Les poissons en France

Saturday, December 31, 2016

One Brits view of France

John came across this article in a newspaper. It resonates with us and we had a good laugh - hope you do.

How to get on with the French  by  Anthony Peregrine

On the eve of my 30th year in France, I hear Britons ask: “How do you get on with the French?” Well, I sleep with one of them, so that’s OK. “And the other 66,627,001?” In the main, fruitfully. In a bout of goodwill to all men, here’s how:
Shake all hands; make to kiss any advancing cheek, male or female. Such formality means that greetings for a soirée often outlast the soirée itself. Maybe no bad thing.
Cry “Bonjour monsieur-dame” on entering smaller retail premises. If you did this in Britain at the mini-market – “Good day, ladies and gentlemen!” – they’d think you were introducing elephants or some other circus act. But it oils wheels in France.
Outside major cities, keep vegetarianism secret.
Go easy with irony. The French generally take things at face value. You chirp, “What-ho, you four-eyed fascist so and so”, and it will end badly. Especially if the four-eyed fellow in question is sticking up National Front posters.
Think twice before binge-drinking. The French don’t throw up in the street, collapse on pavements with skirts around their necks or chuck beer bottles at the war memorial. Not even on Saturday nights. No, really.
If you want to talk about Rimbaud or Proust, go right ahead. The French have no equivalent of “too clever by half”. In Britain, you mention Keats or George Eliot, you’d better follow up damned quickly with a reference to the QPR back four. In France, they have philosophers on television.
Understand that the gap between what’s said and what’s done is bigger than in Great Britain. To hear them speak, French people never enter fast-food joints or supermarkets, and are entertained only by ballet, opera or Molière. So you have to ask who are the hundreds before you in the queue at McDonald’s, the Carrefour checkout or the ticket-office for the Abba tribute show.
No French person ever says “sacré bleu” or “zut alors”.
Note that we agonise about different things. The French haven’t yet sorted out whether it’s OK to delve into the private lives of public people. They are, though, pretty cool about sex. They do not, as we do, react as if it’s rediscovered weekly, perhaps because they lack a tabloid press to raise the alarm.
Make the most of being British. Politics aside, the French admire us – and with the Beatles, Stones and Mott the Hoople (stacked against Johnny Hallyday), Manchester United (cf FC Sochaux) and HM The Queen (François Hollande), you can see we’ve serious cards. Play them ruthlessly. The average French person wants to believe that you’re a chum of David Beckham, Keith Richards and Prince Philip. You’ll be fighting off invitations.

Désolé nos amis français mais un soupçon d'ironie !!

Happy New Year to you all.

Can't stop now!

Inspired by the work we've been doing clearing the undergrowth in the banks I decided to hack back the branches, saplings and in particular the brambles in the bottom hedge which have been inhibiting me mowing.  (But then the job hasn't been done Sue and June did it in circa 2009)
The pruning is done but a considerable quantity of rubbish needs to be taken up the hill to be burnt.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Winter Clearout II

Now that Christmas is over, work has resumed in the garden and the Head Gardener is keen to carry on clearing the bank along to the 'Woodland' bed.  So yesterday and today we were pulling up dead weeds, lopping saplings and then chain-sawing small trees. 
Although we had worked all day yesterday, (and we must be getting old as we crawled into bed last night just after 9 o'clock) we thought that a lot of work remained, but we were pleased when the bank was cleared by lunchtime.
However we had a huge pile of trimmings for burning ...
...which were duly burnt this afternoon.

HG is very happy!

Christmas Day

We were excited to be invited to spend Christmas Day with our French friends and their extended family, although I was apprehensive in case they gave us raw oysters for starters. The French eat so many oysters at Christmas that the supermarkets erect marquees outside to sell the thousands of boxes.
I needn't have worried (if they did have them it was the evening before, as Christmas Eve is the special meal at Christmas in France). However we did have home made Foie Gras, which we love, (sorry if you have moral objections, but it's delicious and as much part of the French tradition of Christmas as Christmas pudding is in Britain). This was followed by a roast capon and vegetables, then cheese and finishing with  a Christmas ice cream log. Of course each course was accompanied by a special wine which everyone carefully read the label and nodded appreciatively. There were about a dozen of us for lunch, of all ages from 5 months to us oldies. However, amongst those assembled were Charlotte (our friend's daughter) and Louis her husband who have fairly recently become wine producers so there was much admiring  and consuming of their produce.

As the afternoon progressed we were amused to note the similarities with a British Christmas; odd folks seemed to disappear and reappear refreshed after a sleep. In the middle of the evening our hostess suggested a glass of champagne which seemed to revive everyone and bring a sparkle to the proceedings. Eventually we all sat down and partook of left over lunch and more wine. More similarities at this stage as a "heated discussion " took place regarding saving the planet.

Our verdict was that a French family Christmas is very similar to that in Britain, however we feel very priviledged to have been invited.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Clearout

Sunday was another crisp, bright day and we started to work on clearing the bank which runs along the top of the Allée where Sue has started to create a 'Woodland' bed.
As usual it wasn't just a case of weeds and ivy but the removal of young saplings and branches from large trees.
And, as usual, this resulted in a large heap of trimmings ...
... which were duly burnt the next day.  But there's a lot more clearing to be done!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Pre Christmas Whirl Continues

We haven't finished clearing up from the party yet, life's been too hectic. We had the annual "truffle meal" accompanied by copious bottles of wine on Monday, hospital Tuesday (my cancer marker is very low so we just had a laugh and chat with my specialist), Wednesday was bridge and yesterday lunch and a garden visit with the gardening club. We are scheduled to carry on at this pace until at least next Monday evening.

Many of you will recall us taking you to a topiary garden in the Dordogne - it is one of the tourist attractions that all guests are subjected to. Therefore as we have been many times a visit in the middle of winter didn't exactly fill us with excitement but as loyal club members we agreed to go.

The visit was to be preceded by a meal at a local restaurant which far exceeded expectations. We were the nightmare group members as the Jardin Du Manoir d'Eyrignac was only 5 minutes from the restaurant but we managed to get lost! Whilst the lunch exceeded expectations the guided tour far far exceeded expectations. We had the gardens to ourselves and the guide was excellent. The tour was scheduled to be an hour to an hour and a half but was nearer two and a half hours because we were all so interested.

Naturally the garden has a completely different perspective in winter, particularly with the skeletal trees. We were so impressed that we are going to buy a season ticket so we can visit throughout the year. Those not interested in gardens can groan now as you fear that you will carted off to Eyrignac when you next visit.

 John took the opportunity to take some "arty"photos.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas has Started!

This year we wanted to start the Christmas season with a bang and so we organised a little party yesterday, Sunday lunchtime.

We ended up with 16 English friends and 11 French, but we asked for volunteers to perform for us, either singing, playing a musical instrument, poetry, jokes ... whatever!

Fortunately we have a salon big enough for this sort of gathering ...
... but we had organised a surprise.
Father Christmas arrived to listen to everyone's Christmas wishes!!!
(Father Christmas is a charming gentleman who lives nearby and spends all of the run up to Christmas going to events for children as Père Noël)
After we had had some food (to soak up the alcohol) the performances began
 Sue and Mark played a sonata ... once Mark had got the music the right way up ... and sang for us later.
 Our good friends Odile and Catherine stunned us by performing one of my poems which they had translated into french for our French friends.  We were overwhelmed and Sue was reduced to tears.  This served to highlight that poetry is so much better when it is recited.
Sue and Fran combined to give us a Pam Ayres poem abusing us husbands!
André played a french song for which he provided the words so everyone could join in.

I should add that Sue and I had managed to lower the cultural tone completely by giving our rendition of the lesson on how to give a cat a pill!
We are accepting bookings for Baptisms, Bar mitzvahs and Weddings

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Shopper's Delight

We've just got back from a few days in England with aged Aunty Betty and so we needed to go shopping for food.  Previous visits had seen us go to Waitrose which was a hedonistic pleasure ... but expensive!  So this time we thought we'd go downmarket and use Lidl as we do here in France.  However we didn't use Lidl as we found a nearby Aldi.  And we were amazed!  10 o'clock on a Monday morning, and we had to queue to get into their carpark!

We had thought that the idleness  as typified by the range of prepared fruit, vegetables and meals to be found in Waitrose was limited to the monied class.  But we found that Aldi had as much prepared ingredients and meals and at about half the price.  So the aversion to cooking is obviously now spread across all of British society .. and we understand why Aldi and Lidl are putting the major supermarkets into the shade.
Shame that we only had hand luggage and so couldn't bring anything back home ... everything is a lot cheaper in England! (except the wine)