Aaron slept downstairs by the fire last night, to make sure it went out and didn’t set the castle on fire… It looked quite cozy when we left him there and went to bed. All of us slept in this morning, and poor Holly woke up with a sore throat. She could barely talk. After getting some breakfast she seemed to perk up a bit though.
We got a visitor in the castle this morning, an uninvited and unwilling one. A little bird flew in trough the kitchen door and couldn’t find its way back out again. Kelly was able to catch it in his hands and went outside to let it go, but it didn’t want to fly. The bird seemed physically fine, but maybe it was a bit traumatized. It just stayed on Kelly’s hand for a long time and held on to him. After a while, Kelly managed to set the bird down outside in the garden.
Later in the day we went to Bonnétable to get out of the castle and to get some lunch; I drove the car today as well. I prefer driving and Aaron seems to prefer not to, so that works out well. We jokingly call Bonnétable “bunny table”, in small part because it’s easier to say, but mainly because it sounds much funnier. There’s another town nearby called Sillé-le-Philippe that Aaron and Holly have renamed to “Silly Little Philippe”…
For lunch we meant to go to The Four Seasons in Bonnétable, or Les 4 Saisons as it’s actually named. When we got there, the restaurant was empty but for one table, and it didn’t feel like a great place to eat. It just didn’t have a nice atmosphere. Well, the waitress told us that the kitchen was closing up and they were done with lunch service, and maybe that was for the best. The waitress suggested that we go to a pizzeria down the street instead. I have to admit that my expectations for the pizza place were as low as they could get, but we were pleasantly surprised already when we came in through the front door. We had been wondering where all the town’s people were, and apparently they were all at the pizza place! The rest of the town felt a bit deserted, but at the pizzeria it was lively with lots of locals having a meal, laughing and chatting. We ordered pizza and it was good; we ordered dessert and it was even better. A miscommunication between me and the super friendly waitress lead to me and Kelly getting two giant desserts (éclairs) instead of one to share, but when we had resolved our communication issues with some assistance from the table next to us, we ended up getting one dessert for free. We were also treated to some green apple liqueur as a digestif, and Xavi, who behaved exemplary, got a bag of candy. He’s very easy to bring to a restaurant – just give him a piece of paper and a pen to write numbers with, and he’s happy for a long time! The waitress at the restaurant was really friendly and nice to us (our experience in most places; the French do not deserve any of their poor reputation) and we left from there incredibly full and very happy.
We went grocery shopping on our way back to the castle. We bought enough food to last us for the remainder of our time here (and then some…). We met the landlord, Eric, at the grocery store, and he advised us to go to the boulangerie (= bakery) in Torcé-en-Vallée to get bread, rather than buying it in the supermarket.
When we got back, we went to the mill where Eric, who is the castle’s owner, lives. He has a bunch of chickens and geese, and Holly’s been feeding them the leftovers from their meals. Kelly, Holly and Xavi went inside the pen to give them all our leftovers from the last couple of days.
Aaron and I wanted to go for a walk, so we decided to walk to the village, Torcé-en-Vallée, to buy some bread at the boulangerie, as per Eric’s suggestion. We ran into him outside his house, and talked for a bit. He’s very nice and extremely helpful. We have managed to run into him almost wherever we go, a couple of times in Le Mans (and we were only there once!) and as mentioned, earlier today at the supermarket in Bonnétable. Now, he showed me and Aaron his horses. His wife and him have an Arabian horse and a little pony, but neither of them ride the horses. The Arab came galloping when he called for it, and it was so beautiful and majestic that it made me think of Gandalf’s Shadowfax in Lord of the Rings…
We told Eric that we were going to walk into town to buy some bread, and asked him how long he thought it would take. He guessed about 20 minutes one way, which was exactly the kind of walk I wanted to go on. Perfect! And so we took off. We walked on a beautiful trail/dirt road in between the fields and groves of trees; the birds were singing and the sun was shining. It was beautiful.
This went on for a while, but when we started approaching a big road, I picked up my phone to see where we were. It turned out that we had been walking straight to the west, even though the village is located north of the castle. We were basically farther away from the village at this point, then we were when we started! So, we had to walk on the heavily trafficked road for quite a while, and someone honked at us even though we were practically walking in the ditch. Eventually we made it to the village, but it had taken more than double the amount of time we had planned on. At the outskirts of town we came upon a big rock that we’ve seen many times from the car, driving past it. Apparently it’s thought to have been put here about 5,000 years ago! I’m thinking it’s Torcé-en-Vallée’s only tourist attraction, so we took the opportunity to take a break and take some pictures.
And then we went to the boulangerie and bought some bread. The lady in the bakery did not speak a word of English, but with Aaron’s help we got what we needed anyway. Mission accomplished! Then we walked back to the castle on the road that we normally drive, and even though it wasn’t as nice of a walk as the beginning of our earlier walk, it was a whole lot shorter. All in all, we walked for 7 kilometers (4.5 miles).
While we were gone, Kelly took Xavi out in the rowboat on the moat. They were looking for fish and it sounded like they had a fun time!
Holly made another fabulous meal for dinner: lemon chicken piccata and rice pilaf. I’m going to be rolling home from this place. After dinner, Kelly and I went out to set a trap for the muskrats. Kelly saw a muskrat in the moat yesterday, and he also found a live animal trap in the dungeon. Put the two together, and he came up with the idea to set up the trap and see if he could catch a muskrat. The odds are pretty low though…
When we got back inside, Holly was preparing quinces for another tarte tatin! It takes a long time to get them ready, so we won’t have the tarte tatin until tomorrow. Then she had to go up to the attic to get the laundry that was hung to dry there (after we discovered the clothes lines the other day). She didn’t want to go by herself though – the attic is admittedly a bit creepy – so I went with her. The rest of the evening we sat and talked in front of the fireplace, drinking some sparkling dessert wine. It’s so quiet and peaceful in the castle at night, and the fire makes it very cozy :).