Thursday, October 19, 2023

France 2023 - Hypermarkets, Wine Tastings, and Unsupported Breasts

We wake up at the ungodly, but somehow appropriate hour of 9am. I think I have given up on my regular early morning routine for this trip as it's simply not working out. It's a fine trade off for these late night, magical evenings.

I start the day with a morning swim and the pool water has been chilled by last night's downpour. It is refreshing beyond belief.

After a leisurely breakfast, we meet Mark the property manager, who lives in a separate apartment within the house. He is a cool guy and speaks perfect English. He's there to let the cleaners in and they appear to be a local couple, and attack the cleaning job with vigour, moving rapidly from room to room with rags, vacuums, mops, and spray bottles. We do our best to keep out of their way.

Michael warms up the leftover veal from the first day and we have lunch before leaving for today's day trip to Ales, a nearby town north of here less than ten kilometres. There, we are welcomed by a canopy of braziers that have been hung on wires above the bridge for breast cancer awareness. I expect there are a lot of unsupported breasts in this town.

The two An(n)as head to the pharmacy, renowned for its English speaking pharmacist and vast selection of herbal remedies for things like menopause and skin glitches and other afflictions that men don't understand. Michael and I just wander around the centre shopping area looking at fancy hats.

We swing by a hypermarket to pick up a few supplies. Ana and I always enjoy going to supermarkets in other countries as we always see items that would be huge hit in Canada, but are not available. Here, we find several examples - containers of chopped up cubes of back bacon (perfect for adding as flavouring to meals), small packages of preserved mini sausages (meat snack to go with your bag of chips), boxes of 25 cl mini-beers (good for Tuesday evenings), and a half dozen varieties of pate (delicious anytime).

Once back at the chateau, Ana and I head out for a walk into town and climb up and down some new streets. The town is again eerily quiet and we feel like we are the only ones here. We find a lovely forest path on the way down and walk through a section of woods then pop out near the bakery. We go in, have a chat with the lovely lady working the counter, and pick up tonight's baguette. I notice a small menu that lists hot dog so I try to order one but we are told they are only available from 7am to 1pm, so instead we share a piece of pizza and an orange Fanta. We feel so French.

When we return home we have a rousing game of poolside ping pong and Ana wins, but it was close. She's also been beating me at foosball. I am challenging her to a game before bed every night, but she only agrees to play up to one goal. So far, every time I've dropped the ball in, it just rolls slowly into my goal without any contact, but she is a good winner and doesn't rub it in.

Anna and Michael have prepared an amazing roast chicken and vegetables for dinner so we sit down at the table for our meal, after the mandatory apero snacking session of course. Meals at Chateau Olson are always accompanied by wine, and not just one bottle. They carefully select the best wines to accompany each dish and we have tastings so we can compare them and learn a bit more about wine. The variety of wine here is staggering and you can buy it anywhere. Ana and I are the furthest thing from wine connoisseurs and I compare our evening wine tastings to television shopping. TVs viewed on their own all look fantastic. But when you go TV shopping and see all these TVs lined up beside each other, you can spot small differences, and the smart assed TV salesperson will talk you into the most expensive one, but you probably would have been pretty happy with a cheaper basic model. For me, every glass of wine I've had here has been amazing, from the 5 euro bottles to the undoubtedly scary expensive ones Michael or Anna have been pulling out. Maybe I'm just easy to please.

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