As an oft-touring cellist, Ruth has complained about the noise in self-catering cottages, pubs and palaces. As a writer, she has searched for the Parmesan grater in city apartments and châteaux. As a walker, she has slept in tents, tea-houses and spas. She lives in a semi-restored, half-ruined hamlet in Provence with her husband, the painter Julian Merrow-Smith, their three cats and, soon, an adopted baby from Mali. Ruth is currently finishing a memoir and thinking about family-friendly retreats (www.meanwhilehereinfrance.blogspot.com).