Saturday, December 3, 2011

Verneuil sur Avre, day six

Market day in town (it's Saturday). We wanted to stay and share the fun. So did about eight hours straight of rain. Oh well, can't complain. We have had a dream run to this point. The bells rang out as usual. This time, I was equal to them, and got up with them. It is still dark here at 7.30am (which might explain our sleeping issues - or perhaps we are just deep in the zone of not working). We messed around at home for a bit, and left the house at about ten to check out the market. Zelda and Niccolo discovered puddles almost immediately and were wet within seconds. The rest of us got wet incrementally. For such a wet day, the market was thriving. It was the Marche de Noel so I guess it was supposed to be a big deal. And it is clearly taken seriously by the locals (thick with elderly ladies and men and trolleys and umbrellas and hard bargains being done). Myles and I took the plunge on cheese. We bought a chevre (goat's cheese) that was grey with ash (couldn't ask the vendor why). He asked us (I think) if we wanted a wet cheese or a semi dry cheese. We went with the semi dry (demi sec? anyone?). Then we bought a neufchatel (from lait cru, very exciting). I always thought that neufchatel was more a cream cheese, but this was like a brie. The vendor here sold bread that was as large as a small bed. He carved off pieces as requested. As we did. Good bread too, a bit like sour dough (which we don't know how to ask for). Then we bought two roast chickens, a big plate of paella, and Paris wandered off into the market and bought himself two flannel shirts.
Many of the vendors sold just one thing - apples, oysters - but took it very seriously. And many, many varieties. We didn't buy any apples. We haven't had any luck with them. Not one crunchy apple since we have been here. Disappointing. I'm still keen to try some oysters but fear I will buy some and then find no way to open them. That would be sad.
We had also run out of butter, bread and dessert (the three major food groups for the children). The our 'local' boulangerie was empty for a wonder (the marche??) and the woman stood their patiently while we made fools of ourselves in front of the dessert cabinet. This time, we bought a whole tart. And lots of bread.
Lunch, we went a little French, was huge and a feast. I thought the children might explode. I thought I might. The goat's cheese was goaty, goaty, goaty. I could hear the goat baaing on my bread. But it you spread it very thin, and included some butter, it was really very good. The neufchatel oozed immediately onto the board and was so delicious, it was barely credible. Paris ate close to a whole baguette and most of the butter. The chicken was yum. And the tart. Holy hell. It makes me want to learn how to make good pastry.
Then the kids discovered a board game called The Game of Life. It is really just an enticement into capitalism (Payday! Buy an house! Have a midlife crisis! Retire!) but they got right into it. I had a game with them. Not surprisingly, I had a midlife crisis and changed from being a travel agent (see how true to life the game is?) to being an athelete (so realistic). Zelda was an artist on $20,000, Paris a doctor on $90,000 and Niccolo a rockstar on $80,000 (this was all quite random by the way). The object of the game is to get round the board in your car (it is American) accumulating spouses, children, houses, stocks, and so on until you retire. Then you add up what you have earned and bought, and the person with the most (big surprise) is the winner. Guess who won? To give Paris his credit, when Zelda was struggling to pay her taxes, he paid them for her, and helped her out on a house. (This was not in the rules, or part of the game. Being nice got you nothing.)
I didn't play the next few rounds, but they did. With bells on. Myles didn't chime in at all. Surprisingly perhaps.
We walked in the afternoon when we thought the rain might have abated. It hadn't, but too bad. Around the town in the rain (crazy tourists) looking at the little houses and the big houses, and the Christmas lights and the domestic lights. An old lady had her window wide open gazing at the rain and we waved to her. We watched the moat rise around us. We took a wrong turn. We were very wet when we returned.
Time to strip off, get under a warm rug and drink hot tea. Watch films (Best in Show, laughed like a drain).
Tomorrow we are headed deep into the Loire Valley (rain or shine) to see some chateaux. Proper chateaux that are open. Three hours in the car. The kids are stoked.

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