Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Year of the French

While I was in Suffolk at Christmas, I received an email from one of the gorgeous French boys who wwoofed with us last May. He asked if he could come back and spend ten days with us, to 'talk, talk, talk English', as he's in the middle of his finals at college. He's an engineer.

We loved having them to stay last year. Not only were they fantastically hard workers, they were also utterly charming, great company and marvellous cooks. And it did  my heart good to have two drop-dead gorgeous boys around the house again! Especially as they made me laugh all the time.

When they left I told them that they were welcome to return whenever they wanted.
I am so glad Hugo took  me at my word.

The return of the Frenchman

He's gone back to France again now, but we had a really lovely time with him.
He brought - bless him - champagne and wine and delicious Pralines de Lyon, which he used to concoct a tart so divine that I could happily tuck into it on a regular basis.
(Fortunately for my health and waistline, you can't buy Pralines de Lyon in Sligo.)

Whenever I was in the kitchen, he would come in and say 'What can I do to help you?'
How well trained is that? What a dream of a man!
I told them both back in May that their mothers really deserved to be proud of them, and nothing has changed. I hope Hugo's mother is preening herself even now.
I am not the most willing of cooks, but it was fun being in the kitchen with Hugo, and I shall be making his cauliflower and Gorgonzola soup for many years to come. We even made marmalade with a bagful of Seville oranges that my friend DodoWoman found surplus to requirements. It took us all day, but it was well worth it. The results are dark and delicious,the way we like marmalade in this house. I hope Hugo's enjoying the pots he took back to France.
And just in case we weren't getting the most out of our joint culinary experience, we spent an evening watching that marvellous film, 'Julie & Julia'. 

Dark and delicious

He went running every day, he did stuff on his computer, he came shopping with me and he even came to the Market and made St Bridgid's Crosses to mark the beginning of February.
But he did loads of jobs for me too, bless his cotton socks.

DodoWoman's photo of Hugo with his perfect St Bridgid's Cross

When they were here last year, the boys built some fantastic steps for us. It is not an exaggeration to say that I think of them both every morning of life as I take the dogs for a pre-breakfast run around the orchard.
The steps had been Job No 4582 on our never ending list, and would not have been built to this day without the French lads. We'd still be clambering up a pile of wobbly concrete blocks.

The hens use the steps all day long. Even the stray bullock who wandered in yesterday afternoon used the steps!

They moved a vast pile of stone and built a shed for the In-Charge to keep the mower in. He thinks of them every time he tucks it into bed.

And they also weeded and dug and sorted out all kinds of stuff in the garden.
Hugo did the same for me this time too. He chopped wood and brought it in to dry, he cleaned out the hen house, he translated some French documents for me and we spent several days - rain, wind or shine - doing all sorts of garden chores, including digging up, splitting and replanting not only a vast rhubarb crown, but all the horticultural thugs in my herbaceous border - jobs I would never have managed on my own.

And, just as on his last visit, there was a new dog in the house.
Model Dog arrived in the middle of their stay last May, and this time SuperModel had barely settled in before Hugo's visit. She barked at him constantly to start with, but after a day or two, and lots of walks in the woods, and on the headland and our favourite beach - she realised that actually, it's ok.
He's just part of the family.

Sweetie time: 'Please, Hugo dearest'

Model Dog knew that all along, because she remembered him from last time.

Thanks Hugo.
It was really lovely to see you.
And please come back whenever you want to!


  1. I wish they did a 'like' option on blogspot, because I like this a lot. It's a lovely warm read that gives a comfortable glow on a cold wet February night.

  2. What a handsome and helpful visitor - not surprised he got a Cead Mile Failte from you and the woofs.

  3. me too--so many times I want to hit that like button! especially now!

    what lovely men to have around. <:-D the spirit of helpfulness is quite moving--and hopeful. --Laurel

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