Air B&B Couple From the 1940’s – Episode I – Arrival

Franck pulled up in front of an old fashioned, swing farm gate. There was a field to the left that appeared disused and overgrown with some kind of WWII reconstruction in the corner. There were the recognisable shapes of the static anti-tank (Czech Hedgehogs) D-Day beach barricades and a small hut made out of wood and corrugated iron. Hammered into the hut were some large wooden hand painted signs reading  some angry (presumably) German words. In the pouring rain this arrangement appeared very strange and gloomy. Who were we about to meet?

Franck nodded to say this was the place. We all got out and unloaded our bikes and bags from the back of the van. We walked them under the shelter of some of the disused farm buildings set away from the house. Inside there were naked dismembered bodies of mannequins strewn all over the floor, lots of camouflage netting and what looked like sections of old car parts and machines who had definitely seen better days. As we walked further in I heard a loud hissing. I followed the noise and peered over the top of a low gate, mid-way down the small barn. There were three, very large, very angry looking geese staring back at me. They all had big, plump bodies sat on top of their rough straw nests and long, stretched, straight necks holding up their tiny little heads, all with their beaks open, little tongues quivering, aniseed ball eyes. I’ve never been a big fan of territorial geese and these ones were HUGE.

As we waved goodbye to Franck, in the pouring rain, I felt this sudden urge to run up to him and throw my arms around his neck and say – Take us with you Franck! Please! Don’t leave us here! We can sleep in your vegetable beds! Please! Don’t leave us with the geese!

But I didn’t and a pang of anxiety clenched me as we turned towards the massive, ominous house and Franck trundled off in his little white van.

We knocked on the door and when it opened a willowy, meek looking woman stood there. Pascale. She had shy, bright eyes and a kind, weathered smile. She wrestled with her two barking dogs as she tried to welcome us into the rustic farmhouse kitchen. She managed to calm the older one, an enormous, fluffy black German Shepard called Jules, who retired under the table, touching all four legs with her massive body. But the younger one, a collie-cross, wouldn’t settle, nervous by nature, coming close to sniff us and then skittering off around the table. I asked what her name was – Molly – of course. Pascale made us tea and we attempted some fractured conversation in my broken French and her broken English. The American film ‘Princess Diaries’ was playing on a tiny T.V. set in the corner of the room, dubbed in French. My mouth felt dry – still not used to black tea without milk.

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