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About Neal Atherton
I am a Lancastrian born and bred but relocated to Somerset to write, be a photographer, enjoy the countryside and walk. My writing enthusiasm is focused on travel and particularly French travel. I was a late developer as regards exploring the world but since finally leaving the cliffs of Dover I have travelled extensively in France. Wine and food have always featured on my travels and now is integral to my books. My friends always await our return from France with the latest new finds from the vineyards and I was more than happy to keep sampling.
Initially, so conservative was my travel upbringing that it was a long time before I even ventured as far as Cornwall. My travel plans always ended before the car reached the sea. I have more than made up for the slow start and have enjoyed helping many others with their travel plans to France and especially to Paris and Provence. I write to inspire you to travel and because frankly, I really enjoy it.
I am not trying to be Hemingway or Shakespeare but just wish to pass on some of the joy I have found in meeting people and places, the pleasure of interacting. My roots will come through in my writing style as I feel does my sense of humour acquired by too much exposure to 70’s British dry humour.
I have written a series of four books on France - All are now on Amazon: THE FIRST TIME WE SAW PARIS about our first steps in French Travel, THYME FOR PROVENCE our discovery of that glorious region and the people and places we met and discovered, A DREAM OF PARIS a personal memoir of our times in Paris with friends. Finally, FRENCH WINE UNCORKED – quite self-explanatory, please open a glass.
France has been fun, we have been burgled on our very first arrival, we discovered the best cafe that changed our travel lives on the very next day, we learnt about French wine, we escaped from the most horrendous gite, we found the best of gites, B & B's and people, we laughed and cried with dear friends in Paris, I was hosed down by a crazy owner to cool me down in Provence, our breakfast in a remote village was served by the French army, we stepped totally out of our comfort zone and discovered the best of French culture. The experiences are varied and many and please come with me as I retell the stories and my footsteps are there to follow.
I am also writing about ancestry and genealogy and my first book about our incredible family story themed around war and the military is now on Amazon - A BULLET FOR LIFE – from Wellington to Salerno Italy.
I love the English game of cricket, golf, soccer, photography, walking and cooking. Oh, and travel of course.
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We all start somewhere in our travels
I started in Lancashire, England and stayed close to home – safe and comforting but always taken with a gamble - will it be wet & cold
My mutinous family made me look further afield and the cliffs of Dover were finally left behind as the ferry sailed away to the sun
For the next 25 years we absorbed France, its people, its food and especially wine
Come with me as we threw off our English reserve and had experiences that will amuse, delight and inspire you to do the same
This is the start of our travel stories – it goes through Paris to the lovely cafe in Catalonia
It is still continuing ……. ♥
"Inspired me" "Very Enjoyable" "Great Books" "Like I was there"
It was a wine tasting that was warm, generous and convivial, as warm and generous as the spicy red wine produced in his sun baked Southern vineyard. Our new friend makes up a case of red and rosé and carries it outside the ancient domaine to our car. As he does so two other members of the family are returning the ancient tractor from the fields and they smile at us, no doubt knowing that we have been charmed by the hospitality of their father. M.Oliver firmly shakes my hand and I bid him goodbye. Niamh’s hand he tenderly takes and bows to give it a gentle kiss. As we drive away down the dusty track we wave from the car and Niamh settles into her seat, her mind taken to another place. What a gentleman.
Our journey through the vineyards of the Languedoc is typical of the kindness and generosity shown to us by winemakers throughout France, from the Loire down through Burgundy to Provence. To taste wine and experience the pleasure of visiting the cellars and vineyards in the company of a knowledgeable and proud wine producer is a delight never forgotten.
As with my other three books that tell of our memorable encounters with the people and places of France this one is designed not specifically as a guide book but to inspire and encourage you to travel as soon as it is possible. I know you will not be disappointed.
However, I have in this book given the location and contact details of the vineyards and cellars we visited and all I am sure will delight you when you turn up at that cellar or domaine door.
Please use the Look Inside feature
Kindle EditionVerified Purchase - Australian reader
'Found this well written and informative. Certainly gets the atmosphere of Paris and especially the gastronomic side of what Paris has to offer'
The long and wonderful evening we spent at Le Hide Restaurant on Rue du General Lanrezac just around the corner from the Arc de Triomphe was sadly drawing to a close. The time spent at the table had stretched to around four hours and had been a joyous and unforgettable occasion for the eight subscribers of our member’s only village wine club – actually just our cottage dining room. Roman, our generous and delightful waiter who kept us entertained all evening with his patient, limitless good humour moved across the floor to present us with our extensive bill. “Roman, mais non, nous aurons tous un Armagnac” said James or words to that effect. Roman, heavy eyes already wanting to drift off to sleep, simply hooked his collar onto the coat rack and feigned a deep restful sleep somewhere, anywhere but still serving les Anglais in the cosy restaurant.
Is Paris More Beautiful in the Rain?
This is a personal memoir of our times spent in Paris and our love of this endlessly absorbing city and its people.
I recall many travels with friends, finding restaurants & cafes and enjoying the sights and sounds of Paris.
I travel in the footsteps of Hemingway and enrich the writing with the history and art the city has produced.
My fascination with how the city and its people were affected by the Occupation and eventual liberation in August 1944 and how that personally affected me. I face the challenge of returning to find out how Paris recovers from the appalling events of the night of the Bataclan attacks.
The theme of the film 'Midnight in Paris' threads through the strolls through Paris and 'Is Paris more beautiful in the rain?' I have not set it out to be a guidebook but it will inspire you to follow my footsteps but most of all make you dream of Paris and to visit making your own memories.
This is the third book of my French series.
"Like sitting with a friend telling you about his trip" Goodreads
"Descriptions were awesome" Goodreads "Lovely descriptions and atmospheric moments" Goodreads
"Real to life and not just a travelog" Amazon US Verified
This is an affectionate account of our French travels in Provence - meeting so many remarkable (and eccentric) people and places over a 20 year period travelling by car from the North of England.
Is it a guide book? Well, the people and places are there but I really want to inspire you to make your own journey and treasure this gorgeous region of breathtaking scenery and the finest food and wine.
If not, then be entertained from your armchair and let your imagination take you to the lavender fields in a delightful summer read. Enjoy until we can travel again.
PLEASE 'LOOK INSIDE' for the first part of the book :
- Monsieur, you are hot from the journey, oui?’
I could only agree that I was indeed the very picture of the Englishman in the noonday sun.
She broke away from watering her extensive and beautiful enclosed garden.
‘I will cool you down’
Turning the hose on my fully clothed self she most certainly did that.
PRAISE FOR 'THYME FOR PROVENCE'
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed
Reviewed in the United States on April 27, 2020
I enjoyed this book so very much. As I read it, I felt like I was sitting with a friend and he was telling me about his trip. The descriptions of the countryside were awesome only outdone by the ones about the food I recommend it and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Ancestry and Genealogy are so popular today and this is an inspiring story stretching over 200 years from a military perspective.
When a bullet in the Great War actually turned out to be a life saving event and the family survived to tell this remarkable story.
It travels from England to Spain and Ireland. On to South Africa and then the trenches of France. Finally the landing beaches at Salerno Italy.
Come and live through those times and experience it all set against a background of Victorian and early 20th Century England.
This was a 12 year labour of love and I include a full chapter on Ancestry research with tips and mistakes to avoid. I know - I made many.
PRAISE FOR THE FRENCH TRAVEL SERIES TRAVEL WRITINGS ★★★★★
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Those Dreaming of Travel
Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2020
We haven't been able to travel much in this government panic, but this book can help you live through the eyes of another. Read this now and remember what it's like to travel, and read this to plan your next trip. What a great writer!
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed
Reviewed in the United States on April 27, 2020
I enjoyed this book so very much. As I read it, I felt like I was sitting with a friend and he was telling me about his trip. The descriptions of the countryside were awesome only outdone by the ones about the food I recommend it and hope you enjoy it as much as I did