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.
|Frank & Gabrielle|
|Gabrielle & Marion|
|Frank, Gabrielle, Bernard, René|
|Frank, Gabrielle, Bernard, René|
|The waiting game (Lyon airport)|
|Lyon by night (as seen from the plane)|
|On the bus at Heathrow|
|London airport (Heathrow)|
|Singapore airport (Changi)|
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.
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!