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Now, you remember me telling you about our Outdoor Philosopher, Harry? Well we heard a while back of a website created to provide the communication link between travellers and hosts to facilitate a similar arrangement. The idea is that people like us register as ‘hosts’. We provide the traveller with food and shelter in return for help around the place. Some helpers have very unique skills like carpentry, plumbing, electrics etc. Others just bring a unique perspective and boundless enthusiasm. We’ve had a few people wanting to help us here, but the timing wasn’t right for us or for them. Obviously, people love to be here in France in the summer, but for us that’s nigh on impossible to provide accommodation wise. But, after Harry left, Syb & I decided that we needed yet more help around here and were contacted by Marieke (pronounced Ma-ry-e-keh), a young German girl who was in Paris, but longed for some peace & quiet! Here fer gawd’s sakes!

Actually, it is reasonably peaceful here just now, and Marieke’s taken to this place (and us to her, it has to be said) like a duck to water! We’ve had a great week so far with her, she’s given us some much needed impetus to get on and get things done that have been festering for months! Today, she’s been joined by her boyfriend Manuel, who’s driven down from Germany to see her. Today, we’re working as normal, tomorrow though, we’ve suggested they take off and explore the area. We have another week with Marieke, and we’re seriously considering adopting her! Great company, great worker and a lovely girl all round!

The campsite’s taken a bit of a battering this year so far. Each time we think it’s dry enough to drive on, we’ve had to push, shove, grunt and generally manhandle cars, vans and caravans back off, and place them either on higher ground, away from the boggy stuff, or on the hard standing driveways. Sunday last, we had a ‘drop-in’ – our term for a camper who hadn’t booked in. They liked the look of the place (the sun was shining, birds singing) and decided to chance one of the corner pitches. Their ‘bus’ is a 3 and a half tonne beastie, which clearly wasn’t up to the soft-ground, and became stuck as fast as I could shout ‘STOP!’

Much pushing, grunting and swearing ensued, all the other guests played admirable parts in the charade which followed. Great ruts were formed in the making of this fiasco, but fortunately no animals were harmed, and all tempers and senses of humour were kept intact. Eventually, after an hour of jacking up wheels, placing carpets, wedges, rush mats under tyres. Of pushing and shoving, pulling & grunting to no avail, I gave in! In the car, I whizzed off to see first Gérard for the loan of a man and tractor. Gérard was off visiting family (Sunday, you see), so next port of call, whizzing past our place to the confused stares from various campers, was to Michel’s place. Michel’s a forestiere, a forestry worker, and Sunday afternoon would normally find him a bit worse for wear, but God (or whoever’s in charge of campsite owner’s sanity up there) decided to smile on me, and Michel was more than capable of driving his huge forestry tractor down to ours, attaching a line to the bus and pulling him free of the Somme-like trenches!

Now, you may think after all this palaver, that the owners of the bus would simply say “er….just one night please” – but no. After we’d relocated them on the nice hard standing next to the old barn, there they stayed for 5 nights, leaving just this morning. A lovely couple, with a great attitude to camping, they’ve been a part of what makes Le Chant d’Oiseau so special to us. They’ve ‘got us’, and what we’re trying to do here. We’ve shared some laughs with them, eaten with them and drank with them. Someone else we’ll be sorry to see leave the place, but hopefully, now they know where we are, they’ll be back one day soon. Hopefully not after a few months of seemingly relentless rainfall though!

Friends from the UK arrive here tomorrow. Ant & Tara have been regular visitors to Le Chant since we became the owners, on their own or with other friends at first, and now with their own little boy, Joe. Or – ‘Little Joe’, in true Bonanza stylee! They’ve usually stayed in Chardonneret, and indeed, they tell us they think that’s where Little Joe was made! I have to take advice from them both tomorrow as to whether they’d like to enlarge their family, before we decide on their accommodation…

So, with the weather set fair (for a change) a barbeque could be on the cards, and it’ll be a true european nations affair, with our friends from the UK, Marieke and Manuel from Germany and our first French guests of the year too. Looking forward to it, very much!

Until the next time, au revoir.

TBC

All content © Le Chant d’Oiseau, 2006-2008

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