Friday, 28 July 2017

Drinking in the Rain

On Sunday we held one of our monthly networking gatherings, which doubled as a birthday party for Simon. People very generously brought not just contributions to the shared table, but little presents for Simon too. We got Belgian chocolate, French, English and Belgian beer, homemade mayonnaise, Dutch caramel wafer biscuits and syrup, wild picked blackberries and a couple of very well chosen books. 

We don't have much parking near our house, and a couple of people attending commented on how there were people carrying trays of food converging from all directions on our house when they walked down from the market place or up from the park. I identified one lost soul in the street as 'one of ours' by the fact she was carrying a tray of food. We'd never met before, she had been invited by a friend.
Although the weather forecast wasn't promising, because we expected around 40 people, we decided to take the risk of holding it outdoors because that many people inside is a bit squished. In the end we welcomed around 50 people, and they all stood around nonchalantly in the rain once it started. Some had come prepared with waterproof coats and umbrellas. I handed out more umbrellas, and some people retreated to the garage, but some just ignored the drizzle and mingled determinedly.

These events just about run themselves. I send out invitations and instructions, then people just turn up and talk and drink and eat. They speak a mixture of English, French and Dutch and include English, Scottish, Irish, French, Australians, South Africans, Dutch and Americans. A lot of them read the blog, not all of them live in France full time. Some live in Belgium, the Netherlands, England or South Africa for much of the year. Long may our Eurocentric lives continue.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Christ on the Cross

The most remarkable object in the parish church at Fontevraud is this polychrome wooden sculpture of Christ on the cross. It was carved in the 15th century but discovered in the attic of the presbytery in 1952. The body is tortured, but the face peaceful. His fingers are extended in a gesture of benefaction.

I think this crucifixion is an arresting and moving work of art (although it fails to stir any strictly religious feelings in me). Compare it to this much cruder crucifix from Ligeuil, with its agonised and despairing Christ who is nonetheless in the same tradition, and was also found tucked away out of sight in an attic.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Halloween Comes Early

Simon is modelling his new black bathrobe, a gift from our friend Penelope. She bought it for herself because it was €5 at Noz, but it is much too big for her. Simon was the biggest person she could think of to give it to. It fits him perfectly.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

This is What Summer Looks Like Here

In the background wheat is being harvested, in the foreground, sunflowers at their most glorious. (This photo is from last year.)

Monday, 24 July 2017

Translating Tintamarre

Emile serving Tintamarre to Joy and Jheanne.

Our friends at Chateau Gaudrelle very kindly invited us to the launch of their new wine, a natural sparkling chenin blanc that they have dubbed Tintamarre. We asked our South African friends Joy and Jheanne if they wanted to go and they were delighted, since they hadn't had a chance to visit a winery so far while they've been here. The wine is gently bubbly, fresh and fruity. We liked it a lot (I bought a case for our apéro yesterday).

Rillettes (pork paste) and Sainte Maure de Touraine goats cheese to go with the wine.

We asked Laetitia what 'tintamarre' translated as and she thought a bit and said 'hurly-burly', but acknowledged that she'd need to double check that. It is what you get when you put the word into Google, but having consulted widely (well, Christophe at l'Image and Jill, who looked in her big serious dictionary...) I don't think it's the best translation. We think it's more like 'hullabaloo', as it doesn't seem to refer to movement, but to noise, particularly a din or racket with percussive or chinking glass sounds.

Chateau Gaudrelle Tintamarre.

Sadly, Joy and Jheanne returned to South Africa today. The town of Preuilly had adopted them for the duration of their stay, and they received considerable encouragement to buy a house here and move here permanently. I reckon they'd easily win a vote of 'most popular new resident' if such a thing was held. We will truly miss Joy and Jheanne a lot. Thank goodness we've got a ready supply of Tintamarre available, to raise a glass to them on a regular basis.

Sunday, 23 July 2017