My friend's cat felt so happy that we had dropped in for a cup of tea that he decided to straddle and relax, oh how I wish we had the ability to join in and enjoy.
Yesterday I scrutinised the inbox for news and insight and I was sit-me-down pleased to see a message from Jill and Tony over in Vindefontaine inviting us over for tea and cake. Gill’s French teacher, well good friend really, was over and as I had shown an interest in talking to French people about the French occupation of the second world war, Gill kindly thought of me and asked us over to have a chat over tea.
Monique is a very stylish woman in her eighties I would guess, she was fifteen when the Germans came to town and she spoke of her fear and acceptance of the situation they found themselves in with the enemy living in their home and the outside world at war. The entire conversation would take a blog and a half to cover but one story will stick in my mind. One of the live-in German officers offered to give his hosts a piano concert the night before D day, I was gobsmacked that although the films and interpretations of that night want you to believe that the Germans had no Idea what was going to happen, well, yesterday, I had it at first hand that they really had no concept of the impending act of history that was to follow their little concert that evening. When the parachutes descended on that famous night it was the French who spotted them first and the Germans were thrown into confusion and chaos that even after 68 years Monique was able to convey and describe from the eyes of a fifteen year old young lady at the brink of freedom yet not knowing just how it would end. We parted after nearly two hours, which is rather excessive for afternoon tea, but we promised we would do this again and I really hope we will. We also discovered that Monique is a close friend to Pierre Leclerc with whom we make cider at La capitanerie every year and she was tickled pink that she had met the English friends of Jacqueline who have picked her apples these past three years. Monique said that she had heard about this wonderful English couple who turn up every year to help and there we were larger that life just wondering how small the world could get before it pinged out of existence.
Today we went to the beach to give HOSS a good run and as we have become professional beach combers, we are rarely put off by a good find just because it is huge wet and full of sand. This beautiful length of mooring rope will make a perfect retainer around one of my gardens and I was so very excited that the effort of dragging it off the beach was well worth while. On the way home we took the opportunity to pop into some other friends we have recently made whose home we have been passing for the past three and a half years three times a week and had commented on what a great place it looked like and today we stopped and had tea. The question now is, when is a manoir a chateaux, well believe me today I think I sussed it. A chateaux for me is when the building declares that it has pedigree, savoir faire, a majestic attitude and stands back as you look at it and says, I am special. Marianne and Ray have breathed new life into this once long abandoned shooting lodge where you can allow your imagination to delve way back to the Kings and Queens of France before it all went pear shaped and France became who she is today. Ray gave us a tour and I was swept into a time and period that was grand and tasteful and this glorious home lives again with the attention to detail, love and care that is being bestowed on her. The most other amazing part of this visit was the mini D-Day museum that Ray and Marianne have developed to receive and entertain tourists on the D-day battle appreciation tours that pass by non stop throughout the summer. I salute this couple who have not only embraced and put a slice of French history in aspic but they have also captured the atmosphere of the D-day story by offering a venue that allows enthusiasts to relive and appreciate this historic event. I imagine their summer is none stop and I imagine it must feel like the work will never stop but just imagine how great their customers must feel when they go home and talk about their visit to Normandy and their visit to the majestic chateaux at St Marie Le Mont, that Ray calls a manoir but I beg to differ, she is a chateaux.