My husband and I are from South Africa and we’ve been living in France for four years now, a year in Brittany and then, just in the right time, we got a job as Estate Managers and Guardians of a Chateau in Normandy with 55 hectares (about 110 acres) of gardens, orchards and forests.(Our journey here can be read on https://footpathtofrance.wordpress.com/)
There is a lot to do here, tourists hire the chateau, farmhouse and grounds in the summer for a week at a time. If the Chateau is hired, it sleeps 18, the Farmhouse sleeps 10 and then there is the Pool House which can act as a function room as well as games room and has two bathrooms and a separate kitchen. There is a loft which houses my Holistic Aromatherapy Massage and Reflexology room and a lounge. My husband and I are often called upon to provide meals for all that stay here – a Continental french breakfast, country family dinners or a beautifully plated evening meal for special occasions.
We have a Character-French Gardener who comes 4 and half days a week in true French-I-Will-Only-Work-35-Hours-a-Week Style and the rest of the time, it’s just the two of us and our two dogs from SA, Tass and Ted.
It’s a wonderful life if you’re a Country Bumpkin (and fortunately we both are) and for me, the Spring, which is absolutely breathtaking, comes at just the right time – just before my soul finds the grey skies of winter – beautiful as it can be – a little much.
We’ve had a few critters and creatures that have come into our lives for a bit of T.L.C before leaving again. Birds that hit the window need a bit of sugar-water mixed with a tiny spot of brandy, salamanders that fall like bright red and black or yellow and black rubbery jewels into the swimming pool, stray flocks of sheep that wonder aimlessly through a hole in the fence and into the Chateau Gardens, a mother bird that insists on making a nest in the postbox every year needs a sign of privacy put in French telling ‘Madame Poste’ to please put the post and parcels in the black bin provided and not into the post box, an Tawney Owl that flew into the Farmhouse through and open window and needed help getting out, bats behind the Chateau shutters that needed relocating, a blind cat and then of course the rescue a swarm of bees that flew into the chateau, lost and confused by the strange number of Queens that swarmed with them. They needed to be gathered together and placed safely into a new wooden hive hastily bought from the local ‘Agricol’ shop (and a quick panicked lesson from YouTube on exactly how we go about doing it!)
And then Thumper the Hare entered our lives….a ‘Hare-raising’ baptism of how to take care of a tiny, weak 1 or 2 day old baby European hare that just managed to miss the blades of the tractor while my husband was cutting the fields (from now on my husband will be referred to as ‘The Dear One’, ‘The Beloved’ or, on occasion, ‘The-Not-So-Dear-One’)….
But more about that incident next time.