We are back in Blighty now and gradually acclimatising to city life once again. Let us fill you in on how the last day of the residency went, which was of course the day of the big Petanque tournament.
They weren’t going to hold the village petanque in Sacy-le-Petit this year, it seems the game is in a gradual decline all over France. So we took it upon ourselves to organise it for them, since we like a bit of a get-together. Now, we were not sure how this was going to go down, whether anyone would actually show up at all, it was all a bit of a risk. So it was with trepidation that we went over to the village hall early to set up.
We loaded up a trestle table full of the booze and Brucey started to draw up an extremely complicated score chart. Then we sat waiting nervously for players to arrive. The 1.30pm sign up time came and went, and we got the fear and started laying into the Rose Pamplemousse. Then, at about 1.55pm, people began to appear with their boules under their arms. Then more, then more, until we had queues of people and had to add more rows to our score chart. 18 teams! More than last year! Some even came from over 50km away!
And then we were off. The sun was shining, the Petanquers were getting nicely drunk, there was a lot of measuring and ruminating on who’s balls were closest (or something) and things seem to be going well. Then Brucey admitted he might have made a bit of a faux pas with the draws, meaning some teams would end up playing each other again over the 5 games. Much number head-fuckery later, and after consulting various incomprehensible websites, we were back on track. Major crisis averted. Well done Brucey!
The Petanquers were ordering beers and kirs and downing them in one. Some of them started to get VERY sloshed. They were telling us how beautiful we were, and singing to us (that’s how sloshed they were). And they were still playing. In fact, it seemed to go on and on and on. Five games took 5 hours! 5 solid hours of Petanque and hard drinking! We almost ran out of booze. Thankfully we had a bottle of Ricard on hand to give each player a celebratory drink when they finished. Although this did seem to send them over the edge. By the time of the prize-giving they were well and truly plastered. One of them even gave Julie a piggy back! The trophies went down well, including the hand-crafted wooden spoon monstrosity, and it was time for a group photo, to chants of ‘Sacy! Sacy!’ and much cheering and hat throwing. If they haven’t erected a statue to us by the time we are back in July we will be bitterly disappointed.
Back at the Chateau, exhausted but exhilarated, Hermine said she was going to cook us dinner in her kitchen. We say dinner, it was just asparagus. A LOT of asparagus. One supposes you have to make the most of when it’s in season. Hermine sat us all down and flustered around the cooker with everyone assuming the crash position. Then, hysterically flailing, she exclaimed “Get out my way, I’m doing something very dangerous!” and rushed round us with a humongous saucepan with steam erupting from it and upended it in the sink. “Zorry for the fuss, but no one has ever cooked this much asparagus in ‘istory! I am suffering for you!” Then she basically force fed us, laying on a guilt trip if you said you might have had enough. Julie ate the sauce even though she is allergic to eggs. She would rather have a allergic reaction than face a scornful Hermine. Dessert was rhubarb cake, with stewed rhubarb. The stewed rhubarb was rather on the tart side and it was a real effort to force it down while still smiling. Then we were told “That concludes the entertainment for this evening” and we were dismissed. What a fantastic end to a fantastic trip.
The next morning we stuffed everything into the car, including Bruce and Hermine, and headed for Calais. Hermine had brought along 6 fragrant hard boiled eggs for the journey, which we expect Hugo had to eat when she got in. The journey was slightly quiet, as we gradually left the countryside (and the past) behind and headed to the London and the future.
Bruce had been amazing and we think he had enjoyed himself. Well, he said he could dine out on the experience for weeks, which we are sure amounts to the same thing. Indeed we felt the same, packing away our posh clothes that we had brought for an imagined chateau life that didn’t exist. Next time we will know what to pack and what to expect, but we’re sure the culture shock will still be there.
Apparently there are four distinct phases to culture shock: honeymoon, frustration, adjustment, and mastery. We think we had only got to the adjustment stage, so maybe when we return in July we can get to be masters of Chateau de Sacy.
We are now experiencing reverse culture shock (we can’t stand the telly, and miss the garden) which we have read can be even harder to get over. Wish us luck adapting back to our lives in the modern world.
We will be back with the blog in July. In the meantime, keep in touch on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. www.henrybragg.com
PS Rose Pamplemousse tastes awful in England.