We decided that we were both wooses and even though my husband spent most of his life in the UK, there was just no way we wanted to up and go without getting a taste of life in France first. It’s amazing what is on the Net and I discovered Trusted House Sitters and UK Home Carers by chance. A fantastic way to spend a couple of weeks living like a Frenchman. So we gave a description of ourselves, waited to be “veto-ed’ as unlikely to run off with any furniture or pets and waited for someone to say they were looking for a house sitter in the area that we wanted to go – which was Normandy or Brittany. It wasn’t long, Julia e-mailed, she wanted to spend just over 2 weeks in the UK and would we like to come and look after her animals on a small farm in the countryside just outside Bernay.
Now for some reason, I got my wires crossed (did I mention I was a little ditsy?) and I thought the animals were a dog and 2 cats. Anyway, with much excitement and e-mails flying back and forth, we arranged flights and a car to be available after a few days of settling in and off we went. It was surprisingly easy to get out of Charles de Gaul airport and head for Gare de Nord Station – the main station on the outskirts of Paris that takes you to everywhere in France. Here we had to find a train to Bernay.
We must have looked a little scary after 11 hours of traveling, more than a bit tatty round the edges with that lost, mouth-slightly-open, caught-in-the-headlights stare all bewildered tourists get when they haven’t a clue where they are or where they’re going. We were approached by a busy, round little man that resembled Poirot and told “NO NO! Don’t worry, Come with me!” and with much hustle and bustle he led us completely up the garden path. The cherry on the top was when he told us there was a strike and no trains were running, we must put our credit card in the machine to buy a bus ticket. So my dear husband called across to a shop owner to confirm the story whereupon our sleazy savior scuttled off into the tunnels muttering to himself.
We bought a ticket the normal way – surprisingly easy too – once you’ve focused and got your brain into gear, the France transport system is a piece of cake…or should I say – a gateau. Armed with a large enough to share baguette filled with cheese, cold meat, lettuce and tomato and some bottled water, we hopped on the train and settled back for the hour or so trip to Bernay.
We arrived to find a dog, two cats, two horses, one Shetland pony and twelve chickens.
A la prochaine