Well….the Russian visitors-to-be that arrived in a helicopter decided that out of all the Chateaus they visited that day, we were to be “it” so they dutifully arrived last Monday.
I was trying hard not to panic as they wanted full catering, their linen changed in every room three times during their stay, bottled water, lots of wood, the heating on, the pool organized etc etc etc. We sent them the menu in advance…nothing…we asked politely…nothing…eventually panic set in and there they were, standing in front of me…and me trying hard to look in control and vaguely intelligent.
What made it worse, was that the linen cupboard, this giant hole in the wall which was equaled only by the towel cupboard was in a total mess when we arrived. One of the worst possible things I can think of to do with my time is to unfold a fitted sheet, place it on a bed to be made only to be told that it doesn’t fit and then have to try and refold it. I hate refolding fitted sheets, I hate ironing fitted sheets..they go to the laundry and they come back looking amazing and when they don’t fit…well, needless to say they were rolled up into some semblance of folding and put in a pile which I hoped I would remember whether they were single, double, queen, king or super king. A few days passed and I decided to tackle the cupboard. I couldn’t remember which pile was which and all the others were in a muddle too.
I hit on a cunning plan. It took me ages to make up all the beds. Then, in the seam of each duvet and each fitted sheet, I marked each size with nail polish. Then the shelves in the cupboard were marked with the size and the same code of nail polish. Cool beans, one set done…fifty million to go!
So the Russians, who proved to be Ukranian wanted the bed linen changed every second day. while Malorie (Samuel’s wife) made the beds (then we both un-made them and refolded fitted sheets and duvet covers in order to find linen that fitted) I ran around marking seams with nail polish and gradually putting the towels in order as well. To cheer me up, Malorie, who doesn’t speak English but who is the sweetest person, kept saying “fitness Moraig, fitness” which meant that I wasn’t to worry, running up and down 4 flights of stairs and carrying the offending linen back up to the cupboard on the top floor was keeping me fit and would mean I could eat another Almond Croissant. A great comfort indeed.
The “Pressing” or Laundry man..I don’t know his name, he is now officially called Monsieur Pressing…dutifully came after I left what was probably a very garbled, slightly hysterical message in French on his answering machine, took one look at the pile of linen…7 baskets full, muttered “ooh la la” under his breath and informed me the whole thing was quite bizaar, most people only change their linen once a week. I said they were Russian, he nodded his head and said a long “aaaah”. I presume that he understood something that I don’t..but am beginning to.
So with no or very little warning, I have cooked and baked French Meringue Pavlova with Blueberries and Strawberries, Coq au Vin, Tarte Citroen, Poire (pear) Frangipane Tarte, Cassoulet, Profiteroles filled with Coffee Creme, Macarons, Strawberry Patisserie Creme and Chocolate tart, Raspberry Coulis and the cherry on the top was homemade french chocolate ice-cream which was REALLY delicious and never got to the visitors as the Dear One and I finished it before it could…absolutely hopeless but there you have it.
Each frantic cooking or baking session had it’s own specially crafted disaster, the best being the nozzle on the piping bag to big …the mixture dripped from the bag back into the bowel, across the counter, all over the floor, down the cupboards and into my shoes…wonderful. I then had to melt chocolate…rich dark 70% choccie…it also went into a piping back to pipe a flourish or two and some swirls. There was choccie everywhere….all over my clothes, on Ted’s head, on every available surface..How does it get everywhere? and worst of all – it was delicious and I had a taste or two…but when Samuel and the Beloved walked in, I think they must have thought I’d eaten the lot…unknown to me I had it as a “smile”, in my hair and on my chin. Our little kitchen looked like a nuclear choccie explosion with me caught in the middle.
Meantime, the four children that arrived as well have taken to the Beloved who has dutifully stopped work at times to take them for a ride in the tractor and when they seemed to think they could have his time and company anytime, he got them to help with filling the tractor with wood or unloading it back into the Chateau..in return for a game or two of ping pong. They found a ball made out of sponge and that kept them happy for a while until Ted rushed out, played with them and tore the ball into little yellow pieces. End of ball. Malorie arrived this morning with a few for them to kick around…hardy Ted-proof ones.
Today was the last change of linen before they leave on tomorrow when we have to change it all over again for the next lot…hopefully all the fitted sheets and duvet covers are all garnished with nail polish and my ducks are more or less in a row. I shudder to think what Monsieur Pressing is going to say on Monday evening when he is faced with yet another seven or eight baskets of laundry. …and the Russians/Ukrainians have enjoyed their stay so much, they want to come later on in the year for two weeks! Ce la Vie.
My bed is calling…I will be dreaming of laundry no doubt…and maybe choccie
A la prochaine