March, spring didn’t spring, we had our first snow and a whole raft of bureaucracy.
Still, the month got off to a good start when our nephew Warren, with his girlfriend, Nicola, arrived for a week at the gite at Montlaville.
We kept them supplied with wood for the wood-burner to keep them warm and ensured they were also well fed.
The big event was the village elections (held every six years) when the whole commune vote for the new administration. What a fiasco!! A list is published with the names of all those standing – we need eleven people on the council. All of the existing members were on the list but you can cross out names of those you don’t want and add names of your own. After two votes (the first one was undecided so we all had to turn out the following Sunday to vote for the final member of the team) all I can say is that a lot of underhand dealings and skulduggery have been taking place. The existing mayor was pretty useless, he had all his speeches and paperwork done by his assistant, Patrick, and had no interest whatsoever in promoting Chardonnay as a ‘must visit’ village. He, like a fair proportion of the village, just wanted to lead their small, sleepy lives with no regard for the future. It has to be said that the average age of the population is well above that of retirement and the ‘younger’ generation is in the minority.
The ‘younger’ generation therefore devised a ‘cunning plan’ to influence the elections. But at the end of the day, it wasn’t quite ‘cunning’ enough! True, the results eliminated ‘Mont St Michel’ as he is known (because of his size), the village spy who prowled the village checking everyone’s gardens to make sure that their leeks had not grown to such a size as to impede the sunlight in the garden next door or that somebody’s newly installed windows were not better than his. Whenever we went to the mairie you could be sure to meet him on the way asking how you were and what you were doing!! The best bit from the results was that the existing mayor was in seventh place on the list and therefore not ‘theoretically’ in the running to be mayor again. The biggest surprise was that somebody gave Nick a vote!!
After the second round of voting they finally had eleven people including four new ‘younger’ more outgoing members. The Friday following they all met at the mairie to decide the pecking order. The problem then arose that the four new members did not have enough voting power and it was decided to elect Gilbert as mayor again!! Then came the post of deputy mayor for which Patrick was the obvious candidate. However, Francoise insisted that as she had polled the most votes in the election, she should be deputy!! She was duly elected deputy and it became apparent that the old regime was coming out on top. Patrick did not even make 4th deputy and therefore resigned from the council. Who was to do the paperwork and treasury. They voted for Fabienne, one of the new members. She declined the role and resigned from the council, and then Max considered that with those left he could not fulfil a useful role as all that was left was the old guard, so he resigned as well.
Chardonnay is back in the dark ages and whilst they will ensure that all the communal gardens will be beautifully planted and our dustbins are regularly emptied, the website and planned festivals to promote the village will be placed on the ‘back-burner’.
However, Patrick has a solution. Every village in the area, excepting Chardonnay of course, has its clubs and associations for boules, hunting, drama and music, and festivals and events. So Patrick and Fabienne have founded ‘Living Chardonnay’, an association to organise events and promote the village. The first meeting is soon, to be held here of course and we are very keen to be involved. Expect a Chardonnay wine festival, an open air music and dance evening, a boules tournament etc etc.
We celebrated St Patrick’s Day on the 15th and served a traditional Irish menu with lots of Guinness and Mike Todd kindly brought along his guitar and tin whistle and we sang lots of traditional songs.
Then the following week Nick had to go on a three day course to learn how to run a bar, a mandatory requirement for all liquor licence holders, that costs 700€. We had bookings for lunch so our friend Jenny kindly agreed to come over and help Becca on the Monday and Wednesday (we are shut Tuesday) and nobody noticed Nick wasn’t there!! The course went well although nothing new was learnt and we got the certificate needed to satisfy the authorities.
Howard and Hazel arrived for a week in their house at Champvent, Dick and Elli came to their house in Plottes for a long weekend to do some gardening (unfortunately the weather wasn’t very kind) and Peter and Barbara left the UK after the winter and returned ‘home’ to France for the summer. They all very graciously found space in their cars to re-provision us with all those little things that are so necessary in life and you can’t buy in France, like English beer for the bar, plain chocolate digestive biscuits for Sophie (and us too), jelly, Branston pickle, baked beans, kidney beans in chilli sauce etc. Our grateful thanks to them all. But how can one serve roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (as requested one Sunday) without horseradish sauce!!
The golden girls, Chanel and Chablis, are growing like mad. We’ve had them now for five weeks and they have settled in very well.They are becoming very adept at gardening. pulled up all the weeds in the rear courtyard, dug a few holes here and there after, under their supervision, I had trimmed and retrained the wisteria we planted last year that grows along the back wall, they decided to re-do it themselves and all we have left is two small twigs sticking out of the ground. Hopefully it will grow again.
With spring in the air, you cannot walk in the vines without disturbing a hare or two and to watch them ‘boxing’ early in the morning is wonderful. So, with the expression ‘mad as a March hare’ this month’s recipe is ‘Rable de lapin a la Bourguignonne’ or ‘Saddle of Rabbit Burgundy style’.