We stood at Kempton and Newark last week, both great fairs, but it was a hectic week. I love meeting people at events, all the catching up and selling, but I do love to go home. When we arrived home, a quick check in our cupboards confirmed that a visit to the supermarche was in order. Although it still feels like summer here, the fruit and vegetables being offered for sale are slowly changing and you definitely feel the different seasons. Whilst unpacking our shop, one of our neighbours dropped in to invite us for drinks – no question that we would go as the whole ‘village’ is going to be there. So with much trepidation we went, with me issuing last instructions on the walk over, such as ‘don’t let me drink too much wine’ etc. Our French, although improved, has still not reached the fluency stage, and our neighbours definitely do not speak English. I really shouldn’t have worried though, as the evening went really well, and any translation mishaps handled without anybody falling off a chair with laughter!!
Out hunting for treasures on Sunday morning I bought 2 lovely white squashes. Not sure what they are called, but I just couldn’t resist. I thought they’d make a great centrepiece on our table, and may just carry them around with me for extra ‘frenchness’ when doing events.
As there were lots of produce for sale amidst the treasures, I have decided to do my own thing. We recently discovered a bush in our garden laden with small purple/blue berries which in a fit of daring we both tried – my other half refused to eat one without me also trying one as he accused me of trying to poison him. So with us both awake the next morning, I decided to investigate further and after much checking, have discovered that the tree is a blackthorn tree, and the berries are sloes. So after googling recipes, I have now made my very own Sloe Gin, ready to be consumed at Christmas, if it lasts that long. And yes, I know getting your husband to test berries is probably unethical, but how else does one find out!!!
We live in a small hamlet of just 6 houses and the neighbours have been friendly and welcoming, even before we moved out here permanently, and when we had builders around for 4 months. Last summer we were given serious amounts of courgettes and green beans and although the beans are always welcome, there are only so many ways of preparing courgettes and I think I did them all.
Last week I found a chicken outside our door on the lane. As far as we knew no-one had chickens so it raised many questions – how did it cross the road? Who was it looking for? How is it going to get home? After enquiries, we’ve found our furthest neighbour has chickens hidden at the edge of their land, in a long run and we have been supplied with a douzaine oeufs. So, we now know where the chicken came from and realise it was just on a day jaunt. So in this instance the chicken came before the egg (sorry) but it has confirmed how lovely our neighbours are here.
Which has got me thinking about our neighbours at the antique and vintage fairs we attend. At Newark I share a large Marquee with 3 lovely dealers, Liz and Jack van Hasselt (thewasherwoman.blogspot.com), Maud Lomberg (Beyond France) and Alan Bradbury, and our tent is now known as the Textile Tent. Myself, Liz and Alan have done the same at Shepton Mallet, and Liz and Maud stand together at Ardingly. I also have lovely, friendly people around me in the shopping arcades. So whilst it is wonderful to have local neighbours who are kind and generous, it’s also helpful to share all the woes and triumphs in a work space and have great neighbours there too.
Another 2 events under my belt. February was always going to be busy, first with Newark and then Ardingly, but I hadn’t counted on the wet British weather. Newark was windy but it didn’t deter lots of lovely customers and although I didn’t get out and about very much, there were plenty of callers to our Marquee. I sold a lovely antique French quilt to a lady from the RSC which is to be used in a production of Henry IV.
Ardingly was a bit of a damp ordeal as we weren’t in our usual place due to the ground being heavily water logged. Stilll, a big thank you to all those who came and found us and put up with the truly terrible rain and mud. I know you can pay vast sums of money to have it slathered over your body and face to ‘improve it’ but splattered from the front wheels of the van as it is towed off the wet ground by a large tractor is not ideal.
I am rethinking all the events I do, especially the ones in the winter months. I am considering going to Shepton Mallet in March, but am keeping an eye on the weather forecasts before booking anything, so please check again for details nearer the time.
When we moved permanently to France last summer, I thought the winters here would be cold and crisp and so we had a lovely wood burner installed. Phillipe, a local farmer, was asked to deliver 4 steres (cubic metres) of wood which he duly did on the back of a flatbed truck. Unfortunately he tipped the whole amount at the top of our garden, in front of the car, which meant we had to move all the wood before we could get out. Yes, that’s approximately 4 tonnes of wood, all cut into pieces to fit into our burner. It took us hours and hours and eventually I had to stop as I couldn’t straighten properly. After a restorative glass of whiskey, and a lot of swearing, the rest of it was stored into one of our barns. We are steadily going down this massive pile of logs, but it’s not been that cold and snowy, just wet and windy. Still, the odd sunny day reminds me that spring is just around the corner and that I really must think about planting our garden. I am really just a city girl feeling out of her depth in the countryside here, but hopefully I will get some help from a friendly local. That is, once the rain has stopped.