A huge silly grin

September 24, 2011 • Posted in Mike Knezovich, travel, Uncategorized by

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterwards.

Spanish proverb

Last week Mike and I joined dear friends in a campsite in southern France, on the Mediterranean and just over the Spanish border. Every Morning we’d sleep until ten, toddle over to the boulangerie for fresh croissants, enjoy breakfast outside our luxury mobile home with our friends, then plan the outing du jour.

Sheelagh, Jim, moi and Beni just before we headed to dinner in Collioure.

One day we tested out my newly healed metatarsals on a footpath along the shore. They passed the audition, so on another day we walked from the camp site to the beach to enjoy the waves. It rained one day, tant pis pour nous, poor us. We took advantage by driving to a brasserie in nearby Banyuls for café au lait and, what else? A Banyuls!

The luxury mobile homes at the camp site in Argeles-Sur-Mer were compliments of our friend Jim Neill, founder and owner of Top Sun. Top Sun leases out holiday properties in beautiful spots in England and France, and Jim is considering adding a mountain home to his portfolio. so naturalement, we joined him way, way, way, up the Pyrenees for a real estate appointment one morning. Oo la la!

No matter what we did by day, we were always home in time for a long afternoon nap. After that? Dinner, of course! Fresh anchovies served with red peppers in oil, soupe du poisson, grilled scallops, roe, fresh oysters, roast duck, foie gras, mushroom risotto, grilled shrimp, steamed mussels, grilled dorado. Each and every dinner was accompanied by stories, laughter, and an an assortment of local French bread, cheeses and wine. Deliseuse! The only night we stepped out of our dinner routine was Tuesday, French Keraoke night at the camp site. But that’s a story for another time.

The trip was bookended by huge hugs with Sheelagh at the Barcelona airport when we arrived, then double the hugs upon our departure last Friday. Sheelagh is, as she puts it, “in good form.” Being with her was by far the highlight of the

That's me and Jim during our visit to his prospective mountain home.

trip. The only outward sign that she has had any illness at all is the PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) cannula attached to her upper arm. “It’s no bother, really,” she assured me, explaining that the PICC is there so that she doesn’t have to have a needle inserted with every chemotherapy treatment. This second round of chemo should end in December, and early scan reports show tumors on her liver are shrinking and even disappearing. Sheelagh and Beni went “off the drink” after Sheelagh’s diagnosis last year, and the two of them have become connoisseur of alcohol-free beers from around the globe — we all lifted our glasses many, many times to Sheelagh’s good health.

On the last day of our trip we traveled to the lovely Hotel Can Misse in Collbato, Spain — in the shadow of Montserrat — for a belated celebration of Sheelagh and Beni’s July wedding. Okay, their July “civil partnership.” Over a delicious dinner of Iberian croquettes, lamb chops, grilled fish, roasted vegetables and red wine, Sheelagh and Beni explained that civil partnerships give same-sex couples in Northern Ireland the same rights and responsibilities of marriage.

The happy couple wrote their own vows, and a registrar in Belfast oversaw the ceremony. Bride A(Beni) wore blue trousers and a white linen blouse to the affair. Bride B (Sheelagh) donned a sleeveless lime green dress, purple tights and purple shoes. The Moroccan multi-colored silk stole she wore over the ensemble was a gift from her sister Fiona, and Sheelagh said it conveniently hid her PICC. “I looked like a child’s drawing,” she said with a joyful laugh. “Complete with a huge silly grin on my face.”

You know what? That huge silly grin of Sheelagh’s is contagious. I’m wearing one right now, just thinking of her and Beni and Jim.

nancyb On September 25, 2011 at 7:56 am

SO happy that Sheelagh is doing well and that you had a great time seeing your friends. Thanks for including a picture of your gang.

bethfinke On September 25, 2011 at 8:50 am

We have Mike to thank for taking that photo, my guess is *he* had a huge silly grin on his face while clicking the shutter, he smiled every time he got a look at that view.

Keith PICKerel On September 26, 2011 at 8:49 am

What a wonderful story. Glad to get the update on everyone, and may the healing continue. All that delicious food should help. Cheers, Pick.

bethfinke On September 26, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Cheers to you, too, Pick. Your comment here reminds me that Sheelagh wanted me to let you and Hank know she was “asking for ya'”

jenny On September 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Your making me want to go to France now. Its been far too long since I’ve been there.
I hope you told Sheelagh you’d be over to visit her in Ireland soon. 🙂

bethfinke On September 26, 2011 at 7:31 am

Of course I did! You’d better warn OJ he may be getting a visitor soon…!

Maria On September 26, 2011 at 7:39 am

Not sure what I envy most about your trip? The company, food, rest, or beautiful sites in Europe? All of the above, I guess? Good for you! Sounds wonderful. Most importantly, your friend, Sheelagh, sounds like she is definitely “in good form” with the test results from her therapy. Thank goodness for that. Glad you had a terrific time. Stay well.

Bob On September 26, 2011 at 7:40 am

When do we get to hear about the French kerioke night?

Kathy On September 26, 2011 at 7:41 am

Beautiful photo. Beautiful people.

Jen Amodt Ulen On September 26, 2011 at 7:51 am

Sounds like a wonderful trip! I am happy you made the journey across the pond. Great to hear Sheelagh is doing well. Cheers to all!

bethfinke On September 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Yes! It turned out to be a l-o-n-g journey (on the way there, our plane got hit by the bagge truck so we all ahd to get off and wait for a new plane; on the way back we ran into storms in NY and after circling around forever we had to land in Albany to refuel) but all wayyyyyyyyyy worth it.

Sunny On September 26, 2011 at 7:53 am

Lovely post Beth. Thank you!

bethfinke On September 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Je vous en prie, Madame.

bev On September 26, 2011 at 5:35 pm


bethfinke On September 26, 2011 at 7:27 pm


bebe On September 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

Enjoyed reading your poste! almost tempted me back from being vegetarian 😉

bethfinke On September 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Ha! You might be surprised to hear that Sheelagh and Beni are both vegetarians, Sheelagh was a “veggie” back wehn we met her in 1986. She eats fish from time to time but Beni stays away from all of it — the mushroom risotto I mentioned was their doing, and we all enjoyed many, many lovely salads. Plus did I mention…cheese?!??!! Magnifique!

MaryEllen On September 28, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Ahhh, I feel the need for a croissant. Thanks for taking us along on your trip, Beth.

Annelore Chapin On September 29, 2011 at 5:25 am

Ahhhh, as my vacation in Germany is coming to an end, I am ready for the next one……in southern France!!! Sounds devine.


Energy to burn « Safe & Sound blog On October 24, 2011 at 10:21 am

[…] heartwrenching decision to retire Harper early, and once that decision was made he shepherded me to France to meet up with dear friends. Well, I guess that last part wasn’t really […]

Mary On October 25, 2011 at 8:43 am

Oh what a great read of your trip! I could almost taste the food. And I definately felt the fun! People with big silly grins sharing love is wonderful.

bethfinke On October 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm


To our dear, wee Sheelagh | Safe & Sound blog On August 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm

[…] a tape with some bad news: She had cancer. She underwent vigorous chemotherapy, and by the time we met her, Beni, and our London friend Jim (who generously organized our holiday) in France, you wouldn’t have known she’d had so […]

Mondays with Mike: Far and away | Safe & Sound blog On January 23, 2017 at 10:30 am

[…] heading to Scotland, we spent three days in with our friend Jim Neill at his London flat. We were in his living room on inauguration day. Jim is a political junkie and […]

Leave a Response