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  Dear Editor
I turned with interest to Mr. Gerrard's letter (02.11.04) about Spanish lessons on the computer.   I have been having Spanish lessons now for two years or more, and at last I feel  am making some progress.   I have been very lucky in finding the right teacher for me, who understands that I am retired and don't find learning easy, having similar problems to those of Mr. Gerrard.  I checked up on www.studyspanish.com/freesit to find that sadly, in spite of the word "free" appearing in the web address, very little is actually free.   The course is $14.95 for one month, $39.95 for six months, or free for a year with the purchase of the audio course at $164.95.   I know that Mr. Gerrard did not say that it was free in his letter, but the web address certainly suggests it.   It is still cheaper than a good, sympathetic, experienced teacher, but, as they say, "you pays your money and takes your choice".
   
  Travelling to and around France
Last week we arrived in Bordeaux and settled down with a glass of wine and some cheese. The choice of wines in this area is second to none and you could spend weeks trying to get round to all the different ‘caves du vin’ sampling the goods. Most famous for its exceptional vineyards, mild climate, endless white-sand beaches, surfing, and boating, the Aquitaine region also boasts many classic wine chateaux. Friends of ours have two such places in this region. We first met them in Salon-de-Provence a few years ago and on my first visit to their house I noticed a huge family tree on the wall in the hallway. I asked whose tree it was. The lady of the house, Frederique said “It is mine have you heard of us?” I certainly had heard of the family. The name at the top was Marie-Brizzard. I replied that, yes I knew the name Marie-Brizzard, from the unique liquor drinks. Frederique and her husband Denis then told me the story behind the name. Marie-Brizzard in the 1700’s lived in Brest on the Brittany coast of France, where being a ‘lady of the night’ she stood on the shore to welcome the sailors to the land after long journeys at sea. On one such occasion a sailor was unable to pay for services rendered so he handed a recipe for a herbal cough remedy to Marie in lieu of payment. Marie died single and childless and left her will in favour of her only nephew. The nephew found the herbal remedy and decided to manufacture it and hence the Marie-Brizzard foundation was formed. The direct descendants all carry the name of Marie, as their second Christian name, whether male or female and all the education costs are paid for through the foundation. Both Frederique’s parents and her grandparents have chateaux and their own vineyards in the Bordeaux region. The grandparents have twenty one bedrooms whilst the parents, a mere fourteen. Chateaux of this size are quite common in this area. When each child of the family is born a barrel of wine from that year’s harvest is put by, to be opened on their 21st birthday.
   
  Travelling to and around France
Last week we arrived at the channel crossing points for you to choose which route you prefer. My husband and I have crossed the channel from the U.K. to France on many occasions since 1979 and have taken most of the crossings at one point or another, and have travelled with most ferry companies. Since 1987, the year we purchased our first property here on the Costa Blanca, and our eldest daughter took a school exchange staying with a family in Salon de Provence, we have driven through France even more regularly.
   
  Travelling to and around France
Leaving the city of Paris and travelling north towards the ports of northern France we pass by Charles de Gaulle International Airport, which is just 23 kilometres north-east of Paris. It is the city's largest airport and was one of the first in Europe to boast an integrated train system serving it. The rapid TGV train reaches central Paris in approximately 45 minutes, Disney World in ten and Brussels in an hour. The airport has three terminals which are connected by free shuttle buses and handle over 200,000 passengers and more than 6000 tons of baggage and freight daily.
   
  The Environmental Park of Huerto Pio
The Huerto Pio is an old farm that once belonged to Pio Wandossell, one of the most prominent of the mine owners of the La Union area. A native of Almeria, he worked his way up from being an ordinary miner and succeeded in becoming wealthy and famous, buying the farm and living there with his family.
   
 
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