We’ve barely been back two days and already the tempo, colour, shape of our lives has changed. We had decided to book ourselves onto an afternoon ferry to give a bit more time to ready the house and garden for an absence. I had left the matter of moving pots to shelter until the morning which was, with the benefit of hindsight, an unwise decision. It was extremely hot work and I had to keep breaking off to cool off indoors. I did have another task which I should not have delayed and this was the matter of booking myself and sister Lis into the Autumn Lib Dem conference in Bournemouth. This would be the last day on which we could benefit from the Early Bird saving, a worthwhile £30. So I settled to do this but was somewhat thrown when required to upload a mugshot, with some specific requirements regarding background etc., in order to process our bookings. This took time and fortunately Nick was able to provide a photo of his sister taken at a family wedding and fortunately she carries her years very well. I took a hasty selfie which was horrible but would do.
So we left the house and I sat, very overheated, in the front of the car with my legs wrapped round a large hanging basket which might as well travel with us, as languish at WK. Many more containers were travelling with us in the back of the car. Our crossing was uneventful and we arrived at 104 with just enough time to unload cold stuff into the freezer and fridge, and the rest of our cargo outside or in the house.
We were expected at Le Vast for an evening barbecue and French pool for the men. We inspected Alain’s brood of hens, and his two lady turkeys in a small separate compound. One for Christmas and one for New Year apparently 🙂 We also admired his polytunnel/greenhouse in which he was growing tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. All very fine plants. We sat with our mutual friends the Poulets and Bougouins and ate whelks with mayonnaise, mini quiches and sausages and pork fillet chops. Cheese and Brigitte’s fruit salad and finally we could rise from the table for some pool. Noe had been ensconced on the sofa in front of the screen watching cartoons and I joined him and tried hard not to fall asleep.
Saturday morning I spent a couple of hours at Le Dranguet, took two dips and rounded up some terra cotta pieces with Noe for the construction I have planned to make with him. Nick and I made a short excursion to the new Carrefour supermarket which has opened up since we were last in St V and then I cooked a stuffed half marrow, one of two from the garden at Le Vast.
On Sunday we were due at Fete des Voisins at midday. We went last year and met many of the people along our stretch of road. This year the format was changed to a daytime event involving a BBQ preceded by oysters, platters of tuna or cuttlefish tomato salad, couscous. And several different cakes/desserts. How the French love their puddings! We sat with the Osmonts, Huguette, M. Dubois. Nick produced his cork trick to entertain a youngster next to him who was there with his widower grandfather. There was singing by the old-timers. One of the attendees, noted for her cookery, asks me for a recipe for scones, in French. At a suitable moment we headed for home but not before we had been exhorted to return in the evening for aperos and leftovers. Wishing to be neighbourly we agreed. I could not resist the cuttlefish, or the chips.
Monday and I start the day with a bit of gardening and I knock up a sorrel soup mix. (I am somewhat surprised to see an unfamiliar plant in one of the troughs I have sown with tall annuals!) We are due chez Taille for aperos at 11.30h. I have a feeling where this will lead and sure enough we are invited to a very light lunch. Having quaffed bubbly et avoir grignote sur des bouquets, grises et crevettes, Francois produced a fine sole prepared as lightly floured and fried goujonettes with fine green beans. Just that. As we leave I am surprised to hear Nick issue an invitation for Wednesday. We decide to throw in the Tuttles for good measure. I want to make it simple and light. After a few appetisers I serve our guests my beignets de poisson, Pollack strips in a light beer batter and am over the moon when Francois tucks in with gusto and he is delighted because I have evidently found a way of serving this fish to Fefe which she will enjoy eating.
On Thursday, in the morning, Anne and I drive to Confort Pour Tous at Reville. This is a point of accumulation of goods arising from house clearances and donated articles. I am after some bowls and dishes to use as draining dishes under my garden pots. I find a selection of dishes that will work and we have completed our mission when I just happen to spot a rather nice rocking chair. It is cane and bamboo, evidently oldish and nice because it has a wide seat. I’m inclined to sound Nick out and then I learn that the chair only came in that morning and is unlikely to survive Friday and the weekend. I buy it.
I have invited Christine to come over in the afternoon as she would like a lesson on making Thai Red Curry fish cakes. We make up a batch each, cocktail-size, and whilst she runs her tray over the road to put the little appetisers in the freezer I set out cards for a hand of Spite and Malice. It is fine enough to sit outside in the sunshine and enjoy our pleasant interlude. We make an arrangement to play another hand on Saturday, when Christine will give me her master class in making the mini savoury croissants she often brings as canapes. But during the evening I receive a phone-call from England which will change all that.