DESPITE a busy and successful career Sue Boxell knew there was something niggling away in the back of her mind.
That something was Burgundy; its wine, food and people. So much so that Sue left the UK on an old Dutch barge to sail across to France and make a fresh start in the vineyards of the region.
"I was a project manager for Eurotunnel and was based in Calais, but our head office was in Victoria, in London, and obviously this was before the shuttle was finished and so I was up at the crack of dawn crossing the Channel either by ferry or hovercraft," Sue said.
"There was really no time for myself, and although I loved the job, it started getting very political and it became increasingly difficult, but it was such an interesting project to work on."
Sue left Eurotunnel but found it hard to settle and find a suitable job, however following some soul searching and a reassessment of her life, plans she had formulated in the past began to rise to the surface.
"I read a book called 'I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was' and it taught you to look back at your life in five year intervals seeing what things reoccur over and over again in the periods of when you were happiest," said Sue.
"I already knew that France was there in my mind, I just didn't quite know what to do, I also knew I wanted to run a business of my own, as working for Eurotunnel had equipped me with the skills to do that, but it's always difficult to get started, especially when you have to move country.
"About a year before heading to Burgundy I worked in a chateau as a chef, which I'd done in the past, and I think it was when I came back from there that I decided to go for it."
And her desire to make a change now, instead of later, saw her use her past experience of working on the hotel barges of Burgundy to draw together her love of fine wine and foods to run tours to the family run vineyards and restaurants of the area.
Travelling across to France was also likely to be a little different. Instead of crossing the Channel via the tunnel, Sue came over in a Dutch barge she owned.
"I had crossed the Channel a couple of times before, including to mark the 60th anniversary of Dunkirk," Sue said. "I had a mooring in Belgium as I was planning a bit of a holiday, but a few weeks before I went over I thought, why not just go for this."
This belief in her plans led to the setting up of Burgundy On a Plate, and whilst Sue had done some research from the UK, she drew on her past knowledge and business skills to get a website up and running and to develop contacts with vineyards and farmers.
"I like to go off the beaten track, down all the back routes that go into vineyards, which most people would never find themselves, and that's what they love," Sue said.
"I work with vineyards who will take people through the different qualities of wine, as well as the history and a tour of the cellars, which will then finish with a tasting lunch, where they can try between eight and 15 wines."
Sue also enjoys showing people some of the family run restaurants, where hams are roasted over an open fire, as well as something different like a visit to a goats' cheese farm, so guests get a chance to find out what life in Burgundy is really like.
"Some parts of the region are very wealthy, but others are not, and it is only by visiting places that you get to see how hard life can be," said Sue.
"I hope that people recognise this and through that feel they are completely involved with Burgundy wines."
Website: Burgundy On a Plate