That's not to say of course that we weren't busy. In fact we managed to get three coats of paint on the front and back doors (though we might have cut it a little fine glossing the kitchen doors the morning we left) and the worst couple of windows, making a big difference to those all-too-important first impressions.
Whilst I was painting Martin killed our hedge trimmer by taking a good couple of feet off the hedge in the back garden. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon and we just didn't want to stop. So a trip to buy a more powerful hedger, and some determined lifting on Martin's part made such a difference. We now have more light in the garden, and are able to see the hedge at the far side of the paddock.
Mid-trim, piles of hedge everywhere
We sorted out a new cleaner, a lovely girl who is relatively local - just in time as our first visitors arrived the day after we left. But we didn't manage to speak to the farmer, who appeared not to have been driving his tractor along the track at all as it is now very overgrown, as are the fields. Still, they remain a relaxing place to wander, with just the cows and the birds for company.
View through the courtyard gate
It was good to see friendly faces in the paddock too, where our old friends Limonade and Chauffeau were happily grazing the overgrown grass and weeds.
The house itself looked a picture when we arrived, as the fuchsia were in abundant flower, along with the buddleia at the back teeming with butterflies.
The gas BBQ in the shack was covered in fat and grot, so I gave it a good clean one sunny afternoon and it has now replaced our weary home version, replaced by a straightforward charcoal BBQ which we hope will be easier to maintain (and at any rate will allow friends to sort out their own fuel).
Summer evenings are so gorgeous in Normandy, the time-difference meaning it stays sunny relatively late, giving ample opportunities for a relaxed happy-hour however late one starts thinking of food.
Martin waiting for the fish to BBQ
Having spotted an article about seaweed in the local paper, Martin signed us up for an introduction to harvesting algues on the beach at Granville, so we took a leisurely drive over there one afternoon (barely encountering other traffic) and enjoyed a fascinating couple of hours with a local marine biologist showing us how to identify the various tasty species. She helped us spot which were healthy and described how best to use each, ending with a chatty wash n' chop at the picnic tables so that we were able to bring home a jar of dressed seaweed to use over the next few days.
Before leaving we took a walk up the hill and watched a couple of beautiful paragliders soaring over our heads before heading home for a delicious dinner.
St Sauveur was hosting a Harley-Davidson meet involving entertainment at the Chateau, so we dropped in to peek but left pretty quickly due to the overwhelming array of black leatherwear and buckles in the summer heat. The bikes and bikers were quite a sight!
It has been some time since Emma was working, so Martin was smiling broadly when he drove into the courtyard, engine purring, after sorting out her clutch fluid. They set off down to the lake and came back with the best part of a tree, all ready to be logged for the winter.
So that was that, a relaxing week full of BBQ, delicious meals (we kept buying too much for just the two of us) sun and sunset.