Market day

Soap 1A cup of tea and piece of my favourite fruit bread from the boulangerie in Vernoux.   Thursday morning is definitely the most fun you can have at our local town.   It’s market day.   The whole population from around the region pile in and buy fruit, veg, cheese, plants, meat, specialty deli delights. And gossip.

I bought three kilos of apricots from M. Bois, my favourite stall holder. He sells fruit and veg all year round.   And when you struggle in the depths of December and January in a wind tunnel around the old streets, you have to give him the custom.   His wife was working the fruit and veg as well, so it’s must have been a busy morning.   She uses pen and paper to add up so it’s a bit slow.   But no one minds as everyone gossips while they wait.

My cheese lady was there. But having a cup of coffee and a ‘papote’ with a girlfriend so I didn’t buy anything.   But dear M. and Madame Orisette were there in their usual stall outside their terrace house.   They are a lovely couple, and even though they have very little to offer – garlic, red currants, old apples, new potatoes in small quantities, it feels important to buy from them and get the news. I bought a dozen garlic (for Andrew) and asked after his apricot trees.   They survived the winter (just like the elderly couple) but aren’t as prolific as the year before so they had none to offer me, even though it was 1030am. Picnic area before

Partially strimmed picnic areaI usually go before nine in the morning, but I had to strim first thing today before the heat hit the mountain. I’m at work on the top terrace. I swear two verbascums shot up overnight. They had to be massacred, and I then started work on the new picnic area. I don’t have any other name for it yet, but it’s very promising. I’ll attack again later.

Annoyingly the pictures make it look very benign and fluffy.   But the grasses and weeds and brambles and such are above knee high in this area.

Next up was the boulangerie for pain au levain and the delicious fruit bread. It’s a dense loaf of dark chewy bread shot through with nuts and dried fruit.   They had done a roaring trade already, and there was only a three quarter loaf left for me.   But I took it gratefully and then went further down the main street (well, tiny lane) to buy soap and have a chat with Yvonne. Soap 2

That done (no need to go to the butcher’s as there are no guests in the house at the moment) I went to the garden centre.   Potting compost, local honey, 30 bottles of water (we are still on the spring water here which is fine for showering and bathing and cooking, but not for drinking. But luckily the French subsidise the sale of water so it’s very, very cheap), three bottles of local apple juice and beer.

Soap 3I’m only buying the beer for the bottles, honest. They are the perfect size for raspberry cordial and the new cherry syrup.

Then to the supermarket – a necessary evil – but only a quick dash. And it’s so fun to sashay past all the fruit and veg knowing I won’t be needing anything (bar bananas and lemons) for at least four months.   Or more if my potato and brassica crop is as bumper as it appears.

And that’s my morning. I didn’t take any photographs in town (one wouldn’t want to be taken for a tourist!) save for the soap vendor’s stall.   Sarah has put an order in for some soaps and I need her to persuse the colours and tell me which she wants.

Now I must chain myself to the kitchen and get things done. I’m poaching a dozen apricots in a cup of raspberry cordial right now for dessert tonight. But must make apricot jam. And blanch the kilos and kilos of broad beans and peas that are piling up all over the kitchen surfaces.   They then go into the deep freeze for later feasting. Soap 4