During the week after my birthday Nick and I enjoyed a Bookish Lunch chez Shaxson. This was an event which had been much juggled in terms of format. Celia wished to return hospitality and in the end a pub lunch was rejected in favour of the Shaxson venue at which Celia would play hostess. Annabel made us a delicious vegetable soup which we followed with cheeses and raspberries. It was a cabbages and kings occasion with a smattering of bookery.
A couple of days later we were on the ferry bound for Normandy. Our lovely friends the Tailles had invited us to Sunday lunch, the following day would be Francois’ birthday. I spent a week reconnecting with la vie francaise then we returned to Dorset for my mother’s birthday and a visit to see the ‘Prof’ to have some minor skin treatment. On Friday we travelled back, me and my very sore back, to join the Poulets as guests of Daniel and Christine. Daniel cooked his incomparable Encornets farcis. We ate at the Chasse Maree the following evening with Francois and Anne, and their friends Odile and Philippe. During the ensuing days Nick spent much time with Dede and also Francois when he was not consulting, playing at lumberjacks with the large Beech tree that was felled in a field on the road to Valognes. The tree is even larger than that which the guys felled last year and will yield rather more cords. A cord is approximately 2.5 cubic metres but his depends on the size of the logs and the amount of air spaces in the stack. We estimate we may have about 10 cords to share between participants. At the end of our stay and once all the wood is logged and stacked we have a bit of a BBQ on the bonfire of brushwood that remains to be burned.
Meanwhile I worked on the final edits of three chapters I am contributing to a book on molluscs in archaeology. One of the chapters has been particularly tricky and has necessitated the redrafting and relabelling of some line drawings which help to standardise the measurements that archaeologists should take when analysing shell assemblages for environmental assessments and reporting. In the end I decided the easiest thing was to go to the shore to collect a few limpets so that I could send images to Mike, my editor, for the avoidance of doubt. It would not pay for a self-respecting archaeomalacologist to get her limpets arse about face!
I did lots of cinema trips with Anne, also with Francoise and Fefe. On one fine day I walked a stretch of the coast between Bibi’s home just outside Montfarville and Gatteville-Phare. A good 10 clicks. We chatted pretty much the whole way. Bibi’s Jack Russell, ‘Chispa’ was a cute and biddable companion.
On the first Saturday in March Nick and I threw a dinner party. I got my knickers in somewhat of a twist deciding what to do and in the end I made a Pot au Feu with a Bourgignon twist. Francois recognised this and complimented me.
Our wonderful month in France is drawing to a close. We take Francois and Fefe to the Fuchsias for lunch – an extravagance they do not allow themselves although, also, they are part of that community in St Vaast who see Hotel Les Fuchsias as a mecca for the English. To complete our cycle of entertaining we receive Jean-Pierre and Tanou on the Sunday before we cross La Manche. They arrive at 6, we play Barbu and we eat something simple. Hooray for Fish Pie.