Today was our last full day in France. Everybody just wanted to chill out and relax (except Helen and my sister-in-law Sue who went for a run this morning). The gaggle of girls had been up late last night. I went to bed at 1:20am and they were very much still awake at that point. At about 12:30am there had been a loud shriek from the room. It had happened just after a loud (male) voice had shouted out. I figured one of the guys had climbed up the outside of the Chateau and scared the girls. At breakfast this morning my suspicion was confirmed.
Helen and I went into Castillon to do some shopping at the local supermarket (more like a hypermarket). It turned out to not be a very successful trip because the shop was rather boring. We did get one or two items as presents and a few things for ourselves too. We managed to also figure out the French instructions for filling up the car using our credit card (despite my brother-in-law not being able to do it last Sunday!) and we headed backed to relax for the balance of the afternoon. By this stage it was already 32 degrees and the temperature was rising steadily. At 8pm this evening it was 35 degrees. It must still be around 30 degrees outside. The nephews & nieces have just finished having a late night swim. Clothes are strictly optional for sleeping in tonight!
This evening we had our final dinner together. We decided to do the traditional SA thing and have a braai together. The Chateau provided the meat, salads and fruit and we did the braaiing. Somehow or other my brother & I ended up as the tongmasters for the night. And at 35 degrees without a braai in front of you, you can imagine how hot it was in front of the braai. 2 beers and 4 cokes later and I still don’t feel even remotely rehydrated yet. They provided a ton of meat (literally) for us. There was a quarter chicken, a piece of sausage and a piece of steak – one of each for everyone. There was a mountain of meat left at the end. The ice cream at end went down very well.
We also had the ‘official’ family photos tonight. It is a nightmare herding us at the best of times and during a photo session it becomes even worse. Josh did a great job of trying to organise everyone. He may have started to regret marrying into this family after tonight! We never have managed to have a good family photo in the past so I am hoping this one is better than usual (both the larger family shot and also our own family photo).
It remained only to say goodbye to those leaving early tomorrow to catch their flights back to the USA (first group leaves at 6:30am). About half of the group will leave before us and we are unlikely to see before they leave. It was really fond farewells for everyone. No one can believe that it was a week ago that we all arrived in France together. It really has been a great time together and we are all incredibly grateful for my parents facilitating it. Individual families (and family members) are already planning trips to SA or USA or London or Switzerland or somewhere to meet up again in 2014. It has been a great time together – we will have to replicate it again soon.