There is a special pleasure in non-invasive tourism. We sat watching stately silvery poplars, and lazy from bleached wood; and dreamed of retiring to a lock-keepers cottage, a cream-painted box with dark green shutters. We stepped off into villages which had grown up around farms 300 years ago, and still had haylofts and poultry in the main street beside smart weekenders cottages. We chatted to fishermen, and admired the saturnine snouts of trapped pike. By driving his van on ahead each night and cycling back along the towpath, Leigh Wootton, our captain and guide, made sure that van and bicycles were always to hand. Once a day he led an expedition – to Font-enay Abbey, with its impressive communication system based on a pigeon loft; or bustling Beaune with its medieval hospital; or the sumptuous cellars of Meursault. Leigh had an eye for amusing and memorable detail. He was also passionately knowledgeable about wine, and his choices sometimes put our delicious evening meal into the class of a banquet.
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