We’ve been living in the Aveyron for fourteen months now and during this time we’ve discovered quite a few things about the department and the Aveyronnais people who live here. So exactly what myths have we heard from others? What have we discovered for ourselves? And how much of it all is true?
Apparently the Aveyronnais are France’s equivalent to Yorkshire people when it comes to money, or so we are told! There are lots of jokes about it and people say they will try to get anything for free! I don’t entirely agree, although there is often the mention of an ‘échange de services’ (an exchange of services) for favours and small jobs that you wouldn’t dream of asking money for. I think it is the Aveyron equivalent to our “I owe you one” but since we don’t have a bar in the village, in return for a friendly favour, you might expect to get some plants for your garden or some freshly pressed apple juice, for example. Fruit, nuts, herbs, eggs and cheese are widely appreciated and if you’re really lucky, an extremely old bottle of eau de vie probably tops the list. Of course, we don’t help people out in order to get something in return, but we have come to learn that should someone decide to return a favour to us, it is much easier to graciously accept the gesture than politely refuse it, and avoids any hurt feelings.
Pete finds it quite fitting that having grown up in Yorkshire, I chose the Aveyron to live, as I’m always bargain hunting and trying to get the best deals. I don’t consider frugality to be a negative characteristic of mine, I just find it amazing to be able to create something from practically nothing. It might be something as simple as a Christmas wreath from raw materials found in the garden or Pete’s creative furniture building from old pallets and off-cuts of wood, but there’s just something incredibly satisfying about Doing It Ourselves!
Another thing we’ve noticed about the Aveyronnais is that they are, more often than not, late! In fact, they are reknowned for it, and although you could argue that the majority of French people are pretty rubbish at time keeping, the difference here is the Aveyronnais have a genuine excuse for tardiness…le quart d’heure Aveyronnais! This amusing 15-minute rule means that as long as you mention it upon arrival, you can be fifteen minutes late for anything and still get away with it! It does mean, however, that we, being typically English and proud of our respectable timekeeping, are always the first to arrive for…well, everything!
You have to love the Aveyronnais for their love of food and drink. Typical hearty dishes include Tripoux (tripe, often served at breakfast time with copious amounts of alcohol!), Estofinado or Stockfish (a type of dried cod with potatoes, eggs, garlic and parsley), and my favourite, Aligot (a mixture of mashed potatoes and fresh Tome cheese, served usually with sausages).
Everywhere you look, there are hand-painted signs by the roadside (usually made from an old pallet covered in a black bag and painted in white or neon) promoting various events, such as ‘Quine’ (the French equivalent to Bingo), ‘Belotte’ card game competitions, vide greniers (car boot sales) and various ‘Repas’ (communal meals proposed by local organisations, such as the hunting club, PTA, senior citizens club…etc). The list is endless. Last year, we went to our first ‘Quine’ in the hope of winning half a pig…of course it’s not bingo as we know it in the UK. The prizes are generally local produce or gift vouchers. The locals really do seem to take their Quine seriously. Needless to say, it was a rather stressful evening for us with our two youngsters running around, crawling under tables and occasionally bumping into people, who were doing everything in their power to protect their precious bingo cards from being knocked. We might just give next year’s Quine a miss!
Back at Chez TêteBlanche, we have had to treat two of our hens with an anti-peck spray as they’re looking rather bald on their backs, and we have a third who is currently limping, possibly with a dislocated hip. We fear she may have fallen off her perch and landed awkwardly. We’re surveying her daily to check if she’s in any pain and to see if there’s any improvement in her condition, in the hope that we won’t have to kill her. If she stops laying completely, she is most likely unhappy and although I don’t like to say it, an unhappy chicken is only fit for the cooking pot!
We have made great progress with the polytunnel but rather than bombard you with hundreds of photos, I thought it would be easier to show you our efforts through a short video:
It is one more tick in the box for us, but we have much more work still to do:
– We need to make some side panels that can be opened to provide ventilation when it’s too hot.
– The inside needs to be marked out and the beds need digging.
– We need to incorporate some form of rainwater harvesting system near the entrance (to make watering easier)
– We need a potting station where we can work from, and some shelves for all our seed trays.
Oh, and let’s not forget the most important job of all…we have yet to sow all our seeds!!!
Presumably, that is my cue to get off this computer and get going on the garden!
A la prochaine…