Thursday, 26 April 2007

The end of a tiresome day

It has been a trying day, what with Mr Google the schools land agent losing the key to the main door so that everyone coming back after cross country was locked out and everything else that has happened.

We have had tremendous thunderstorms here in our little bit of Brittany today and an awful lot of rain. Sadly when I came back from French classes this morning I found Madame Grognonne had been out practising her Kendo in the garden with the dogs and, what with all the metal reinforcing in her body armour and breast plate (and the fact that she has lost her proper head gear and mask and so was wearing Colonel von Krompts German helmet with the spike on top) made herself a bit of a sitting duck.

Too be fair the lightening only struck her twice and it could just have easily have hit the dogs, which everyone agrees would have been much worse, and the good thing is, of course, that the rain put the fire almost immediately so there was no need for me to get myself grubby by getting the hosepipe out. Her Kendo uniform is a bit scorched in places and I suspect we shall never quite eliminate the faint small of burning in her under garments alas. No doubt we shall get used to it. She is rather upset about her hair which has gone alarmingly frizzy on top as a result and there a few very small bald patches, hardly noticeable at all in truth. I honestly cannot see what the fuss is about after all a little electric shock therapy probably won’t do her too much harm, in fact she has been remarkably docile considering since it happened.

Despite her unfortunate accident this morning I insisted she walk with me to the village after lunch to collect some provisions. I do think an after lunch perambulation is so important for ones health. It is invaluable for the digestion, and in Madame Grognonne’s case it is always wise to try and get her to walk off some of the alcohol in her system before she attempts to prepare the vegetables for the children’s tea. I know some people have reservations about her capabilities , but she is perfectly safe in the kitchen providing someone hides the spirits and the sharp knives.

I wore my long Dior raincoat with the frogging and my rather smart walking shoes and Madame Grognonne a grey felt hat and her black bout de carachoute (Wellingtons). She had thought she might wear the colonels hat again but I persuaded her that that really was just trying to temp fate a touch too far, should we have further inclement weather . The children were all at school of course and the Chief Patissier at work so I was looking forward to a quiet contemplative amble with her to carry the bags.

En route to the village we passed Madeline and Claude’s little pottager where they were busy toiling in the earth. They do not speak French, nor do we speak Breton so we have no common tongue. However I like to think that lack of a shared language should not be allowed to hinder conversation untowardly , so I struck up a hearty discourse with them regarding what they doing.

“What are you growing?” I asked in a loud voice, enunciating clearly and gesticulating with my hands. I find this method invariably works wonders, especially when accompanied with a broad smile. I intimated to Madame Grognonne to take of her hat and smile too. This seemed to disturb our kind neighbours as they hurriedly took a step backwards and crossed themselves, each clutching the others arm.

It appears that we may have had a slight breakdown in communication for some reason as they hurriedly thrust a 25kg sack of seedling potatoes At us , presumably a gift to to plant in our own vegetable plot chez nous. Luckily I had Madame Grognonne with me otherwise I may have had to leave the potatoes behind and thus risk causing offence, which is not a wise idea if one wishes to make ones mark in a small rural community.

Madame Grognonne however merely shifted the empty basket to her other arm and threw the sack over her shoulder. One must admire her, any other woman would been ashamed to be seen looking so ungainly but Madame Grognonne ,stoical as ever , merely brushed the earth out of her eyes. We carried onwards, having shouted our fair wells and “a Bonne apr├Ęs midi” to the stumbling figures of Madeline and Claude who by now were rushing towards their little cottage, glancing back at us with darting terrified looks. I imagine that they had suddenly remembered some urgent business which required their immediate attention and were embarrassed at their not being able to afford us the time to engage in further pleasantries.

I was particularly keen to get some ducks for dinner so sent Mme G running along ahead whilst I sauntered quietly at my own pace happy to take in the views and the wild flowers, listen to the myriad birdsongs and to breath in the tranquillity of the countryside.

We do try to be as organic and self sufficient as possible but I refuse to keep ducks. They may seem attractive creatures to the casual observer and a pretty addition to country life , however resent experience has taught me that in reality they are dirty unreliable birds who have a nasty habit of turning on one especially in the spring when their dander is up, so to speak. Give me a cow any day. Claude keeps a small herd of Les Vache Violette and the children trot down to him in the mornings before school to collect a canteen of milk for their breakfast. Madame Grognonne of course invariably has her breakfast milk warmed with a raw egg and a large tot of cognac. Personally I prefer tea.

When I eventually got to the butchers I found Madame Grognonne’s basket groaning under the weight of two well hung birds so we continued to the grocer, Eduard le Gumes, where we purchased some white asparagus and a bottle of local cidre as well as a few other small essentails such as a 15 litre cask of kerosene, some pumpkin seeds and a dozen bamboo canes.

The journey back was made tiresome by Madame Grognonne complaining that the potatoes and bags and basket were getting heavy. Quite a ridiculous thing to say as we had not put any thing further in them since we picked up the bread, fruit, library books and Chief patissier’s 250gms of tobacco from the bar tabac, after leaving monsieur le Gumes premises. Nevertheless I indulged her and offered to carry the tobacco home to ease her load, which I did., and for which I might add I got no more than a petulant grunt for thanks.

It is beautifully quiet here tonight. The Chief patissier has gone out to the village salle for one final rehearsal of that troublesome scene in the play where he has to grapple the two buxom girls. I am incredibly proud of him he is very intent on achieving perfection for the final nights performance tomorrow night. The children and animals are all a bed and I am sitting here listening to the gentle sounds of the night at night.

Madame Grognonne is sitting here by the fire snoring loudly, mouth open and dribbling, her bald patches glistening in the fire light through her singed hair. I cannot not imagine why she is so tired , after all ,she does very little of any import wit her day as far as I am aware.

I must go and give her a sharp kick now my dears before she wakes up the entire house with her nocturnal nasal noises, so I shall sign off now and wish you all bonne reve and sweet dreams !

Bonne nuit!


The photograph is of dear Madeline and Claude working in thier tiny potager just prior to our hailing them and thier suddenly recalling something urgent which forced them to hasten away.


LittleBrownDog said...

I love your evocative tales of Brittany. Were the Breton potato-growers weaing those wonderful pointy white hats?

lixtroll said...

Matron is visiting again with an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!

The chat-room is experiencing problems with overloading which we think is causing it to be marked as SPAM, which is in effect locking us all out :-

So in the mean time: each day please look out for the post called ANNOUNCE NEW BLOGS HERE and put your announcements in as comments on that post.

This will still leave space for one personal post per person which we can all comment on.

This is purely a temporary measure, we are keen to get the chatroom back to the weird and wonderful way it was going before - we are looking into various options at the moment (by the way, have you noticed that option is an anagram of potion) - WesterWitch! put down that cauldron!

sally's chateau said...

How you so beautifully encapsulate it all for everyone, I indeed am a great fan of Christians, ooops I mean Diors heavenly creations.

RuthF said...

Un Peu you are truly a madwoman and talented with it. XX

snailbeachshepherdess said...

.... that's it ---I cant cope --- neighbours banging on door to see what ill befalls me as I am shrieking hysterically away.. clutching sides and crossing legs..matron hurry up with those Bridget Jones undergarments BEFORE there is an accident here .....

PG said...

I'm finding it hard to put into words how much I enjoy your writing, but I do, I do! Puts a smile on my face, which is an achievement at this time in the morning...

Inthemud said...

What a woman Mdm Grognonne is!Being struck 2x buy lightning and still going strong enough to carry all the seed potatoes and groceries, you can't let her go!

Pondside said...

Are you sure Mme isn't really and truly une belle Canadienne? To be that strong and resilient - couldn't be anything but!
Loved the blog and vision of terrified neighbours in their Potager.

lixtroll said...

Mais vous avez raison re the ducks, dear. Ours are simply kicking up hell at the moment, the female is quite mad and is often to be seen standing on her head and singing Flower of Scotland. Oh no, that was me - did you mention a tot of cognac and some baccy?