My first two days were spent as an orientation of sorts, Susy started by giving me a notebook, a pen, and said to me, “If it isn’t written, it isn’t true. You have to make sure you make lots of notes so that you know exactly what’s going on. Don’t trust the workers, they will try to manipulate you, Thomas especially. They’re all very nice, but be careful.” She continued, “I don’t suggest you make friends with them, it’s better if you have friends outside of the chateau so that you have a separate life free from work.” I nodded as she spoke. I thought it was odd all these things she was saying about her employees, but I suppose she was giving me a heads-up on it all. She’s fought her way to the top so she must know what she’s talking about. I made notes accordingly, always attentive and hungry to learn.
I hadn’t met any of my fellow team yet except for Francoise and Aurelie (I checked, it’s spelled correctly!) who seemed friendly enough, however according to what Susy was telling me, none of them really did their job right or were very hard workers. “It’s so wonderful to have a fellow Jew!” She said in the same manner she did the night before “We are unlike other people, we work much harder and I don’t know what it is but we seem to just have that eye for detail that others don’t.” I felt awkward as I don’t agree that should make a difference but I just nodded and gave an indistinct grunt every once in a while. She is 73 after all.
We were downstairs in the self-catering kitchen. It wasn’t as fancy as the rest of the chateau, but it seemed fairly practical. There were old copper pots hanging from the ceiling as decoration, there was a plastic somewhat tacky (in my opinion) looking table-cloth in the main area. Most of the shelves were white, or in lighter hues of blue. The dishes were assorted, contrast groupings of different table settings; some looked as if they could have been served in Mexico they were so colourful, and others were more of a powdered or stressed look.
The day consisted of running around and trying to make sure everything was ready to go for Monday when the clients arrived. It started with trying to put the finishing touches on the apartments in the manoir. Well the top one actually as the bottom one had a nightmare of a leak due to ivy vines getting into the pipes. Aurelie and I had the mission of moving all of the patio furniture out of the bottom apartment to be carried back by hand for 300m. There was a lot, but not a problem. We dug in and got it done in about two hours or less.
As chance would have it, as we were walking back with the last piece to place Susy walks up and asks me why I didn’t simply put it into the trailer of the quad and drive back and forth. I smiled through my sweat and exhaustion and said in an upbeat tone “Had I known there was one, I would have for sure!” in the next breath I laughed “you should have told me”
“I guess I thought it would be too exhausting to drive a quad since you’re jet-lagged, at least you know for next time” She said while smiling sweetly.
After that I spent the time organizing the potted plants. Susy told me that Doug (a friend of Susy’s who I had met when I was previously in France and who is a part time celebrant) had dispersed them without rhyme or reason. She told me that he gets carried away sometimes, but she likes him so she doesn’t mind so much. He is 85 years old after all.
The rest of the day was more relaxed, with nothing to do but meet with some clients that were wanting to confirm their booking for the chateau. Susy always seemed to insist on not showing the rooms to any of the couples who came to view the place. Even though we currently had no one staying at the chateau she always told them that all the rooms were full and we wouldn’t be able to show them unfortunately. I understand the desire to look busy, however if there was “one room free” figuratively speaking we could at least show that. Susy simply replied to me “I want the rooms to look absolutely perfect. I would rather our future guests not see them at all than to see them without my expensive duvet covers, first impression is the key” (it wasn’t the first or last time she would mention how expensive things are, it seemed to be a favourite topic) “I remove the covers before people arrive as they don’t care anymore and they have filthy bags that they always throw onto their beds when they first arrive.” I thought to myself that it could be a valid point however I’m firm believer of showing people what they get for their money.
Ha Trans & Xavier
The first couple we met with was Ha Trans and her fiance Xavier. Ha is a petite, slender figured Korean girl perhaps no more than 25 years old, she wore a cute white with black pattern dress (I believe they were flowers if memory serves correctly); she had fantastic posture and a shy elegance as she sat across from Susy. Across from me was Xavier, very much a gentleman though most certainly what I would portray as a stereotypical, young, traveled Frenchman. He has dark hair, balding at the top, speaks great English however with that distinctive French accent; he was well dressed in a button up shirt. They both live in London which is why they were particularly memorable for me as it made me think of my sister and Kyle who live there and how happy I am that they are close by.
Susy talked the talk to them describing how many weddings she has done at this chateau. She talked about the authentic English tea with cakes she makes by hand (she later reveals her secret to making her amazing hand made cakes, she gets a pre-mixed package and adds the finishing touches).
We walked them around but not before she introduced me as one of the most famous photographers in Canada. (I didn’t say anything, but felt a little awkward because I would not be so bold as to say that, there are many fantastic photographers in Canada and I am surely not yet the most famous... Perhaps if this blog goes viral I will become the most famous photographer in Canada lol!) Despite this, I had a few minutes alone with the couple and talked to them about doing some photography for them. I didn’t try to sell them but I did talk about what I could offer them. They chatted a bit and decided they would like to hire me.
Dave & Leanne
The next couple that came about two hours later were from the UK as well. I don’t remember their names exactly, I think his was Dave and hers Leanne (don’t quote me on hers). They were a little less memorable despite meeting them twice in two days and quite possibly giving me more reason to remember them.
They arrived with the intention to confirm their wedding anniversary celebration. Susy kept calling it a birthday celebration despite being corrected a few times, but it seems she gets herself into her air of extravagance and story telling that she slips a little on the detail. This couple were a quite a bit more concerned about not being able to see the rooms, they nearly outright demanded it. You can’t really blame them when they are spending 10,000 Euro a week to rent the place. I definitely sympathized with them in that regard, I’d want to make sure I’m getting what I paid for. Still showing of the rooms was evaded.
When they left I could tell they were a bit worried. Susy wasn’t particularly fond of them as they didn’t accept her reason for showing the rooms, and promptly told me that when they come to stay in September she won’t be here and I will be looking after them by myself (no problem for me of course). Little did I know I would see them again sooner than I thought; they came back the very next day...