A commemorative mug featuring King Charles.

The Royal Family and the French Riviera

Jean's Journal with Jean Farrell

“Did you watch the Coronation?” I asked a friend. “I did not,” she replied crossly. “Nobody wants to look at old people. If I want to look at old people I’ll look in the mirror.” I smiled to myself at her answer.

The pageantry of it all appealed to me, so I looked at the whole ceremony.

My mild interest in King Charles is that he is a year older than my big sister, Sheelagh. Princess Anne is my age, and their mother was the very same age as my mother.

Sheelagh, who is retired for many years, marvels that this man is only now beginning his ‘real job,’ aged 74.

As I watched his wife, Queen Camilla, I thought about how much life has changed. I read recently that divorced people were banned from the Royal Enclosure at Ascot for many years. The rule only changed in our lifetime, as so much has.

I bought this mug as a souvenir of my recent trip to London. Needless to say the shops and stalls were full of images of the new king.

I saw images, on sale, of other Royalty last week, too. This was in Monaco, on a trip my sisters and I took, to The Riviera, with The Travel Department.

For any of you, like myself, in the autumn of our lives, I cannot recommend The Travel Department highly enough. Going on a holiday with them simplifies everything. They do all the planning and booking and organising. You just turn up at the airport and leave all the hassle in their capable hands.

Our tour was to Cannes, where we stayed in a lovely hotel, on the main street, for a week. The sea was visible from the front door.

Every second day we were taken on a tour, to Nice, Monaco and other lovely French towns along the Riviera.

My husband I have gone on a few holidays with The Travel Department, in the past. We went to northern Italy to see the lovely lakes there, which are surrounded by The Alps. We went to Sicily with them, too.

About 30 people travel together, on their tours. Many come on their own and, in no time at all, get chatting to others (if they wish.) A holiday mood prevails on all these trips, so everyone is friendly and in good form.

And, Ireland being as small as it is, one always knows someone who knows someone you know. Indeed, last week, as we met up in Nice airport, I met a woman on the tour who used to work with me. My sister met two sisters who used to live near her. As the week passed I met Betty from Belmullet (a beautiful singer, who entertained us at night) and Mary from Monaghan (a very amusing character, who made me laugh every time I met her) as well as Dorcas from Dublin, who had heard me speaking on The Ryan Tubridy Show (she recognised my voice!). Others choose to keep to themselves and enjoyed their own company.

One day we all travelled by bus to Monaco. This tiny country is the second smallest state in Europe, after The Vatican. The Vatican is the size of an eighteen-hole golf course, and Monaco (nine times bigger) is the size of Hyde Park, in London. Most of the residents are at least millionaires, others are billionaires. This is obvious from the cars and yachts we saw there. They were just fabulous. And the people I watched cleaning these huge boats were definitely not the owners, (as they are on The Shannon.) Fascinated, I watched the crew, in classy uniforms, polishing and shining the magnificent interiors and exteriors of these huge yachts. I wondered would they come home with me and clean our old boat!

We visited the cathedral, in Monaco, in which Grace Kelly married Prince Rainer. My mother often spoke about people rushing down Parnell Square, in 1954, to watch her wedding. Kilmartin’s house had a television then. Folk stood at their garden gate peering into their parlour.

All of us on the trip acknowledged that putting wheels on suitcases is the best invention ever. Many had aches and pains, so I suggest younger folk stop reading now!

We had to wait for the two women who could only walk very slowly. We had to wait, always, for the man with the big black bandage on his knee. We had to speak loudly to the woman with the mad orange hair because she was deaf, and we had to point out which bus was ours to a few, every time.

Now, this may make us sound dull and dreary and old – but, no-one minded because we are old. However, we were not dull and dreary at all. We had a great time together and, if you have a spare bob or two, I strongly suggest that you book a holiday today with The Travel Department. Don’t wait, because time is running out on us.

Sadly, just before we headed to The Riviera, my Aunt Mary died. Aged 98, she was my mother’s sister. What I’m going to write next is a sign of the times we live in.

Our Aunt Mary died in Dublin recently. It was three days later before a priest was available to say her funeral Mass. What a big difference this is to past times, when we had so many priests in Ireland that we were able to export them to the foreign missions!!!