A birthday with Boy George
FOLLOW THE READER
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.