May 232017


Aulnay France – “And That is Why Germans Don’t Play Scrabble!”

It was a cold and  sunny November morning when our host booked Trish and I a table at a French pub ran by Brits.  However, he suggested that first we visit the Sunday market in the old town of Aulnay in  the Charente Maritime region of France.  We bundled up and drove through the fields that lay bare from the recent harvesting.  Every now and again, shots rang out as hunters made their way through distance forests.


After wandering through a few market stalls, we decided to break for a coffee.  Inside there were two distinctive accents English and French.  We sat

St. Pierre

behind a large table of middle-aged Brits and put our cold hands around large cups of coffee.  The croissants arrived with butter and various fruit jams.  Life was good.  Trish had brought in some brochures of local places to visit and we were browsing through them.  I was fully involved until I heard a woman say, “And that is why the Germans don’t play Scrabble.”  It bugged me that I had the punch line and not the story.

Within a few minutes these Brits started to move towards the exit.  I stopped the white-haired woman with the punch line.  I explained my curiosity.  She laughed and told me that she had a conversation with a German friend.  “Look,” said the German friend, “You would put down five letters for the word lover, but we would put down twenty as in Lebensabschnittpartner.”

English woman showed me the word which she had passed around and then said, “And that is why the Germans don’t play Scrabble.”   The white-haired lady was Helen.  She told me that she had exaggerated her joke.  The long word actually means, “the person I am with today.”

Helen was being called to join her friends.  “Look, love,” she said, “Why don’t you join us at the Bistrot St. Pierre restaurant in Néré.  I beamed and told her we had already booked.  “Then, you will have to join us at our table.

At the table we met some wonderful Brits.  Helen and another woman called Shirley asked us to join them for a movie in a large nearby city.  We saw “suffragettes” with Meryl Streep and had a meal with another couple the next night.

This is the wonder of house/pet sitting.  You are a world-traveller who choses which country to visit and what assignments to take.  Waiting for you are new animals to love and new people to meet.

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