Halfway through last season we decided to take the plunge and use a commercial laundry. On the face of it this doesn't seem much of a leap. Sheets need laundering. Laundry exists. QED take sheets to laundry. Plus, four years of ironing huge cotton sheets in the height of summer isn't one of my happiest memories though it may be my hottest. There is a hurdle to leap on the road to laundry-heaven though, and the hurdle is size. It does matter.
If the laundry already has a week's laundry which takes a week to process, and the house is full of two night stays, how many sheets and pillowcases does that come to? Well, the pillowcase answer is 144 and the sheet, 80 (assuming there are no twins and no duvets.) This, of course, is a "worst possible scenario," though in a world where "worst possible scenarios" usually involve earthquakes or famine, my laundry list obviously doesn't amount to a hill of beans. Nonetheless it is MY hill of beans and with not a shop selling super king-size sheets this side of Oxford Street, we just didn't have enough, not nearly enough, to go round.
So last year we bought more sheets. And pillowcases. Then more sheets. And pillowcases.
And now at least once a week I head off to the lovely CATAR in Pezenas, the blanchisserie behind Lidl. CATAR is a work scheme for people with learning difficulties which is run, usually like clockwork, by Monsieur Tall (grey curly hair and blue eyes,) Madame Roland (blond hair and glasses) and Madame Short (enough said.) The only times the clockwork goes lumpy is when M. Tall breaks his leg or a machine breaks down. (M. Tall I'm thrilled to say is now back in harness after 5 months.)
Each Christmas Lizzie and I drop off a huge gift-wrapped tin of Quality Street. The resulting sugar-high makes me enormously popular with the troops and accounts for my name of Madame Ballantyne-Bonbon. Despite the Everests of laundry being scaled each week, I've never been sent home with someone else's candy-striped flannelettes or surgical scrubs for which I'm enormously grateful. Mille mercis to all at CATAR for making our lives cooler and cleaner.