The big event this month was the arrival of two new members of the family. We have two golden retriever pups named Chanel and Chablis. They are three months old with the same father but different mothers. We always said after Rosie died that one day we would have another dog but something a bit smaller than a retriever and we would wait until we had established the business and got our routines sorted out.
We knew about this breeder north of Dijon who has specialised in retrievers for many years and so decided to go when Sophie was at school and to say nothing to her of our plans. So on Thursday 28th, having got rid of the lunch crowd we put a sign up in the window ‘Back at 6pm’ and set off.
We arrived a bit late and with five litters of pups to choose from there was no way we would be back by 6pm. We phoned Sophie and asked her to change the sign on the door to open again Friday. ‘Where are you?’ she asked. ‘Dijon. We are running late’. By 5pm we narrowed it down to two and put them together to compare them. They started playing together and that decided it. We discussed the pros and cons, company for each other, twice the vet’s bills, twice the food, twice the mess, and yes, the cons outweighed the pros but the pros got it!! The owner said that very few people take two dogs and the last time it happened, it was also an English couple!!
We finally got back at 7.30 and Sophie was waiting as asked to help unload the car. ‘Mummy’s bought the whole of Ikea, hasn’t she?’ (Becca does have a bit of a reputation). ‘No, to be honest, we decided to go and look for a puppy, but we couldn’t decide on one’. With that, Nick opened the tailgate, ‘so we got two!!!’ Sophie just burst into tears.
Three days on, as I write, they are well settled and not nervous of all the people coming and going. Saturday night we had twenty people in for dinner and they just lay quietly in their basket, totally calm. They sleep together in the garage and we have to wake them up in the mornings (they take after Nick) and eat each other rather than shoes, furniture and the like. Furthermore, we have only had one puddle in the bar, and two messes and a puddle in the garage so far. They are very good at going outside to do their business. Our customers adore them but funnily enough are not familiar with the race as we English. Most ask what breed they are but all agree they are beautiful!!
Jill and Bert’s house-hunting took a turn for the better when we discovered our old neighbour at Montlaville had finally decided to sell his house (after a bit of coercion and pushing). They had been able to view it the last time they stayed with us and loved it. It was just a question of Bernard and Florence deciding on a price and a timescale. They were already living next door having renovated the adjoining property, which was smaller and more suited to them as the children had left home but they wouldn’t be hurried. They finally came to the boil on the morning of the 11th Feb, the day we were off on holiday, and after a few frantic phone calls between here and Amsterdam a deal was done half an hour before we left for the airport. Further developments will be in the March bulletin as Jill and Bert are coming down for the weekend of 7th March, hopefully to sign the ‘compromis de vente’.
Our last holiday was a month before we left UK, two weeks in Portugal in July 2004 so as things here have been going better than we ever anticipated and the fatigue level was quite high we decided we deserved a week away. Hence, on the 11th we flew off to Hurghada in Egypt to relax by the Red Sea. We booked an all-inclusive package in a French-run hotel and were amazed at the quality. The Egyptian staff took to us well as we spoke English, a language they prefer and find easier than French.
Sophie drew a lot of admirers and we almost negotiated a deal for 1,000 camels, two shops and a boat. Nick said he preferred Marlboro to Camel and that blew the deal – better luck next time!! We had a wonderful time eating and drinking far too much and came back refreshed and tanned to the most amazing weather.
For most of the week we were away the sun shone and all the wild daffodils flowered in the woods, three to four weeks early.
We returned on Monday 18th and were able to eat outside every lunchtime profiting from our decision not to reopen until Friday 23rd, the day before the big rugby match.
The rugby always keeps us busy and the Six Nations so far has been no exception. We get a lot of support for the French games, naturally, but the BIG one is always France – England, I can’t think why. Anyway, it was decided we would do a tartiflette (which features as this month’s recipe) and salad, followed (by popular demand) ‘typsy laird’, the Scottish alcoholic trifle. Not having much time to advertise, having just returned from holiday, we put a big advert on our blackboard outside. At mid-day we had twelve reserved, but by three o’clock another fifteen had put their names down and Becca shot into Tournus to get more salad and reblouchon cheese. In the end we had 36 eating plus a few more in for a drink. The result was great for us (and the till) and the weekend was capped off by Spurs beating Chelsea in the final of the Carling Cup!!