We stayed with Ron and Sharon, friends of Peter and Julie's, and we were to get started on their to-do list. It was the most comprehensive work schedule any host has ever put before us
. We're used to some agreements before we arrive about the type of help and then an informal chat on arrival, possibly with a few things on the back of an envelope. Ron and Sharon are excellent organisers. The list was computerised, sortable, task focussed including priority level, person and comments. One of our first jobs was to help tidy up the loft which was still full of boxes from the move to France. We then understood why our hosts were so good at the lists. They have moved house many times across the world as part of their careers. Each box was electronically inventoried against the box number and there were hundreds of boxes. After a couple of days of sorting it was all restored to order and we happily ticked that job off the list.
I kept busy making shelves, fitting flooring to walls, insulation, building window netting screens and cutting mitres for shelf beading where Laura has beautifully refurbished the shelves. The garden and greenhouse were prepped for the start of the growing season, mainly by Laura.
Spring is on it's way and Laura has been very excited and impatient for the first tree leaves. For now, she is happy with ivy leaved speedwell and bulbs such as crocuses, bluebells and daffs where the frost hasn't killed them.
Sharon loves baking
. This is not a good combination with my appetite. For the most part, the cake tin never empties. I demolished banana cake, walnut and coffee cake, cherry, ginger parkin and others. No matter how hard I tried, the tin would be replenished by the next coffee time. The only break to this was when Sharon was struck by flu for a few days and didn't reload the goodies. Unfortunately, Laura and I did a lot of work to the utility room whilst Sharon was sent to her room. This resulted in a thorough cleaning of the room and fixing a drawer. The drawer where Sharon keeps her baking tins... Thank goodness Brian is designed to carry 17 people.
Finally we arrived back in mid France. Brian waited here for us whilst we journeyed by train, bus and, shamefully, plane to England, Spain and Portugal. We came to help some friends with a bit of DIY and gardening near to Brian's winter hideout. We couldn't collect our van as soon as we'd hoped because of the snow and then the mushy grass. After a week of clear weather and a bit of warmth, Brian started first time and I motored up the slope out of the hanger. Thanks to Peter and Julie for hosting an extra camper for a couple of months. Over the Christmas break, one of their goats became sick. Fortunately we'd left a useful essential oil and some dried herbs in our van that were used for treatment. (Miel the goat is fully recovered if you were worried.)