At the time of writing, it hardly seems possible that a month ago we were preparing for our friends’, Anne and Steve, arrival in the evening of Saturday 9 July! We were so looking forward to seeing them…..

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This time there were no mishaps with trains and connections and here they, arriving on time at Sillé le Guillaume!

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Showing them around the house and garden was great fun and we were able to realise for ourselves how much work we had done over the previous days and weeks – so lovely to have the first floor clean, tidy and finished, for us and our visitors!

Lazy Summer Days

Sunday and we all decided to take it easy in the garden.  The sun came out and it was hot, very hot!  Edward and Steve spent time gassing in the loungers on the top lawn while Anne and I caught up on each other’s news in the deck chairs on the terrace – how very civilised!  Lunch was a simple affair at the table under the apple trees, with a warm breeze coming up through the valley – certainly time for the hammock!

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Later in the afternoon, we picked cherries from our trees in the garden and from the tree that overhangs the meadow from the cow field – it required ladders…

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And we managed to pick a huge bowl of red and yellow cherries – delicious!

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A Roman Encounter

After an easy start to the day, we were up for a trip to the Roman town of Jublains to see the Roman ruins of the amphitheatre, baths, fortress and the museum.  First of all, though, we had a very large lunch at our usual bistro in the village.  We definitely needed the walk to the amphitheatre afterwards….

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Perhaps Steve is saying it would be easier to get around on wheels after that meal??!

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Sadly the short walk wasn’t enough to stop us all falling asleep for the 15 minute film in the museum!!!  It was a fun trip, though and it’s always interesting, however many times we visit.  Roman buildings are fascinating and we were all in awe of their incredible skills, without the use of modern equipment – what a legacy….

Staying local

On Tuesday, we thought we’d stay fairly local with a round trip to Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, Sillé le Guillaume and the lake at Sillé….

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We had a pleasant stroll around this small town, taking in the beautiful buildings, impressive market square and the small château with it’s pretty gardens overlooking the river – they seemed to like it as much as we do!

Next stop was Sillé le Guillaume, one of our nearest towns and which boasts a stunning château and an impressive church on the hill, which has an unusual ceiling that looks like an upturned boat….

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The view from the church balcony is lovely….

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But getting this crowd to co-operate for a photo call was like pulling hens’ teeth!

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As a reward for bad behaviour, we had lunch at the local tabac in the town square – steck and frittes!

Our final stop was at the nearby lake.  Anne and Steve were great sports and knowing that we were taking in our first French students the following week, seemed happy to be our guinea pigs in trying out various attractions…..

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So after a stroll along the promenade and a coffee in the café, we took a ride on the little train that takes a little tour around the lake….

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It was really for kids but we enjoyed it all the same and as a bonus, some of the commentary was in English!!  It was certainly something we could offer the younger children if they wanted to take a ride at the lake….

Back home, Edward set up the ride-on mower for Steve to have a go at mowing the lawns for us – well, they had to earn their keep, didn’t they?!!!

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It didn’t take Steve long to get the hang of it :0)

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The Refuge de l’Arche’ and Château Gontier

Still in ‘Guinea pig’ mode, Anne and Steve agreed to check out the zoo with us at Château Gontier.  It’s our nearest zoo, about an hour and a quarter’s drive away and we’d heard good things about it.  We have also offered this as one of the attractions for the French students, so thought we’d better try it out first!!

Armed with a picnic, we arrived around lunch time.  The weather was very changeable, sunny one minute then raining and blustery the next, but we still enjoyed the visit.  There is a large under-cover area with seats and benches for everyone to have their packed lunches, with even a micro-wave oven to warm up food if required.  The zoo itself was interesting – established to take in injured or rescued animals from around the world, often taken in by Green Peace and other similar organisations.  Each enclosure had a little description of the animals and a story of how they arrived at the Refuge de l’Arche.

This herd of mouflons were enjoying the plums that Edward and Steve were picking for them!

DSCF8975Again, we were very grateful to Anne and Steve for their patience with us and willingness to visit somewhere we were checking out for the students – it was lovely being able to check it out with friends.

On the way back we stopped in Château Gontier for a look around – what a lovely town this is and one we’d like to visit again sometime soon…

The river front was beautiful and the troughs of flowers really set it off…

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Having a coffee outside and watching the world go by was becoming second nature!

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Another impressive church was worth the walk and a look inside…..

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I whispered to Anne about how amazing these buildings are – they look so immaculate and the stained glass windows were just beautiful….

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But on leaving and on closer inspection, we realised that all the windows were festooned in cobwebs!!  I found it strangely reassuring! :0)

A Romantic Château

As we’d driven a fair way the day before, we stayed fairly local again on the Thursday, visiting Château du Rocher at Mezangers.  Edward and I have been here before for my birthday – it’s a privately owned ‘historic monument’ which is currently undergoing restoration.  The Château itself isn’t open to the public but between June and October, certain areas of the grounds are free to walk around.  This was our second visit and we were the only ones there and the weather was beautiful to boot…

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After our leisurely stroll around the grounds, we headed back to Jublains for lunch but this time, instead of eating at our usual bistro, we decided to try a different restaurant in the village.  What a treat it was too – delicious food and we were able to eat outside watching the comings and goings in the afternoon sunshine.  Just as we were finishing up to leave, a huge black cloud came over and it started to rain!  It was just a shower but it was nice that our meal was uninterrupted!

Back home and we relaxed some more in the garden before dinner….

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Old Town, Le Mans

We’ve been living at La Biochère for nine months and have yet to visit the town of Le Mans.  It’s only 45 minutes away but we’ve literally just been to the commercial area for DIY shops or to the station to collect my parents.  We’ve never really been keen on big towns or cities but the reports we’ve heard about the old town in Le Mans were tempting.

Perhaps without Anne and Steve staying with us, we might not have ventured in but together, we had a lovely trip to the city.  It was surprisingly easy to find our way in and to find parking.  As a bonus, the weekly market was on too, so we spent some time browsing the stalls and looking through the antiques….

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The next stop was for a coffee, of course (!), then we made our way up some steps alongside the cathedral, and into the medieval streets of Le Mans….

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And so, there it was – a beautiful old part of the city and somewhere we shall definitely visit again.

A Spot of DIY and another Château

Saturday was our last full day together.  While Anne and Steve were with us, the builders had been working on the roof.  Part-way through the week they replaced the window in my bedroom and while the scaffolding was still up outside my window, Edward thought he would be able to dress the front of the dormer window.

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Thankfully, Steve was ready to help and so while Edward was measuring and fitting, Steve was preparing and cutting the wood – great teamwork!

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When we get time, this will eventually be painted white, which will really set off the dormer – all three dormers will be dressed and painted.

In the meantime, Anne decided to do the vacuuming hovering for me, knowing the first batch of French students will be arriving the next day – what a star!

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In the afternoon we took a trip out to Lassay les Château – another lovely little town with a stunning castle, set by a lake.  It’s so picturesque.

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We took a little walk around the lake then decided to go on a guided tour around the castle itself.

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It was a charming visit and certainly somewhere we shall return to in the future – there is fishing allowed on the lake or we may do the castle tour again at some point.  For now we shall have happy memories of our time there with Anne and Steve :0)

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye….

And so, Sunday morning came around all too quickly and it was time for us to say our goodbyes.  We’d had a lovely time with Anne and Steve – relaxing, visiting new places and generally having a good laugh, just what the doctor ordered.

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It was really sad to see them go but we hope they will come to visit again soon ♥