Published on August 20th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard0
Our Delightful Guests In Provence
I so wanted to blog to you each day when I was in France with our tour group this June, but I couldn’t.
Something prevented me from hitting the keyboard despite being surrounded by beautiful French countryside, and I really do mean beautiful. (More about that blogging slackness in a minute.)
France in June is gorgeous. We go there every year at the same time and we always experience the longest day – June 21 – which is the shortest day here. The twilight lingers for hours and hours…it doesn’t get dark until around 11pm and that means the day just goes on and on and on.
Long summer days are excellent for touring, especially trips to all the iconic Provencal towns and villages.
We usually set off around 10 in the morning after breakfast of beautiful French bread and conserves and the sweet apricots and cherries in season – although this year our guests couldn’t go past the Greek yogurt from supermarket Carrefour – they devoured it with the fruit in favour of the bread, which in a way was good because it left more bread for me.
Anyway, we’d set off around 10am and go to places such as Les Baux des Provence, Avignon, Arles, Roussillon, Gordes, and have lovely days there and then get home to our swish maison among the vineyards and the hayfields around 4pm, and then still have hours of daylight left. This meant we could have little naps or laze by the pool or drink more pink wine (mandatory) and then still have hours more of the day left.
Oh, lovely, it was. So very lovely.
We’d have cocktails around 7 in the evening (yes, after the wine) knowing there was still so much of the night ahead.
each day languished its way into twilight and then into long evening and the weather was perfect and the maison was so fancy (actually it was a mansion) and we were all so very happy.
So why didn’t I blog about all this loveliness? I just couldn’t bring myself to leave my lovely guests and hit the laptop.
You know what it’s like when you host a dinner party? How you become anxious that everyone is enjoying themselves? You spend the day preparing, make sure the house is clean and tidy, set the table, cook your heart out? When the guests arrive you flutter about them? Then when it’s underway you keep checking that all the guests are getting on, and the conversation is flowing and everyone is having a good time…because you are THE HOST…(hopefully with the most.) The anxiety kicks in a little, not that you are anxious or nervous, just keen for everyone to have a good time. You know the feeling, no?
Well, that’s what it is like for me the entire 2 weeks of our tour. I’m the host you see (with the MOST…really.) So my whole being for the duration is to care for my guests and make sure every single one of them is happy at all times. Their happiness is my responsibility. That is why I have no power to write or do anything other than worry about them.
Fortunately, all the guests were adorable. Actually, we need a new word for adorable. They were beyond adorable. Everyone ‘got’ each other. We had two beautiful ladies from Alaska. Yes, Alaska.
How did two women from Alaska find me here in this regional town in Queensland, you might ask? And why did they decide to come on tour to Provence with me? The mind questions such an occurrence.
Can you believe they actually found my book, Ooh La La, A Romp in Alaska (how did it get there?), decided they liked the sound of me and the tours I did, and then they had the courage to contact me and make a booking to come on tour with me knowing that they would most likely be with a bunch of Aussies. Brave, no?
Anyway, Brenda and Julie were their names and the minute we met them at Avignon TGV station (our pick up point every year) we felt as though we’d known them forever.
They not only took to us Aussies, but enchanted us with their lovely accents and their many tales of their lifestyle in such a magnificent country. Imagine not only catching your own salmon in such abundance you have to give it away to all your many mates, but imagine canning it in your own backyard? That’s what these cool ladies do with their families. And imagine going out into your own backyard to put out the washing, but having to check first, look right and left at your back door, to be sure a curious moose hadn’t wandered in and might just be in the mood to kick you in the nether regions. Imagine too going for a Sunday afternoon boat ride on your local river, rounding a bend, and coming face to face with a giant brown bear that’d just caught a salmon and had it in his paws. Thrilling, no? We were all fascinated with their Alaskan stories.
Not that the rest of us didn’t have our own stories – we kept up – and those gorgeous Alaskans loved hearing about Australia.
Our guests were all fascinating. We had Leslie and Jill from WA, Karen from NSW, Sharon from Queensland and Jayne from Brisbane. Sadly, very sadly (I was distraught) two of our guests, Lyn and Richard took ill (well, Richard did) in Paris and couldn’t make it. Devastated.
So our beautiful group this year all bonded, loved each other’s company, respected each other and…this is the strange bit…quite liked me. It goes without saying they adored The Man Geoffrey who, I might say, kept their wine glasses topped up for the entire 2 weeks.
We have all made new friends and…that’s what happens when you come on tour with Ann and Geoffrey.
Tell you more later now that I am home and am not hosting anyone (apart from The Man Geoffrey) and have lots of head space to spare so I can write, write, write and blog, blog, blog.