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NEW YEAR'S Day - Euro Day - found us in Cordoba, in southern Spain, penniless.

Well, almost. We set off for Christmas in Portugal armed with packs of new, shiny euro coins, about £10 ($14) worth that we'd bought in France in mid-Decem

Agnès is young, attractive and cheerful, the sort of person who makes you feel better just by looking at her. She and her farmer husband Colin are building a house a little further up the lane. Not personally, of course: her hands-on extend

AH, WHAT a dream! Abandon everything, stuff your pocket with a few quid/greenbacks, hard-earned washing dishes or pulling pints in the student union bar or on the Christmas post round, trust to Providence and P & O ferries and set off, guitar

Montpellier. The big city. It's bitterly cold. We can see a huge bank of snow-laden cloud heading for us from the direction of Marseilles and the Camargue. We've already seen TV news pictures of Marseilles traffic brought to a halt by a couple of

IT'S ALL the letter S this month.

Slim, Slow, Sly, Scarface? Shorty, Scratch, Sad? Stan, Smith, Smog, Smoking? I could go on. On and on. There are about 230 of them. Yes, they're names. Dogs' names, to be exact.

I'll explain. We went

WE'VE GOT the builders in just now. They'd been booked in for months to repair some rotten woodwork in the eaves.

We're lucky. There's a boom in the building trade at the moment. Popular wisdom says this is caused by the thought that come J

RUSTLE, RUSTLE. There's something there, throwing its tiny weight about in the long grass by the steps that lead up to the vegetable garden. A lizard? A mouse? A cricket? A cicada, even?

Presently the grass parts and allows your corresponde