Firstly, how are you both? We’ve really missed joining you in the sunshine on site this year.
Good, actually. It’s been quite the year so far. After moving country and a drastic career change I expected more normality, who could have guessed right? But I’m good. In the face of a lot of troubling news and uncertainty we try to count our blessings and I’m humbled by how faithful God has been to us. I can’t say it’s all been smooth sailing—but hey, as you say we live in the beautiful, sunny Vendée.
How did you and your family find lockdown, what did you get up to?
Well—and this is a bit of a confession as a manager in a park with so many greens—we got into gardening! Before, Kate and I couldn’t keep a plant alive if we tried, now we’ve transformed the terrace to host a vegetable patch, flowers, and even a bit of a nursery to try get ahead on next season’s hanging baskets. My daughters have the golden touch: every plant they touch grows incessantly. They also love the compost worms—which Kate is thrilled about. Also, as anyone with school age children will understand: teachers, you rock!
Lockdown in the UK encouraged people to join together and support one another. Have you experienced the same sense of community in France?
Not really in the same way, It’s difficult to say since our area has been relatively untouched by the virus itself. Plus, I think there’s more of an underlying community feel in the first place. Maybe it’s because the lockdown was strict at first: you could only go within 1km of your house except for essential journeys and the Police were out and about fining people without the appropriate paperwork (this is France: everything has paperwork). I’ve personally definitely grown more conscious of appreciating people who have jobs we often take for granted that in the end are essential to the daily life we’re used to.
With the rules surrounding the pandemic starting to ease, what have you enjoyed being able to do again?
Meeting friends, especially at the beach! The first evening restaurants opened, we immediately headed with the Bentleys to La Riviera for some world-class pizza. A lot of life has gone back to pretty normal, just with face coverings and distancing as part of that new normal. A recent blessing is being able to meet as a church. Again, face coverings are a part of that; now that we’re used to wearing them at certain times they don’t get in the way of enjoying ourselves or sharing the moment.
Lastly, we can’t wait to be on site next year. What are you most looking forward to about the 2021 LPO season?
Guests! I know it’s the obvious and cheesy answer, but whenever I’m around the site I get flashbacks of families eating together outside, the joyful ruckus from the pool, dodging kids on bikes... that kind of thing. Being empty, there’s been a gentle loneliness around site, like a longing for a boost of holiday energy. Normally, running a season of LPO is hard work for the whole team; seeing guests relax, enjoying themselves, building relationships... all that gives me the energy to keep going. And when I need a bit more energy... well, at least the Vendée-Vous Café will be open again!