In Dole, former provincial capital and birthplace of Louis Pasteur. Visit the Maison Pasteur, rue Pasteur, just off the Quai Pasteur. Think this excessive until I visit nearby Arbois (where the great man went to school): ecole Pasteur, rue Pasteur, Pasteur Monument, Pasteur's Friends' House, and a plaque in the church: "Pasteur prayed here". Drink a pint of milk in his honour. The least I can do.
Set up at Dole campsite in blistering heat - next to an English car. Promptly invited to dine with a delightful Yorkshire couple. Steak and chips with Colman's mustard (we're 20 miles from Dijon ...), then gin and tonics as the sun goes down. And you thought the French were civilised?
Monday is National Music Day. Dole, cultural Mecca, makes a weekend of it. Busk in the marketplace on Saturday, behind a blinding-white limestone church, then spend the rest of the fete concert-hopping. Massed diocesan choirs sing traditional classics: "La Bamba", "Were you zere when zey laid 'Im in ze Tom?", Verdi's (Italian) "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves" (in Dutch). At a "Franco-Swiss Spectacular", jazz and brass bands join four alpenhorns - to play "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer". Monday's grand finale in the town square: two rock bands, a medieval fanfare and a hunting- horn octet. MC takes mike, howls "Bonjourrrrr!" - and it starts raining.
Leave Dole, camp at a family farm. Dine with Granny and Daughter one. As I pitch tent, invited to go fishing tomorrow with Grandsons one and two (aged 10 and 15). How can I refuse?
Woken early by excited Grandsons. Cloudless sky. Sit on bridge, watch them decimate the piscine population. My catch: a branch. Grandson two drops his rod in river. Tears imminent. Grandson one and I battle through riverbank thistles to the rescue. Smiles all round. Invited to lunch. Oh, go on then.
After lunch, take Grandsons paddling while Papa bales hay. Then get to ride the tractor. Then (joy of joys) to drive it. Feel 10 years old. Can't stop grinning. Rush back in time to help Granddaughters (nine and six) with the milking. Hot shower: remove thistledown, river-mud, hay-dust and cow-shit. Repitch tent, unpack trombone. Rapture. Everyone wants a go. Spend evening sitting on a bale giving lessons and disturbing the peace for miles around.
Huge family supper. Kids wildly excited, refuse to go to bed. Final demand: "We'll go if he stays a month." If only.
For more information on the charity trombone walk, visit the website at www.netplaycafe. co.uk.bonewalkReuse content