This is the season of long evenings and long drinks with neighbours and their chums. Having survived quite a few liver-bashing sessions recently, I was a tad apprehensive when Jean-Marc and Elizabeth rang up yesterday to invite me to a Sunday lunchtime barbie with friends and family. Cadged a lift there with Isabelle and Christian but, somewhat confusingly, we drove straight past Jean-Marc's house and eventually stopped at a clearing about a mile up the road.
I've driven past this clearing quite often recently (it's on our route to Limoges airport) and know it to be where Jean-Marc had plans to build a lake - presumably a little one for fishing. Never been much to look at, just fleeting glimpses of felled trees and dug out rocks. However, as the three of us parked up, I was amazed to see water where there had previously been earth. And a most impressive sight it was too.
Joined the gang of about twenty (24 including dogs) at a couple of shady tables in a distant corner of the lake and began a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon of noshing, nattering, boozing, boating, swimming (in knickers - I hadn't been briefed!) and generarally having a rather jolly time. Didn't really understand most of the nattering (I rarely do!) but was quite surprised to discover that Elizabeth's sister was married to Jean-Marc's brother. Two sisters married to two brothers!
At around 5ish, I was half-expecting everyone to start packing up and preparing to hit the homeward trail, but, in typically French fashion, more grub and booze suddenly appeared. Lunchtime was long gone and, as the evening shadows started lengthening and sweaters were donned, suppertime had begun. More sizzling sausages, more barbied meaty bits wrapped in foil, more rice and veg, more of everything, only this time with cakes and puds. Still beats me how these Frenchies manage to eat so much. And drink so much! By this time I'd given in and hit the beers and water. Christian too. But, there again, he was driving.
Eventually packed up at about 8ish and began loading Jean-Marc's lorry with chairs, tables, bottles, unfinished grub and the big, portable, gas-fired barbie. Hopped into Christian's 4x4, drove down to Jean-Marc's, helped unload the stuff, thanked them for a wonderful afternoon, hopped back into the 4x4 and arrived back home at about 9ish feeling very full and clutching damp knickers.
Rang up Georgie who said it had been raining back in Blighty. But, on a brighter note, a GB cyclist had won the silver medal in the women's olympic cycle race. Well done! And Georgie had apparently stood in the pouring rain while watching them whizz past the bottom of her Putney road en-route to the finishing line in The Mall. Made me feel a bit guilty about having sunburn.
3 days ago