Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas in South West France

Since my last blog there has been lots going on here in Sunny Auvillar. The weather has been extremely cold but so far little snow, just a light covering on a couple of occasions.

We have been doing lots here and after my return from Paris my friend came from the UK for a few days. We spent the weekend up at the local farm culling the last batch of ducks to make foie gras and preserving the meat in different ways, something completely unexpected for my friend and not speaking French at all she was slightly wary of. However, she need not have worried, the locals here are so friendly within one morning she had made friends and was part of the fold, so to speak! We were even invited to Sunday lunch and ate some of the labours of our hard work, although I must say we didn't really want to know what we were eating, but what ever it was, it tasted good with plenty of red wine! After a few days of laughing, crying and over indulging in food and alcohol my friend went home and I started preparations for Christmas.

The Christmas night market in Auvillar was a spectacle to behold. The grain market was adhorned in lights and the area was dotted with fresh Christmas trees, stall holders pitched under the arches around the market square, father Christmas was being followed by hoards of kids while he dished out handfulls of sweets to the expectant pleading faces and the smell of hot mulled wine filled the crisp night air. Although the products on sale were not my cup of tea, it was a great way to spend a cold winters evening.

My daughter Megan and my dad arrived on 17th December and just missed the chaos at the UK airports by arriving early in the morning. After lunch all airports were closed due to heavy snow fall and there were many unhappy travellers facing Christmas in an airport terminal.

To make things that little bit more Christmassy for us all here in France, mother nature tried her best or us and we a hard frost the next morning. I dashed outside before it all melted with my trusty camera to capture some of the beautiful scenery (see attached).

Christmas Eve was a new experience yet again for us and we were invited to the farm to participate in a French Christmas. I produced (as requested) some English style nibbles and took trays of homemade sausage rolls, mini toad in the holes, cheese straws and cheese scones that went down a storm. After nibbles we all went off to Donzac to the Mass at the Church and although I didn't understand alot of the service I got the general jist and it got me into the Christmas spirit.

On returning to the farm at 10pm festivities recommenced and 22 of us sat down to a fantastic homemade, but very professionally presented, Christmas banquet. First course was (of course) foie gras, second course was scallops and boudin (white sausage) in a lovely spicy sauce. We then had fresh king prawns and whelks, followed by roast Munjack deer with pureed sweet potatos and jersualem artichokes made into a souffle. There would have been desert, cheese and coffee too but as it was by this time 12.45am and the children were beyond tired, we just had Christmas yule log made with Chestnut sauce and skipped cheese and coffee. We arrived home at 1.30am, I suddenly realised, after too much food and alcohol that I had not wrapped all of the Christmas presents for the "big visit" the following morning and set to it, frantically removing price tickets and wrapping items with copious amounts of paper and sellotape. The end result was something of a car crash! but nevertheless everything was wrapped and placed infront of the fireplace with carrots, mince pies and a drink for the big man himself by 3am!

Christmas morning was a bit of a blur, but I put on a brave face for all concerned and after the squeels of joy from my youngest (which made the late night before all worth it) I made my way in my PJ's to the kitchen to start preparations for the Christmas lunch. Vegetables prepared and bird in the oven by 11.30am, I took time to get dressed and sort myself out, which takes a while these days! The table was layed and drinks were a plenty, and we waited.........and we waited................and we waited..............and we waited! Yep you guessed it the oven had gone on strike and was on a go slow, typical! We finally ate at 4.30pm! After retiring to the front room fat and digestive system struggling with the brussel sprout intake (need I say more!!) we all collapsed in front of the open fire whilst the kids played with their new toys. HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

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