As the title says, it HAS been a while. It’s been a long, very busy summer for us here at Le Chant. Great weather, great guests (in the main), and lots of nice people have booked to return. That’s the upside. The downside is that we have had one or two ‘guests’ that seemed not to appreciate that Le Chant isn’t just a holiday destination, but also our home. Granted, this is what we do for a living, and yes – we do get ‘paid’ if you like, for sharing what we have. But that’s my point – we ‘share’ Le Chant d’Oiseau. We share it because we think it’s a pretty place, and because we would have loved to have spent our holidays here with our own kids when they were growing up. We share it because we’re justifiably proud of all that we’ve achieved with it, in just 6 years.
In year one, in the very first full season that we were owners, and only just after we’d finished work on completing the family accommodation in what is now our home, we were very green. We were very keen to please, though we didn’t have an awful lot of spare cash to invest in Le Chant. We still made great efforts to ensure that both the gites and the campsite were the best they could be until we could afford to improve what we had. Lots of what we inherited had to stay, as we couldn’t afford to change things. We knew our limitations, but we priced accordingly.
Once or twice in that first full season, we were taken advantage of by people who just didn’t ‘get us’, or Le Chant d’Oiseau. It took one of these people a whole TWO years to release his bile on a well-known review website. The fact that a) he blatantly lied about certain aspects of his stay with us, and b) in the TWO years he’d taken summoning up the spite to send in his ‘review’, Le Chant had undergone a massive improvement, didn’t mean that the ‘review’ wasn’t published. Published it was, and definitely to the detriment of our business, not to mention our feelings.
In subsequent years, we’ve put up with allsorts of comments from people. In the early days, the main one we laughed off was “How does a lad from Doncaster get to own all this then?” Well, I’ll tell you. By being absolutely convinced that we could handle the HUGE French mortgage, and by having confidence in our ability to graft like navvies in order to pay off said mortgage. Not only that, but also by being brave enough to sell up everything we owned in the UK to try and make a better life for our family here. Many people wish they had the same courage of conviction that we had in 2005. Another comment we’ve had is “It’s like camping in someone’s garden.” This is true. It is exactly that. But, it’s a very lovely, large, FRENCH garden. This has been said to us both in a kind, complimentary way as well as in a derogatory fashion, implying that we weren’t a ‘proper’ campsite. Well, we are. With the registrations and insurances to prove it.
We’ve suffered the idiocy of people ‘reviewing’ our pets. The fact that our two cats catch birds was the subject of one reviewers ire. What the hell is wrong with some people?
We’ve had to put up with guests’ children scratching their names into our pool table with their cheap little penknives. We’ve watched them chasing our chickens around until they squawked in protest. Our pets have had to endure being poked and prodded as they snoozed in the sun, or had their heads battered with a table tennis bat.
I’ve had to restrain myself on more than one occasion, gritting my teeth as I’ve watched someone’s little darling ripping said table tennis bats to shreds, or fighting siblings with the pool cues. I’ve also lost count of the times I’ve been told that the pool table hasn’t released all of the balls. Usually due to the amount of gravel clogging up the mechanisms. Usually carefully placed there by small children, roaming freely around the place, as it’s “just so safe here.”
Yes. We provide a safe environment. Yes, we keep the site gates closed all the time, and yes, it’s fully fenced all around. But that’s not an invitation for people to absolve themselves of all responsibility for their offspring. While you’re ‘relaxing’ after your long drive from the UK/Germany/Belgium/insert lieu of choice, YOUR kids are releasing their hours of frustration at being kept cooped up in a car watching re-runs of Thomas The Tank Engine on the in-car DVD system!
Very rarely do we say anything. Instead, we ‘take it on the chin’. Perhaps moaning to ourselves in the privacy of our own house that we need (yet again) to take a trip into Saumur to find/buy replacements for this that AND the other.
Oh, talking of privacy – the number of times we’ve had people walk through our own patio area in order to get from one gite to another, shared by extended family is astounding. Despite what we might ask in various ways, that we be left alone from time to time to just be ‘us’, people still have so little respect.
So, why the rant, you may well be asking? Actually, it’s a case of one thought train leading to another. We’ve had a couple of reviews in lately. One was extremely bad in that again, we felt we’d been treated very, very badly by the guy responsible for it. It’s all very well, the internet giving everyone a voice, but some people should have their voiceboxes surgically removed if all that springs from it are lies. We’ve spent an inordinate amount of cash ensuring we provide things to do on site here. For what? To have it ruined by a few small kids whos parents are happy to let them, as long as THEY get the holiday THEY want? Why bother to write the most lovely comments in our guest book, only to do a complete about turn once you’re away from here and in the safety of your own keyboard?
The other review actually said in far less words, and in such a way as to make it perfectly clear what we’re about, exactly why we take it so personally, this ‘job’ of ours. It said:
Stu and Syb’s unobtrusive hard work behind the scenes ensures you enjoy your holiday, from the generous welcome pack to the care for their environment is obvious.
This is essentially their home and garden which they open for you to enjoy, treat it with respect and appreciation in the hope that their commitment and enthusiasm will be sustained so you can come and enjoy it again and again. We will!
I guess you could say that our commitment and enthusiasm has just been reborn.
Thankyou all for your continued support in what’s been a very long, very tiring but ultimately successful season for us. Here’s hoping your first visit won’t be your last. Except in one or two cases, and you know who you are!