World Heritage Site: cultural sites by ...
UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Image via Wikipedia)

2,300 miles in 4 weeks: that’s one way of summing our family holiday in France this year. For the first time in my life, I am in the fortunate position of being able to take 4 weeks off work. To make the most of it, we hit the road in our camper van.

Normally it’s a fortnight’s tour of Scotland, but as Laura always says “You don’t go to Scotland for the weather”. I’ve never been further south in France than Paris, so armed with a French atlas and a satnav, we hit the road.

We are not disappointed. Our scenic route from takes us through Picardy and Paris before trickling south alongside the Loire and the Rhone. A week’s tour of Provence includes extraordinary ancient Roman remains and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then it’s back up north via the Ardeche mountains and the Auvergne’s volcanoes. Sometimes things get surreal. Canoeing under an ancient Roman aqueduct, we find ourselves surrounded by French holidaymakers who have turned the riverbank into a beach. At Avignon, our campervan floor fills with Italian children contentedly drawing and colouring, while Laura goes off to play with her new French friend Sybillia. For a writer, the trip is a rich resource, and all the way I’m scribbling away in my notebook, banking ideas for withdrawal at home.

By the time we’re driving north, I’m saturated with new experiences – but for Laura, there’s just one thing on her mind. She shares it from the back seat.

“How many days till the Village Show, Mummy?”

“I’m just SO excited about the Village Show.”

“I can’t wait for it to be Show Day on Saturday.”

“I’m so glad we’re going to be home in time for the Show.”

And do you know what? I think she’s right. No matter how far we travel, I’m sure we’ll never find another sight to match the Hawkesbury Village Show. UNESCO, please take note.

(This post was originally written for the Hawkesbury Parish Magazine – September 2011 Village Show Special Edition!)


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

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