My second week of training with the French team was 9th may to the 13th may. This was a hot week in France, 30 degrees some days - thank goodness for air conditioning!
Monday 9th May
I went to France on the Monday, rather than the Sunday mainly because Elliott was joining me from Ireland for a few days , as he wasn’t able to get there last time. Our flights landed 20 mins apart, in Lyon. We hadn’t met before, but he was easy to find...being 6’3”!! It was lovely to get to know Elliott on the drive to the hotel and over dinner, and hear all about his Irish adventures, and how he’s getting on so well over there. He’s a great asset to our team, and you Irish lot are very lucky!
Tuesday 10th May
We got to the factory about 8am, while Elliott had a tour of the factory, I had a quick catch up with Nate, and went through what we were going to try and achieve this week. I get to start panels!
But before that, it was all about billets! (Sometimes known as girth straps). Again different saddles have them attached differently, these were not so bad for me. Very much the same as I already know. We did one saddle, then I put the saddle back together again.
Very full after a lovely lunch, my afternoon was mainly spent taking apart a saddle, right down to the tree. It had come in for repair, and needed to be stripped right back.
That evening, Guillaume, who is one our main point of contacts at Childeric, took us out for dinner. We had every intention of having a salad, but no, we had another three course meal! It was good to chat with Guillaume, away from work. They are really great hosts there at Childeric, we are very lucky.
Wednesday 11th May
I was in early today at 7am. Elliott came in later, he didn’t stay long as he was going home, and had to catch the plane.
So my morning was spent with Nate, we did some more billets, and I was given another saddle to lace back together.
In the afternoon I got to shadow Sophie, what she doesn’t now about the panels isn’t worth knowing! She doesn’t speak much English, but we managed. Sophie has been there for 17 years. She built a new panel from start to finish, and put the leather on. When it was all ready to stitch, she let me have a go. This is so much fun!
In at my normal time of 7am, and this morning I spent with Nate, as he’s mainly working on repairs. A saddle had come in that needed new Billet’s. Before any repair or panel alteration is done, the tree is checked. This had a suspicious creek sound, so I had the task of taking it apart. It was very old, and two of the rivets had gone. These hold the metal part to the tree. So these were replaced before the new Billets were added.
After lunch, I was with another part of the team who do the Panels, she was called Pauline. She has the main job of doing the panel alterations, and we went through about four different saddles and panel changes too.
Pauline’s work is excellent, again her precision and eye for detail was amazing. I was also let loose on some old panels, before I do any customer ones. Her English was as good as my french is, so not much! But again with watching and learning, plus google translate to help us, we managed. I watched Pauline attach the leather back to the panel. After it is stapled on, its then stitched-laced back into place. Photo below! As our last job of the day I started to stitch the leather back on.
Unlucky for some!
My flight was at 2:45pm, so I had the morning in the factory. This was spent with Pauline, and mainly finishing the saddle we had started to stitch the day before.
Time flies by when you’re there and before I knew it, it was time to go. I said my Thank you’s and Goodbye’s, to everyone who helped me this week. The journey home ran without a hitch, and I was back in time for dinner at 6pm.
My next week in the factory is Monday 6th to Friday 11th June, I will leave on the Sunday so I get a full week there.
So, a massive thank you everyone at the Factory for teaching me. They are all very patient, and I appreciate it more than they will know. Also Louis and Guillaume for their hospitality and my family and friends at home, you know who are!