Hello to WHSmith customers, I’m Alan Titchmarsh, this is my latest novel – Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour. It discerns the adventures of Timothy Gandy, a fifty-something-year-old, married man – not terribly, terribly happily married, trapped a bit really. He’s always wanted to do the grand tour of Europe and circumstances conspire to allow him to do so. He’ll now take on the cities of Paris and Rome and Florence; places he’s always wanted to go. But his adventures turn out to be rather more adventurous than he thought…
So eager, had he been, to take in the sights and sounds of his first foreign capital, that he’d quite forgotten to eat or drink. The dizziness he felt was due in some measure to the overwhelming scale of the Place de la Concorde and the Jardin des Tuileries. The length of the Champs Elysees and Boulevard Haussmann, but also to a lack of nourishment. He sought out a small cafe, ordered a ham and cheese baguette and a coffee and sat for a while, restoring his energy and telling himself the he didn’t have to see the entire city in a day.
He had three nights booked at the Hotel Plaza Athenee and could then seek out more modest accommodation or move on as the fancy took him. He must pace himself. Today he’d been like a boy in a sweet shop, anxious to try everything on offer, to soak up the city of which he’d heard so much but which, bizarrely, he’d never before visited. Despite its relative closeness and ease of access via the Channel tunnel.
His mind turned to the lack of adventure that had characterised his marriage. The fact that Isabelle had never really wanted to leaves the shores of Britain and the fear of flying and martyrdom to seasickness, being her reasons for lack of travelling ambition. And so their holidays, such as they were, were confined to a week or two each year, as far afield as Scotland and Cornwall. The rest of his time off was spent pottering at home. But now life would be different. Was different. Now he could go where he wanted, when he wanted.