05 June, 2013

Our French Gite (25 May-10 June)

We are staying in a wonderful old Brittany-styled farm. Our renovated apartment used to be part of the barn or stables in the housing complex. It's a courtyard with buildings on three sides and a tall stone wall on the side of the street. The street is really a one lane road that seems to only go to other farms. 

The backyard is a child's paradise: long, open, green space just waiting for soccer or baseball games and a swing set. Add to this that there are three resident cats who love children, and my kids are in heaven. Our view in the backyard is amazing. On a clear day you can see over 25 miles of the countryside.

On the other side you can see monster windmills - ailen windmills on a foggy day as their lights look like eyes staring out into the distance.

Our residence is fairly simple, but it works for us. The loft is our room and the children are quite cozy together in the other room. A living area that is open to the kitchen and a nice wood-burning stove to keep us warm. Yes, we have been using it. The first few days it was windy and cold. Chayton and I are having a great time collecting our firewood and kindling - luckily we don't have to chop our wood. There are a few big piles out in the back.

Our Landlady and her husband have had to go back to London (his mother is very ill) so we have been left to our own devices. When we arrived, no one was here and the door was left unlocked. Angela and Phillip came back for a few days, just in time to greet the other visitors and plant a few vegetables in their garden before they needed to go back. They are a very nice older couple (used to be farmers quite close to the Macbeth Cottage we stayed at in Stratford Upon Avon) and I hope for the easiest of journeys during this difficult time.

Our neighbors are a joy! John, the grandfather, has brought two of his six grandchildren here for their school break. Mia is 11 turning 12 next month Eion (sounds like Owen) is 8. They are from Ireland and speak Gaelic as their first language - although English is a very close second. The children have taken to each other like ducks to water and John is a very entertaining story teller. We are all having fun spending time together. Mia and Eion are teaching our kids Gaelic Football.

Technically we are living in the town of Gouspagne, which is between the larger town of Chateaulin and the smaller town of Dineault. We've learned a few idiosyncrasies about living in rural France. The night we arrived in town we headed over to the super market at 7:35pm, where we learned that all shops close at 7:30pm. No food shopping there.

 Luckily we caught a bakery right as they were starting to shut up and purchased some items for breakfast. But since it was so late, we took the advice of the bakery-people to go to the nearby pizzeria for dinner. Yum! All three kids discovered they liked mushrooms on their pizza after ordering the "child's pizza" and having it come with mushrooms on it. (Yippee! I'm not the only one, now). Courtney and I learned to ask more questions about the house salad, as ours came with tuna fish and artichokes on it. (Not Courtney's favorite.)

We planned breakfast to be the instant oatmeal packets, instant soup and bread; since the super market's hours said it would open at 9:30am. Well, the grocery did open on that beautiful Sunday. However it was only open until 2:00pm. And we couldn't get through town to any of the supermarkets until after 5:00pm, being that the roads were closed off for a bicycle race. Oh my. 

We were able to scrounge enough for lunch, but had quite gone through everything and didn't have much for dinner. Courtney and I gave in ... We went to McDonalds. It had free WiFi as well as a more cost-effective dinner option for a family of five. The kids were thrilled. Courtney and I did learn to not order a small coffee, though. It looked like an espresso-size coffee. Always go for the double. :-)

The next day was the supermarket, E.leclerc. Which also has free WiFi! We were hooked up! Thus began our Internet refugee status, rotating between going to McDonalds for a coffee, shopping at E.leclerc and sitting outside the tourist information center in Chateaulin. We're waiting for our Landlady to come back to "press the button and give us a really long code" so we could use the WiFi.

Luckily it was only a few days before they came back and we got the code. WiFi at last. No more gloming from McNasty's! But ... the connection doesn't reach inside our cottage. The walls are so thick in each of the houses (3 feet thick) that it only reaches into the outside courtyard.

This means that we get to sit outside for school and researching our next homes. Which isn't so bad as long as it's warm out. Then it is quite beautiful. However, most days are windy and cold (but with blue sky and sun). Then there are the days of rain and wind. It's been quite interesting ...

We leave really early Monday morning and I think we will all be quite sad to go.

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