It's safe to say that the last six months have been mad and we really can't believe that it's been half a year already. We have been pretty excited about the prospect of spending Christmas here and although we will be missing family and friends, we are hoping it will still be special with just the four of us, particularly as it's been a long journey to get here.
Personally ( and I think I speak for most of us) , getting the house all Christmassy has helped us feel a bit more at home . Getting to know the locals has also been an integral part and they really have given us a warm welcome. So, as it's Christmas we decided it gave us the perfect opportunity to say thank you to everyone in the form of a party!
We started the task with enthusiasm making the invitations and writing out the details for the invite... and here arose our first issue. Although our French has improved considerably there are still quite a few issues with direct translations and it took a while to work out a phrase in the correct order so that it said "we were looking forward to seeing everyone " rather than "we looking forward to watching people"!We also had to resolve the issue of timing, wondering when was the best time to hold Aperitifs for a largely farming based community. Once we decided on this and after considerable discussion, the invites were ready and we set off armed with glittered envelopes and a realisation that they were perhaps a 'bit much' , especially when we had to hand deliver these to some of the farmers whilst they were at work. We also realised that although we knew approximately where everyone lived and presuming it would be obvious when we got there...it turned out it wasn't! So, the process took a little longer than expected and was only achieved thanks to our close neighbour giving us further directions and also posting some of our behalf. The hand delivering also encountered a few hazards including lots of miscommunication about who was invited ( it turns out that family doesn't just mean children ) oh and Jim tripping and tipping over a cat litter tray on entering a neighbours house!
Once we finally recovered from this..which took a while, we set about thinking about decorations. The beauty of our new home and something I really appreciate is the fact that we can happen upon old bits of wood, tree stumps and even old oak barrels without having to leave the site.
On finding the barrels we decided these would make great tables and would just take a bit of cleaning and decoration to be ready for the party. So, as the days were dry, bright and crisp it meant we could easily spend some time outside collecting foliage and cleaning everything up. After many of my foliage missions I would return to find Jim having an awkward conversation with one of the locals who had dropped by mainly to ask us what they should bring or to try and persuade us to take our fermenting Eau de Vie to the distiller so it was ready for the party! We soon started to worry that mulled wine and mince pies were not going to cut it and also that we might have the whole of the Espinas commune turning up. Our only plan B was to get Charl and Marcus to bring back some sausage rolls from their trip to the UK. This really was turning into a classy party!!!
Still we persevered and after a heavy week leading up to the soirée and after baking 200 or so homemade mince pies, decorating our lean-to with lots of foliage and fairy lights, collecting 25 litres of local wine and making some wood burners from salvaged items on site...we were ready to roll. The party was due to kick off at 5.30pm and hearing that the French usually turn up on the dot, we feared the worse at 6.00pm when none of our French neighbours had arrived. We had no choice but to start on the mulled wine and resigned ourselves to a heavy night of getting through a lot of mulled wine and punch and wondering that maybe we had done something wrong. But then, as the evening drew on, slowly but surely family by family the locals arrived, only late due to feeding the cows!
And what a great night it turned out to be... plenty of chatter and banter, communication mishaps, housewarming gifts, food and of course some vintage Eau de Vie . So, all in all, the evening was a success and we went to bed happy and content (and a bit drunk ) safely knowing that we had finally been able to say a proper thank you and return the hospitality to those who had made it all a bit easier.
So, with Christmas fast approaching, the house decorated, and the wood burners on we are ready to crack open the Egg Nog and celebrate our first 6 crazy months...
Wishing a Joyeux Noël to everyone, from all of us here at As Plos.