If I close my eyes I can see it all before me: the pink flowered wallpaper, the ornate wooden frame and the brass plaque proclaiming the title of the painting: This too shall pass. That painting hung on Jack Heron’s wall. Jack was the favourite uncle of my cousins, Wout and Niels. English by birth, Jack had grown up in the tropics. He made his fortune as an artist, with a string of prints to his name. He now lived with his French wife in an actual castle with an intriguing English-French-colonial feel. We used to call it Chateau Pippadour, after Jack’s wife, although I now realise that it couldn’t have been her real name. Wout and Niels would spend every summer at the chateau. One year I went with them. I immediately understood the appeal. Uncle Jack’s infectious laugh and his habit of spending all day in his bathrobe. Pippadour’s albums of pressed flowers, the conservatory filled with exotic tropical plants. The gardens and the lake, where swans would glide serenely between the rushes and waterlilies. And of course, the monkey motif.