I find it incredible to think that we are already back in the BVI and found no time at all for writing this blog or updating the web site while we were in Sainte-Foy. However, it is a very good thing that we went. We were bullied by a belligerent bloody (British) builder from the time we arrived. When I wrote the last installment the morning after our arrival in Sainte-Foy I was heartened by what seemed to be progress. However, it was only an illusion. In the entire time that we were in France we saw the sum total of no more than 40 hours of work done collectively by the builder and electrician. Hardly what I would call conscientious work. Still, it seems that no matter where you go this breed of tradesmen are not exactly renowned for their integrity or reliability. Horrid generalisation, I know, particularly as I know how hard and diligently my step-father works (he’s a plumber).
Enough grousing! Graham and I worked hard painting walls, installing bathroom fittings, getting artwork framed and hung and all manner of other jobs. We have returned tired, but satisfied with the work that we did. The end result of our visit was that we accomplished getting the studio ready for rent and we wait only for the ground floor re-wiring and installation of the new shower to be done and the house will be completely ready. That the contractor thinks that it will take then another month to get that far is laughable, but such is life.
We finally had an opportunity to go round Sainte-Foy’s excellent Saturday market. There is a wonderful array of stalls with items as varied as one would expect – from live animals (rabbits and chickens) through to a roving vanilla seller who is very colourfully dressed (sadly, I wasn’t able to get a picture of him). The Perigord is famed for its strawberries and the aroma emanating from the stalls specialising in them is hard to describe in anything other than cliches – heady, enticing, evocative, mouth-watering……. yum! When they are really good you can smell them from about 2 metres away!
There are about half-a-dozen stalls selling oysters (and nothing but oysters) which made Graham supremely happy, particularly at 2 euro a dozen! A couple of stalls sell the full range of fish and shellfish too. There are many poultry producers in addition to the inevitable foie gras stalls (oh! do I love foie gras), and stalls selling fresh rotisserie-cooked chicken. One had what seemed to be whole small hams too, but we didn’t try them this time. I was a wimp when buying my free-range chicken and asked for it “sans tete”. There is a lady who sells nothing but paella from huge pans that must be nearly metre across. At the end of the day she has perhaps 4 “to-go” boxes left. This is just scratching the surface as there are easily 100 stalls in the market, possibly more.
It is fascinating to watch the market break down, which it does promptly and with what might be described as “ruthless” efficiency. I know from my days of running an annual flea market just how much work is entailed in setting up and dismantling a stall. However, with the right kit it is clearly much easier, though I’m not sure that I would want to work that hard each week.
All-in-all it was a good 2 weeks and we’re very glad that we went. Truth be told, we really didn’t want to leave. Sainte-Foy really has become home for us, which is wonderful. While the work on the house appears to be near completion there still being a huge amount to be done – we must now set our noses to the grindstone and study our French so that we can communicate with our neighbours in the manner that we would choose to (sans dictionaire). Still, we will be back there again in 3 months, which is something very much to be looked forward to.