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Où est le 'Ping'? Book Cover, Grace McKee, Leonie Press
Où est le 'Ping'?:
Gascony - The fulfilment of a Dream

Written and Illustrated by Grace McKee

ISBN: 978-1-901253-11-5

(Old ISBN: 1 901253 11 2)

135 pages, paperback, 15 Black & White drawings, 1 B&W photograph, 146mm x 208mm.
Published by Leonie Press, November 1999.
Reprinted January 2001

Price: £ 7.99 Postage and Packing:

About the Book

Busy pathologists Grace and Phillip McKee had enjoyed a love affair with France for years. Grace soon developed an all-consuming desire to 'do up' an old French farmhouse for their retirement in years to come. This led her to trick her unsuspecting husband into a property-viewing holiday in June 1992. (He thought they were leaving their Guildford home for a week's break in a lakeside apartment at Annecy).

At eight o'clock on their first morning in France Grace confessed that she had actually arranged an itinerary visiting estate agents in the Vendée, Charente-Maritime, Gers and Languedoc-Roussillon. Phillip made her promise not to buy anything unless it cost almost nothing - and only after a long discussion. A couple of days later they found their 250-year-old dream house in the rolling hills of Gascony and after a two-minute conversation, agreed to take out a second mortgage to buy it. It was in need of almost total renovation - a task that was to take the next seven years.

The house, Larroque, originally belonged to their neighbours Pierre and Marie whom Grace describes as 'the most hospitable and gracious couple we have ever met'. They became firm friends in spite of the language barrier, made even more complicated by the local pronunciation, derived from the ancient langue d'Oc, whereby words like lapin (rabbit) and demain (tomorrow) became laping and deming. One mealtime, hearing Pierre bellow:"Où est le 'ping'?" Grace and Phillip dived for the dictionary and searched to no avail. Then they saw the daughter of the house run across to the bread bin and grab a large loaf of pain de campagne.

The McKees found Larroque a much-loved haven of peace in their hectic lives. By 1998 the renovation was almost done and the future seemed assured. But Fate intervened with another twist to the story...

About the Author

Grace McKee Grace McKee is a pathologist who can quite accurately be described as suffering from chronic wanderlust. She was born in India and lived in at least ten different towns and cities, qualified as a physician and then left to train in New York for a year. She next moved to England where she married and produced what she considers are her three best achievements - her children.

She trained in pathology at St Thomas's Hospital, London and then was head of the department of Cytopathology at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford for 12 years. Her husband Phillip is also a pathologist, and a well-known author of medical textbooks. Having decided 'if you can't beat them, join them', Grace wrote a medical textbook of her own in 1996.

During her years in England she travelled widely, from Europe to Israel and the Far East, Japan, South Africa and the United States, mostly to conferences, combining them with short holidays.

Grace and Phillip moved to Boston, USA, in June 1998, where she worked as a pathologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and was an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. Subsequently they both retired and now live in Arizona.

Grace's many extracurricular interests include sewing, embroidery, crochet, needlepoint, watercolour and oil painting, and also drawing. She has done her own illustrations for the book.

"...charming little book" - Living France;

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