Thursday, 17 January 2013

The home coming...

Sunday 16 January

By the time I am writing this we're a few days down the track and I really have to try to cast my memory back to France!

Sunday morning.  The big cleaning day, or anyhow, what's left.  Upstairs we've already done and are now sleeping in the spare bedroom, so only downstairs is waiting.  Kitchen, cellar, lounge room (although we've never used this room, a bit of vacuuming and dusting never hurts) and the main living area in the kitchen.  We've never found anything to clean the tiled floor with properly so it's not very easy, but in the end it looks presentable.  The kitchen was a big job, because this has also looked it has never been cleaned well, but I decide that I am not going to leave it any cleaner than when we arrived.  Once before I have left a kitchen cleaner than we've found it, but I am not going to make a habit of it. :-)

By the time I am putting the last cleaning tools away there is a knock on the door and Mireille and Bernard enter.  We make coffee and sit down to have a last chat.  At least, that's what I thought, because they are here to invite us for a last get-together at their place later in the afternoon.  So after a while they leave and I am going to have a bit of a rest, because I had gotten up with a migraine type of headache, which is not improving.  Resting in the chair is not working, so an hour or so in bed in a dark room might do the trick.

Not so.  By 2:30 pm I come down and feel even worse than before.  When it's time to go we decide that Frank will go and I will follow if I improve.  If not, so be it.  I am desperately sick at first but after an hour or so things improve slightly and I feel that perhaps a walk in the cold air might do me good, so I walk over to next door.  Everyone seems to have been waiting for me.  Even George has come down to say goodbye to us.  When I tell them what is wrong and that I have an upset stomach as well as a headache they give me an effervescent, which seems to work for a while.  I even feel like having a coffee.  Mireille has made a St Genis cake and it tastes even better than the one we ordered from the baker some time ago.  So we while the afternoon away with chatting, having cake and coffee and more cake and coffee.  We talk about the wildlife in France and Australia and Bernard produces a number of beautiful picture books.  I learn that the birds we have seen are buzzards.

Common buzzard

Again I have used a picture off the internet, since we've never been able to stop along the roadside, nor do I have the appropriate camera to photograph wildlife so beautifully.  However, we have seen many of them.  sometimes up to eleven or so, sitting in the fields or on fence posts, like in the picture above.

Back to Sunday afternoon.....  By six o'clock I am going to spoil the fun again, because both my headache and nausea are returning with a vengeance, and I need to be fit for travelling tomorrow.  We say goodbye to the whole family and we really feel like we are leaving very good friends behind.  These people have been so kind...

At home I feel to sick to eat and Frank is not hungry after all the cake, so he's having a quick and easy meal.  Gabrielle rings to confirm that they'll pick us up at nine am tomorrow.  We're packed and ready, so we're going to have an early night.

Monday 17 January

We have decided to get up at six to give ourselves plenty of time to get ready.  Breakfast and showers first. Beds done, bathroom done, we pack the last bit and bring all the suitcases outside.  A last wiping of the tiled floor and it's close to nine.  Gabrielle and Bernard arrive on the dot, so we head for Lyon.  In a way I am sorry to leave.  It's such a beautiful country at the foot of those majestic mountains and we did have good times.  (The few bad ones are quickly forgotten.)

We're in time to meet René   He's looking well and not worse for wear after his long trip.  It takes some time to get everything settled, like the parking, but once it's done we make our way outside to the airport hotel.  René insisted we'd try to drop off our luggage, but British Airways tell us that we have to wait till two hours before departure (as I could have told René, but he 'knows' everything so well, since he travels a lot!)

In the hotel Gabrielle and Bernard catch up with René's stories about the holiday and after a while it's time to have lunch, which we are having together.  A nice way to round off the holidays for the three of us.

Frank & Gabrielle

Gabrielle & Marion

Frank, Gabrielle, Bernard, René

Frank, Gabrielle, Bernard, René
Since they need an hour and a half to get home, and do some shopping on the way, they leave shortly after lunch.  This means that Frank and I have to kill time till at least 4:20 pm, which we do back at the airport.  I am glad I've got my Kindle, and a few good books on it, so the wait is not too bad.

The waiting game (Lyon airport)
At 4:20 pm we are back at BA check in point and print our boarding passes after which we turn to the Bag Drop Off behind us.  The girl tells us that she can't accept our bags, because there is another plane that needs to take off first and the bags would get mixed up (sort of...)  She speaks a heavily accented English, so we can't understand her.  We ask her to explain more clearly what's the matter.  She does, with little improvement and Frank and I both understand that we have to come back 20 minutes before departure time.  That's odd, but it's also odd that the bags can't be checked in 2 hours before departure, since that's the customary time.  Well, we walk back and have a cup of coffee.  Our last chance to have a piece of the lovely Galette Frangipane, which goes down well.

Then we walk back to BA's check in counter and discover.... everything is closed!!!  What the heck is going on here?  We ask at the information desk and are being told that we are too late for check in and baggage drop off.  Uuhhh???  So, we go into discussion with this young lady, but we are consistently told that it is Our Fault!  She will arrange a new flight for the next day....!!!  Well, that got me so mad....  Anyway, to keep a long story short, she relented in the end and got someone to check in our bags.  This still took a while, so by the time (we were told off for a second time and) and had our bags gone through we ran for the gate, which by Murphy's Law is not the first one on the list, and made it to security with a few minutes to spare.  Security, as you all know, is hell since 2001 and it's not getting any better, in particular when you're in a hurry.  Jackets in the tray, shoes off (Frank), belt off (Frank), laptop out of the bag in a tray, Kindle out of my handbag in a tray, handbag in a tray, etc. etc.  Cleared, we want to run, but......... no the police needs to see our passports, of course! And finally we make it to the plane where the last people are still boarding.  Boy, are we ever glad that we made it, and are we for ever sure that we are not flying BA again if we can help it!  

The flight to Heathrow is quite uneventful and at least the staff is pleasant.  By the time we leave Lyon airport it's dark and we will arrive in the dark at Heathrow as well.

Lyon by night (as seen from the plane)
In Heathrow it's the same old, same old.  Two buses to get to the right terminal and endless walking up and down corridors and escalators.  It doesn't leave much time between flights, but that's okay.  We want to keep going anyway.

On the bus at Heathrow

London airport (Heathrow)
The next flight is to Singapore.  I wish I could say 'uneventful', but no, with BA it just isn't.  This time the entertainment centre is not working and takes an hour or so for the technicians to get it up and running.  I can't read in the meantime, because my reading light isn't working either!  Further in the flight toilets get blocked, so it makes you wonder if the crucial parts will keep working till we have landed......  An other survey form would have come in handy!

At Singapore airport we have a longer wait, but it isn't too bad. Changi always offers lots of things and we walk around a bit, including one of the gardens:

Singapore airport (Changi)
We find some easy chairs (hard to find at any other airport) and we eat some of the cheese, dates and figs that we have taken with us.  After another walk we sit down with a cup of coffee and then it's slowly getting close to boarding time.  We're happy to sit down again after we have cleared security yet again...

Wednesday 16 January

The final flight with Qantas was fine.  Friendly people, nice food and... everything worked for a change.  I even managed to sleep a little bit, but for most of the time I've been reading and I watched a movie.  We finally arrive at 7 am, nice and early.  However, not early enough to have beaten other planes, so the line for customs is endless and we're in the queue for seemingly hours.  At least we don't have to wait for our luggage.  We don't spend much time at customs to get our suitcases cleared, because we have declared our food and other stuff and all gets okayed (as expected).  Finally, at 9 am we can ring the airport shuttle to pick us up.  We pick up the car and drive home, so a good hour later we're home, sweet home!

And there we are in for a bit of a surprise.  Remember we had problems about the use of the car? Well, I shouldn't have worried about it.  Nor about cleaning René's house so thoroughly.  First thing I notice is the table rug lying on the floor.  Now, I know it's very old-fashioned, but it's by choice that I still have my table covered with an Oriental carpet.  Why René has put it on the floor is beyond me, but it's clear that he wanted it off the table, because it's replaced by a small woven placemat on which is placed the crystal fruit bowl that normally sits in the centre of the table.  How odd!  The bathroom rugs are all in different places, but not in the bathrooms.  And when I have a good look around the place I can tell that almost everything is out of place.  A lot of stuff has been put into cupboards or is just lined up somewhere else....  In the kitchen most of the pots and pans and other things are everywhere but in their right place.  Worst of all, he has taken it upon himself to put dots with a black marker on the various ceiling fan switches.  It's something I wouldn't dream of doing in other people's houses.  At least, not with a black marker!  And....... I can't find my key box anywhere, which has always been on the wine rack in the hallway.  We look through the whole house and eventually I start doubting myself.  It was there when we left, wasn't it???

Anyway, we have plenty to do, so we have a cup of coffee first and then start unpacking.  After that we spend some time re-arranging all the stuff and I send off an email to René about the keys, which, he tells me eventually by return email, he has put in the hallway linen cupboard, because they were in full view from the front door and that was unsafe. Well, I would have preferred to worry about that myself if the need would have been there!

When I go and have a look at the garden, which seems alright, I notice a plastic bag with some stuff on top of the airconditioning unit on the patio.  At closer inspection I discover that it is a broken garden ornament.  No note, no nothing!  I wasn't really attached to the thing, but..... an apology would have been nice.  Are we stupid or what? In America we slightly damaged the screen of the GPS and replaced it by a new one, because that's what you do, I thought.  In France we broke a drinking glass and bought a new set of three.  There is no written etiquette for house exchangers, but I thought that amongst most of those people common courtesy would be to at least apologise for breakage, or better, replace items by something of equal or better value if at all possible.  

One thing is sure, the house will gradually need a good clean up.  The floors are okay, but I don't think René has used the duster very often and the kitchen....... is beyond belief.  It's very possible that the stove top (ceramic, so it's an easy to clean surface) has not been cleaned once!  The whole area around it is sticky to the touch and oh so greasy.  It takes a good work-out with Jif and hot soapy water to get the kitchen and everything in it shiny again.  After that I am too pooped to do much else, so it's an early night for us.  We are going to catch up on some necessary sleep and tomorrow?  Tomorrow we're back to everyday life......... till the next trip.  See you then and thanks for following us on our trip to France.

By the way, don't ask me to tell you which exchange I have most liked out of the four so far.  Every one was different, and even though the last one had a few minor problems I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for the world.  I might not have been very excited about the house, but everything else made the exchange worth while: neighbours, surroundings, the history of the places, even the snow!  That was a bonus!


  1. Wat een reis, gelukkig zijn jullie weer veilig thuis gekomen!!!
    het verbaast me jammer genoeg niet dat jullie het huis zo onverzorgd terug hebben gevonden, ik zou maar snel alles weer op zijn plek zetten, goed schoonmaken en alleen nog aan de leuke dingen van deze reis terug denken :-)

    Oh, en nog een vraagje...dit Blog is nu toch privé???
    Zou je dan misschien erover na willen denken om die woordverificatie weg te halen??? Ik word daar zo tureluurs van en moet soms wel 3 keer opnieuw proberen voor hij hem pakt ;-)

  2. We herinneren ons ook alleen de leuke dingen hoor. Dat je je huis op zo'n manier terug vind 'schokt' je even op het moment van het ontdekken. Daarna is het weer snel vergeten.

    Ik ben blij dat je die woordverificatie meldde, Margriet. Ik had geen flauw benul dat dat aanwezig was. Ik heb er zelf ook zo'n gruwelijke hekel aan. Waarschijnlijk sinds het updaten van Blogger een automatische setting geworden. Is dus meteen verwijderd nu.

  3. Welkom thuis Marion. Wat een domper, eerst zo'n reiservaring en dan je huis zo terugvinden .
    Mijn oma zou gezegd hebben: ' ach ja, een man alleen hè' .............


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