Monday, May 28, 2007

Typical Weekend

Although I spend half my working time in Hamburg, I do (usually) get to have a three or four day weekend on my return before plugging away on projects at home for another few days, before returning.

I find I'm getting really stressed on the journeys and am trying to locate my more 'zen' atttitude. I'm not sure I've ever found my inner peace but if I don't soon I'm likely to take out one of my fellow passengers or Air France staff in the frustration that I feel mounting every time there's another delay or another group of pushy, selfish business travellers or Air France dealing in its usual lack of understanding of the meaning of customer service and rewarding loyalty.

Rant over.

So, this weekend we managed a pretty normal, relaxing pace at home. I'd had a day to unwind from the six hour journey home. On Friday evening we agreed that we'd head out to eat that evening. The beginnings of a storm were threatening and we knew that we should decide where we were going in advance, rather than our usual meandering and discussion before ending up at a usual place. However, we ended up being incapable of making a decision and did our usual meandering, our pace only quickening when large drops started to slowly fall.

Frog remarked that "as usual I had got my own way" as we entered the Medina, a new restaurant for us to try, that serves couscous and tagines in a tented Moroccan decoration. I'd like to point out that I very rarely get my way with the Frog, who is probably more stubborn than I am. And of course nothing makes him happier than a plate of merguez, so of course I had his best interest at heart from the beginning.

One glass of champagne, one bottle of Vitttel, two enormous couscous, finished up with a plate of dates and sweets accompanied by mint tea and a Chocolate Liégois for Frog, we were presented with a very reasonable bill. We had noticed a couple at the neighbouring table, Frog had recognised the woman from one of the church dinners this year and from the overheard chat, they seemed to be on a date. Frog managed to put his foot in it by telling her, "Well I wouldn't have recognised you except by your voice, because you're wearing so much make up tonight". A swift kick under the table from me and tight smile from the woman and Frog began to realise he'd said something wrong. Her retort was more pointed in my direction that she, "remembered the young English wife who had given up everything to follow her husband and live in Reims". As Frog (pat on the back) said, "I'm not sure that's entirely true, since that would rather elevate my importance". All of course said with perfect French politeness and smiles. Nevertheless, the conversation stopped there and the couple turned their backs as far as is possible on an small, adjaecent table.

The storm hit Reims, with a short blackout and (unlike other parts of the region) no hail stones to damage the young grapes and we hurried home.

It's not unusual for us to have visitors at the village, usually Anglo Saxons on a weekend. They mostly come through word of mouth to visit the premises and enjoy a tasting. This weekend there was a small group of Kiwis visiting from London.

I usually drive over to the village with Frog and do the initial welcome. Then I leave Frog to do the tour of the vines and production whilst I set up for the tasting (alright, I read the newspaper and have a coffee in the kitchen). Frog absolutely loves this part of his job. He's far better at the small talk than I am and is a great host. I can see him getting his fix of "outside contact" when chatting with visitors and finding out about their lives in London, their travels and sharing his knowledge of the wines. He adores his job in the village and the new challenges but I can see that the visitors bring a refreshing change from the politics and chores of a traditional family business in the region.

Once we'd waved the visitors goodbye, we headed off to Carrefour for a dodgy Flunch lunch and did our bi-weekly stock up. Coming home, I unpacked the shopping and Frog went for a game of squash with a friend. I have mastered the art of 'pootling' around the flat, which I did for a couple of hours till Frog returned and we installed ourselves on the sofa with a home made steak sandwich, salad and strawberries.

Sunday was a perfect example of 'doing nothing' for me. Frog made it to the gym, I stayed in my pyjamas until 3pm when we went for a stroll around the park and installed ourselves in a café for an hour or so, reading magazines before walking home and plonking ourselves on the sofa for the evening.

So, if we had a standard weekend in Reims, that's how it would look.

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