We are just back from taking Rosemary to Brussels for her train back to London.
On the way we didn’t chat as much as we did coming home 11 days ago. There must have been 1001 more things I wanted to ask but I felt a bit empy knowing that this was the end of a delightful time spent getting to know my sister but, of course, we’ll carry on emailing and phoning as we have since we first found each other.
The first week of Rosemary’s stay was grey and wet outside but very warm indoors while we exchanged photos and told each other about our lives and families. Exactly as I’d hoped, it felt as though we had known one another for years. Rosemary was ‘one of the family’ right from the start. She simply fitted in immediately.
CC and Jay took to her straight away and even Bear was charmed – and charming most of the time! Whale was pleased to meet a new face and someone who took a real interest in him and what he had to say.
On Easter Sunday our friends from the next village came for lunch and Rosemary witnessed a somewhat chaotic version of my entertainlng. The main course of stuffed turkey escalopes was an experimental dish that would definitely not have earned me a place on Masterchef. Between us, Bear and I managed to drop the peas all over my lap and the floor and I forgot to warm the plates so the meal got a bit cold before we could finish it.
Jay, on the other hand produced some super meals with his well tried recipes like aubergine bake and fish pie with a crispy topping – not to mention his delicious canapes such as prawns with hardboiled egg and smoked trout and cream cheese on blinis.
So, apart from all this talking and eating what did we do?
Well, once the rain had stopped we ventured into Charleville to show Rosemary round but it was a much more interesting day out when we went to Reims by train. There was a slight ‘Bear moment’ when he made it clear he wanted to come with us but felt that we didn’t want him. In the end we left it to him to decide whether or not he was coming so that he wouldn’t accuse me of leaving him out. His knee was playing up so he stayed at home but then, as it was the first sunny day for ages, Jay and CC decided to put Whale in the car and drive to Reims to meet up with us.
We had just finished lunch (outside in the sun) when they emerged from the underground carpark nearby. Unfortunately Whale has to use his old, decrepit wheelchair when he goes out in the car and Jay had a very hard time pushing him over the many uneven surfaces but we visited the cathedral and looked in numerous shops before driving back together with Rosemary, CC and me cosily squeezed into the back seats.
Jay stopped off to take photos of Woinic, the monstrous boar which is a symbol of the Ardennes.
‘She’ was going rusty so they have painted her a horrible brown colour.
The next day we suggested that Bear might like to take us out for one of his scenic tours. He readily agreed and actually drove quite safely so that, for once, I wasn’t sitting in the front seat gritting my teeth.
He took us to the local brewery so that Rosemary could buy some beer and glasses to take home for the men in her family. We tasted the latest brew – called Woinic (8.8 per cent alcohol) – but Bear stuck to coffee and soft drinks!
The time went far too quickly and as Rosemary has a fulltime job and a couple of weddings coming up I can’t see her being able to come back for quite a few months but she has promised that she will, and of course we’ll keep in touch.
And, of course, our other sister, Daphne, is coming for a long weekend next week so I’m meeting them both in quick succession.
I invited Rosemary to write a post giving her impressions of her new family but she said she’d rather just add a few words of her own and here they are:
My stay with my sister Sandy and family.
During our previous conversations and through reading her blog I had been warned of the various personalities. On the day I arrived we had a fantastic welcome meal the French way. It didn’t take me long to realise that to survive in this household you need an unlimited supply of tolerance.
However putting all that aside, I felt I had known Sandy most of my life: CC and JJ were lovely and between the three of them I was fed and watered with wonderful culinary delights. I will even be taking recipes home with me.
Bear – well what can I say, considering what I had been told in advance he was very well behaved. We had a couple of times when he showed his “I’m here, you’re ignoring me” personality.
Whale, Sandy, CC and JJ will probably not agree with my comments. However, I felt sorry for Whale at times but having had several conversations with him, I found he was easier to communicate with than the Bear. I possibly need to learn some more about History though for my next visit.