A birth­day with Boy Ge­orge

FOL­LOW THE READER

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - The Global Gourmet Issue - OLIVIA MAIR

CLAY­FIELD, QUEENS­LAND AS we drive along the coun­try lane in the heart of Bur­gundy, the Chateau de Mer­curey comes into view. It is to be our home for the next week and the scene of my 40th birth­day ex­trav­a­ganza.

Of all the things I could have imag­ined for my 40th, a Tragic 1980s Party in a French chateau is one of the more far-fetched op­tions. Luck­ily, my friends and fam­ily are as ad­ven­tur­ous and silly as I am and so here we are.

The chateau sits above the vil­lage of Mer­curey, an hour’s drive south of Di­jon, the cap­i­tal of Bur­gundy and, of course, a house­hold name in mus­tard. The front of the chateau over­looks vine­yards and is the per­fect sun trap in win­ter.

Christophe, the owner, wel­comes us into the toasty foyer and our jaws drop as we fol­low him into the lounge. The whole chateau is ours. Two of my friends spon­ta­neously hug each other in de­light.

A whirl­wind tour of the four floors fol­lows: eight thought­fully ap­pointed en­suite bed­rooms; an enor­mous lounge; a 16-seat din­ing ta­ble in front of a roar­ing fire; a de­light­ful con­ser­va­tory; and, for the boys, a pool room.

Oh, and in the base­ment, a steam room, sauna, gym and fuss­ball ta­ble.

Af­ter a few days of pinch­ing our­selves and sam­pling the ex­cel­lent prod­ucts of the win­ery next door, the birth­day night ar­rives. I have ar­ranged for a chef to cook din­ner and he ar­rives promptly at 3.30pm. Al­most within min­utes, amaz­ing smells be­gin drift­ing through the chateau.

We couldn’t have a Tragic 1980s Party with­out dress­ing up, but I have ne­glected to tell the chef. Imag­ine his sur­prise when Boy Ge­orge and Adam Ant ar­rive in the kitchen to see if he needs help. De­spite his shock, the food ar­rives right on time and is be­yond my wildest gooey-choco­late­fon­dant-with-salt­ed­caramel dreams.

Our week ends far too quickly and we all agree we’d love to re­turn in sum­mer when the vines are in leaf and we could make bet­ter use of the pool and ca­bana. I might leave my Boy Ge­orge cos­tume at home next time. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn. Pub­lished colum­nists will re­ceive a Lem­nis Pharox So­lar Kit. Ideal for out­door ad­ven­tures, this nifty de­vice is both an en­ergy-ef­fi­cient por­ta­ble light and a charger for de­vices such as phones and iPods. Charge via elec­tric­ity be­fore you leave or on the road with the in­cluded mini so­lar panel. $49.95. More: 1300 LEM­NIS; lem­nis­light­ing.com.au.

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