If I were to start my career all over again, it would surely be to work in the wine trade. I’m reflecting on this as I am being plied with copious quantities of Beaujolais Villages and bonhomie at a French farmhouse in the wine-growing district of Brouilly.
It's day four of Scenic's South of France river cruise: a meander through one of the world's most fruitful wine-growing regions. I have already racked up four different wine-tasting excursions, despite the wide variety of other choices offered by the ship every day. Why on earth did I ever pursue acting, when clearly wine was my first love?
Our Scenic Space-Ship was our home for a heavenly 12 days, setting sail from Chalon-sur-Saône on a gloriously sunny day, bound for Tarascon via the Saône and Rhône rivers. Its route encompass Beaune, Mâcon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape – names to conjure with if you are a wine aficionado. However, this was really only half the story.
First, there was the ship itself, accommodating 151 passengers, offering a luxurious and laidback way to travel. Cabins were cool, contemporary and capacious, with ensuite shower rooms, plenty of wardrobe space and deeply comfortable beds.
Every guest had the luxury of a complimentary butler service. Our butler, named Tamas, unpacked the luggage, served up drinks and even brought breakfast to the suite (although the daily buffet was a sumptuous alternative).
In fact, with all the great food, wines and cocktails included in the cost of the cruise, my wife Babs and I preferred to work our way around the ship's restaurants: the intimate French themed L’Amour; the informal River Café; the alfresco Sun Deck with barbeques; Crystal Dining with its daily changing menus – and even, one evening, an invitation to the Captain's Table.