For the last two weeks, a German family has been spending their spring break in the gite next door. The two little girls, Sandra and Julia, soon discovered Thabo, Sushi and Peaches and they were in love. Every morning right after their breakfast, they were here, ringing the bell, rapping on the door, calling through the keyhole "Katerina! Katerina! Wo sind Sie?" Groan.
Then all day long, "Kan ich lhnen helfin?" Groan.
Julia is eight and Sandra must be elevenish. From dawn to dusk I tried to find things for them to do: washing floors and windows, mowing the lawn, planting seeds in pots, carrying books, pushing wheelbarrows, carrying wood upstairs, cutting down ivy and brambles, weeding the beds. They were relentless and by the evening I was exhausted. Even Thabo tried to slide under the bed when he saw the girls approaching with his lead for yet another walk.
Yesterday the whole family were at the door. "Goodbye, Katerina," Sandra's lower lip was trembling. I softened and put my arm around her to give her a hug. Big crocodile tears poured down her cheeks.
"We live in a small apartment in Munich," the father told me. "The girls will miss you and the cats and dog." I had been meaning to go over and ask the parents if they could possibly keep the girls at home until at least ten in the morning. Instead, I told him how helpful and sweet his daughters had been, and that I hoped they would be back next year. The father smiled proudly. To seal the wish, I signed and gave them a copy of Spree in Paree and waved hard until their blue car had disappeared around the corner, wiping away a stray crocodile tear or two myself.