It's a sad day as we board the train to Paris. I didn't realize I would grow so attached to my temporary home, fur babies, and our hosts in Le Haut-Corlay.
Even though we only had a few face-to-face days with our hosts at the front and back of our stay, communication with them was quite regular. We checked in to see how their holiday was going, sending them pictures of the cats and chickens (mostly the coop recently filled with raked leaves so they could scratch around for worms, grubs, and other odd bits of things that look tasty to chickens). They -- our hosts, to the chickens -- sent us a picture of the kitten we met briefly meant to be a gift to their grandsons. (Spoiler: The kitten did not stay with the grandsons, but that's a story for another time.)
The handoff of care taking duties is a delicate dance, almost like the baton handoff in a relay race. Over the course of a day -- an it was a full day -- we transitioned from being "in charge" being houseguests. It's a bit more involved than "Welcome back. Here's your house."
The prep started the day before their arrival with a cleaning. Not just a quick touch up, but a deep clean. All floors were mopped and swept. Bathrooms were scrubbed. And all of our laundry was done, dried, folded, and stored. It was also a shopping day, as we thought it would be a nice gesture and welcome surprise if we cooked dinner for our hosts the evening of their arrival. We figured that with their long, overnight travel (11 hours on a ferry), they didn't need to worry about cooking for us when they arrived home. I decided on simple and easy for the meal (salmon tacos) but also wanted to make a dessert (cheesecake). That proved to be a bit more tricky, as cream cheese doesn't exist in France. Marscapone worked just as well, if not a little sweeter. And runnier. (Note to self: More experimentation required.)
While we were out, we also needed to fill up the gas tank on the caravan we'd taken on a few day trips. This was an adventure unto itself, first to figure out what side the tank was on (it didn't have the arrow at the gas gauge to alert us) and how to open it. But the big question was... what type of fuel? After finally finding the manual (and reading it at the pump, much to the chagrin of other would be re-fillers), Evo determined it ran on diesel. Excellent! Now to actually find a filling station that sells diesel (not hard) and how to work the French fuel pump (harder than it should have been).
When our hosts arrived the next morning, we helped where we could but tried not to get underfoot. The back of their car was full of goodies from the UK, so we did the obvious and helped bring everything in. After that, we put on a kettle of tea and got the hell out of the way. Unpacking is a private affair.
They napped for a bit after that, and we took the time to do a final pass-through to make sure we hadn't left any of our personal belongings scatted about their home. When they awoke a couple hours later, we updated them on the state of the property. The craziness that is the cat's lives, such as the number of birds Trevor (the male cat) brought us as presents, their odd ritual of randomly pouncing on one another other as a prelude to grooming, and where Millie hid most of the day. We also told them of the general state of the chickens and quail, number of eggs, food etc. And of course the general state of the property, like how much wood we burned through (Spoiler: a lot), which wall heaters made odd noises, and how much of the garden we didn't clean up due to near non-stop rain.
Over dinner, we shared our stories of working through our self-imposed language issues, our wanders through town, and how we twice tried to eat dinner at the local restaurant to no avail. They, in turn, shared stories of the kitten, the grandsons, and family.
And this morning, we departed. Double kisses on each check -- we felt so French! and promises of "See you soon". And then we were gone, bound on a train for Paris to continue the ShEvo World Tour.
I miss them already.