A Fortnight in France – Part 2
Part 1, can be found HERE if you’d like to read that first)
The days as they pass in no particular order and comments passed in passing….whilst in the Perigord region of souther France
….In which I write about wanting to catch lizards, and go on about ham sandwiches in French quite a bit.
Canoing down the river Dronne!
I thought it would be a lazy day, casually paddling down the river. It turned into a marathon of shoulder crunching river mashing. Having said that, it was very pretty, even if completely knackering. There seemed to be tons of velvet blue damselflies flickering around the lilypads (or whatever they are), one even hitched a ride on the back of the canoe for a millisecond.
Later that day I momentarily thought Sausage had become interested in nature – He said: ‘I’ve found a moth!’ and then continued with, ‘I killed it with this!’ and proudly waved a small plastic baseball bat. I was sadly mistaken.
At dinner we had a classic comedy moment: Sweara, on being told that we were having Coq au Vin, announced ‘I’ve had enough Vin, I want some Coq now’. Completely innocently as well, which made it all the more amusing. I hope she won’t mind me writing that down, it was just priceless and I can’t help myself.
Darlek’ swimming skills are coming along nicely, she swims very well, but makes scary ‘I’m drowning!’ gasps which scare the life out of me. She’s very enthusiastic whilst swimming and attempts to drown any available adult in the pool. Had a laugh ducking flies, and also an out of hand game of catch with an inflatable ball. Sausage and Darlek both had hold of the ball and were jokingly yelling to get each other to let go of it, it escalated into a screaming match whereupon I couldn’t shout loud enough over them to tell them to shurrup, and Horace came over to check we weren’t all in some terrible screaming drowning accident. I was actually laughing too much to stop the screaming and was being irresponsible and worrying fellow guests apparently.
Later we went swimming at the top swimming pool whilst a thunderstorm lit up the skies. The clouds were amazing, one was shaped like a chamelion with a forked tail and an eye; another one looked like a sausage dog with jaws that lit up like fire when the lightening flashed. Cauliflower white clouds built in the midst of a eggshell blue sky on the other half of the horizon, with dark grey smudgey clouds on the other side. The sky had gone schitzophrenic as far as we could see.
The quiet, civilised, grown-ups-only swim was completely foiled and Darlek and Sausage swam around too. Mark dived in fully clothed, Darlek thought this was amazing and may have been disappointed that I didn’t follow suit. The pool sparkled with underwater lights and little lanterns lit the edges. So pretty! I felt like we’d accidentally wandered into a film set where James Bond should be sat at the side drinking martinis, shaken not stirred.
Another fond moment later in the week: I remember lying on a picnic blanket on the grass in the dark after a late tea – me, Darlek and Horace, with Sausage running around with a ball pretending to be a dog. Darlek had him sitting, rolling over and playing fetch. We lay and watched the stars and tracked satellites. A quick rendition of Billy Bragg’s ‘I saw two shooting stars last night, I wished on them, but they were only satellites, it’s wrong to wish on space hardware….I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care!’ with Sweara.
One thing I loved about this holiday is that I often ended up drinking wine in the afternoon whilst reading bathed in sunshine. As I typed this I was sat on one white plastic chair, legs propped up on another. Relaxevous!
Horace gets a loose grip on speaking French.
Horace raided the french dictionary and found the word for Gay Bar which is Gay Box translated literally apparently, then appeared to forget every other french word he’s ever learnt and just remembers that.
Cooking with Lavender
Horace and I made tea for 15 people and chose spag bol. We made enough spaghetti to feed two armies. Put two huge bowls of spaghetti on the table and then confessed that we had another left in the communal kitchen, everyone thought we were joking because they didn’t think it possible that anyone in their right mind could actually cook that amount of excess. We had spaghetti omelette the next day. Unusual and lovely. Highly recommended by us, probably scorned by Itallians. Spag bol was also served for lunch the next day too. ‘We shall not starve for the lack of spag bol’ I thought to myself.
I was nervous about cooking tea, but was determined to prove I could cook, so set about making stock. Had the usual ingredients, half an onion, bit of courgette, peppercorns odds and ends – and added some ‘herbs’ from the garden that I thought were Rosemary. Sweara came into the kitchen and very kindly saved me from a fate worse than cookery death, and told me I had actually made a stock with Lavender in it. I had lined up a huge wadge of Lavender to add to the main dish too. If I hadn’t have been stopped in time everyone have had to have eaten it and been polite, whilst wondering what the hell I’d done to the food to make it taste of flowers.
Little lizards everywhere! Love em! Skittering up and down walls, between decking, and amongst the gravel mostly. So cute! Would love to catch one and hold it in my hand so I can check out the markings, but they are unbelievably quick and nervous of people. They are a lovely dark olive green / grey with a stripe along the side, dotted with shadings of spots and dashes as far as I can see. They definitely like the sunshine and are most active when the sun is splitting the flags as they say in Lancs.
Playing Hunt The Market!
Unusual trip out to a market! Everyone piled into the car, and arrived on scene to find one fish stall in a quiet car park, and a lorry that appeared to be selling something, but I couldn’t work out what. That was it! We ended up wandering around an apparently post apocalyptic town with no-one in it, apart from a few posh food shops, bought some meat for the BBQ, postcards and wandered back to the car. Tried to get a drink in a cafe, but they said they were only serving drinks with meals. In actual fact it looked more like a couple of the locals were having a good gossip and they couldn’t be arsed.
Mark had a long indepth discussion with an old French lady who apparently began the conversation with ‘Long Live Queen Elizabeth!’ and advised him on tourist friendly bits of this very quiet town. She told him there was a restaurant (see above), and also somewhere that had a garden with flowers and Rose wine. Mike said she went on about how she liked the flowers but had no need of the ? or something (whatever that was). Found a couple of other tourists with kids sat outside the Syndicat D’Initiative looking a bit lost. They’d been on an unsucessful market hunt too. The last one they’d been to had 2 stalls too. My overall impression is that markets hide from tourists.
Our visit to a French supermarket was interesting. They had similar foods, all packaged differently. I struggled to find Shampoo and Conditioner. After a while I identified shampoo, as it said something like ‘shampooing’ on the bottle; next to it was something of the same brand in a tub which said something like ‘nutrisse’. I’m not used to conditioner in a tub, and I’m still not sure if I’ve chosen correctly. Who knows, maybe I’ve been putting handcream on my hair for the last week. So far my hair hasn’t stuck together in clumps, so I think I’m ok.
Mucking about with French
We’re all dropping bits of french into the conversation all the time, some more successfully than others. I am apalling. I have a terrible habit of joining in with these French speaking mucking about sessions, by simply announcing ‘Je vous drais un sandwich jambon!’ and giggling. It’s not funny really, but I suppose I just imagine going into every french situation possible and showing off with this particular phrase. Eg, going to station, instead of asking for ticket, simply say ‘Je vous drais un sanwich jam bon’. Visiting post office, wandering to till with postcard, proferring it to assistant and saying ‘Je vous drais un sandwich jam bon’ – just because that’s just about the sum total of my french speaking skills so I may as well use them.
Part 3 to follow. Is anyone actually reading this? Or am I being a longwinded, boring, waffle-monger?
You can read it on 31st Jan at 9am, set your watch!!!! Click HERE for more ramblings about ‘The Day France Was Closed’ and a photo of me eating french bread and looking like a hamster.