It’s New Year’s Eve and where I live in the middle of nowhere, rural Pas de Calais, northern France, it’s fairly quiet for most of the day.
Actually it feels just like a normal working day – the shops are open, the post lady delivers the post as normal, the bread lady arrived on time, the dustmen came, a typical day.
Except when I go to the boulangerie…
One of my six cats, ‘Enry Cooper, had hurt his leg so I popped to the vets, en route I dropped rubbish off at the tip and did a quick shop at the supermarket. On the way home I pass a charming boulangerie/patisserie so I thought I’d nip in and get a nice French baguette.
And that’s when it was clear that this was not a day like any other.
The shop was rammed out with my neighbours and friends. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a long queue and when I walked in I had to kiss three people. I know, I’m British and it’s very unnatural – we are not a touchy-feely race and it’s taken me ages to get used to it. This time of the year when colds and flu bugs are going around I find it even odder but there you go, these things have to be done. Kiss kiss, kiss kiss, kiss kiss, that’s Marie-Therese, Claudine and Jean-Pierre done. Of course they had to kiss the lady serving and everyone else they know. While this was happening Aurelian and Claire came in kiss kiss, kiss kiss – okay, I think you know what I mean. All this kissing just means the queue doesn’t get shorter, we all just squash a bit more in the shop as customers arrive. Everyone’s kissing and talking and just passing the time of day and I’m thinking that Enry Cooper is in the car and will probably poo in his box by the time I get out.
“Shall I have the Paris Brest or the Religeuse” muses Marie-Therese. Everyone joins in with what’s their favourite, what they’d choose and I’m thinking just bloody pick one and move on, I need to release Enry Cooper from his cat box or I will pay for it.
Eventually I get up to the counter and the cakes look really fantastic today as I say to Madame behind the counter.
She frowns and I manage to stutter in my not brilliant French “They are always fantastic but today they are formidable”.
The lines in her face relax and she leans forward to tell me that the patissier has worked hard to make us, his customers happy.
So, despite one of my New Year’s resolutions being to say “no” to cakes a bit more I ended up buying one which I staggered to the car with because there are no small cakes in the shop, only big ones (okay that might not be true and that is why I have to try to say no more often).
And now, I have a giant profiterole cake to eat before midnight, washed down with a bottle of Champagne. I will attempt to dance off the calories at the Town Hall and the annual party where they will play “Come on Barbie Let’s Go Party” at least three times before we all flake out New Year’s Eve French style (at least where I live) and go home to start the new year.
Where ever you are, however you spend it, I wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Joyous New Year,
Bisous from France