A Village Affair

Last weekend was the village fête here in Ste. Colombe. Now my experience of English village fêtes is limited; the only ones I’ve attended took place on washed-out Saturday afternoons with a few stalls of indifferent items probably destined for the dustbin after a couple of days; a bouncy castle for the kiddies with more sag than a sumo wrestler; a Z-list celeb and an assortment of sausage rolls, scones and sponge cakes provided by local worthies.

They do things a bit differently over here.

The fête started Friday night with a meal in the village hall. Take your own plate and cutlery and fill up on cassoulet accompanied by pitchers of wine. Animated French betting on which of the English present would be the first to get up and re-fill the pitcher took place and, I’m proud to say, my brother was first past the post. After the meal there was a dance and music which went on…and on…and on until around about 2.00am someone called time.

Saturday afternoon the fun started up again with a concert from the local choir and the Holme Valley choir who were on a visit from England. Great music, great fun and the delightful voices had no problem in drowning out the chatter from the impromptu bar set up outside the Foyer (village hall). Come the evening and there was the parade through all the village streets with tiny tots carrying lanterns marching in front of a small brass band – lots of oomph with the oom-pah.
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Once the circuit was completed we had yet another dance with another band shaking the foundations of this rickety old village. And the band played on…and on…and, well you get the picture. I finally fell by the wayside around 1.30. Others with more stamina saw it through to the end around 3.00am.

Sunday activities geared up with a hotly contested boule match, games and sports for the kiddies and yes, a third dance with a third band. All my neighbours turned out and we got ready to rumble. At midnight we all adjourned to the park where there was a fantastic firework display. A whole new galaxy was born as rockets shot green, red and gold starbursts out into the velvet black night sky. I finished the night at my neighbours’ house with Mikael the masseur and another guy (I hadn’t a clue who he was). We swapped rude words in French and English before toasting the dawn with chilled rosé and finished off with neighbour Sandra’s by now legendary café with calva (calvados).

Fortunately I had only to cross the road to go home but the house seemed to have moved so it took me a while to find it.

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2 thoughts on “A Village Affair

  1. Sounds like I’ve had better experiences of English fetes than you, but nothing close to your description. This would make a wonderful scene for a novel, reminds me of Far From The Madding Crowd, actually.

  2. I think i’m being a tad unfair but it’s true to say I’ve never enjoyed a village fete as much as this one. Next on the list is the “voisinade” on Thursday night, where everyone who lives on our street brings something to eat and they set the tables out down the street, close it off to traffic and we all have (I hope) a great time. Watch for the next post! Far From the Madding Crowd is one of my favourite Hardy novels – it evokes such a great sense of time and place and, despite the vicissitudes for Gabriel and Bathsheba has a relatively upbeat ending. Must read it again.Thanks for reminding me.

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