Posts Tagged ‘Village Life’

Mort pour la France (et les autres pays)

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Lots of people blogged about Remembrance Sunday, but I held back as I knew that I’d be going to the ceremony at the war memorial in St Just today.

 

11th November is a bank holiday in France, and so there is a ceremony on Remembrance Day…unfortunately, in the eight years that we’ve been attending, we have noticed the number of attendees becoming fewer and fewer. Usually there are more children too, but there weren’t so many this year. There were some from the local school who read out the names on the memorial, but, apart from them and Flynn and India, my friends’ children, that was about it.

 

I made poppies for us to wear

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and we walked over to the memorial. As usual, we were early, so we spent 15 minutes or so going round the cemetary righting the pots of flowers from 1st November that had been blown over.

 

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Flynn alerted us to the fact that the “procession” (a rather rag, tag and bobtail affair) was on its way, so we went down to the memorial where people were gathering

 

 

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The Sapeurs-Pompiers, the veterans (mostly now from the Algerian wars, the Mayor and Chairperson of the Conseil Générale, plus some school teachers & children, gathered at the base of the memorial, where they laid their bouquets – no wreaths of poppies here, but rather bouquets of flowers, dressed in the blue, red and white of France –

An example of the type of flowers laid: not from our ceremony

Speeches from the President were read out, and then the children recited the names of those from St Just who died in WW1 – I recognised many of the surnames as those from around the village today . A minute’s silence and then a recording of the French version of The Last Post. We finished with La Marseillaise and an invitation to drink a toast in the Mairie. We scuttled home for hot chocolate/ coffee and biscuits however (no biccies for me, I’m fasting!)

(a wheat border, because, so one of my students told me, wheat is sometimes featured in Remembrance Day stickers rather like poppies for the British)

Albert-Paul Grenier (03.09.1888 – 17.08.1917)

One of France’s war poets

FrenchPoetFirst WorldWarWEBa

Par les chemins gluants qui viennent
du fond des plaines,
les gens s’en vont, comme des fous,
comme des fous qui seraient sages
les gens s’en vont vers n’importe où…

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Par les ravins crépus, d’horreur échevelés,
où les obus aigus mordent à crocs avides,
des cadavres blêmis crispent leurs poings rigides
sur le Néant obscur près d’eux agenouillé.

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La mort, soûle et joyeuse, danse,
et gambille et se déhanche,
la mort muette se trémousse,
et joue et jongle avec des crânes,
Comme avec des osselets

Basdly translated (I fear!) through Google Translate (and me!)

By sticky paths coming
from the very ends of the plains,
people go like madmen,
like madmen who would be wiser
 to go anywhere but here …

By wave-like ravines of frenzied horror
where greedy shells  bite with sharp fangs 
blanched corpses clench their rigid fists
on dark nothingness near them kneeling.

Death, drunk and happy, dances,
gambols and sways,
Silent death writhes
and plays and juggles with skulls,
As if playing with five-stones.

Bits and Bobs

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

I haven’t really got much to say, but I really wanted to pop in to say hello.

 

# I went to church this morning. I enjoyed it; in fact I’d been looking forward to it all week – which is a first for quite some time. usually I’m trying to find excuses! I thought I’d set my alarm for 8.00, giving me plenty of time. But Mr D woke me at 9.10 saying “are you going to church today then?” I was up, showered, dressed (including my lace up boots that take 5 minutes to do!), coffee glugged and out of the door by 9.28. I got to church in 50 minutes, so I think I did quite well. I don’t think I got flashed by any speed cameras!!

# We had lunch at Alison’s today. Mr D made a courgette soup to take (using up some of the three monster courgettes we still have left!) and we had raclette and plum crumble. Cathy was there too, so a long, leisurely lunch was enjoyed by us all. Unfortunately for her, Alison knew she had to work this evening. We knew we could just chill out and watch Strictly Come Dancing. We may also watch some Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience, which we have discovered on You Tube. We loved the series that was recently on BBC1, but have since discovered there were other series before this.

# One of my students has given up. I’ve been teaching her for a year, but she has no confidence in her abilities. Because of this she doesn’t work, and will meet practically every question with an immediate “je n’s’pas” (= je ne sais pas = I don’t know) Finally, as I felt I was taking money under false pretences, I said to her mum that either J had to pull her finger out, or I might as well stop. After an embarrassing few minutes when mum and J argued in front of me, I left them to decide. Mum got in touch with me during the week to say that J had decided to stop.  Less money for me, but it means I now have a gap when I can perhaps take other students.

 

# Another of my students has given me a haunch of wild boar, which is neatly vacuum packed and sitting in the fridge waiting for me to sort out the freezer so there’s space for it in there. I’m thinking this might be our Christmas lunch. And a lot more besides, looking at the size of it! He’s a hunter and he told me that he and his mates killed 9 wild boar and a deer at the weekend. While I don’t like the thought of it, I hypocritically like the end results.

# I made my Christmas cakes yesterday. You can read about it over here.

 

# That’s about it. It’s due to be warm weather this week, which will be nice (after I’ve swopped my wardrobes over!!) so I don’t think we’ll be changing to the winter duvet yet. We are getting two (sometimes three) cats sleeping with us & the bed’s getting a bit full. I wonder how we’ll manage when all four decide to join us.

The name’s Catwoman. Dormouse Catwoman.*

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Last Saturday our friends Jean and Clare had a fancy dress party to celebrate the “opening” of their Games Room/Living room extension. They have been renovating a large house since we’ve known them, and had the main body of the building beautifully completed and ready to live in a few years back. Since then, besides running the Livery Stable business, Jean has been building/ renovting the extension, which now provides a lovely sitting room with beautiful views and a games room with a full-size snooker table.

 

L'ALLEE

Here’s the house, all decked out with lights. The window of the sitting room is to the right.

 

So to celebrate, they held a James Bond evening. Their children (14 and 16) were trained as croupiers, by our friend who actually IS a croupier, and there were games of Poker, roulette, black jack and “Battail” to play with pretend money. They had made an astonishing array of cocktails

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and lots of delicious food too.

 

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Here are Jean and Clare (Is that a genuine Vernin tartan? I suspect not!) and their children, posing in a very James Bond fashion next to the fridge!

 

Some people had really gone to town on their costumes,Cathy made her own dress – simply stunning!

Cathy

Others had made slightly less effort and had just popped on a cocktail frock or DJ (but that’s fine…) Here are some of our friends in their outfits  IMG_1741IMG_1742

 

 

 

Catwoman

This last photo shows me and Mr D – Mr D is suave in his suit (plus a plate of pizza). me, I look faintly ridiculous, with diamanté cat ears, a bow round my neck, a cat tail and cat make-up. I was wearing several cats slung around my neck. (and my walking stick, which didn’t really help with the slinky cat-like-ness I was hoping to convey, but never mind!) So, who was I?

 

Most of the French people there looked at me in confusion, thinking “Poor woman. She has confused James Bond with another superhero. She has come as Cat Woman”. all the English looked at me and said “Oh, of course – Pussy Galore!” The difficulties of translating jokes and double entendres…

 

 

Joe is the croupier at the Roulette wheel:

 

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while Alison (who does this for her day job – or rather, her night job, as she works nights!)is  dealing for Bataille:

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Part way through the evening – about 10.30 –  we all trooped out to the end of Jean & Clare’s land to watch the Village Fete fireworks. Now that sounds an easy thing to do, but when you’ve had one or two too many cocktails, and are hampered by a bad back and a stick (or very high heels, depending on who you are) getting to the end of the land, avoiding the deposits made by the horses and the rogue broom bushes, isn’t quite that easy!

 

Because L’Allée is higher than the village we were actually viewing the fireworks from above – which was a bit wierd, TBH. We couldn’t hear the stirring music, and I think we lost some of the “thrill”. But the natural fireworks of a thunderstorm going on over towards Lyon was very impressive!!

 

Mr D and I left at about 1.30 just as the dancing started – he, because he doesn’t dance, and me because, with my bad back, I was in no state to dance. We had a really great evening!

*(In case you missed the reference, it’s from the famous James Bond line “The name’s Bond. James Bond“)

Horses for Courses?

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

 

 

Today is the St Just Horse Fair. It’s not something I particularly enjoy having happening right outside the house as it never seems to be that well organised and (in my opinion – and what do I know?) the horses/ponies/donkeys don’t look very happy or well cared for, as they stand rather dejectedly in the square. There were some examples of what appeared to be cruelty last year – though again, it may just be the way one gets horses to behave (?!) – and I am sad because I know that certainly some of them are being sold for meat. I know that this is hypocritical – I’m happy to eat meat, but would be equally sad if I saw the lovely cows/sheep/ chickens in the same situation. I don’t feel sad enough to stop eating meat (although I’m fully aware my opinions might change if I saw an abbatoir in full swing!)

 

There is a sad looking donkey hee-hawing at the moment, and a mare and her foal standing in a small enclosure.

There has been a small amount of sabotage this year. Two of the metal advertising panels have been defaced: one spray painted with “Non! Non!” and another with “Non à l’exploitation”. It doesn’t seem to have made much difference. There are still a lot of people, and the buvette stall, and various other stalls lining the road. At least it is cool and drizzly: one year, in blazing sunshine, there were few people giving the horses anything to drink. Had it been sunny this year (fat chance of that!) I had resolved to take bowls of drinking water out to the thirsty horses.

But…what can one do? It is part of village life, and I’m not sure that anything I could do would be of any value. And at least some of the horses will be bought by people who will be loving owners. Is that enough to salve my conscience? Here are similar thoughts from a previous year…

Sad thing to see…

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

I am not in favour of hunting, but, at least, here in France, it is generally understood that you eat what you kill – sanglier (wild boar), rabbits, deer. Most Saturday and Sunday you will see or hear the hunters out – the horn, the dogs barking, and sometimes – rather disconcertingly – men with rifles slung nonchalantly over their shoulders.

Most hunters look after their dogs quite well, although they do stay outside in kennels or runs, rather than being pampered indoors pets. They will be microchipped, and wear collars with phone numbers attached. But some are less caring, and, of course, it is inevitable that sometimes the dogs, let out to run and chase the prey, will get lost in the forest and not find their way home.

I was at the vets with Pomme today – she was there for her annual vaccinations – and a man came in with a young, pitifully thin hunting dog, asking if the vet could check for a microchip or tattoo. He had found it wandering lost and frightened, and while she was a lovely dog, he couldn’t keep her, having four dogs of his own already. If I hadn’t have known exactly what Mr D would have said (not to mention Pomme, George, Millie and Bib!) I would have taken her like a shot! He left, carrying he, to take her to the SPA.

If only the owner had the care to microchip or tattoo her! But then, the French attitude to animals is different: we have generous, caring friends, who won’t neuter their cat because it’s too expensive, and then, if she gives birth, drown the kittens as they are born! I have said my piece to them, but … At least we were able to take George and Millie, so they didn’t meet The Bucket.

Let’s hope Lovely Hunting Dog finds a second owner who will love her and care for her as she deserves.

 

Add your own title here:

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Add your own title, I can’t think of one! Just to catch up…news here in the Dormousehold isn’t great.

My back/sciatica  is still causing me problems: I had my scan on Monday, and my kiné (physio) looked at the results. He explained that I have two main, and fairly major problems, and his opinion the best course of action will be surgery. I have an appointment to see my GP, who specialises in sports injuries, tomorrow. I will see what he says, and then make a decision. I’m not in any pain, but am in some discomfort, thanks to some slow-release painkillers, which last for 12 hours. I can walk (slowly), sit, lie, drive and generally live my life without pain…but I have that little niggling knowledge that if I stopped taking them the pain would be back in an instant!

My job is also in jeopardy. I have the choice of taking voluntary redundancy, with a small redundancy package, or staying on at the Language School with vastly reduced hours. If I take redundancy I might be eligible for unemployment benefit, BUT because I am also Auto Entrepreneur (that is, I am self employed as an English teacher) and therefore earn some -but not much – money, I may not be eligible. I am going to speak to my Boss tomorrow as well, to see what options are open to me, and to try to negotiate for a bigger package IF I left. The problem is that the “enhanced” package is only open for negotiation until the end of September (we only heard about it this week!!!) so I need to move fast. I’m hoping I can negotiate to receive the package if I go, even though I might not be officially going until October.

In a way, I’d much rather stay, because

(a) I’m ever the one to maintain the status quo and

(b) if I leave, I will have to deal with the beaurocracy that is the French Unemployment Office. And I hate dealing with beaurocracy.

But the unemployment benefit will probably give us a little more to live on than I’d earn, AND I wouldn’t have to drive to Clermont every day. And I may also have to take the possibility of being in hospital for ???? weeks with a back operation.

Oh dear! Oh dear!

STILL, we are ever thankful that Mr D got his job before all this happened. At least there is one wage coming in and we are able to eat, and heat our home, and live our life. We have medical insurance, and we live in a lovely place. Life could be better…but it could equally be much, much worse.

 

I’m editing this, a few hours later…My Pastor’s wife sent me an email with a link to a sondage (questionnaire) by Le Figaro.

http://www.publicsenat.fr/lcp/politique/question-le22h-en-partenariat-avec-le-figaro?quizId=248

Question: Are you opposed to homosexual marriage?

Answer: At the moment it’s 37% (or so) for, the rest against, and that’s from a voting public of 237,297 people. Interestingly, on this question, there has been nobody voting “je ne sais pas” (I don’t know) – this is a question where everybody, it seems, has an opinion.And I’m happy to make it clear that I have voted on the minority side – which I bet my Pastor’s wife didn’t expect me to do!

Maybe you’d like to add your voice? (though, to be fair, I don’t know if you can if you’re outside France).

 

Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Last week ended on a bit of a do. I’ve had really bad sciatica recently – so that I could hardly walk – and I finally heaved myself to the doctor after my kiné (physiotherapist) said he wanted me to have an MRI scan. She was a little mystified as to why I’d struggled around in huge amounts of pain, self medicating on paracetemol and codeine for a week. Put like that, I kind-of wondered myself. Anyway, she gave me two really strong painkillers (each one a slow release over 12 hours relief) and a prescription for a scan. I dutifully took my painkillers – hey! they worked! – and the next day drove into Clermont for a meeting about the work situation(for those who don’t know, I work in Clermont Ferrand, some 80 km from home). I had lunch and afterwards, started to feel really dopey – my head was full of cotton wool – and so I put my head on the desk and dozed for half an hour.

 

Then we went to the meeting, and I was feeling odder and odder – my head was whirling, I was getting waves of hot sweat, and I couldn’ t concentrate. Finally, it just seemed easier not to bother trying, and I let go – my head went bam onto the table in front of me and panic ensued. I could hear what was going on, apparently  from a great distance away, as everyone rushed round wondering what to do,  and I was vaguely feeling guilty about it all, but again, couldn’t be bothered lifting my head up. It all seemed like too much effort! The emergency doctor was called – he wanted to speak to me before he came out. Yeah, right, as though I was in any state to be talking French! – and he gave me an ECG and said that one of the painkillers was probably the cause, and yes, it affects many people this way. Poor Mr D had to rush round trying to find someone with a car to drive him down so he could pick up me and the car – even I admitted that I couldn’t really drive back in this state!

So on Friday evening I certainly didn’t feel like cooking. I had a slice of bread and went to bed. I slept for 12 hours, and yesterday still felt a bit out-of-it. I’m better today, but I can’t look at computer screens or TV for very long without feeling a bit wierd. (Though I managed the marathon 3 hour Coronation Street omnibus yesterday afternoon!

Yesterday evening we were invited to go to clients of Mr D for aperos. In this part of the world, we’re never quite sure whether aperos is just drinks or more. In fact, on thinking about it, Mr D agreed that possibly Alicia had said “aperos-diner” so we went prepared to eat – so I took my painkillers to have mid meal, as instructed (these are the “good painkillers” not the nasty evil make-you-fall-over painkillers, which I had taken back to the Pharmacy)(where they also said, “Yes, they affect a lot of people that way” – so why the heck are they still being prescribed?!)

I was also relieved that Mr D had brought a pack of creme de marrons back from Shopi-soon-to-be-Carrefour-Contact.

Why? Because I don’t like it…which meant I decided to make a cake to take with us, full of creme de marrons. And I discovered that everyone else who had been invited (another 5 couples) all brought something along -a savoury cake of ham and olives/sliced sausage/little madeleines/apero goats’ cheeses etc. I don’t think this is obligatory…but I was sure glad that I had something to offer as well! We had drinks, and nibbles and then a guided tour around the house that they are restoring to become a very upmarket Chambres d’Hotes. After, Cedric produced some little verrines with a mixture of smoked salmon, cucumber and creme fraiche, then sausages, andouillettes and pancakes full of vegetables. I’ve never been a fan of andouillettes but with a good spoonful of mustard, I managed to swallow them, much to the admiration of other French people who refused them!

Finally, there were two more little verrines, a chocolate mousse in one and a layered dessert of speculoos biscuit, apple and creme fraiche in the other. Very nice. Coffee, and marron cake, and peach-and-almond cake (that someone else brought) . And then out came the liquers …this is where I don’t do very well. I don’t like the strong eau-de-vie type liquers that are very popular after dinner drinks here – mostly homemade! So they were drinking some fairly noxious mix of eau de vie/banana/cinnamon/cumin and then the Poire Willem came out…

It was almost midnight and I was dropping. I could make the excuse of my medicine causing me to drop off – next time I won’t be so lucky! Around here, I’m afraid folk love a late night, chewing the fat over liquers until two, or even three in the morning. I remember a friend’s birthday party that went on until 6.00 am the next day (we’d left a good 5 hours before that, and had missed the cutting of the birthday cake which happened at about 2 am!) We plead the “we’re English light-weights” card, but I always feel it’s rude!

Today, I’m just relaxing and not doing much. We did a bit of cleaning between us (Mr D did the heavier stuff. I just dusted, weilded the vacuum cleaner and then sat down moaning that my leg hurts.

So that’s been my weekend. How’s yours been?


 

 

Throw off the Bowlines…

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

I saw this quotation on someone else’s blog today (it was Crystal over at Crystal goes to Europe) and it made me remember why we came to France in the first place.

It had been my dream for as long as I can remember. As a child, I had visited Geneva many, many times on holiday, staying in the appartment of a friend of my parents. He was a teacher at the International School, and he was also an artist. (Out of interest I looked him up on t’internet. Here is his web site. I would copy-and-paste one of his pictures, but I’m sure they are copyrighted) I remember the layout of his lovely flat perfectly, even though it’s over 35 years since I was last there! He had bookshelves crammed with books, and I always hunted out his copies of Doctor Doolittle’s Zoo and Doctor Doolittle’s Circus to read. Glynn also had a bowl of alabaster eggs and this started my collection, which I have to this day. I grew up loving the “foreignness” of abroad.

Then our holidays changed. We still came to France, but we stayed in little out-of-the-way hotels, often slightly quirky (or even very strange!) There was one in Rouen with an enormouse cast iron statue of a lion bringing down its prey, which I hated passing late in the evening. In Tauxigny (in Indre et Loire I was chatted up, on my last evening there, by the local postman, called René. We wrote to each other twice, I think).

When I married (sorry, René!), we started coming to France on holiday – we visited so many different areas, staying in gites, usually, but sometimes in Chambres d’Hotes. And more and more, I felt the pull of this country. I really have no idea why – yes, I love the food and wine, the pace of life, but surely there is something more? In the end, I suppose it is the je ne sais quoi of France that appealed so much! It actually got to the point that (I’m rather ashamed to admit!) I would start crying when we passed St Quentin on the motorway, because I knew we were on our way home, leaving France (though it could also have been because I knew I was going to be going back to teaching a new school year very shortly!)

We finally started thinking seriously about moving to France about 3 years after I stopped teaching. Miles, a friend of Mr D, had given up his lucrative job in the city, and had moved to his wife Corinne’s birthplace to start a new business, and we kept in contact with him; my French teacher, who had become a friend, moved here to open a gite/chambres d’hotes business…people we actually knew were making it a reality. It wasn’t just people we saw on TV who were doing it… I took a CELTA (teaching English as a foreign language) course, so we had a possible way of earning money. But it still all seemed to be A Step Too Far.

Until, I was at Mr D’s parent’s house, and they were having a party. I was mingling and talking to someone about France and how I dreamed about moving here. In the conversation, without really thinking about it, I said something like “I don’t want to look back at my life and I realise that I regret not doing this…” And as I said it, that was my light-bulb moment. I realised that what I had unthinkingly said, just as conversation, was in fact It. It’s not doing things that we regret more often than doing things – it’s the missed opportunities, the what-ifs, the might-have-beens… From then on, I knew that I (we) (!!) had to do this.

Mr D still wasn’t sure. He liked the idea, but he is always the practical one, the thinker, the considerer. Me, I’ll just do something and hope for the best. He came up with reasons why it wasn’t such a good idea, and I’d just say “Oh, it’ll be fine…” Until we came out to this part of the country, to visit Miles and Corinne. They had become estate agents! Miles showed us a house, which I could imagine living in, and Mr D liked it too, but he was still “Yes, but…” and was very sensible, thinking of the reasons why not. But then Miles said “When I was in London, I could think of a hundred reasons why moving out here was not a good idea. But now I’m here, those reasons mean nothing…”

It was that, I think, that got Mr D’s mind ticking over the possibilities. Someone who had been in the same business as he had actually “done it”, had taken the plunge. And he came round to thinking that, Yes, indeed, this might well be A Good Thing. So in 2005 we moved out here.

We didn’t buy the house we looked at that first time with Miles, and I’m glad. It was in a river valley, by itself, and in summer was charming and rustic. But in the depths of winter, I can imagine it would be cold, damp and slightly depressing. Instead we bought a house in the centre of the village – not at all as we’d (I’d!!!) planned. But in fact, as Mr D continued working in London for a year, and commuted back here every 10 days or so, it was a much better place to be, because I was on my own. Outside of the village, I would have become very lonely and isolated, I think.

So, here we are. This is our village, somewhere slightly south-east of central, up in the mountains. And, we are happy here. After a year, Mr D gave up working in London – the commuting became harder when the nearest airport closed the route to London, his company became less amenable to his absences, the change of pace of lfe became too stressful. So he gave up working in reinsurance to try his han at web design and computer repairs. And it meant that I, who had been a lady of leisure, being kept by Mr D’s hard work, had to get off my lazy arse and find work. Well, it was what I’d trained for, after all!!

Heavens knows, we don’t have the income of our two full time jobs in the UK, and, to be honest, finances are a little precarious at the moment, because, as I said,  my Language School has lost the contract with Michelin, which means my hours have been cut drastically. But we have good friends: Martine (who retired from her job on health grounds and who obviously misses doing Stuff) has taken on the task of Finding Me Work. She is creating an Association (legally this is the best way, apparently) and they will employ me to give English lessons. She will put up posters, field enquiries, book rooms, etc etc. All I need to is turn up and teach. Let’s hope that works. And thank goodness, MrD has his job in Shopi-soon-to-be-Carrefour-Market. While he’s finding it hard work, he is doing well and becoming quite popular with the Old Dears who putter in to do their shopping on market day.

So that’s it. Even if (God forbid) we need to move back to the UK for whatever reason, I won’t ever regret our move here. We did indeed sail away from a safe harbour. We explored, we dreamed, we discovered. It hasn’t been easy- but nor has it been very difficult. But it has been an Awfully Big Adventure.

 

PS For some reason – probably my ineptitude – this post seems to have added itself to the list at the top Home – About Dormouse – and now “Throw off the bowlines”. Hmm. I don’t know why, but there you go!

 

Sizzling Hot

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The heat continues here in the Pays d’Urfé…after a miserable summer, suddenly the thermometer is hitting all kinds of highs. Our house has thick walls, and stays coolish (the big downstairs room is the coolest), but the cats in their little furry suits are suffering a little. They find shady spots and lie, stretched out, on cool tiles, or perch on the bookshelf where there’s a semblance of a draught.

 

I’ve spent the past two days in my study, sorting through my papers: since I moved my study downstairs, two years ago, there has been a pile of papers to sort out, which has got bigger and bigger. I finally got down to it on Monday. Most have been recycled, but I’ve also filed a lot and reorganised my teaching folders. The shelves look tidier, and it has meant I could move two box files of papers (shh…I still need to sort through them) from my “craft area” so I have more room there too.

With the heat, things have been a bit sticky in the study, but I’ve nearly finished. I should think that by the end of the morning my study will be sorted. Apart from the craft shelves, that is. I should have taken a photo of before and after (apparently the most “successful” blogs always have photographs) but never mind.

The Travelling Fair arrives this week – it’s the St Just Fete Patronale – Last year Mr D had a contretemps with the owners of the Casino Lorry. I thought I’d blogged about it, but can’t find the post, so maybe not. The huge lorry blocked our post box, and Mr D, having complained politely to the owners, got into a bit of a slanging match which ended up with him being threatened by a large traveller with a metal pole.  Fun. Mr D is already getting worked up about what might happen this year, but, as I’ve said, if he’s not there, they can’t threaten him or abuse him…and so what if they do block the postbox? But, for him, I think it’s partly the principal of the whole thing, whereas me, I’d forget my prnciples for a quiet life! I fear he will be out there again, making his Point, and possibly causing bad feeling between them and us.

Hopefully, the set up of the fair will go without a battle, and we are actually decamping for the nights when the fair is here. We’re going to sleep up at our friend’s house, so we can have the windows open and relax, without having tinny Euro-pop blaring out until the last teenager has left the Dodgems at 1.00 am. Last year it rained, so the whole affair was a damp squib, closing at 9.00 because no-one was there; however, the forecast is for cooler, but still dry, weather, so I guess the fair may well do good business.

We’d hoped to be away – we had thought about going over to see Floss’s part of the world – but Mr D is now working at the local supermarket, and couldn’t get the time off as they are already short staffed. So we’ll be up at l’Allée at night (and the Kitties will have to bear the music alone) and come back down to the centre of the village during the day. There’s still music and people, of course, because of the processions and other attractions connected with the Fete, but we won’t be trying to sleep!

Anyway..I won’t finish sorting out the study if I don’t get a move on. So I’m going to stop blogging and turn on some music. If you’re of a praying bent, please lift the whole Travelling Fair business up and pray for a peaceful outcome. Thanks.

Welcome to our market!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I’m not often here on a Thursday, which is when it is the St Just market; usually I’m down in Clermont Ferrand, working hard! But today, as it’s a Jour Ferié – bank holiday for the Fete de l’Ascension – I’m able to spend a little more time browsing. As we’re trying to save money – or, at least, not spend it unnecessarily – I didn’t buy much, but I did take some photos. The stall holders thought I was nuts, which was iobvious from theirbemused grins,so in the end, I took some shots from our balcony. Even then, I caught the eye of one bloke, who looked at me questioningly!

Taken from our bedroom window, you can see part of the market. It stretches down the road to the left and then round the corner, but here there are some of the stalls that we have – a boulangerie van, the oil cloth seller, and the Mercerie (haberdashery) stall. There’s a goat cheese stand (and a cows’ cheese stand out of shot) and a large vegetable stall too.

At the moment there are also a couple of flower stalls. I bought 5 plants from this gentleman’s display. I have no idea what they are, but they are for hanging baskets and are pink and purple. I think some are petunias, but I’m not sure! I planted some seedlings and some bulbs on Sunday, but it was too early – the Ice Saints hadn’t finished and there was a ground frost on Sunday night which did for my seedlings. Never mind! I’d kept some indoors so I’m hoping they might grow into something. Anyway, back to the market.

As well as the two flower sellers, there is an older guy selling ready-to-plant vegetable plants – leeks, carrots, salad greens, beetroot etc. I thought he was a small local chappie selling off his surplus produce, all soil encrusted and artisanal, until I came across his huge van full of crates of plants. Not such a small-scale operation after all!

The roast-chicken-and-pizza van always smells delicious! You can see the stall holder tending his rotisserie, which has potatoes roasting in the chicken fat below. The chickens are very popular, but I’ve never bought one myself – I don’t know if they’re free range, so I’m disinclined to buy one. His pizzas look good too, and they’re cheaper than next door (although not as cheap as a supermarket or a handmade one!) But neither chicken fat roast potatoes nor pizzas are good for our Healthy Eating lark!

This is the Organic produce van  – taken from our balcony, so it’s hiding behind the greenery a bit! He’s quite a newcomer to the market, and has only been here for about three months or so. Usually, I see him setting up as I go to work. My friend Danièle uses him quite a bit, as does Clare, but I’m not so bothered about organic produce so generally I’m afraid I go to Lidl! He is building up a small clientele however, so I think he may be a “stayer”. You can go into his van which is fitted out like a tiny supermarket!

We have a couple of mattress and bed sellers who arrive in big white vans, man handle theier mattresses out and then manhandle their mattresses back in again. I’m not sure who buys a bed from the market, but still…people must do so! One of them also sells dining chairs and reweaves the seats of broken ones. I took this photo as I liked the design of the chairs…30€ each seems a bit steep though

There are clothes stalls, of course, selling the usual fleeces, T-shirts, leggings and so on, but there are also a couple of “fashion” stalls, selling more flouncy items. These are what Alison and I have named “PISP” clothes – it stands for “Pockets In Strange Places” and refers to the very “French” style of clothing such as

(PISP – right on the hip! That wouldn’t be slimming now, would it?) plus odd bits of stitching. I can’t find some perfect examples of PISP but maybe you get the idea.

There’s a shoe stall. These are leather shoes at 20€ a pair. Very tempting, if I could persuade myself I needed another pair of shoes. But I know I don’t!

(Rubbish photo! Sorry!)

Along the street, there’s a fishmonger, a cheese van, and a couple more vegetable stands too. The 1€ stall was packing up as I arrived (11.15) so I don’t know what she was selling, but I’m sure there was nothing there I really wanted!I’m often tempted by the Artisan Saucisson stall – dried sausages. He has some amazing flavours, including blueberries, nuts and pepper-encrusted saucissons. He also sells them made with wild boar meat and (eep!) donkey meat too. I’m not tempted by the donkey saucissons, I have to admit!

On this stall there were some beautiful quilts

I don’t think they were handmade but all the same they were very lovely. We don’t need a quilt, so I wasn’t that tempted but I certainly admired them.

So there you are! Our little St Just market.

Mr D is considerig the possibility of a market stall, not just here in St Just but around the area, selling computer/ gadgety things. He’d then be on hand if people needed computer repairs as well. I like the idea and think it could work, but equally I think it would be quite hard work for him. However, he’s also done a mail shot to over 40 gites/chambres d’hotes in the area who don’t have websites, offering to design sites for them. He’s had one request for a quote, so we’re hopeful. It’s unbelievable that in this electronic age, there are so many tourist orientated places that don’t have their own sites: they seem to rely on being on the Gites de France site, but personally speaking, I wouldn’t book a place without being able to see more than the couple of photos that are provided on the GdF site.  And of course, having your own site opens your clientele out beyond the GdF searchers. Fingers crossed that he gets some work from it- I think he’d prefer to be at home in front of the PC than out in the cold and rain lugging supplies to and from a market stall!!!

Anyway, I’m off to cook the two merguez sausages that I DID buy this morning. Not very Healthy Eating…but there’s only one each. With vegetable and lentil soup I don’t think it’s too unhealthy! I also bought some cherries. The first of the season! Nom-nom!