Translation – A good time was had by all.
Our friends Catherine and John came to see us for the August bank holiday weekend (in England) and to start their visit I had impetuously invited our French neighbours, or friends as they are now, over for a BBQ. This had come about because the week before I had given our neighbours some of the many monster courgettes that I have been growing in my garden (which you may remember were meant to be cucumbers!!) As a result, and as is the way they invited us for a drink on the Saturday to say thank you; and it was at this meeting that I then decided it would be a great idea to have a BBQ and mix together the English friends we have made over here, our English friends who were visiting and our new French friends. Then I panicked!!!
Talk about dropping poor Catherine and John (C&J) in it, they arrived in the morning of the day of the BBQ, after travelling all night, but were so high on adrenaline (as you are when you are on holiday) that they were all for it. The temperature that day was over 37 ° and as the evening arrived it hadn’t cooled down much. I had asked C&J to bring out some English sausages for our French friends to try and I had cooked some broccoli flower cheese and some new potatoes which you then put in the oven with butter and rock salt (a la my English friends over here), but to say that we were nervous was an understatement. I was catering for the French!!! So I thought “Sod it! Let’s do an English BBQ, I can only be what I am!” We did however also have Mergez, a hot French chorizo style sausage, and aperitifs of saucissons, olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and, of course, lots of bread!
Our English friends arrived first, and, as we do in England, drinks were offered all round. Then our French friends arrived, with beautiful gifts for Rich and I, as is the French custom. They don’t bring food, I understand that is considered an insult to bring food to someone’s house in that way. I had noticed when we had visited them before that others brought flowers so I had done just that the weekend before, but I did not expect the thoughtful gifts that they had brought us: A display of flowers laid out on a tray for me, and various French beers, glasses and beer mats for Rich, all displayed in a box and all wrapped for us.
It appears, however, we had committed a faux pas in starting to drink before they had arrived, we should have waited until everyone had gathered. It was all very formal at first and we had to invite them to sit down, but once the drinks started to flow and the food came out it was a brilliant night. Our amies thought that the English sausages were wonderful, and loved my cooking, which, I have to say, really was a compliment. Rich got his own back and got our friend and neighbour a bit squiffy on whisky (see we’ve met the neighbours, Rich thinks that they tried to kill him!) and despite the fact that only the seventeen year old niece, who is really really sweet, could speak any English, we all manged to communicate, laugh, mainly at our neighbour and his short shorts! My French lessons came in handy and our English friend, who we now call Mr Happy, can speak French very well so he translated, sometimes incorrectly the bastard, which he found most amusing!!
We laughed about how one of our friends thinks our neighbour looks like George Clooney and the French ladies of the group thought that Mr Happy looked like Sean Connery, he was posing for pictures with them in the end!!
I have agreed with the teenager that we will rendezvous, and she will speak French and teach me for one hour and the next time we meet I will speak English and teach her.
A brilliant time was had by all; and I noticed when I read my aims for this year, that I had noted down in my diary at Christmas, that one was speak to the neighbours. I think we’ve gone one step further now, and finally feel that I am “living” in France.
There’s more to come this week folks, I have time available now to write!!! So look out for more posts, and as always please share with your friends.