Philip spent most of the day in the kitchen. The menu for supper with our neighbours was French onion soup, Delia’s vegetarian lasagne, panna cotta with raspberry coulis, and cherry pie (with this year’s cherries.) The good thing about all those dishes is that they could be made in advance. I spent the morning as kitchen assistant, apart from a trip to the bakery to get baguettes. Jeanneau, our retired farmer neighbour waved me down as he walked along the road towards his daughter’s house and asked me to get him a flute (the standard French loaf). In the town there was lots of excitement in the main square, the pompiers were setting up their display, fire engines everywhere and all the pompiers in uniform. It was one of the telethon charity fund raising activities that is happening everywhere in France this weekend. I bought the bread and stopped off to drop off Jeanneau’s loaf, and was invited to take a bag of leeks from the wheelbarrow load his daughter had in the garage. Her husband Claude had harvested had a huge crop; I must try leeks next year. Philip can make some leek and potato soup.
After lunch we headed off for a walk, Philip wanted to find a footpath next to the aqueduct shown on the map, in the woods of Betbeze. After clambering under or over several electric fences and fighting our way through fallen trees and brambles we came to the aqueduct at the foot of a valley, but then heard the guns of the chasse so beat a hasty retreat, there have been several fatalities already this year.
I lit both wood burning stoves and turned on some of the electric radiators in anticipation of keeping our guests warm. The chimney sweep had reassembled the stove in the dining room incorrectly, so I spent some time with the instruction manual taking baffle plates and fire bricks in replacing them, hopefully correctly, anyway it seemed to light and soon warmed up the dining room. I was able to take off several outer layers and watched the temperature on the thermometer in the hallway go from 12 to 20, it felt wonderful to have a warm house.
We got to know our new neighbours a bit better over the course of the evening, though they are house hunting and will be moving on as soon as they find somewhere. The other couple have been here over a year now, but with grandchildren in the UK, so come and go. We all ate and drank too much as one does. Philip’s food was all delicious. The guests left after midnight.