Just a few lines to report how things are going now we are nearly half way through our self imposed exile in Burgundy.
The weather at least has got warmer but we are still having periods of rain and magnificent thunder storms that roll around the valley.
The waterproof (?) coats that we are provided after a period in the rain feel damp inside and out, the hoods never stay on and as we have no mudguards on our bikes there is a permenant line of mud speckles down the back.
I used to love the colour, but having to wear it from morning to night has rather dulled it's appeal and we now refer to in a derogatory way . The tee shirts have to be worn in accord with the task , reception shirts for reception and cleaning shirts for cleaning, we seem to be changing all day long.
As to the job it has it's highs and lows. We have met some lovely people who we shall keep in touch with in the future, the cleaning is relatively easy 99% of the time and to be sitting here with the lake shimmering out of one window and gentle rolling meadows out of the other, with the red kites circling the lake and the birds singing it is idyllic, we even have a nightingale serenading us every evening.
As couriers we are supposed to provide the customers with promotional material of the area, OK at first, but now if I am seen even approaching a tourist office within a 20 miles radius all staff are on full alert, so now I am asking customers to raid them for me and lull them into a false sense of security!
Why the firm don’t negotiate with the regional tourist offices is beyond me. So I have lovely customers who bring me back bagfulls of leaflets and ideas of where to go.
Sometimes even the nice customers can be a bit of a pain, they seem to forget that
we are working and want to stand and natter for ages when there are 4 mobiles to clean before lunch!!
Cleaning is pretty easy, in fact we had an assessment recently and the area manager could not find anything wrong, so he suggested that we should dust tops of doors and cupboards and when we asked him to check them he found that we had!!!
Windows are a pain (lol) every time we get a shower of rain they need a polish and every time someone sleeps in a bedroom with the fire on the condensation is terrible. Shower screens and showers are the worst, everyone has a shower the morning they leave and especially in the larger mobiles you have to stand in a wet shower to polish the walls and glass screen, we do get a bit sick of having wet socks. We have been provided with some amazing cleaner, which hopefully we will have a bit left over to
bring home. It is like battery acid and dirt just melts in it's wake, trouble is we have to wear your marigolds to use it or your skin falls off as well.
Some customers however are a pain in the neck, some have an impression that a canvas tent is a 5 start hotel, one even has asked if the tent has air conditioning,
that was along with the request for an 80 watt bulb as they could not read by the light. We were tempted to tell the first customer to open the back and front door but resisted it and fannied round opening vents etc. They were quite friendly when they left.Then a customer complained that the roasting trays were square and they needed on oval one to roast a chicken, I don’t believe I lent them mine instead of telling them to ….off.
I think the worst is that we always get the impression it is our fault if the weather is not wall to wall sunshine with no wind. At least when it's raining they can think 'well we are going home soon', they don’t realise we are here till October. Then you get the people who catch a midday ferry to Calais and have to drive the miles to here, they get here at 9 or later depending on how fast they drive or whether they use the motorways. We have to then stay in our uniform until 10 or later and be happy and cheerful as we show them their mobiles, then they want to know where they can eat!!
The campsite owners are lovely and we have a really good relationship with them, their staff and the extended family . We get a discount on everything and they help us out if we need it. Pel helps out with heavy work if they need him to and every morning there are loud bonjours echoing round the site.
Only having 1 day off a week has led to us not seeing that much of the area and we have promised ourselves that we will come back on holiday here, there is so much to see and do. On our day off we have to do our shopping, banking, haircuts, post office etc. so we dont have that much time to travel and site see. Food is quite expensive, but we have found a Lidl type supermarket near by called Leader Price and we are eating really well, I'm really glad I've got the oven in the camper it has made catering very easy. We went for a meal on our last day off at lunch time to a place recommended to us by a customer, for thirteen euros we had a starter, main course, cheese course, dessert, wine and coffee. It was too much but we managed to plough through it but didn't do much for the rest of the day.
Already nearly the end of July. We have only got two more months to go.
Mind you, August is supposed to be the busiest. It will have to go some to beat July, this next week, every day we have seven leaving and seven to eight arriving, which is going some. Not too bad if they are overnighters when they come we try and encourage them all to eat out so the cookers, plates, etc stay clean and the campsite owners love us for the business we send their way.
The arrivals are OK apart from the few who turn up at ten in the morning (having driven all night) to the ones who come at eleven at night still expecting a guided tour of site and accommodation.
But we have started to have a few guests who have no English at all, sign language s to how to turn on a cooker is really funny.
The saga of us v. the firm still drags on. Maintenance were called because a customer reported a smell of gas. Along came our team who said there was definitely no leak. Customer still complaining and next one in, Pel emptied a washing up liquid bottle on every joint and eventually found it as he was blowing the smelliest and biggest bubbles you have ever seen. So with a bit of plumbers tape and a spanner
he fixed it. Reported it to maintenance bosses, who quickly dispatched the team still insisting the leak started after they left. Fixed the leak with gas tape (is there a difference?) and went round every van, testing each joint, wasting two days and entering it in the log as preventative maintenance!!
All this and the cheeky b......s left a pile of rubbish in the van we had kindly let them use.
Then my bike suddenly decided that the back brakes would not work half way down a hill leading to a road outside reception, panic, slam on front and go straight over the handle bars.
Luckily we have a customer who knows about bikes and he has fixed it for me best he can it cost us a bottle of wine but well worth it.
We have been asking for gas for 3 weeks now, we haven't a spare bottle on site, so if anyone runs out we will have to rub sticks together and light a barbie. Promise of a delivery tomorrow, I wont hold my breath.
Youngest son's 21st birthday was really good, had a meal out at lunch time in a medieval village, we then went round the spooky chateau, the French let you sit on chairs and beds
from the 11th century without turning a hair, National Trust would have a fit. In the evening we went for a meal in our restaurant, they really went to town for us, a
litre glasses of lager and a lovely birthday cake that was ceremoniously carried in to the whole place singing Happy Birthday to You, funny how the French sing it in English. DPoor boy was really embarrassed and I did feel quite sorry for him, but he blew the candles out in one go and in the end said he had enjoyed it.
He is off home on Saturday and it will be horrible to see him go. He has enjoyed himself and get on really well with the campsite staff here, and never stop playing the air hockey.
Customers come and go. When they come back is a problem, honestly there are only a few I would recognise if I fell over them. Bless them they know us, but there is a lot of white lies told on our part.
Still cannot warm to some of them who seem to have no sense of humour at all. Some also have travel agents that tell them our tents are 5 * hotels. The Germans are lovely and we have made some close friends with two or three German families, hugs, kisses and tears when they left.
Fred, was a German who started off on a bad note, when in the middle of a thunderstorm, he woke us up at 12.30 a.m. to tell us he had no electric. Very tempted to tell him to bugger off to bed, we dutifully got dressed, checked his trip
switch and on finding it was a campsite problem, rode back to our van in the pouring rain and lent him our lantern. After that start we became great pals and many an evening was spent 'not mentioning the war' over a bottle of wine or 3 or 4!! Customers are good and bad, when they are good they are very very good and when they are bad they are awful. One family turned up in a D reg Peugot 209, no breakdown insurance and went to Spain and back with no trouble.
She was about 20 years older than he was and they had 6 kids of various ages, but they were lovely and again few bottles hit the bottle bank. Pot is a very common problem, the tents stink of it and it takes ages to clear from them,
OK on a dry day, but half a can of air freshener if it's raining.
Enjoy ourselves swimming in the lake most days when its warm. I've written a message on our pad for customers to hail the man sitting in the big black ring!! No one has yet or we haven't noticed them.
Do we do it again next year? Think we are leaning toward it, but where? That is the question. The owner here wants us back, which is lovely and tempting. Big decisions ahead.
Probably the last missive from deepest Burgundy, only 6 weeks left and if we can manage it we will leave 5 days before the 1st of October, as we are owed 5 days holiday. Before that we have to go through the process of de montage!! We had a rare visit from our area manager today with instructions and balls of strings and rolls of cling film all ready to wrap and tie and clean and stack so the team can come along, throw everything in a van and dump it in the warehouse until next year.
Oh, forgot, we have to count everything and decide if it can be used next year, if not we have to put it in a pile to be chucked (how tempting, then we wouldn't have to tie, cling wrap, clean and stack).
We haven't had our bookings yet for September and we are quite late in closing
Hopefully we should be able to start the big tidy up before then, but knowing our luck we wil be booked solidly until the last day. Just had the new bookings and guess what, booked all units until the end, so it will be a heavy last 4 to 5 days, if we can do it we will but may have to lose some holiday.
August has been frantic. I've worked out we have 134 cleans this month, with the same number of new arrivals. One nighters, what a pain!! We polish and scrub and leave the place looking and smelling lovely, then you wait up because some body has asked for an early afternoon ferry, making it impossible to get here before nine. You then have to go into welcome mode, explain where everything is (not sure why, because most things are shut) and take them to their unit, show them how everything works before you can go and take the dreaded top off, that's after you've repeated the performance at least 12 times a day. Then you position yourself around the corner from their unit in the morning wait until they reverse off the pitch and swoop. Then you find, a bin full of rubbish, a dirty shower, washing up in the sink and a pile of blankets in the middle of the bed. I hate oily shower gel, hair lacquer on mirrors, toothpaste and trainer marks on floors with an equal vengance!! Oh forgot, and children's hand prints on windows. Then you get a knock on the door of the unit you are cleaning and a customer is there telling you he has driven all night and has got here early and asking if they can be shown their accommodation, if not then, they wait until you have collapsed with a jambon burre in front of you at one o'clock. So when we had a visit from the couple on our nearest site and compared
notes and found out they have it as hard as we do we felt a bit better. Apparently every new couple are given 'Travel Lodge' sites for their first year and if they reapply for next year things get better.Still we have met some really lovely people along with the dirty, untidy, inconsiderate people.
The Germans we have met have been lovely, without exception and the Dutch have been nice, along with Danes, Irish and English. The French on site treat our mobile as the local information office and I thought my French was improving until the gas man rang me today and rabbited on and on, lost me completely, so I just said Oui, merci and eventually au revoir.
The gas was delivered (from a new firm),I just hope I didn't agree to a verbal contract committing the firm to pay double for each bottle.
Maintenance came today as well, we had a list of jobs for them and when they left half had not been done as they were in a hurry, so Pel will be off tomorrow afternoon with his tool kit. Some customers think our lights are too bright in the mobiles so they unscrew half the bulbs in each fitment. For some reason they are almost impossible to just tighten again and tend to break off very easily. Then after you've got the metal base unscrewed another bulb has to be put in, but you can't buy them in France and maintenance have run out. So the customers have eventually got their way but some are now moaning that their bulbs are out. That, along with every
CO2 alarm and smoke alarm running out of battery, peeping all night and frightening people to death we have a mouse problem in most tents. What can you do? Put poison down and you would probably kill someone, traps and some poor child would have to have therapy, humane traps and they would all come back!!! The only advice we have been able to get is to encircle the tent with washing up liquid as they don't like it on their paws, so will give it a go.
Well will sign off, missing everyone like mad, looking forward to getting home but amazingly considering doing it again next year, must be mad.
Most stupid questions;
(in the middle of a 8 cleans and 10 arrivals day)
"Can you tell me how Stoke went on last night playing Everton?"
(at 8 in the morning)
"What time will it stop raining?"
(on the customers arrival)
"Has this tent got air conditioning?"
(with the engine running outside reception)
"What is the best way to get to Calais?"
(posh people who obviously have nannies/ child care)
"What is there for children to do?
Nicest written comments;
Really clean accommodation
The best couriers we have ever had
Thank you for making our holiday so good
Most annoying things;
People unscrewing light bulbs because it is too bright in the mobile
Kids running in with muddy feet when you are showing the family in on a spotless floor.
People leaving blankets in a heap on the floor when they leave
rubbish and/or washing up left for us to dispose of/wash
dirty nappies in the accommodation
people turning off the outside supply of water/electric to all the mobiles
people blowing their horn at you when they arrive early and see you walking to the toilet
highlights of our days off;
meals in french restaurants and bars
(cheapest was 26 euros for 4 courses and wine )
(best was a Relais)
(most popular was the Restaurant near the site and typically French)
Having our hair cut by a lady who thought we were German and presumed we spoke fluent French even when told we couldn't
driving the camper through small villages along single track roads with wild flower verges and beautiful countryside
the wine route and the magnificent chateaux
being away from the site for a few hours
Most difficult thing to cope with;
A customer who wanted his money back
A customer who wanted an oval roasting pan (as opposed to square) for his chicken
A customer in an automatic car stuck in the mud who kept putting his foot to the floor to try and get out
Keeping a straight face when a customer says "I have a question"
trying to keep an eye on the mobile which has only one gas bottle guarenteed to run out on your day off
Well, it's all nearly over. I'm writing this with just one more day to go.
Then we drive up to near Paris with free accommodation for the night, then to Calais to shop book into a hotel and have a BATH!!!!(the one thing I have really missed) The ferry is booked on Sat. the earliest we could get with all the trouble in the tunnel.
All the tents have been emptied and are ready to take down tomorrow, all the mobiles are clean and filled with the outside furniture. We then must say our goodbyes and Thursday morning we will leave.
The area manager who has come to demontage the site is a super guy and we have found out that our feedback from customers has been well above average
It has been real hard work and there have been times when we just wanted to pack up and come home but sheer pride or bloody mindedness kept us going, but now we know we can do it and do it well we feel proud of ourselves and are looking forward to doing it again next year.
We would recommend the experience, 6 months living in an Autoquest 100 was surprisingly good and apart from treating ourselves to a dish and TV next year there is nothing more we would take to make our lives comfortable. I feel a lot fitter, although I haven’t lost an ounce, Hubbie lost a stone!!!, must cut back on the beurre and red wine.
If you’ve got this far thanks for reading
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