The équitation training at the Laizé riding school is progressing in leaps and bounds. Chris had his first chute this morning as his horse decided to gallop one way round a cone and he went another. Apparently to be a vrai cavalier you have to fall off 100 times. So only 99 to go!
The little ones and the circus pony
But we haven’t even started doing the things the little ones learn. The four year olds were learning to ride standing up on the circus pony. Perhaps that is what Chris will have to do next week if he is still too bruised to sit down!
Beaujolais Nouveau has arrived!
It’s the third Thursday of November, the day the Beaujolais Nouveau is released. I know it is a rather silly tradition but it is fun to think that it will be drunk tonight in pubs and restaurants throughout the world. I’ve been down to our local supermarket to fetch a few bottles and we will be drinking it at the village meeting tonight in the Foyer Rural.
Originally Beaujolais Nouveau was made to be drunk while waiting for the better Beaujolais wines to mature. It was just drunk locally but in the 1950s Paris got to hear about it and then the rest of the world. Then the race was on to be the first to deliver Beaujolais Nouveau to lots of different countries, often using gimmicky transport like rickshaws, helicopters, balloons or elephants. It doesn’t have to come very far to reach us as we are only about 25km north of the Beaujolais region.
At various prices, 2,40€ to 6€
Although Beaujolais is a red wine it is light and fruity. The rapid fermentation ensures it does not contain the tannins from the grape skins as does a mature red wine. You serve it cool and it’s ideal for parties as it is easily quaffable.
It’s been very quiet around here today as the village is recovering from the annual dinner dance last night. It was enjoyed by well over a hundred people who represented a good proportion of Cortambert plus friends from the nearby villages of Blanot, Donzy and Bray.
There are many things which constantly amaze me about people here. Firstly, that the older folk, some of them in their eighties, have enough stamina to eat dinner until midnight and then dance until three o’clock in the morning. Secondly, everyone seems to drink what to me seems quite a lot without seeming the least bit tipsy. Last night we started with cremant and kir royale for the apéritif, then plenty of white wine followed by red. But even by the early hours of the morning nobody appeared any the worse.
The meal was provided by “Mille et Une saveurs” from Crèches sur Soâne near Mâcon. You wouldn’t have have found a better meal at the most expensive restaurant. How the chefs managed to do the final preparations and serve such a banquet from backstage at the foyer rural will forever remain a mystery to me. But then anything to do with cooking generally is!
Laure singing at the tables....
.....and on the tables
The couple who provided the entertainment, Ludovic and Laure Moreau, were also exceptional. We were treated to a cabaret between courses and Laure performed a very athletic can-can and even danced on the tables. She sang a variety of well known 60s French songs (her Marlene Dietrich was spot on) and the British disco hits proved very popular.
Dance for the ladies
Another thing that amazes me about the older folk, particularly the men, is that they can all dance. At the moment Chris is under the influence of Strictly Come Dancing so he made a good attempt at the cha-cha and the Viennese walze. And we had been practising the Madison all week. But the older men showed an elegance and expertise which shows that dancing has always been part of their lives. In some ways Deepest France might seem a few years behind but there is a profound sense of sociability and culture which seems to have all but disappeared in the UK.
Today the regions of Franche-Comte and Burgundy changed to the rather alarmingly named TNT – Télévision Numérique Terrestre. We had been rather dreading the day that the analogue signal was to be turned off as we had suspected that our region was too mountainous or too near the border for us to receive TNT. We had never taken to watching much French TV anyway as the reception was always very poor and the only channels we did receive seemed to feature endless game shows.
It was rumoured that if we could not receive TNT then President Sarkozy himself would fork out and buy us all a satellite dish. But when we switched on today we found, joy of joys, perfect reception and more channels than we could ever have hoped for. We now get Arte which is a German-French channel which shows films in their original language. A bonus for me as I have always refused to watch dubbed films in any language. We also get nature programmes in High Definition which is just amazing.
I suspect that there is going to be a quantum leap in our understanding of the French language as henceforth it will now be a pleasure rather than a trial to watch French TV.