We continued our French culture theme with our friends from the North. We felt it only right to carry on our missionary work with Sandy and Kathy, from up North. So, on Tuesday we went to see an art exhibition by Bernard Chardon. 

The artist is a priest and the museum housing his work is situated in an old chapel which is part of a large nunnery come old people’s home just outside Lassay-les-Chateaux. Being a religious artist of course I always refer to him as that mad monk artist and have assumed that his work is religious. So, we decided to go and see. It was not immediately obvious how to get in and we were concerned that we would end up at the old people’s home and be given a French pensioner to take out for the afternoon.

We eventually went for an access with an automatic gate which slid open and found a parking space and the chapel was right there. The art is surprisingly good with the use of acrylic paint on glass and other media. The work was in much part abstract with obvious religious themes, but it was very good and well worth a visit despite the risk of collecting a pensioner.

Our next cultural venture was to introduce our friends to the wonders of our local village restaurants with their workers set price meals. We decided to visit the St Medard restaurant in the small village of St. Mars sur Colmont. Here they do a four-course meal, plus wine, cider and coffee al for 12 Euros or about £10 in English money. For this there is a choice of four starters and I had a salmon terrine. For the main course, again a choice and I went for veal with frites. There is then a cheese board with several cheeses is passed around. The dessert is again a choice of 4 things and I went for mousse au chocolat. Coffee wine and cider is all included in the price. It is well cooked and presented and a lovely atmosphere as the restaurant has a number of workers who come for lunch. 

There was also an old lady who we have seen there each time we come. She is from the local village and works on the basis that she can get a great daily meal and so it is not worth her while cooking. She had no teeth but was munching her way through all the course and washing it down with several glasses of cider!

Last week we went to the local repas with our friends and they met Emile. I happened to say to Emile about our tradition of tidying up the whisky. I also mentioned that I was now letting friends have a small bottle of Emile’s calva to take home as a souvenir. The next day Emile was round for a visit. He was worried that we would need some calva to tidy up and so had brought some for us. He had not quite grasped the significance of tidying up and had brought round a rather large and full bottle. Sandy and I were defeated by the calva tidy up that evening, although we slept rather well!

Our friends have now left us and we have now got back to the delights of the French Presidential elections. Those of you who have been paying attention will know that the run off between the two candidates takes place today with the result being known once polling stations close at 8pm. The candidates are Emmanuel Macron, a new comer to politics and he sits in the centre politically while his opponent Marine Le Pen is on the far right National Front. Macron is expected to win but there is a worry that if enough people don’t vote then Le Pen would sneak in. Nearly all agree that this would be a disaster for France.

On Wednesday evening the two had a TV debate lasting over two hours hwere Le Pen was very aggressive and shouty and Macron got in some very goof insults and at the same time introduced to me some new French words
Poudre de Perlimpinpin - Macron used this colourful phrase, meaning “fairy dust”, to refer to Le Pen’s promises. Galimatias- When Macron pressed Le Pen on one of her responses, he said: "Are you talking about Trump and Putin? This is truly 'galimatias'." Which means “claptrap”. Bêtise - If you just watched five minutes of the debate, you’d have heard Macron accusing Le Pen of “bêtise”, a noun meaning stupidity, nonsense, or folly. La grande prêtresse de la peur - Perhaps the most eloquent insult of the night was when Macron called Le Pen: "The high priestess of fear".
Some analysts described Marine Le Pen’s performance as a “naufrage”, which we would probably translate to a train wreck although it really means shipwreck. Another accusation levelled at Le Pen was that she brought the level of the debate down or perhaps debased it. In French, it's "tirer vers la bas" - literally meaning to "pull it towards the bottom".

As well as an introduction to French politics we get a French lesson. Mind you it is much better that the English elections where all Theresa May seems to be able to say every few words is that she is “strong and stable”. At least the French election will be over tonight and Macron has around 60% of the vote according to opinion polls, so he should be safe. Watch this space for an update as the result comes in.

Our local newspaper the Ouest France had a brilliant leader column arguing that the French must reject Le Pen to uphold the principles and values of the republic. Liberte, fraternite and egalite”. It urged all its readers to vote for Macron as did most of the French press.

All this culture and politics has rather pushed the La Godefrere animals to the background. Archie and Moggie have been bumbling along during a rather wet week and disappearing to the cat palace out of the rain. When it has been dry and sunnier, they come out to sleep. Usually on my car which is now absolutely filthy, with cat paw prints as well as mud and manure which has been spread on the fields and in the lanes by the local farmer. Our little owls are to be seen more frequently as it seems they have eggs in the nest. The male can regularly be seen on the gite TV aerial or on the chimney of a nearby farm building. They are active towards dusk as they start to feed and are very noisy in the night calling to each other. At least now the owl is sitting still for long enough for me to get a photo.

Our little owl on the TV aerial

Despite all the noise the cattle next door seem very relaxed and even the bull seems happy with life (well why wouldn’t he!). The other day they were all up at our end of the field and all lying down having a rest on a nice warm morning. Not a care in the world as they have plenty of grass to eat and Xavier regularly brings them supplementary bales of hay to eat. If they get bored they always have me to come and talk to. They all seem pro Macron and definitely anti Le Pen.

Casual cattle, looking very relaxed

The sheep on the other hand are a bit more nervous and don’t general come over for a chat. Indeed, they usually move away. This may of course have something to do with my comments about the size and likely taste of their legs and which one I might choose for eating. The last leg we had last week and it was extremely good. The sheep gave me a very funny look when I told them about it. You would think that animals that are bred specifically for food purposes would be a bit more philosophical about their future prospects and be pleased at a successful outcome from their career!

The lambs showing a nice bit of leg!

Finally, we return to French culture and last Friday evening Mrs. Parish and I had tickets for a musical experience at nearby Gorron. Mrs. Parish was keen to extend our cultural knowledge by going to see a performance of Afro-Fusion music, performed by someone called Mad Lenoir. I have to admit to having some doubts (both about the name and the type of music as this is a bit far from Bob Dylan) but decided to give it a go. The tickets said we needed to get there by 8-15 so we could be seated ready to start the performance at 8-30 with an ensemble from the local music school. We were waiting for some guests to arrive to stay in the gite for the weekend. They were due to arrive at 6pm but got a call saying they had been delayed for an hour and a half waiting for their hire car to arrive at Orly airport in Paris. It normally takes around 20 minutes to get to Gorron and our guests turned up at 7.50 and by the time we had showed them round we left just after 8pm and broke several speed limits to arrive at the concert hall at 8.20.

Of course, what we had not factored in was that in France nothing starts on time and it was another 20 minutes before the doors opened! We had a half an hour of music from the music school (saxophone and clarinets), They were very good. It meant that the audience for Mad Lenoir was a mix of all ages. The advertising said that Mad Lenoir who hails originally from Burkino Faso played the guitar and some instruments called la kora and le n’goni. Apparently, we could look forward to jazz with afro-beat, funk with rock; syncopations of reggae with Mandingo melodies!

Mad Lenoir and his band of 6 musicians were absolutely fantastic. Not only were they fantastic musicians but Mad had a superb singing voice. Because he had been working with the Gorron music school he got all the children and several adults dancing in the aisles and the whole audience had a great time. A brilliant experience although I did refrain from daddy dancing! So now I am a great enthusiast for afro-fusion! Look him up on the internet, just google Mad Lenoir. Or YouTube https://youtube/vezhJ9yswGM

Mad Lenoir

Well I think it is about time for a little sit in the garden, perhaps with a cultural aperitif. Why not, it would be rude not to follow a great French cultural tradition. Then a slightly nervous wait until the election result. There will be an exit poll result which is usually very accurate. 

Bon courage