Monday, 28 February 2011

The knitting group

The main point of this is to thank Fly for her french lesson which worked perfectly. Thank you.

Apparently I am 'super contente' aussi.

There were 6 of us this week and a quilt making group too. Interesting things (well to me anyway):

- I met my first woman who had 9 children and was largely pregnant with her tenth. Which brought out the fact that one of the other women had 6 children and another was one of 5. We are certainly in a catholic country. And it still took the pregnant woman 18 hours to have her 9th baby! Incidentally she looked lovely. Relaxed, fit, blonde and outdoorsy.

This revelation led to a discussion about the shopping involved in catering for such large families and they were amazed that in England lots of people could get their supermarket shopping delivered via the internet.

- the woman with 6 children bought 3 kilos of sweets every week. Her reason seemed to be that her husband was a lorry driver and needed them in his cab and her children ate them when they came home from school. They also had a discussion about how many litres of long life milk they bought but I got lost in the numbers.

- the lorry driver's wife came from 'up north' and watched the local news from her region on satellite television. This was considered bizarre.

- you can buy a drink in the local supermarket that is a mix of beer and whisky which is an english thing!!! (Must have a look.)

- booze cruises were a complete revelation to some. The idea that english people came over to france on a boat for the day just to buy stuff that is cheaper in france was completely bizarre. Lorry driver's wife from the north had obviously experience of this and apparently Belgians do it too.

- the only english food that is consistently praised is 'le pudding' which is Christmas pudding.

- my conversation is improving with every visit :-)

Saturday, 26 February 2011


My local hairdressing experience was lovely. (Apart from having to look at my mother in the mirror for an hour which always happens when I take my glasses off now.) The coiffeuse was delightful (Fly how do I tell the lady that recommended her all that is implied by a lovely delightful woman, in french please.)

It was in Sarlat ,which on a February Thursday morning is totally empty and if not exactly shut very close to it. But the salon was buzzing. Modern, bright and every chair full of ladies in various states of wet, covered in paste, silver paper, hair. I had been recommended the owner who was older, elegant without being in any way brittle, and welcoming. Lots of time taken with chosing and discussing. Quite understood that I didn't want to look like my mother or the queen and was tired of looking like a witch. And I love it. And more to the point can almost make it look like that the next day!

A comment from Carol reminded me of a similar experience in Singapore. Well actually, the only similar bit is that I had my hair cut! A friend with very thin, very curly hair and I with my then dark wavy hair decided to brave the local (again recommended) hairdresser. We were both sat down together in one of those salons which is a converted something else and they have covered up the conversion in black paint - badly. The first surprise was that they proceeded to wash our hair while we were sat in the chairs. Just dampening it enough to apply the shampoo. To rinse it we were then required to lie down on full length plastic covered tables with our heads over a basin. Then we were sat back in the chairs and the cutting commenced. I seem to remember that that was ok it was only when it came to blowing dry that my friend was turned into an approximation of Molly Sugden - identical to an actress on Neighbours whose name escapes me and I ended up with the sort of bouffant cloud that is immediately washed out when you get home.

This all took place in tropical heat but fortunately above a very good coffee shop so I remember having fits of giggles over a restorative coffee.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


At the knitting group on Sunday I asked Chantallou who her hairdresser was. I feel the need to cut my shoulder length hair which is ok when 'up' but depressingly witch like when down. Chantallou waxed lyrical about the lady she had been going to for years who was une visagiste and she highly recommended. She obviously 'does colours' or whatever the french equivalent is. There was much miming of draping fabric over your bosom to show which colours you should chose for your wardrobe. So this morning I rang and have made an appointment for later in the week.

I have been looking at the local ladies trying to spot one that doesn't have the short back and sides dyed orange that is the local speciality and hopefully this lady from the local larger town will have some ideas that are a bit more cosmopolitan. But who knows. My french is only up to an approximation of the discussion that would take place in England. Him Outdoors suggested leaving it until we go back to England next month but experience has shown that it can either be a triumph or a disaster when you do speak the language.

I also rang England to make an eye appointment for when we go home. And it was only when I had put the phone down that I realised how very very much easier it is to do in English. I wonder if I will ever be able to have that ease of expression in French. Ho hum.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Height issues

Just a tiny rant.

Please, please, please, please if you see someone that is taller than average height - or taller than you - don't mention it.

Yet again, this weekend, I have been told how tall I am. Wow..................surprise...............I didn't know. And also questioned 'wow, 6 ft, really, are you sure, I'm 6 ft and you're much taller/shorter than me'.

Is there anything else that people feel able to comment upon that is, at worst, rude and at best just really really boring?

Mimosa and Kiwi Fruit

Today on the market was mimosa and kiwi fruit day. Somewhere further south there must be trees and trees of mimosa but on our market was just one table. And because they are such a wonderful splash of colour it brightened the whole place. It was a bit like Mother's Day in England when you see the scariest looking guys taking flowers home for Mum. Most of the bunches were being held by rotund frenchmen who I imagined were off to lunch with their mums. And it brought a smile to many passers by.

It is also kiwi fruit season. So all the seasonal stalls have a box of kiwi fruit. I asked one lady who was buying several kilos of them what she was going to do with them and they were just for eating every day because they are so good for you. I hoped she might have a magical recipe. I know they are very good for you (full of vitamin C) and they taste ok but I can't say I really love them ...................any ideas anyone?

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Stair Case

Apparently the case has actually been accepted by the judge for ruling. So we await their decision in what should be quinze jours....................

La Félibrée

"The Félibrée movement was begun in the 19th century to defend and preserve the Occitan culture. In the langue d’oc, it is known as the Félibrise, and Frédéric Mistral, the renowned poet, was one of its greatest adherents. Since 1903, on the first Sunday of July, the Félibrée is celebrated in a chosen town of the Périgord. The town spends a good part of the year in preparation for the festival, which is marked by poetry, dance, singing, musical performances, demonstrations of local customs, and election of a queen of the Félibrée."

This year, The Félibrée is being held in our local town. According to the tourist office lady accommodation is already at a premium for 1st, 2nd, 3rd July.

What it means in our commune is that the ladies are set to making flowers to decorate a part of the town. We had a letter saying that the flowers were being made in the mairie on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon and after an abortive attempt to join last Thursday's group (nobody there), I duly arrived yesterday.

The weather at the moment is cloudless blue skies which means that the nights and mornings are -10C or so and the afternoons are +20C in the sunshine. So outside the mairie was a gathering of ladies enjoying the sunshine. I introduced myself and asked about the flower making which set one of the ladies off on a description of a meeting that she had been to about the felibree. (We had been to this but had obviously left before the most interesting bits!) Surprisingly she had never been to the mairie where this was held (the other side of the town) or met the maire of the town. Didn't like to tell her that he came up and shook our hand thanks to having met him several times in the company of a friend.

Eventually we all get sat around the table with a box of bits of carrier bag type plastic in the shape of small pantyliners (once having thought this I couldn't get the image out of my head) in bright yellow and green, some string and some needles. Fortunately I was sat next to Monique who turns out to be the leader and knows what's going on. And we are off making wisteria type flowers in yellow and green. (Although this offends my gardening mind and I have decided that they are laburnum.)

And I am a star flower maker!

Now, these flowers are going to be strung up above the street and we have to make 1,000 of them just for our little bit of the town. So perfection is not what is required. They need to be secure but they do not need to have every petal straightened and made beautiful. Apart from having a daydream (or daymare) that somehow they will know which mine are and they will be the only ones that dribble yellow and green petals over the surrounding merrymakers. Lets just get on with it.

After a little while a tiny smiley lady (who after a lot of smiling I realise is actually not up to flower making but always does the teas) brings round glasses, then carefully lays out paper napkins, then offers water, fizzy orange, coke or coffee. Then pancakes are produced - we have had these several times in the last fortnight as it is the season for pancakes - these are piles of vaguely warmed pancakes with sugar, jam or nutella. One of the ladies chose sugar because she couldn't have jam because she was on a diet???? Then we got another cake with chocolate and then cider was offered.

Meanwhile the pile of wisteria is growing so Maurice arrives to gather them and string them onto a wire so that we can see what they will look like. We have already had discussions about the length of the flowers, the number of petals, whether they should be grouped or tied singly, whether there was enough string left at the end for tying.

But now the important part is happening. Maurice has arrived. Flower making is womens' work. The men have been playing cards in the corner. Tying flowers on is mens' work.

After 3 hours of this my bottom is mighty tired of sitting on a hard chair and people are beginning to leave. There is much discussion about having another group on Thursday but I manage to give that a miss. This fete isn't happening until July and I don't think I can manage two afternoons a week until then. I wonder how long it will take to do 1,000..................