'For a holiday of course,' Ma said. 'I think it would do us all good to get some sun.'
And so at the end of a rainy English August the Larkins - all ten of them, including little Oscar, the family's new addition - bundle into the old Rolls and cross the Channel to escape the hostile elements.
But far from being the balmy, sunny and perfick spot Ma Larkin hoped for, France proves less than welcoming to an eccentric English family. The tea's weak, the furniture breakable and the hotel manager is almost as hostile as the wind and the rain they've brought with them! And when the manager learns that Ma and Pop are unmarried yet sharing a room under his roof, the trouble really begins . . .
'There!' Pop said. 'There's the house. There's Gore Court for you. What about that, eh? How's that strike you? Better than St Paul's, ain't it, better than St Paul's?'
And so Pop Larkin - junk-dealer, family man and Dragon's Blood connoisseur - manages to sell the nearby crumbling, tumbling country home to city dwellers Mr and Mrs Jerebohm for a pretty bundle of notes. Now he can build his daughter Mariette the pool she's long been nagging him for.
But the Larkin's new neighbours aren't quite so accepting of country ways - especially Pop's little eccentricities. In fact, it's not long before a wobbly boat, a misplaced pair of hands and Mrs Jerebohm's behind have Pop up before a magistrate . . .