Sunday, September 07, 2008

Same Procedure As Last Year

What does this title make you think of? Well, if you are Swedish (possibly Scandinavian), German or watch German telly, you might know what I am referring to. You see, we stayed in a chateau in France when we went on a little mini holiday during the stay in our house. It was in the Loire valley and this chateau had once been a hunting "lodge", a rather grand one, which belonged to one of the most famous castles in France, Chenanceau. This grand chateau strides the Loire river and is a real tourist trap. Even on holiday I do not want to waste time standing in line for hours on end to get a look. Life is too short. Better google and look at the pictures there!

Our little castle was somewhat more modest and was situated in the countryside ten or twenty kilometers away. It was privately owned, had vineyards and a few rooms for guests.

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When we arrived at the time agreed, there was nobody to greet us. Mrs S went to investigate while I was on the look-out in the car. Mrs S could not find anybody anywhere. Several minutes went by and we were starting to wonder what to do. Suddenly two young girls in swimming outfits appeared from somewhere on their way to the swimming pool which we had spotted behind a hedge. Mrs S spoke to them and one of them dashed off to fetch what we believed was her mother.

It did not take us long to realise that this landlady must have had a rather liquid lunch and had been sleeping it off on a couch somewhere. She duly showed us our room, The Yellow Room, but was not, shall we say, over-informative. It is a not uncommon phenomenon in France, having to ask about everything since they do not volunteer the information. Luckily Mrs S speaks rather good French, so we managed.

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We stayed three nights and we had the pleasure of studying Mrs Landlady's progression through the day. In the mornings she was fine, a clear eye and a steady foot. In the afternoons she did her best to hide her state of inebriation. In the evenings, well...

We had signed up to do some wine tasting one late afternoon, and after that we were having supper in the chateau. The tasting was very enjoyable. Their viticulturist told our group of about ten people all about it and took us through the different types of wine, talking about soil, climate, weather etcetera.


Then came supper. There was a young French couple with their three-year-old and Mr and Mrs S, and we were served by our lovely hostess and landlady. The table was set in the beautiful dining room among all sorts of old artifacts and objects. On it stood one half-empty bottle of white wine and one half-empty bottle of red, quite obviously left over from the earlier tasting. Then the show started. Now think "Same procedure..."

All the courses were cold but for the dessert and were quite delicious, but we only saw the two half-empty bottles all evening. She started by talking at length about the homegrown beef tomatoes, just like her mother used to make them. They were good, but c'mon, not that good. We figured out that she had not actually cooked anything herself, more likely been to the butcher or delicatessen and bought ready-made food.

She was drunk when the meal started, and I believe she kept filling up her glass every time she was in the kitchen. What a sight she was! When she appeared in the kitchen door you could see how she concentrated, aimed for the table with great determination and holding the plates with a desperately firm grip. Just like the butler in the TV show referred to in the title, she kind of leant forward to propel herself across the room, trying to focus on not tripping over the edge of the big rug. And all the time she had that oh-no-I-am-not-drunk smile on her face accompanied by those alcohol-heavy eyelids. Hilarious! But we all kept our cool and did not comment at the table. Mrs S and I saved it all for later, and then we laughed like mad together.

As I mentioned before, all the courses but for the dessert, were cold. The dessert was served to one person at a time. Reason? The well-known ping sound from the microwave oven gave it away. She put some sort of fruity sponge pudding in the microwave, one at a time! Then PING ... and in she trotted and put one small plate in front of one person, then she repeated it, ... PING ... next one, and so on.

The whole meal was an absolute farce, a travesty, a comedy performance of great magnitude, so great that we never for a second thought of complaining or commenting. We had the best seats in an unforgettable show.



Diane Mandy said...

Welcome back! SOunds like things got off to a bit of a rough start. Looking forward to hearing more.

swenglishexpat said...

Diane - Thanks, but it was hilarious watching this landlady at work! :-)

CanadianSwiss said...

OMG! That must have been hilarious to watch! I think I would have peed myself..... LOL

swenglishexpat said...

CS - I think we almost did!