Merci tres bien to Neill Hunt (one day, he'll get a proper nickname, instead of "Er Neill", one day, but not yet) and his missus Jan, who sent me their report on a recent romantic break to Le Mans.
It should serve in many ways as a cautionary tale to birders trying to pull off the near impossible trick of mixing romance with twitching, but Er Neill seems to have got away with it this time.
I do wonder if Jan's account of marching round a sub-zero French city for seven hours is as ebullient though...
Anyway, over to Monsieur Hunt, le grand fromage de le tichodrome echelette a ce moment...
"Just returned from a fabulous romantic long weekend away at Le Mans in northern central France.
"With my wife's birthday looming I thought a long weekend away would be just the ticket, so I booked two incredibly cheap Ryanair flights, £17 each return to Tours, an hour south of Le Mans, booked a car, a hotel and oh la la - holiday sorted.
"No hassle with flights etc, so less than an hour after departing Manchester we landed safely in Le Frances, excellent. Picked up car, leisurely drive straight to hotel in Le Mans.
"The Hotel Emeraude was perfect, clean and bright and more importantly close to the old part of the city and the cathedral.
"My wife, Jan, loved the city, it was beautiful, old cobbled streets, fantastic buildings, fine bars and restaurants and even an Irish Pub with Le Guinness, Brill!!
"What more could one want??
"Well, for readers who don't know, the immense cathedral in Le Mans has been the wintering home for a Wallcreeper for the past 3 or 4 winters.
"So with this in mind it seemed to be the perfect location to spend a romantic break and birthday with my wife.
"Now then before anyone asks, I did tell her that there was a Wallcreeper in town before I booked!
"From the reports I'd read, and e-mails I'd sent to, and received from, French birder Christian, it all seemed pretty straightforward.
"Go to the cathedral, see the bird, go to pub, get p**sed, get the gist?
"Anyway after over 7 hours of searching, nothing.
"The cathedral is monstrous!
"Not only that, but, the bird only spends a very short amount of time on it, usually late on, just before going to roost nearby.
"The Wallcreeper is busy all day roaming around the city, searching for spiders and the likes on many of the cities huge walls, buildings, churches etc.
"This bird is far from easy!
"So after the 7 hours Jan returned to the hotel to warm up (it was freezing) and bingo, I find the bird, watch it for approx 2 minutes before it disappears into a window at the top of a turret! See top right small square window in the picture below. Gutted.
I watch said window for another hour and nothing!
"Moving on to check other walls within the city I luckily relocate the bird where it shows superbly well for the rest of the evening.
"That night in the French bars and the Irish pub there was an English couple in a little bit of a mess, we toasted to Le Mans, we toasted France, we toasted Wallcreepers, Birthdays, Valentines, we toasted just about anything we could think of.
Jan was impressed by the photos of the bird but unfortunately hadn't seen it herself.
Next day we spent at the Le Mans 24 hour race track, a great day out and really enjoyable.
"That evening at 6pm we checked the cathedral and as luck would have it, the Wallcreeper flew in and gave a brief show for Jan before going off to roost.
"So, if anyone is looking for the perfect winter city break, with a top draw bird, great restaurants, pubs, bars, fantastic city, great buildings, streets, fine food and wine then I can definitely recommend Le Mans.....................its stunning.
All the best
Thanks as ever Neill.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...
*All pix copyright N. Hunt; all schoolboy French copyright J. Dempsey