In September 2008, three months after our annual stay in the Loire Valley, our office department was thoroughly reorganized. People from other departments were attached to ours and we welcomed several new colleagues in our midst.
Being an early bird, I usually get to the office by 7 a.m. One morning I shared the lift with a lady who looked vaguely familiar. We both got out on the same floor and she even followed me into our wing of the building. We said hello and wished each other a pleasant day. The same thing happened the next day, and the next.
On Monday we shared the same lift again and we started chatting. She told me that over the weekend she had attended a large family gathering in the Château de Beloeil. And so, for several days, every morning we shared a little more information about our lives and interests.
2008: Terrace of our chambre d'hôtes.
When I told her that I like travelling in France and that my favourite region is the Loire Valley, she rummaged through her handbag and produced a black and white leaflet. “In that case you should go and stay with my cousin who owns a Chambre d’hôtes near Loches.” She said handing me the leaflet. Although this sounded familiar, it didn’t immediately ring a bell. But, in the evening, when showing the leaflet to my friend, it was beginning to dawn on me. Could this colleague be related to the elderly couple we had met in June? Is that why she had looked familiar when I first met her some weeks before? I shared my ‘suspicion’ with my friend, who thought it to be very unlikely.
The best thing was to ask. So the next day, when she came to my desk for our daily morning chat, I said: ”Do you happen to have some relatives who live in ‘town X’ on the outskirts of Brussels?” She looked puzzled and intrigued. “Yes, why?” she enquired. So I explained about our meeting in June. Not knowing what her relationship with the couple was, I didn’t mention the gentleman making unpleasant remarks. “That sounds like my parents!” she said. Her next question took me by surprise. “Did my father behave himself?” Outch! That was awkward. I therefore changed the subject and asked whether her cousin who had a Chambre d’hôtes near Loches was called Mrs. P. “That’s her name, indeed.” she answered.
Once I knew her well enough, I gave her a ‘light’ version of what had happened that morning in June 2008. It didn’t really surprise her, as apparently her father is quite a character who has a bit of a reputation when it comes to making unpleasant remarks. When she told her parents about us meeting in June 2008, her mother more or less remembered us. Her father didn’t!
But guess what? Last autumn the father suddenly asked his daughter whether she would ask me if I knew a nice chamber d’hôtes or hotel in the region of Verdun. I recommended the 'Château de Jaulny' (I wrote a post about it called 'The other Joan of Arc') and they stayed there for two nights. They just loved it. Since then, I have been ‘officially’ appointed as their personal trip advisor.