My host smiled as she handed me the bottle, ”Treat it with respect, use it as a medicine, not just for pleasure”, her words spoken in the strong earnest manner of the French farming community of the Calvados region of France.
It transpired that this was one of the few remaining bottles, which her father had laid down on her birth for consuming on her 21st birthday, that she informed me was some time ago, and that even then it was so strong it had to be treated with great respect.
The old farmhouse had scarcely changed in the forty years since my first visit, when it provided shelter, and rest for a company of very tired Guardsman, and proved to be a very useful first aid post for the wounded.
The old farmer, now no longer living, but whose generosity will never be forgotten, was now being equalled by his daughter now running the farm, hence the rare bottle of vintage Calvados.
I took great heed to her advice, using my Calvados very wisely. At the first sign of any kind of affliction, a small tot and off to bed, and the morning would be greeted with out even a twitch of the affliction. It worked not just on people, but birds and animals as well. A poor tiny Blue Tit crash landed into the conservatory door, and lay twitching on the concrete path, looking as though it was about to meet its maker. However a drop from my magic bottle, administered with a tooth pick, caused a flutter of wings and shaking of its head, followed by a somewhat circuitous flight to the conservatory roof, and singing in a strange key, I swear the tune was “Nellie Dean”
The local postman arriving with a bevy of bills was so obviously ill he could scarcely walk up the garden path, of course my wife insisted he had a tot from my bottle, and a cup of hot coffee, sent him whistling on his way.
The time came when my bottle was almost empty, just a few dregs left, to be saved for a real emergency.
At this time one of the sheep turned very poorly, and lay under the hedge refusing to get up, and none of the usual ploys to get her up worked. The vet could not come until the next day. Resisting all my wife’s pleas to try my magic bottle, I swore that darn sheep could die it was not getting my last drop of Calvados. Of course the inevitable happened and I relented, taking the bottle to the sheep, I opened her mouth , pushed the bottle well down her throat and poured the precious liquid in. Nothing happened for a few minutes, and just when I started lamenting on the fact that it was a complete waste, the wretched animal belched, struggled to her feet, broke wind which echoed round the hills like a clap of thunder, and tottered away like a Dowager Duchess, after too much champagne dancing the Congo, and breaking wind every fourth ..
Now lying in bed with a raging temperature, head throbbing, bones aching, trying to sleep by counting sheep, all I can see in my mind, is one sheep tottering away, and breaking wind, So I give up and dream instead of an Old Calvados Farmer generously bestowing his special Calvados to a crowd of youthful soldiers.