Last night (after I posted the blog) a massive storm moved past the Chateau. Either that or it was a congregation of ghosts. As it was so hot the windows were all open (no aircon at the Chateau – it was built in 1640 and aircon had not been invented then yet). The wind however came up and howled around the building and through the room. It was so bad I had to actually close one set of windows because everything was been blown around. The young ladies (including Chloe) are all sleeping in the same room. They (this morning) recounted how scared the bunch of them were because of the slamming windows, creaking floor boards and carpets flapping. Add in the mix the lightening and you can see how they might have felt. All I was thinking about was that it was 1am and I wanted to sleep!
I was up at 6:15am this morning because a mosquito had decided to feed on me and the itching had become unbearable. Helen started stirring at about 8:15am and we went for breakfast at 9am. The staff were on insistent on getting our room number. Not sure why given we are the only people staying here. Force of habit probably. Over breakfast we agreed on going canoeing in Brantome.
Brantome is the nearest village and is about 10 kms away. It is a typical picturesque French village and is surround by a river which does a circle around the centre of the village. There were 26 of us going the canoeing and after Piers (my brother-in-law) used his French to good effect to organise the 13 2-man canoes we got our life jackets on and started paddling. Helen and I went together. It was amazing how easily every one paired up. We had the canoes for an hour and it only took about 15 minutes to paddle around the town so we then headed down the river and when we did get back we still had about 15 minutes left so we paddled around the town a second time (or at least Helen and I did and 1 other canoe – the others ditched early). It was quite hard work and I was really sweating by the time we finished.
We then walked into the town and found the only open Patisserie and bought all 10 of their remaining Ham sandwiches. We went back to the side of the river and split the sandwiches between the group (which had reduced somewhat by that stage thankfully otherwise it might have been like feeding the 5000 with 5 loaves). Then finally we went back into the town centre for some ice creams for desert.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Chateau. I managed to sneak in an hour of sleep and then watched the Bulls throw away their Super 15 semi final in the dying moments. This is one example of when I finished technology didn’t allow me to watch the game – I think I am scarred for life after watching them throw away that game!
As today is my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary (they were married on 27 July 1963), there was a formal banquet tonight to celebrate. It was again held in the cellar of the hotel but this time was 4 courses interspersed with various items. We presented my parents with a book containing wishes from many of their friends from around the globe and this was followed by my uncle singing the same hymn he sung at their wedding 50 years ago – Take time to be holy. He was accompanied by my one niece (Kirsten on the flute). My other niece (the film maker from LA who recently got married) had cut my Dad’s 8mm films of their wedding and honeymoon and created two 5 minute movies. They were very well down and are a great documented history of more than just the wedding & honeymoon. I hope my children appreciated them as much as I did. My parents actually said no gifts but their 4 children were all raised to have a mind of their own and so we simply ignored that. We bought them a Dale Elliot painting (which I had carried over from SA with us). We had especially commissioned it with Dale Elliot. It was a painting of the view from our family holiday home at Brenton-on-sea.
My uncle also did a speech and toast (it was billed as a toast only but he did an excellent speech too)! He was the bestman at the wedding 50 years ago and did the speech then too. He is really gifted at speaking and did a fantastic job – very humorous as well as sentimental and reminiscing. And of course there was lots of good food and wine (this is France of course!). Duck was on the menu again but so was guinea fowl. We finished up the evening at about 11:30pm only after having started dinner at 7:30pm. It really was again a most enjoyable evening catching up with the wider family.
Now it is off to bed and hopefully a better night sleep (though it is still quite warm and no wind at all it seems tonight).
P, H, S, M & C