Eight (8) degrees centigrade. Very, very windy. My 1 week at the Chateau. The only day I had not able to go out. No cycling too. Nor work in the garden.
One (1) week has quickly passed. I didn’t notice the time. I forgot about what day it is. I think that’s how it is when you’re not in the corporate world. Time is like eternity. My week has run quite smoothly. Living in the Chateau built in the 16th century gave a feeling of traveling back in time. I’m staying at the 3rd floor (for French it’s 2nd, the ground floor to them is 0, to us it’s 1). So that’s how it is in the Attic, it’s a lovely room. Simple but cozy.
I get used to eating French dishes. Gratin and quiche are what I liked most so far. Tonight, with another WWOOFer from France too, we had potato, carrots, chicken, spinach salad and an excellent sauce made by Hermine, the 70 year old lady who runs the Chateau. I wish to tell more about her later ;-).
My daily routine has been doable. Wake up at 8am. Breakfast at 8.30am. Then work at 9am. Either, we do clearing the weeds at the kitchen garden, rake and pruning of raspberries. Other times we would help at the small house for let doing painting and refining. My first day, we help out in the packaging of fruit jam called, coing, a yellowish apple-like fruit. There were days we cycle to another village to collect fresh milk and eggs. Or we would cycle for around 12km to attend an arts exposition. We always cycle. Either when we go to post office, shops, pharmacy to see the chemist to check weather our mushrooms are edible or not. The other day, I accompanied Hermine to Pte St Maxence, the city nearby to do the marketing. I was carrying at the back of my bicycle – 5kg sugar and 5kg potatoes! Maybe more than enough reason why I consume more than half of the food I usually take. I eat like a man now ;-).A lot had written about WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The name speaks of itself. So I would not delve on the details. On my part, I take it as an alternative way of seeing the world when you don’t have that grandeur monetary funds. I stay for my host. I have my own room, we eat the same food and in exchange I do a little bit of work. It’s an enriching cultural way of understanding one another. A culture from another culture.
More often I just laugh at the differences of understanding or some sort of stuff. This afternoon, Hermine asked me to prepare the beddings for 2nd floor room. I was at the shower room when she called me. Mafey what did you do with the beddings? Why is it Iike that? Oh terrible! I came and asked her what’s wrong? She told me you didn’t put the devut? Told her I don’t know what is that. She responded, Oh I can’t believe you speak English. Its too complicated to explain. Too confusing. Told my first time to hear the word. Then I learned gosh, its just comforter!
There are days when I would put the wine on bigger glass, she would raise her voice, oh no, not in that! Should be in the small glass. Other times, she would ask something. Like I was able to remove the cover of the gas. She said, wow you did that! Great! I’m so impress! The other day, when I finish painting the bathroom in the other room. She said: Thank you very much, you work so efficiently! Better than the plumber. Until now, we are freezing at the Chateau. None of the heater is working. Because she thinks the plumber sucks.
So that is Hermine. What’s interesting is not only the WWOOF nor the Chateau where I currently live. The lady who restlessly runs the Chateau. In one phrase, I’d describe her: an extremely hardworking woman full of artistic ideas but a scatter-brain. Wait, I remember the other day she ask some assistance, sort of office work. She asked me to fix the errors in her online diary. I was able to help. But I keep pointing at the screen of computer she would yelled oh no! the screen is so sensitive, it easily gets dirty!. I decided to leave her. I went outside and took our dried clothes. I gave to her, her clothes and the hanger created a noise which made her freak out. Oh no! Can you please not create any noise! That is terrible! So I left her. Afterwards, she called me again. Mafey, Mafey, Mafey!
Oui (Yes) I quickly come down. She told in a very apologetic tone. Oh sorry, I’m not angry. I’m just anxious, and I couldn’t concentrate. There’s so many things to do. It’s too complicated. Too confusing. Boring etc etc. are her favorites :-). I’ve read a lot of negative comments about her. People take it seriously. In one occasion, I got mad at her. I thought ah ok, that’s why. Now I know. But then since she was aware of the effect of her actions, I was less annoyed. On my part, I find it hilarious. When she starts the drama, I really feel like laughing out loud at her idiosyncrasies. But out of respect I have to be proper. I tried to understand her. I just thought, maybe it’s difficult to be famous. Yes, I live at an artist’s house. Hermine is a French singer, writer and wife of a British poet and journalist. Oh God, I couldn’t believe I am living at an artist house! A singer! And a writer! So in all honesty, despite as my favorite French phrase that I pick up: Person nest parfait – Nobody’s perfect. I understand her thoroughly. It must be difficult. There are nights she couldn’t sleep. When I asked her. She said she’s worrying about a lot of things. I calmly told her: Hermine you are such a hardworking person. And you know although I left my job in a corporate world. Here with all the laidback features of Chateau, I still feel like am in a corporate world because that’s how you are. In a way it is good. But am tired of the super structured stuff. She said, really?It’s just snippets of my day to day living at the Chateau de Sacy. I am like a cast of a real tele-serye ;-).