The day we nearly drowned Raymond Blanc…

What could possibly go wrong? We were working alongside the local tourist board to produce a contemporary travel guide to Oxfordshire, and had secured an exclusive interview and photo session with the region’s leading light on the culinary scene.  

Raymond turned out to be a delight - passionate, enthusiastic, amusing and great company - and we talked food endlessly as he led us on a private tour of his kitchen, gardens and orchards. And despite the fact that his PA had only allotted us a set period, once you got the great man onto his favourite subjects, there was no stopping him: try this, taste that, look here. Ideas, recipes, tips, hints…  

We not only got a superb interview out of the day but also some great photos: Raymond on his hands and knees digging out mushrooms, Raymond cradling a giant squash in his arms, Raymond posing next to some of the garden’s quirky metal sculptures.

“How about this?” he suggested, tossing an apple in the air as he stood on the edge of one of the ornamental ponds.

Unfortunately, his catching skills aren’t as good as his knife skills, and we watched in horror as - almost in slow motion - it looked for all the world like he was about to fall in. We weren’t quite close enough to grab him, but somehow he managed to regain his balance and save himself from a soaking. Or possibly worse.

His PA wasn’t amused, but the rest of us saw the funny side of it, including RB.

Not a man to bear grudges either: a few weeks later he got us all horribly drunk introducing us to some of his favourite White Bordeauxs. But that’s another story…

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