This weekend I found myself looking at the sun going down and thinking “Wow! I live in France!”

Our French friends (some of whom are also our neighbours) had invited us to lunch. Rich and I had no idea what to expect so we dressed up (a rare thing these days for two people who spend most of their time in old holey tracksuit bottoms covered in mud!) and off we went with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation.

In many ways France reminds me so much of Ireland; first we went to the home of  Martin and Nadine (privacy has been respected here) M and N invited us in and offered us a drink and aperitifs, even though really we were not staying at their house but going on to the home of Manu and Edith (privacy again respected.) But despite this out came the aperitif dish with nuts, small cheeses, and olives and out came the drink of whisky and a fruit flavoured drink for the ladies. (Always I am offered a sweet fruity alcoholic drink.) After that we were then whisked away to the home of M and E.

It was a beautiful hot sunny day, over twenty eight degrees, so we were invited to sit on the patio and out came the champagne and more aperitifs, of crab balls with cheese inside, melon, small square cheeses (the ones available in England, they are very popular in France), there were mussels, garlic, peanuts, and cherry tomatoes. After drinking two bottles of champagne it was into the the conservatory to sit at a beautifully laid table and out came various coleslaws, cous cous, and bread.  After that came  ice cream as a mouth cleanser (no not sorbet), it was in a glass with the deadly calva (home made apple brandy) pouted over it. I could not drink the calva, seriously I would have been on the floor!

Then on to the main course of beef steak cooked on the BBQ, a selection of vegetables consisting of green beans, thinly sliced potatoes, carrots and peas which had been cooked and then fried in butter (delicious), with a pepper sauce available as you wished; this was then followed by meringue, ice cream and macaroons in all different flavours (which are Richard’s favourite so he was in his element.)

They are really lovely our friends and thanks to my wonderful French teacher I could converse quite well with them (we took some of the printed leaflets from the French lessons to help Rich.) Due to this we got onto the subject of speaking French and much hilarity was had when I recalled the first time I had met Martin and told him that we had five cats and commented on the weather by telling him I was hot. This may sound innocent except chat (cat) is pronounced Cha, you do not pronounce the T. If you do pronounce the T you are actually talking about your fanny (vagina!!!) Also if you want to say you are hot you simply say it is hot, if you say I am hot you are actually saying that you are hot stuff and want sex!!! So when I first met my neighbour I told him that I had five fannies and wanted sex!!! Add to this he was wearing his “petit, petit shorts” (the ones we all rib him about) and God knows what he thought. Much hilarity was had about this and also at the fact they kept pumping Rich full of macaroons because he said he loved them!

After a wonderful afternoon it was all back to Martin’s house (in the small hamlet where we live) for a game of boules. It is the second time I have played and the second time I have been in the winning team. In fact Martin asked if I had played before because I was doing well and I really think it is because my Dad Paddy (bless him,I am sure he was looking down on me with pride) was very good at bowles.

As I sat on their veranda in the hot evening sun,  I looked across the rolling hills, whilst listening to our wonderful French friends chattering away with the family members who had now joined us and thought “Now I am truly living in France!”  It felt both wonderful and surreal.

A perfect day with the finishing touch of the  bright orange harvest moon that was hanging in the sky as the night drew in.