A Basket of Bottles and a ‘Resto à Plusieurs Etoiles’

When we walked into the house at Rue Maréchal Foch just before the Cholsey arrival it was such a pleasing experience.  Anne G had been right through our house from top to bottom, going into neglected corners and it felt wonderful to start our next sejour with a clean slate.  There are friends to catch up with and there is going to be plenty to do in the garden.  But first we received Claire, Carl and the children.  After they left my remit was divided equally between the paper on Dog Whelk Purple Dye I need to write for the Molluscs in Archaeology volume to be published by Oxbow and post-winter remedial and replanting work in the garden.  One little chore I completed was the washing of my old bottle and shell mug collections which live in the little office.  Most of the freshly washed bottles were crammed into my grandmother’s old shopping basket – a nice little assemblage.

Having shaken off the cold I picked up from the children I arranged to see Caroline who is recovering from surgery and follow-on treatment for a cancer.  We met through yoga and have found interests and enthusiasms in common.  She is a keen gardener, patchworker and collage artist.  She has introduced me to a magazine, la Hulotte, in its own words: c’est la revue qui vous raconte  la vie des animaux sauvages, des arbres et des fleurs d’Europe.
À la fois amusant et très rigoureusement documenté,  le journal le plus lu dans les terriers émerveille aussi bien les enfants que leurs parents.   Une véritable petite encyclopédie des bois et des champs,  introuvable en kiosque ou en librairie.  What makes this periodical special for me are the engaging and humorous line drawings that illustrate the periodical freely throughout, yet the science is accurate and accessibly presented.

We spend much of our grown-up time eating with friends.  An impromptu Saturday night supper with the Poulets at la Bisquine is followed by a meal chez Bougouin, then we enjoy another eat out with the Poulets and their sailing friends at La Pantagruel where we eat deliciously tender meat, then an evening with some S&M with the Tuttles.  We entertain the Tailles to Sunday lunch and the Lerminez and Tenorios to a supper evening.  Bibi Halle is another new friend thanks to yoga, she is an artist whose speciality is the painting of birds on galets.


The pinnacle of gastronomic pleasure is reached when we have lunch on the Monday just before we leave France.  Francois Taille cooks us  t h e  m o s t  d e l i c i o u s meal with salmon egg and chicory canapés and a dish of raw lobster eggs as appetisers, followed by buttered asparagus served at perfect tepid temperature with home-made mayonnaise or a light mousseline made with the egg white.  Grilled lobster is placed before our eyes (and mouths) after which we must do justice to fresh fruit gateau.  All of this enjoyed with Fefe, Claire and Ty as lunching companions.  A very hard act to follow……………..


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