How to eat an Elephant….

Assuming that you’d want to, and that there is elephant on the menu…just how do you go about eating one?  And as an aside..why on earth would you want to?

The thing is..Elephant has been put on a plate in front of me, a whole, the mutts on the beddauntingly large meal and looking at it, knife and fork raised, is enough to send me hurtling off to the nearest airport and on to the next plane home.

Let me explain…..
Jobs are good things, they teach you all sorts, they give you an income and in this case, they can come fall into your path at the right moment.  BUT, they come with challenges and this one is no different.  For a start, the property is HUGE with a garden like most chateaux seem to have….”rooms” with hedge walls – the sunken Italian garden, the French garden with its massive fountains, the Orchard, the forest, the pastures etc.  As a Chateau, it’s in pretty good condition but it does need a little T.L.C as far as peeling paintwork, broken concrete pots and statues and a pretty sad looking garden.  The inside of the Farmhouse (about half a kilometer from the Chateau) is lovely; warm and cozy with a beautiful view.   It has five bedrooms and sleeps 10.  It’s in a beautiful setting but the garden seriously needs help…or to put it bluntly – there isn’t a garden!

The Chateau is grand inside with hidden rooms in the paneling, marble floors, stunning furniture and has eight bedrooms so sleeps 16 but one bedroom suite is closed and reserved for the owners so in effect, sleeps 14.  It needs a little cleaning help and maybe the odd bit of care but it’s really quite something to see – padded material walls and apparently – up until a few months ago – a resident ghost which has since packed “her” bags and “left the building”.

Both these buildings are rented out for the Summer months..fourteen weeks in all.  Either the farmhouse on it’s own, the Chateau on it’s own or both together.  On a Saturday, the changeover occurs and a team of villagers arrive ‘en masse” and clean the place from top to toe, change the linen and set all things straight for the next party to arrive.  All sounds good, pretty manageable…until it happens!

Now, I love cooking, am pretty much at home in the kitchen and find it all quite relaxing.  Apparently, most people who come here, even though it is self catering, would prefer some meals prepared at the Chateau so that they can have a relaxing evening.  We were asked whether it would be something we would be willing to do as an addition to out salary..the Dear One thought that was SO exciting and voila!  I have been pouring over french recipes and putting together ten four course meals to be chosen off the website before hand (so that we know what we’re dong and my knickers don’t get even more into a knot)

CalvadosOn the property is masses and masses of Calvados that has been stored here for the past two years in giant 1000 litre plastic containers…about six of them.  It all needed to be put into barrels and taken down the cellar (in a small building at one end of the garden) where it will be left to mature for three to five years.  Now the strange thing about Calvados and France is that the stuff is taxed so they measure how much you had to start off Barrelswith, then they measure how much you end up with at the end..and that bit is taxed because it’s “lost”.  According to Samuel, the Gardener come Calvados “Barreler (if that is even a word)”..some is lost because it’s spilt on the floor, some is lost because it’s “tasted” and some is lost to the Angels.  and that is the bit that you smell – the wonderfully appley scent that hangs in the air around the barrels.  This is the evaporation that the Angels drink.  How cute is that?  Of course the Dear One HAD to go and help…and me?…well I HAD to be part of the bit that was lost due to “tasting” and even in it’s raw state – it’s lovely.  The Dear One doesn’t think so – but I do.  It is after all, Apple Brandy and it tastes just like that..still with that fruity apple aftertaste.

But as beautiful as the area is..and believe me, the area is stunning….  (there are 20 “arrondisments” or districts to Paris and because of the Parisian feel here (and the fact that a lot of them have second homes here and holiday here), the chic shops, the smart restaurants and beautiful beaches, it is affectionately knows as the “21st arrondisment”) the whole thing, to me, is a little overwhelming.

The Dear One puts it down to the second winter here…apparently one always feels sadder, more homesick and more out of their depth during the second winter…after that, it all begins to feel a bit more familiar.  When my fears were all told to the Beloved, he mentioned how it all need to be  viewed and came up with Elephant story.
So,  how DO you eat an elephant?
You eat it one mouthful at a time.

And I think he’s right – that’s the best way to tackle most things…..just one step at a time…..just one mouthful at a time.

A Bientot,


About M

I am at heart and artist...which spills over into other areas apart from the pastels, pencils, paintbrush and paper. I love cooking, I love gardening and I love nature. Leaving South Africa to come to France was difficult, but an adventurous challenge and together with my husband and two furry friends, I manage to do all that I love and more while I walk the 'Footpath to France'.
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4 Responses to How to eat an Elephant….

  1. Dawn Haupt says:

    Hi there

    That is the best way to eat an elephant – we have to eat a few elephants so we can confirm that your your clever beloved one is absolutely right. One mouth full at a time. Much love, miss you guys, Andre and Dawn xx


  2. Marion Fuchs says:



  3. Tony Henfrey says:

    That way you don’t get indigestion!


  4. Karin Duncker says:

    What an exciting life, so many new challenges. I have no doubt you shall master these with aplomb. Oh, and when it’s not season, why not think about giving art lessons, throw in meals and accommodation…… just another chunk to think about 🙂 Leave for Europe on Tuesday, so here is withing you and Mark a happy and harmonious festive season and a great start to the new year.


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