Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bonjour

the view from our initial drive to the chateau

Day 32, Woke up quick, at about noon. Just knew that we had to be in Amiens soon.
by Jerrad

Oh how glorious it is to wake up by your own accord in your own room. I'm not saying that being mashed in a coffin built for three with six people in it doesn't have it's advantages, but I must say being woken up by your alarm is much nicer than been woken by animated corpse #5 playing sheet karate a half a meter away. As we gathered our belongings for our day of traveling we knew we still had one thing left in Bruges to do: get the best cup of hot chocolate in the world. We thanked our hostel manager Sre, Sri, Syd, Swimmy, Swammy, Swanson? for upgrading us to the luxury suite and made our way to the Old Chocolate House (see last photo of previous post).  
The place was quaint and the store owner was the nicest lady. Another huge plus about the place is that you could buy individual chocolates. You didn't have to buy the twenty-eight pack of the sugar frosted coco-bombs or the suitcase made of chocolate with chocolate bars spelling "Type ll" on the cover. We got a whiskey mocha chocolate piece and two cups of liquid gold to go. The hot chocolate there was amazing. It would have been even better if we had the time enjoy a cup in the establishment. After taking years off our lives we made our way back to the hostel to pick up our things and then headed off to the train station.
I like that Shana lets me handle the travel accommodations. Every time we show up to a train/bus station I can literally (yes, literally) see the anxiety building inside her. After navigating our way through the masses we arrived at our train ready to go to Lille, then Amiens.  
As we pulled into the Amiens station we looked for the main hall where our helpx host was to pick us up. He arrived and gave us small driving a tour of Amiens. 
The chateau we were working at was about thirty kilometers from Amiens. Our host kept asking us if we were physically healthy, what we've eaten in the last five days, if we drank or smoked and if we would mind sitting a pot with vegetables?
Upon arriving at Château de Courcelles sous Thoix we were greeted by our host's parents. We said "bonjour" and they kindly responded "bonjour". We must have got that bonjour spot on because after their initial bonjour a barrage of french missiles, grenades, mortars, and flame throwers were fired in our direction in the form of three sentences. We silently stared at the old couple with a shit eating grin on our faces for what felt like an hour and  replied with our best defense. Our bread and butter move. We inhaled and retaliated with "bonjour". Just then our host came to our rescue and told his parents we didn't speak any french. They smiled and continued in conversation with one another. 
As we were shown to our room, we were told that dinner was at eight and if we wanted to help we could be in the kitchen around 7:30. We decided to tour the estate before heading off to our room to relax.
The grounds were beautiful. It felt like we were in Downton Abbey. We gave ourselves a self-guided tour. Essentially a blind leading the blind with made up facts about the estate. After our tour we headed up to our room to relax before dinnertime.
7:30 came all too quickly. We rushed down the stairs to help with dinner. Our host's sister also helps run the chateau and she was the chef. We would be helping her prepare the dinner. Her english is better than our french. Shana was put in charge of making thin waffle cookies and I was put in charge of dishes. I could hear Shana laughing and giggling and having a grande ol' time while I wash, rinsed, and dried. She had a long day and this was the first time all day I saw her having a lot of fun and that made me happy. Travel days are Shana's arch-nemesis. Her laughing reminded me of what my dad used to tell me "Happy Wife, Happy Life." Once Shana was done making thirteen thousand cookie waffles and I washed, dried & repeated x one trillion, we all sat down for dinner. 
If you've never eaten dinner in France you should try it. We sat down for what seemed to be an eighteen course dinner. Dish after dish after dish was being place before our eyes. Mountains of piping hot food and picturesque plates flew by are faces. I was looking around for the other lost boys so I could yell out "Bangarang". Im going to gain 55 lbs this week. I can feel it. Not only were there multiple courses, got a different wine with each one. Our host told us a quote as he poured our wine. He said, "A meal without wine is like a day without sun." We couldn't agree more. This was the best meal we've had since we've been abroad. It was amazing. There were even two desserts. We had five different kinds of cheese for dessert number one and cookie waffles for dessert number two. This helpx is going to be hard to leave. Shana told me she wants to live here now.
Shana and I washed dishes and cleaned up. We thanked our hosts for an amazing dinner and headed off to bed.

Day 33, Helpx Heaven
by Shana

We started our first full work day at 9 by eating a light breakfast of toast, spreads and yogurt. Our first task was to head to the market with our host's sister. The market was a tiny outdoor one (see chart a3) with fresh produce, fromage (that's France talk for cheese) and rotisserie carcasses. After picking up groceries, we headed back to the chateau to prepare for lunch. I love that entire days are revolved around preparing meals. We got back and did some light food prep - peeling carrots, cucumbers and snapping beans in half. The tasks they give us are so lovely that I actually enjoy them.
The next thing we knew, lunch was ready. There was carrot salad, cucumber salad, bread and cider. Since it was only noon and we knew our next meal wouldn't be until about 9pm that night, we tried to eat as much veggies and bread as possible to fill up until dinner. That's when we found out that lunch has 18 courses as well. The next course was lamb, potatoes and green beans. Then came the bread and cheese. And after that was dessert; waffles and coffee. So, you can understand why I'm moving to the chateau.
After lunch our host mentioned he was going to his cousin's farm to help harvest wheat until midnight, so we should get ready to go with him in the afternoon (if weather permitted). I knew our light food prep and dishwashing job was too good to be true. I started to mentally prepare myself for a midnight harvest when our host explained that he would be bringing along two bicycles for us to ride home after we toured the farm. We were confused at first, but then realized our host kindly wanted to give us a tour of his cousin's farm and was encouraging us to go on a lovely bike ride through town afterwards. That's right, not only are we not harvesting stupid potatoes and garlic, but our host thoughtfully takes us out to sight see and go on bike rides. The weather ended up not cooperating, so the farm visit was postponed until the next day.
Our job in the evening was to pit some plums, set the table and eat everything in sight. That night we had yet another delicious dinner. We ate stuffed tomato halves, some sort of fish-loaf pate (le barf), pasta, meat sauce, vegetables, bread, cheese, apple tart and wine.
After dinner we headed to bed but unfortunately we were hyper. After making each other laugh and giggling for an hour we decided it was time to relax and try to sleep. That's when my head hit the pillow and my eyes went to the ceiling; where I saw a spider the size of my fist. My immediate response was to jump out of the window and just die, but luckily my handsome, manly husband came to the rescue. Mr. Husband gently put Mr. Spider into a cup covered with paper. He opened our window and put the upside-down cup outside. Unfortunately Mr. Spider was afraid of heights and refused to come out. After we built up Mr. Spider's confidence and coaxed him out (read: Jerrad shook the cup like crazy and used some paper to brush him out) he was released into the wild. At that point we (read: me) were emotionally exhausted and passed out.


the chateau

happy fun waffle making time

I got handed this when I attempted saying the number three in French and failed


FROMAGE

underneath the chateau where homemade cider is created

To bean, or not to bean?

making plum jam

the babiest, cutest, wittle cup of coffee ever

the fuzziest, wuzziest, biggest bee ever





3 comments:

  1. Great blogging as usual. Glad you aren't doing hard labor(yet?) and that your getting fat off the French land. Sounds like the spiders are eating well, too. Pics are great, the host family sounds super. Mummsy

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  2. the mummsiest wummsiest ever

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  3. I should be a good friend and say how happy I am for you both to be staying in such a beautiful place, eating amazing food...but I'm really jealous and it makes me miserable to read about your happiness. I can tell you this because I'm like Shana and she will understand these feelings. Jerrad, I'm sorry we're like this by nature, but thank you for understanding about hunger monster, tired-grumpy-pants and plain old 'I'm mad because I didn't get my way'. Jim says I'm like a child sometimes (last night, literally), but I don't get it.

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