August 2007

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Het weer in de Gers


Caroline before and after
Caroline, before and after

mary anne for dinner
Mary-Anne and Caroline in our little sunset haven

bean pluckers
Looks like it's haricots verts for dinner, again.

More than 400 people sat down to a long lunch in between
scouring the stalls for bargains.

bumping cars
Bloody women drivers!

trotting in Trie
When Perry saw the size of the jockey, he realised that his
five euros were a gonner

jeroen yoga
He only came for a coffee and we ended up bending backwards
to please him!

chicken plucking
Ernest, his sister Jeanette and Caroline having a
plucking good time.

chicken legs
Our collection of pots full of conserves, pickles and jams is
growing all the time, but Ernest could start a shop with
what he has in his cupboards

The beauty and the beast

Teething problems
Caroline's big smile was wiped off her face by a series of dental interventions involving the removal of a wisdom tooth, two root canal drillings and several fillings, all within a two month period. For someone who has never ever had any problems with her teeth, it was a pretty brutal awakening. It is far from over; this week a chunk broke off one of her crowns just three days after having it fitted. Not a happy bunny.

Kitchen queen on tour
Caroline's friend Mary-Anne came for a week, timed to help process the tomatoes and all the other vegetables we had growing in our very fruitful garden. Mary-Anne is a great cook and she served up some amazing dishes from the simplest of ingredients. The timing of her visit was impecable. She arrived on the evening of Perry's gallery opening. Followed by the best vide grenier of the year at Puntous (see next story) then Jazz in Marciac, when we saw Taj Mahal and Joe Cocker, the trotting races at Trie and finally the bean picking at Ernest's. A feast of food, music and glorious weather to boot.

Vide Grenier time again
We went to the vide grenier (attic clearance) at Puntous, a few kilometers up the road. There are stalls under the trees and long tables set out for a super lunch in the dapple of the leaves. We found a few gems among the usual rubbish and joined some old friends from Marciac. The Pastis, rosé and confit de canard went down very well, thank you!

Marché de nuit
Trie-sur-Baïse, our nearest town, has a night market in August where local producers set up stalls and visitors eat and dance into the early hours. Our friends Alison and Wil manned the champagne bar and platters of charcuterie, foie gras and cheeses were being passed around. Around 11pm the band struck up under the arches of the Mairie and the older generation glided onto the dance floor. We looked on in awe as a horde of synchronised seventy and eighty year-olds waltzed and cha-cha-cha'd past us. Trusted moves and turns from couples who had done so together for many decades. For those of us with two left feet, there were the bumping cars.

Giddy up horsey!
Once a year Trie has a four day festival. By the third day, the locals are all rather blurry-eyed, but on the Sunday they are all at the trotting race track exchanging suspect tips and jokes. It's a family outing, with picnics, folding chairs and an enormous car park (no one seems to walk that far around here). We all lost our shirts, since our bets were based on cute names and had nothing to do with their form. Not that that is any guarantee, ask my dad.

Bending over backwards
Caroline's brother Jeroen, has a good friend, of the same name, who was travelling in our part of France and asked if he might pop by. Jeroen is a yoga instructor. A tall one. At 2m 5cm (6ft 8ins), it was like watching a daddy long legs getting out of the little hire car when he arrived. Lunch turned into a very pleasant afternoon, a great dinner and - when the weather turned too nasty to set up the tent - a bed in the guest room. Thankfully Perry had already sawn off the bottom uprights on the bed for Caroline's other brother's visit. The next morning Jeroen gave us a crash course in yoga positions. Ouch!

Bright spark
Sorry Mally, I couldn't let this one go...So there was Malcolm, busy demolishing the old chicken hut in front of his house in Cuelas, about 15 kms up the way. He was busy cutting through the wire in the old reinforced concrete panels with an angle grinder (slijpmachine) when he smelt burning. Turning, he saw that his sparks had set fire to the field behind him. Screams of panic alerted Linda who, seeing the spreading flames, screamed even louder. Luckily the neighbour heard and came running across with a hose pipe and put it out. Mally dined out on that story all month. We won't mention about him falling through the floor of the upstairs bathroom...

Talking of fires...
Ernest, the carpenter, invited us for dinner. We were chatting away over the soup when the glass door to the kitchen was suddenly no longer transparent. Moving faster than we have ever seen him move, Ernest threw open the door to be swallowed up in the smoke coming off a pan of confit de canard. We learnt a few new words, his dogs had an unexpected, if rather hot, treat thrown out to them and there was a slight delay in the proceedings as a fresh pot of confit was fetched from the cupboard.

Ooh no missus!
Perry's old advertising buddies turned up from the UK. John and Donal worked with Perry in the mid eighties, yet once the stories started flowing with the wine, it was as if it was yesterday. Perry still had some old cartoons from the period which brought all those forgotten moments to light. The best years we had in the business.

Chicken killer
Ernest called to ask if Caroline wanted to help him and his sister slaughter a few chickens. Not wanting to witness the coup de grace she turned up later, only to discover that there were still another eight, waiting their turn in a basket. Bravely she started plucking the freshly killed birds that had been plunged into boiling water to loosen the feathers. Chicken fillets and drumsticks are all very well when you see them in plastic on the supermarket shelf. Quite another thing when you get to look at the owner of such delicacies in the eye as the knife goes in.

Village wedding
Sophie Deffis is a young farmer in the village who breeds black Bigorre pigs. We felt very honoured to be invited to her wedding in August. It took Perry several attempts to remember how to tie a tie but we looked a picture. It was a big family affair, where we discovered more about who was related to whom, from the multitude of people that we have met here since arriving.

Until next month,

A bientôt.


CMS reunion
Art directors don't die they just go thinner on top and thicker in the middle.
My old creative mates from my advertising time in London (more than 20 years ago) turned up during an unseasonally wet August week. John, with Caroline and their two daughters, Connie and Amy; Donal, with Debbie and Gabriel and Georgie; and Malcolm and Linda, who were staying at their house up the road for the month. We were in fits of laughter as the old stories came up over dinner. Wives and children realising that we are still just big kids.


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© 2007 Perry Taylor and La Baguette Magique, France.