So the much heralded trip to France with our parents has finally arrived. This could well be a pretty stressful trip and they will take some looking after. My mother is 80 this year and has a whole raft of medical conditions, the main symptom of which is that she becomes breathless really quickly when she does any sort of physical activity. Wife's parents are in their mid 70s and more mobile than my mother.
We are on our way around 5:00, all 5 of us wedged in the land rover and with the roof box full to bursting. Our first problem is getting my mum safely to her room as she has trouble with the flights of stairs on the ferry. But we take it easy and she is soon settled in and decides to go straight to sleep rather than have a meal on the boat.
Wife's parents are extremely excited by it all and want to set off exploring the boat after our meal. Luckily I have the excuse of the long drive tomorrow, so I can get an earlier night
Well I had a good nights sleep but everyone else seems to have found it a bit bumpy. But regardless of this, everyone is up at the right time and we have time for breakfast. The 4 hour drive down is relatively uneventful and we just have one stop on the way. And we just about have enough room to get a few bags of shopping into the car on the way down.
Everyone really loves the house, helped by the sun having come out and it being quite warm. We can have lunch outside on the terrace.
A quiet afternoon at the house sorting stuff out and a chance for Wife to see what I've been doing to Petits Chats on the last trip.
Everyone had a great night's sleep apparently - indeed Wife had her first full nights sleep since we were last here in February. My mum also had a really good sleep. I, by contrast, was up before 6:00 so I could do some work on Petits Chats.
Grant and Simon were round this morning to work on the terrace, while we went out for the day to La Rochelle - the first time Wife has been there. It is sufficiently off-season for us to be able to park in the central car park, which is just as well as my mum is finding walking hard going already. So Wife takes her parents off for a walk round the back streets, while mum and I have a leisurely stroll along the sea front, stopping to buy some presents in a "Products Regionaux" shop, before settling in a nice lunch spot for a drink.
Wife and parents stumble across us some while later and luckily we can all agree on food to have here. It is not long after we are settled in that just about all the waterfront tables are taken across all the restaurants. I have moules-frites, one of my favourites
Walking round after lunch is not so good as mum is soon over-tired, but we gradually make our way back to the car after what is agreed was a really nice trip out. Everyone sleeps on the way home.
Everyone has another good night's sleep and is more-or-less up and doing by 9:30 ready for a trip into St Jean to go to the market. As usual, the highlight purchase is "Victor" bread and "mousse de canard". French markets are always a real treat and everyone is impressed with what's available.
We have a drink at Ellis Park and meet Dave, our estate agent friend, who tells us that everything is going well for our new purchase and that the paperwork should be done in a week or so. Wife is very excited by this news.
We just have time to call in the garden centre for grass seed and a few other bits. And I can also pop in the local cave for 2 litres of 13% vin de table.
Lunch is taken on the terrace again and is a real treat.
We have a quiet afternoon at the house, with some work on the lawns - weeding and re-seeding. Wife and I have time for a quick walk up to see Oscar - our first quiet time during the trip so far.
Another trip to St Jean this morning and a more-thorough look round the garden centre. We have bought 20 lavender plants to go in by the terrace (when it is done)
I had hoped that Wife and I might be able to have an evening out together this evening but Wife's parents want to come too (my mum was happy to have an early tea and go to bed early after watching a couple of Lovejoys on tv)
So we head out in time for a drink at Ellis park and then to the Annexe for our meal. Wife's parents have the very unimaginative choice of vegetable soup followed by an omelette - but at least they have experienced another French meal.
Another long day out with a trip down to the Isle d'Oleron. This is via the rather lovely village of Mornac which turns out to be largely closed today. But we drive on to St Pierre, where there is a fantastic cake shop
Lunch is a bit of an effort with my mum ordering a very large salad and then finding that she didn't like the cheese and that it had mushrooms in it (to which she thinks she is allergic). She made a big fuss about having the mushrooms picked out and then got it into her head that she had been brought the wrong salad as it had loads of things she wasn't expecting. But actually it was correct and she just hadn't spotted that it had the other stuff in it (including the mushrooms)
Wife was keen for us to then find somewhere where she and her parents could have a little walk, so I selected randomly the coastal village of La Cotiniere which actually turned out to be really nice. My mum stayed off the beach but seemed to enjoy just sitting and looking at the ocean view. I spent 30 minutes taking photos and Wife and her parents got their walk - which they seemed to enjoy a great deal.
Our last meal is back at the house - Wife's favourite of chicken with peppers, onion and chorizo
Another trip into St Jean for the market again. We met Dave again briefly, and Wife was able to get me to buy her a few things at "Dressing with Lisa" which she seemed very pleased with.
We depart around 3:30, stop for food near Le Mans and get to Caen in plenty of time. Quite a week!
Wife's parents have talked about nothing else but France since we got back and have been totally thrilled by the whole experience. Indeed my mum also really enjoyed it. Both sets of parents have really understood why we love it here so much. So if we do decide to spend even more time here, they now know why!