Les poissons en France

Monday, August 27, 2007

St. Germain - Day 3

Sunday was the third day of the Fete Votive of our local little town. We'd seen signs about some sort of fair or 'Foire Foraine' starting at 3 o'clock followed by a bike race at 5. So we thought we'd walk down to investigate. It was scalding hot - 43 degrees on our verandah - so by the time we got to the town we needed a cold beer! As with all of these things, nothing starts on time, although we never found our Fair, except for an english-type fair, with Dogems, rides, etc.

However, at about ten past five, things started to happen around the town square.

The race was for 'Unidentified wheeled Objects' and so, as you can see, a strange collection of contraptions and characters began to assemble at the start line.

The race seemed to be under the control of a gentleman who I'd met at our house when he brought our band of troubadors to collect money to pay for the Fete. I'd read in the booklet he gave us which explained all about the events, where it kept refering to the 'Occitan Poet' and I guessed that it was 'He'. So I was readily able to identify our 'Poet' as he was lining up the competitors.

All of this activity was watched with great interest by all and sundry.

Both young and old!

Finally everything was to the 'Peot's' satisfaction.

and the race was off!

One or two had teething problems like a chain coming off or the back wheel tied up with string so it couldn't go round, but everybody made at least half a circuit before equipment failure.

Charitably, the Nun was given a lift to what was agreed was the finishing line.

A group of very hot but happy competitors then retired to the Beer Tent, having given a lot of pleasure to a lot of people ( and a lot of belly laughs for Sue ).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Bit of a Do Number 2"

Yes we're gluttons for punishment, so we arranged to go to another "Do" last night. This one was arranged by the "The Friends of the Medieval Part of Gourdon". You may recall that we had seen an art exhibition in the old part of Gourdon and wanted to buy a painting, so we agreed to meet the artist at the meal put on by this Friends group. We met the artist but have still not got the painting, hopefully we will have it some time - things are so laid back here.

These meals are an integral part of the French summer culture. The setting was incredible; initially we went up a very tiny old street which leads to the medieval part of the town, half way up is an innocuous arch to the right, we followed where it led and ended up in a beautiful courtyard where tables were laid for about 250 guests. I was so impressed with the tables that I took a picture. Fortunate that I did, because we suddenly had a very heavy shower and the tables looked rather sad when it had finished.

That was the end of the adverse weather and from then on you just didnt realise you were outside as it was so warm. The meal, cooked an served by "the friends", was amazing:-

Melon with sweet white wine

Quercy salad - huge plate of salad with duck legs, foie gras. smoked duck, walnuts etc.

Barbecued lamb chop with a sort of baked beans

Cabecou with black pepper - the local goats cheese ( presented on a walnut leaf

and topped with walnut - remember this is for 250)

Strawberries and Cream


Wine and Water add lib

All for 16 euros about £10

Lots of the artists who had exhibited were there so the company was very convivial and the entertainment was provided by a very talented jazz band and a not so talented "pub" band.

Feeding the assembled took even longer than usual so we didnt get home until about 1am. Nothing moves quickly in France and no one moans.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Getting Plastered

No, not problems after last night's Fete. Sue decided to plaster the two old brick pillars of the Porcherie.

I need them done before I can start making window frames either side of them. Sue was moaning at how long these sort of things take us, but, as I tried to explain, every new 'skill' is a learning process for us. With the experience she's gaining from doing these pillars, she'll be a dab hand once we need whole rooms doing!

Meanwhile, I began trying to make my first window frame, having been to the local DIY store for a new cutting bit for my new Router. Success! I can now cut a rebate into a piece of wood. So, calling upon my long forgotten 'O' level Woodworking, I jointed 4 lengths of rebated wood together and put the resulting frame into position.

As this was my test piece I summoned my examiner, who was obviously feeling in a good mood. I was allowed extra time to rectify some small problems with gaps at the joints, and then was awarded a qualified 8 out of 10. However I was warned not to use my own unorthodox jointing system, but in future I should use the system recommended by 'her indoors' or face dire consequences. (I don't know how this works as she only did Domestic Science at 'O' level.)

St. Germain en Fete

We had arranged to go to the meal at the fete with a couple of friends, although this had then involved meeting up with some other English. So off we went to have a drink before the meal and found that we were following a strange trailer full of strange men in their Y-fronts!

We parked up and went to investigate and found ourselves in the middle of a mini-fiesta.

The group of locals were obviously part of the organisation of the fete and were determined to enjoy themselves. At the same time, they provided a lot of enjoyment for the spectators.

As the time for the meal approached, we went round the corner to find a table.

We didn't notice the evening getting darker because we were being serenaded by the 'Dede's Banda' and our Y-fronted friends.

Although the meal took a long time to get through it wasn't a problem as there was plenty of red wine to drink, and, when each course did come, it was very good; the paella was excellent, with lots of prawns, mussels, calamares and chicken. Throughout the meal, a large number of the Y-fronts were propping up the bar and singing songs which I expect were full of 'double-entendres'.

Once the meal was over the 'lads' set to and cleared away all of the tables and benches and the dancing began. DJ Fanu with Vero on the violin, and accompanying fire juggler! No expense spared.

What we really enjoyed was that the whole of this event was inclusive; whole families from small kids to grannies, and also some people in wheelchairs being danced by their pushers!

A lot of noise, a lot of fun, a lot of drinking and sore heads to come, but everyone is friendly, happy and only concerned with having a good time. And there are three more days of this!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Chip off the Old.....

At last I feel that I'm getting somewhere with the Pigsty. I've finally finished all of the cementing of the edges of the roof tiles, etc. and I've mortared the joints of some of the parts of the walls where I am going to fix winow and door frames.

It's going to be interesting as I'm going to make the frames out of timber that the previous occupants left. So I've bought a router to cut rebates, although I've already found out that it isn't quite as easy as I thought! Another learning experience awaits. Still my enthusiasm has been renewed by just putting the door frame together and fixing it in place. I wonder what our neighbours will say when they realise that we're putting windows and doors into the Porcherie.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

La Fete approaches

This coming weekend it is our local fete. We are taking a couple of friends to the Friday night meal, but the whole thing goes from Thursday evening until midnight on Monday. I think a lot of wine will be drunk! But we had a taster of it this evening when we were serenaded by an accordionist and some lassies singing. When I opened the front door, I was given a jar of honey, a plastic rose, and a programme of events.

In return for these goodies, I handed over a donation to help pay for the electricity, the bands, etc. of the Fete. My name was noted, and then the strolling minstrels wandered off to our neighbours.

It was so nice to see some youngsters involved in the organisation of these local events. Such a change from when we were in England!

It rains here too!

Just to keep all you folks happy back in England, it does rain here. It isn't always sunny with temperatures in the 30's. We've had about 3 days of unsettled weather with lots of showers, and today it is raining quite heavily. However this doesn't stop the dedicated path builder. Just because it's raining makes no difference if you've still got half a wheelbarrow full of cement.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


No, this isn't a stand at a Women's Institute show, this is just some of the produce we're either growing or picking in the hedgerows, or scrumping. The swiss chard is from the veg patch, the plums are today's harvest from our plum tree in the front garden, the apples and pears are from the trees of some aquaintances at the top of the hill who aren't there, and the blackberries are from our hedge and the hedge going up the hill. And this is just a drop in the ocean! Sue is making jam as fast as she can find jam jars, and I'm having a go at making some plum liqueur. Sue's jam is good, but we've no idea how the hooch will turn out. You'll know it's rubbish if you get some for a christmas present!

The weather is unsettled and making life difficult to do cementing, but Sue is plodding on with her path. She's found all the stones she needs; it's now a matter of the right weather so she can mortar them in.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"La Culture Francaise"

We sampled a lot of different facets within 24 hours.

During the summer there has been an exhibition of paintings in Gourdon. The pictures were exhibited in the windows of the shops which lead up to the medieval quarter. John had seen one which he particularly liked and the next thing I know he has made an appointment to meet the artist at her studio. Her workshop turned out to be about 30 minutes east of Cahors (he thought it was just outside Gourdon - subtle difference), in the most archetypal quiet french village. She showed us round her studio and of course we bought the painting which John had seen - I like it too.

In the evening we went to a concert for voice and guitar in the next village. It was held in the church which I had been told was very old and spectacular - it was. The concert turned out to be a very professional duo; he played a ten string guitar and she was a mezzo - soprano (complete with long dress). The music was mostly 16th century and extremely well performed but the most amazing thing was that the church was packed. I estimated that there were in excess of 200 people there, of all ages as usual. St. Chamarand is very rural and less than half the size of our village but all these people came to a concert of very limited appeal.

As usual we went to the summer market in St. Germain this morning; we do so enjoy the feeling of belonging and chatting to the stall holders that we know.

Well low and behold there was a group playing (they were all about seventeen). It took me straight back to my youth and also to Guy's teen years. The singer looked exactly like Guy and the drummer reminded me of Paul Herring (Pat and Mel's son). The Mums and Dads were in tow and were busily wrapping the amps up in bin bags when it started to drizzle. Been there , done that!

On returning to our car we noticed that somebody had strewn a load of hedge trimmings down the street. What was going on here? We followed the greenery and discovered that it marked the route for the Bride and Groom to take from their civil ceremony in the Town Hall to the Church .

What a nice custom! And no one gets uptight about who will clean it all up or who gave you permission to do this? It's just `C'est la vie'.