Life in rural France is one of feast or famine – well, it is for me at least.
Public holidays tend to bring the annual invasion of family, friends and acquaintances,and even those who fall into even more distant categories – junior school chums, window cleaners and the like.
Mattresses have to be borrowed, food stocks are garnered to feed the crowds and the house rapidly descends in to something between a yurt and a youth hostel. If I were of a younger vintage, I would say that the recent days’ proceedings have had the feel of a festival, mess and debris included.
Easter has been such a feast, and it is wonderful to spend time with loved ones.
Time alas eludes us, and no sooner the guests arrive,they stack their cars with wine and other local delights and drive off into the distance.
This time it has been a three-phase departure: My eldest daughter left on Easter Monday to get back for work Tuesday morning, my youngest left early evening to get back to university in La Rochelle, and my OH has just left for Berlin.
So, now it’s just me and the two cats.
My home, which up until a day or so ago, was bursting at the seams, is quiet, empty, and silent.
It is raining, and there are a few deflated balloons in the garden, along with some damp bunting left over from a last – minute birthday party held on Easter Monday.
Odd paper plates that escaped the bin sack lie on the grass beside candles that are burned down to the nub.
Sounds like a sad scene, but it is not.
One of the things I most treasure here is the time to do my own thing with almost no time constraints upon me.
The next few days will be filled with various activities geared for one.
Today will be the chance to kick-start myself into action, so it’s time to draw up a check list of things to do, for today and the days that follow, until the next visitors return.
1. Re-write menu to include only the following: Weetabix, hot cross buns, tinned tomato soup and sandwiches – ham and tomato for preference.
2. Haul out the ironing from last known location and set up the lounge for a pressing-fest while watching episodes of the West Wing.
3. Give fridge a health and safety audit – remove all items resembling a new form of life, wearing a furry outer or exuding a dubious odour.
4. Call in on local friends and bitch about visitors.
5. Spend countless wasted hours on Facebook and Twitter, convincing myself that social networking is where it’s at.
6. E mail visitors to inform them of items left behind and assess if emergency courier is required – jewellery, inhalers, passports……..
7. Take mountain of used bottles and recycling to local depot – catch up with local gossip from neighbours and read last fragments of articles in magazines about to be lost forever.
8. Review “to do” list. Not to do anything on there, but more to assess how long it is, and the man hours required to complete all tasks on there.
9. Target one of the outbuildings for a good old sort out. Remove one or two items, and relocate them in another building until I find a proper home for them.
10. Locate and eat all remaining Easter eggs before recommencing diet.
So, as you can see, life here in La Chapelle Gaudin is neither sad, lonely or boring!