Friday, February 01, 2008

Playing catch up

After a hectic week back in the UK last week (my first trip back since mid December), I took this week as holiday to try and catch up with things here.

The move here, and particularly registering the farm, has seemed to involve a continuous steady supply of paperwork to complete. As the only French speaker in the family it falls to me to deal with all this stuff, and it’s hard to find the time when I’m here and working. France, or at least the Gers, still closes down between midday and 2 pm (our local supermarket shuts at 12.15 and doesn’t open again until 3.15!). Shops tend to stay open longer after lunch (normally until 7 pm) but offices don’t, which means anything that needs doing that involves one or other of the numerous government departments can only be done between 9.00 – 12.00 or 2.00 – 5.00. It’s sometimes a bit of a pain, but overall I like the fact that the Gascons take their precious lunchtime so seriously.

Anyway, we are now all caught up. Until the next wave of paperwork arrives!

Jean Claude is doing fine. He was joined by twins (one boy, one girl) the following day – also doing fine – but that seems to be it. It’s good that the twins have arrived as it means Jean Claude will have some playmates. It would have been a bit lonely for him otherwise!

On the knitting front, I have a couple of things on the go but not interesting enough at this stage to photograph. After having hours of knitting time over Christmas and New Year I have done very little over the past month – there always seem to be a thousand and one other things that eat into my knitting time. I sometimes wonder how it was that I had so much time to knit when we were in the UK, and I haven’t yet figured out quite what’s changed.

I said last time that I would tell you about New Year’s Eve, Beaumarches style.

Every year a party is held in the Salle de Fêtes (village hall), which is decorated by the Comité de Fêtes. This year’s theme was Asterix the Gaul (I have no idea why) and the room was wonderfully kitted out with models of Asterix and his chums, and numerous “trees” to create a woodland feel.

The evening kicked off at 8 pm with the local aperitif “pousse rapière” – an evil liqueur which has been known to bring seasoned drinkers to their knees. About 250 villagers were in attendance, ranging in age from just a few months to well over 90 (at a guess). We sat down to eat at about 9, at long tables amply supplied with bottles of local wine. There then followed eight courses of local specialities, which included young wild boar, scallops, duck, and another evil liqueur “Trou Gascon” with a dollop of lemon sorbet in it. Pud was eventually served at about 1.30. Throughout the meal we were entertained by a disco playing mostly French techno-pop (can you imagine?) which went down a storm as the dance floor was always heaving, with both young and old.

Wine flowed throughout – we never seemed to have anything other than full bottles on the table. Champagne was served at midnight, and Armagnac with the coffee and petits fours. Yet, even though there was enough booze to sink a ship, not one person became any the worse for wear, and I think this was perhaps the most startling difference between this evening and a similar one in the UK – no slurring drunks, no fights, no vomit. I do have to say though that I did miss singing Auld Lang Syne!

The people of Beaumarches certainly love to party. It was still going strong when we left at 4 am (we thought the dogs would have their legs crossed by then!) – in fact the soup was just being put on the stove for the remaining revellers. All in all it was a thoroughly wonderful evening, and we can’t wait for next New Year!


Blogger Carolyn said...

Thanks for the update -- I may have to come and spend my birthday in Beaumarches next year!

It was lovely to see you in London last week; look forward to catching up again later in the year.


2:41 pm  
Blogger clarabelle said...

Glad to hear that Jean Claude is thriving and now has some friends!

Your Beaumarches' New Year sounds brilliant! And if you can't find the time to knit, how about I come and stay at yours indefinitely, partake of all things Gascon, and do your knitting for you? Makes sense, oui!

4:36 pm  
Blogger Queen of the froggers said...

It sounds like quite a community you live in! What fun for new year.

6:16 pm  
Blogger Caroline M said...

I'm glad that Jean Claude Van Ram has some friends to play chase with, climbing on mum is only good for so long.

New Year's Eve sounds fun, our party wrapped up around 4am too although I slunk off before then as I had early morning parenting to look forward to. I just can't keep going like I used to when I was 18.

10:48 am  
Blogger cpurl17 said...

Ugh, Blogger ate my first (unwitty) comment but since it's gone I'll pretend it was very witty and insightful.

Thank you for the update! I may show up on your doorstep someday.

4:27 pm  

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