A beautiful sunny sky welcomed my Saturday morning & I was up bright and early to go shopping for my wife’s birthday BBQ on Sunday. Plans had been made for a run around the village shops & then a godforsaken trip to Tesco’s. On checking the website’s ‘Whats On Diary’ I spotted there was a ‘French Market’ in Christchurch. My wife was still in her blissful beauty sleep (takes a little bit more time these days) & she was unaware I now had a new plan. As she awoke from her slumbers, she stumbled bleary eyed into the lounge. I was sitting in a blue & white striped top with nonchalantly placed beret, reading an old copy of ‘Le Figaro’. I greeted her with a cheery ‘bonjour madame’. It is always hard to hear anything she mumbles before her second morning cup of tea, but she did manage a brief ‘idiot’ in my direction.
Whilst my wife reconstructed herself for the day, I sat reminiscing of 2007 & the time we emigrated to Deauville in France. It all came flooding back; my fluent pigeon French, our beachside home, friends visiting & of course the food markets. During our time in France I considered applying for French residency & a French passport. My wife insisted that I could not do this, as we hadn’t actually emigrated, but just had an extravagant six week holiday.
My wife then appeared resplendent in a new summer outfit from her magic wardrobe that contains ‘nothing to wear’, mumbling that she had decided to join me on my market trip. ‘Ah, that’s nice, you want us to go together’. ‘Not really’ she explained, ‘The last time you went to a French market you came back with some unidentifiable fish, some goose gizzards & a book in French neither of us could read’. On the way over to Christchurch my wife was still in the grunting phase before normal conversation had been rediscovered from the second cup of tea kicking in. This did not however prevent a number of large ‘tuts’ relating to my driving. I commented that I could not understand how I used to drive up to 30,000 miles a year without her help, but from the blow I received to my arm I think she felt I was being sarcastic. As I awaited further driving instructions, I mused as to why the French do not have their own words for things like ‘au pair’, ‘saboteur’ or ‘eclair? My wife looked at me & simply said; ‘vous êtes un imbécile’, which I believe means ‘You are so clever’.
The French market was worth the effort, although small, it was perfectly formed. First stop was the cheese stall. As we tasted the cheese offered for ‘degustation’ I chatted in French to the stallholder, but he did not appear to fully understand me. I guessed that it must have been the ‘Northern French brogue’ I had acquired. My wife thought it was more likely because I made most of the words up & just added a silly accent. I hate to admit it, but she may be right. So I decided to just shout. After purchasing our French cheeses, we then enjoyed the aroma & colourful displays from the stalls overflowing with fresh fruit, olives, meats & pates, there were also large ‘paella style’ pans offering hot garlic prawns & other Gallic concoctions. The hot crepes stall looked irresistible as my wife dragged me past, saying ‘oh no, you don’t want one of those’. I think it is wonderful how she always knows what I don’t want, when I actually think I do. Le Boulanger had a great trailer with three fully active bread ovens baking baguettes, loaves and croissants. My wife then imposed yet another ban, as I was instructed that ‘we don’t want any cakes from the Patisserie stall’. Blimey, she’d done it again, I thought I did want some, but somehow she knew I really thought that I didn’t. By now I was getting slightly distressed as to who knew better what I wanted, & that she was winning. My wife then amazed me by deciding she wanted to buy some loose Breton biscuits. It was quite painful watching her putting occasional single biscuits in a bag, so I showed her how to do it properly by adding lots of biscuits by the handful. I think it ended up a little more expensive than she had imagined. Before we left, my wife ‘needed’ to buy some shoes. (To go with the other few hundred pairs she already has.) I considered saying ‘you don’t want any shoes’, but I knew I would lose that one before I even started. ‘Wait here & don’t move’ I was instructed. Of course, as soon as she entered the shop I immediately disappeared. As she returned from her ‘essential shoe mission’ I was exactly where I had been instructed to stay, but it did not go unnoticed that I was just enjoying the last mouthful of a tasty hot crepe.
Before returning to the village to get our BBQ steaks, sausages, and some extra stuff, I was informed that we had to pop into Sainsbury’s to get some bits we couldn’t get in the village. Oh no, I hate supermarket shopping. After patiently following my wife around some strange aisles, I got my customary chastising for wanting to take a bit of time looking at the different wines. Then, wine unread, we went to the till. I have to be honest supermarket shopping is one of my least favourite activities, but what is worse is queuing at the till, what is even worse is getting out of crowded supermarket car parks. The particular Sainsbury’s were we in had decided to have their car park designed by a Hungarian of the name of Erno Rubik, & he had managed to make it even more complicated to escape than his cube. Lucky it wasn’t really hot, - oh yes it was!
On returning home our lunch took us back to our life in Deauville, as we tucked into a fresh baguette, creamy goat’s cheese, ripe camembert & Normandy brie. I thought a glass or two of Dows vintage port would be a perfect accompaniment. ‘You will be asleep by 3pm’ my wife advised. ‘Not me’ I said. To round off a perfect lunch I settled to watch the afternoon’s World Cup match. I was delighted to be awake at 3pm for the kick off, but I did miss the second half though!