Where did Al Stewart come from?

As I have explained in earlier entries in this series I was rapidly losing track of time and  sometimes awoke wondering what country I was even in.  It was therefore something of a surprise to find that shortly after waking on this day the Al Stewart song “Night of the 4th of May” bounced into my head in what I believe is called an earworm.  It must have been something subliminal like seeing the date on the TV news but it was no problem as I simply love Al as an artist and have something like 17 of his albums in various formats.  Whilst I do like his later offerings my favourites remain the earlier stuff most of which were written and released before I ever became a teenager or picked up a guitar.

 

I had never even heard of the guy until I was about 19 and a dear friend of mine at the time called Bob Fleming, who I regrettably have not seen for about 40 years, not only taught me so much about playing the guitar when I did pick one up but introduced me to Al’s music.  Just to add a bit of further interest, he had met and played with a young Mr. Stewart in some of the coffee shops around Soho in London whilst on his summer break from Queens University, Belfast in the late 60’s / early 70’s.  He also gave me an original copy of the superb “Love Chronicles” album which is still one of my most cherished possessions.  I suppose it is worth a bit of money now but I would never sell it.

 

By way of a bit of pop trivia, apart from Jimmy Page and Ashley “Tiger” Hutchings (original member of Fairport Convention) playing on the album there is also a credit for a Simon Breckenridge who you have probably never heard of.  He is in fact Simon Nicol, the only original member of Fairport still playing with them over half a century later and for various reasons used one of his middle names as a surname for his “nom de guerre”, so there you go.

 

I could tell you stories about some of the lunacy Fleming and I used to get up to together but it is probably best not to.  Anyway, back to central France in 2017.

 

This trip was on the verge of becoming a bit Jack Kerouac (it got worse later, as I will explain) and certainly not what I had planned although I suppose it did provide some sort of catharsis after my profound depression when Virtual Tourist was murdered.  On the principle of clouds and silver linings etc., I suppose I would never have had my own website had VT not been treated so abominably but I really do wish it was still here.

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A fairly dismal Dijon.

Back then to what seems such a long time ago and 4th May when the weather was again abysmal and I was really fearing there was never going to be any sun on this trip. It really was time to be heading South but I still had my mission to fulfil, I needed to get my Dijon mustard from Dijon for my friend. I took myself off, getting pretty damp on the way as I had no waterproof clothing.

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A bit of a walk took me to most beautiful park with one of the finest water features (to quote gardening experts), I just call it a pond or perhaps a very small lake. It is pretty sizeable and gorgeously photogenic, even in the rain. Don’t worry, I got some much better images another day. Having grabbed the requisite few snaps there was really only one thing to do, and regular readers will guess what it was. Yes, you’ve got it, a day in the pub.

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I had spotted a place earlier which looked quite likely,  Le Cafe du Marche. Sure, there was a restaurant section which looked much too fancy for my liking (although I was later to have a brilliant meal in there) but there was a local looking sort of bar that didn’t seem too pretentious and so in I went to shelter from the rain.

A beer duly called for, it was evident that the place was not run by local Dijonnaise or even French. It was undoubtedly Turkish which was later confirmed to me by the owner who became a friend – well I was spending enough money in there! Everywhere I had been thus far seemed to have a large Turkish influence and this was to continue as I carried on. I wonder how many Turks are in the EU now?

When ordering the beer I carried on my “joke” (borrowed from the late Ronnie Drew RIP) about a pint of breakfast which I have successfully managed to parlay into various languages one way or another. I have no idea why, as it was not even intended as a joke by the great man, but it just seems to amuse people. Ronnie genuinely meant it as he was a bit if a drinker himself and I have merely hijacked it.

The day itself was fairly unremarkable as the weather precluded any serious sightseeing but it did finish off in rather spectacular culinary style.

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People who know me and friends online will know that I have the appetite of a very small bird. I love to cook and will watch cooking programmes on TV to the point of obsession but I just don’t eat a lot. It had been a few days since I had had my last substantial meal and so, when I perused the menu, I thought I would give this eating idea another try. What particularly intrigued me was the Bourgogne menu for €29. Three courses and the main was a boeuf Bourgignon which I love and have even made a few passable attempts at recreating myself. Shifting myself from the very cosy bar to the equally cosy restaurant room and it was off and running.

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You have to have snails in Burgundy!

My local special began with half a dozen snails in garlic butter (gorgeous) and then the boeuf Bourgignon as mentioned and so much better that I could have made although the sight of salad and chips (fries or even frites here) on the same plate always makes me cringe a little.

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Much better than I make and every bit as good as it looks.

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Dessert was a creme brulee done to perfection and the whole affair finished off with coffee and whatever the local firewater is. It was actually not too harsh and went down very well with the coffee. Naturally the whole repast was accompanied by a carafe of a very decent Burgundy, well, it would be wouldn’t it?

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For one that does not really eat properly, it was a delight and I had no problem finishing it which is unusual for me and so, a couple of beers as a digestif and I was off on my short walk home to my comfy bed. All this despite what was becoming a pretty horrible trip in respect of the weather but utterly memorable in every other respect.

There just seemed no end in sight, metaphorically or meteorologically.

Much more to come so stay tuned and spread the word.

Author: Fergy.

Hello there and welcome to my blog which is the last attempt of a retiree and child of the 50's to overcome advanced technophobia and create a memoir of my rambles having had three commercial travel blog sites pulled from under me in just over a year. A learning curve like Everest! I am rapidly approaching a senior citizen bus pass and realistically I have more days independent travelling behind me than before so I intend to "do it while I still can" and am trying to cram in as much as I can now. Apart from travelling, I love playing music (guitar, vocals and a bit of percussion) as the profile pic suggests and sport, although my active participation is now restricted to the very occasional game of pool. I read voraciously, probably a legacy from my dear late Mother who was a librarian and encouraged me towards books from an early age. I'll read just about anything although I do have a particular interest in military history of all periods. I live alone in fairly central London where I have been for over 30 years since leaving Northern Ireland which was the place of my birth, youth and early manhood. Partially by necessity although more by love of the art I adore cooking and I can and do read recipe books and watch food programmes on TV / online all day. Nothing fancy and none of your nouvelle cuisine nonsense, just hopefully tasty, proper food. To my knowledge, I have not poisoned anyone yet! No doubt other little personal facts about me will emerge during the course of my writings here so stay tuned if you are at all interested.

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