……………… is all you need for breakfast in the Christmas aftermath. Weeks behind with my blog, I now settle to a morning at my screen with a mug to my right and my diary to my left. I must go back to November 28th.
With my Christmas willow tree worked and sitting in the hall awaiting shipment, I now turn to the task of sorting things that will need to travel to France, wrapping a few presents and writing my remaining share of Christmas cards, assisting Gill with the cleaning and turning out things that she can usefully take for her car boot enterprises. I slip down to Weymouth to visit Mum. Also I have managed to persuade Nick to come back from France a day earlier than he had planned so we can spend a day with the Dukes.
We meet at the car park by Thorncombe Wood near Bockhampton. Hardy’s Cottage is nearby, it is a popular spot for visitors and walkers. We make a short circuit through the woodland and heath and end up at the dog-friendly café where we have a light lunch. Initially Maddy had proposed a walk but I tacked on the idea that we go to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Dorchester. Written in 2001 by J K Rowling under the pen name of Newt Scamander it is about the magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe. This would be my second viewing of the film at a cinema, a rare occurrence in my film-going experience. Rather like books, I only do works of fiction once. My favourite beast is this fellow:
After the film we went back to Maiden Newton for tea then drove ourselves back into Dorchester for dinner at the Cote Brasserie. A restaurant which is not expensive and manages reasonably authentic French cuisine.
Cut to Thursday morning and we must be on the ferry ready for departure at 08.30h. The car is packed full. Our departure is delayed after a minor medical emergency for which the lack-lustre ambulance service manages to delay us by a couple of hours. Happily I am always content to be on the Barfleur.
The weekend is spent quietly and I start to think about decorating the house. I go up to the top floor to investigate the walk-in cupboard where I keep Christmas decorations. I am somewhat nonplussed to find very few boxes and certainly none of the old familiars. I realise in that moment that they are sitting in our garage in Dorset, stacked where they were stacked last January ready for transport to France. In my mind this task had been completed but in reality the boxes have been moved and re-arranged during the year by Nick without him realising what they contained. At least the wooden reindeer made it across the Channel. Once I look at the contents of the boxes and bags which are there I realise I will have enough baubles and tree ornaments for the fresh green tree, as well as the new willow one. This will be a year for holly and ivy over the pictures, and candles, lots of them.
We will gradually start to pick up with our friends. Martine and Alain come from Paris at the beginning of the week and we meet them that evening for a meal at Le Chasse Maree. This restaurant has recently changed ownership and the new management are more agreeable than the former. We enjoy our food there. The Tailles invite us to eat native oysters at midday.
That is a real treat, they are more favoured than the locally farmed non-native ‘huitre creuse’ but I would be hard pushed to distinguish the two were I to subject myself to a blind tasting.
Friday is a very special day in that I go to have coffee with my talented friend Bibi who I haven’t seen since April. This seems incredible but she spent two months in Mexico painting a stunning mural in a friend’s house and then we were away in June, then summer intervened and a busy autumn and that’s how it went. She makes lovely things. Her current theme is to create puzzles, wooden shapes which form her special brand of jigsaw puzzle and each puzzle comes in its own box which is a work of art.
I love them all but cannot resist the Picasso one which I buy then give to Nick on his birthday! He likes it too. In the evening we have been invited to eat chez Burnouf, and Dede serves a delicious ‘couscous’. The Poulets are there, also the Tailles, wonderfully convivial.
Over the weekend Bibi and three other friends hold a Christmas ‘Expo’ and sale of their work. I am able to properly meet Charlotte Franklin who I spoke to briefly in the summer at the Daniell event. She is a talented painter and sculptor and a friend of La Poulette. I buy some of her lovely cards. Then it’s also good to meet up with Pink Sarah, she who made the tartan replica of my favourite pinafore dress. I decide to take a couple of ‘off-the-pegs’ into my wardrobe. There is a charming Frenchwoman, Florence Renault, who makes beautiful jewellery in glass. Some Euros are parted with. Having been in the morning, I later accompany la Poulette and Fefe who both expressed an interest in going to the sale. As it happens they each buy a version of the striped ponchos that Sarah has made. I think they suit their respective new owners well although later I gather from Fefe that she has gone off the boil with hers as she feels as if she has a rug slung about her shoulders. I think she may be missing the point!
By Sunday evening that’s a diverse week wrapped up, another one is in view.