AUTUMN - Vendage
Gerard and Christophe gather in the harvest - with a little help.....
And then press the results with a little help from 'yours truly'...
Being France, of course, all this is followed by food 'en pleine aire' under a lovely spreading chestnut tree, and copious quantities of last years brew just to get us set up for the 'first pressing' during the afternoon. Meanwhile, Jackie & Julian, of course have promised to be elsewhere - two different places at the same time, actually. After the four course meal lasting several hours, and the first pressing of the grapes which involves them being put through what looks like an old mangle powered by a 1920's electric motor attached to an extremely dangerous looking exposed drive-belt, it's time to set off for the afternoon session (more of an evening session, actually).
The evening session comprises a trip to the local village, where, for the annual 'Festival du Patrimoine' (Heritage Festival), Julian has stupidly promised to take part in a painting exhibition - 10 local painters turn up at the cafe to paint the building from different vantage points, whilst being scrutinised by other customers and members of the public. JB's a bit worried by all this, as he hasn't touched a paint brush (except to decorate the house) since he was in Egypt several years ago! Anyway, all goes well, except of course that I turned up with only an hour of light left, and had to return the next day to finish things off. Following the work, all the paintings went on temporary exhibition in the cafe, and a jolly good time was had by all - except, that is, for the poor girl on the runaway horse and cart that went tearing off, totally out of control, down the hill throught the village, during the course of the festivities. Luckily the hapless animal was brought under control, and with a lot of hand waving and the customary shrugging of shoulders, everyone once more repared to the cafe to discuss events.

At this stage, I thought it was about time to return home and put my feet up after an exhausting day (note that I thought Jackie was already doing this). Just goes to show how wrong you can be! Forgetting that we are running a small 'hospitality' business, I return home to find that two guests have arrived unexpectedly, and Jackie is in the middle of preparing yet another four course meal, and making beds for the weary travellers. So the evening is spent playing 'Mien Host' to a couple of charming britishers on the inevitable property hunt, and sitting well into the next morning putting the world to rights.

Just time for an early start the next morning to collect some fresh breakfast from the local boulanger, and a trip, with the guests, to a local
bric-a-brac sale to pay perfectly good money for some more old bits and pieces that we never knew we wanted. All this rounded off a hectic 24 hours - and we never did get to the classic car race around the walls of the local medieval town! There's always next year, of course........

Just time to send a quick update on 'goings on in France'. As always, not much happens for a while, then everything happens on the same day - Saturday was a great example. Saturday, morning consisted of backbreaking activity crouching down between the neighbours vines harvesting the grapes in very hot sunshine. All the family were there, plus the inevitable assortments of dogs. A hard morning! All this is done in the traditional method (by hand), and loaded, as you can see from the pictures, onto his vintage 1960's tractor.
Vendage in the Charente