This week has ended in spectacular fashion with the visit of 6 crazy colleagues I used to work with. They arrived Friday morning with no mishaps this time. Alan’s sat nav managed to avoid the Calais route back to Britain. We have had a full and exciting weekend which involved lots of food and drink and laughing. More of this later as first I must update you with news of a near diplomatic incident that occurred here at La Godefrere and another opportunity for Mrs.Parish to extend her skill set with her need for diplomacy to avoid a diplomatic incident.

The weather this week has been exceptionally hot and so we have spent a lot of time outside either sitting and relaxing or eating. On Tuesday evening Mrs Parish and I were sat on the patio having a nice evening meal with of course a glass or two of wine when we heard Giselle calling at our front door. We discovered a very agitated Giselle who wanted Mrs.Parish to go round to our neighbours down the lane to translate for her. She was very upset that they seemed to be doing something to her garden wall which faces on to the property at the bottom of the lane. This is owned by an English couple who come to France only for the summer and who seem to spend all their time here doing work to their garden but never appear to finish anything!

Mrs. Parish and Giselle make a formidable deputation and I would not have wanted to be in the neighbour’s shoes. It transpired that they had decided to paint the side of wall that faced their garden as they thought it ugly. Giselle was outraged that they should paint her wall without first asking her. Mrs. Parish managed to establish that in fact the wall was clearly on Giselle’s property and was not a boundary wall and therefore the neighbours were completely out of order. Giselle also managed to point out that if they had so much spare time they should clear up the garden rubbish that they had left in the lane. (Mrs. Parish translated this as perhaps you have your priorities wrong!!).

The French are very good at being angry, particularly when they have just cause and Giselle set forth with appropriate grunts groans and hand actions that she was upset. After an apology from the neighbours, Giselle went back home but invited Mrs. Parish and me in for a coffee. We went round a little later and called as we entered “Les bons anglais sont arrive” just to make sure it was safe to go in.

Giselle and Daniel were still going on about the lack of manners and politeness but eventually calmed down and we had coffee. Daniel then decided that something stronger was required in all the circumstances and so went off to his storeroom and came back with two rather large jars and a ladle. In one was a dark looking liquid which turned out to be home made calvados flavoured with “estragon” which I first thought he meant dragon flavoured calva. That must be strong flavoured I thought. It turns out that estragon is tarragon and it tasted quite nice but with a strange taste. The second jar contained calvados flavoured with peach and quince and was much more like a liqueur. It was very smooth and very nice. So we drank to the “entente cordial” between Britain and France and put the world to rights.

Putting the world to rights is of course the normal day to day job of the mad people who came to visit us this weekend. 6 of my former work colleagues came for a visit. This included two colleagues, Kay and Alan who have just retired along with Kay’s team colleagues: Max; Siobhan, Vicky and union activist Debi. We all worked for the trade union, UNISON so have been used to putting things right and to talking a lot. 

So of course we had a lot of catching up to do and fitted the talking in with rather a lot of eating and drinking. It was so hot that we ate outside and then decided to play a few games as the group are all a bit competitive. After games of pool, darts and backgammon we moved onto petanque out in the garden and a fiercely fought contest took place until the union health and safety reps decided it was too dangerous. We then went on to play a board game called “Articulate”. In this game you play as pairs and have to describe a word on a card so that your colleague can guess what it is. You do this against a timer so the pressure is on to get as many right as possible. The effect of more and more alcohol reduces normal people to gibbering wrecks who suddenly become tongue tied or brain dead.

Vicky is the union’s regional officer responsible for people with disabilities and could not remember what the name of the inclined method of access to a building was called despite a colleague shouting “ramp” several times. In an even more bizarre episode the answer to a description of the science lab equipment that produces flames became a “Bernie Bunser” which of course sent everyone into hysterics. Of course the game was not helped as it was steadily getting darker by the minute and despite desperate attempts to use mobile phone torches the game had to be abandoned as bad light stopped play.

On Saturday we all went to the restaurant “La Marjolaine” and had the most fantastic meal with a special menu for our one and only vegetarian. It is a proper French restaurant and we took around 3 hours to do it justice. The weekend was a great chance to meet up with good friends but also to wish Alan and Kay a great retirement. Kay (not everyone knows that her real name is Fay) was the regional education officer and is moving on to set up her own training organisation and I worked closely with her while I was working and when I did some freelance tutoring after my retirement. Kay (Fay) should really be French as she makes the most life threatening liqueurs and came bearing jars of various sizes containing Pear and Plum liqueurs. I think it must be because she comes from the Channel Islands!!

Alan and Kay (Fay)

The final evening we actually managed to finish a game of Articulate and it was won by Mrs. Parish and Debi Potter MBE. (A little name dropping as Debi recently was deservedly awarded an MBE for services to the special constabulary). I think her status and Mrs.Parish’s now famous diplomatic skills caused the remaining contestants to feel intimidated. They of course would contend that they are cleverer than the rest of us.

The other highlight of the weekend was the discovery that now we are both retired Alan and me have become just like Clegg and Compo from the BBC series Last of the Summer Wine. Over the weekend we wandered about aimlessly and talked nonsense and ended up sitting by the river Varennes cooling our feet in the water. I hesitate to reveal that the Compo look alike is of course Alan.

Last of the Summer Wine

It was as upper weekend and our friends are on the way back to Britain. We have tidied up and washed and dried all the bedding as the weather has been so hot. That of course means we now have an ironing mountain for me to tackle tomorrow. This means I will be able to watch my ironing DVD of Twin Peaks. I am up to episode 21 out of 28!!

Now it is time for a little aperitif and I think a drink to the weekend and a safe journey home I shall have a Kir Cassis and get some wine in the fridge for dinner. 

The Tour de France has now started and comes by us next Friday, a full report next week.

Bon weekend