At 7.00 am yesterday, I peered outside and saw with horror a black cloud advancing with a rainbow silhouetted against it. With even greater horror, I heard growls of thunder and rain pattering on the leaves. Why was this cause for such dismay? Because yesterday marked our annual fundraising fête at la chapelle de Teysseroles and, after last year’s rotten weather, we had everything crossed for sunshine.
It was too late to put up the marquee we had borrowed last year. We had already set out the tables under the trees. With a sinking heart, I went indoors to break the news to the SF. Then, miraculously, the threatening clouds rolled back, the rain dried up and the thunder ceased. A rapid consultation of France Météo’s website showed fine weather all day up till the evening. It would be hot, too.
The site was already a hive of activity when we arrived. But, thanks to more effective forward planning this year, we accomplished everything before the worshippers turned up for the open-air mass. This was programmed at 10h30. They started to arrive at 09h35. Knowing that this is always the case, Annette, Jean-Claude and I were ready for them at the table d’accueil.
By virtue of speaking both French and English, I am now an annual fixture at that table. There’s always a bit of a scrum as people turn up at the same time. And there are invariably complications, like people wanting to pay for other people or not booking in advance. But you learn to handle it a bit better each year. We recruited a lot of new members for the association, too.
Once the mass was over, it was apéritif time and then the 200+ punters settled down to a good blow-out in our alfresco dining room. An innovation this year was to allocate servers to tables instead of it being a free-for-all. This was much more efficient and meant that each table got consistent attention.
They feasted on melon, three different salads, grilled lamb and sausages, flageolet beans, green salad, cheese, fruit, cakes and tarts and coffee. All washed down with red, white or rosé and topped off with a digestif of vieille prune. As ever, we noticed that the French revellers drink far less than their British counterparts.
Another novelty was that we had given the man who did last year’s grillades the sack and did it ourselves. So that worked more efficiently, too, and we saved money. With four grills churning out meat, everyone was served in record time. Hats off to the stalwart barbecue-ers, who must have been done to a crisp themselves in the heat. And we even managed to cater for the handful of vegetarians this time – you don’t get that at most French fêtes.
One of the nicest things about our fête is that people entertain themselves. They take turns at the microphone to serenade the diners – with varying degrees of competence, but that doesn’t matter. The ambience is friendly and relaxed. Alan’s “tue le rat” game is always popular: the rats (furry toys) are posted down a drainpipe fixed at 45° to a step-ladder and people have to try to hit them with a baton as they emerge at the bottom. It’s fiendishly difficult.
Also on offer were a tombola and a plant stall. I was in charge of the latter, which, thanks to friends’ generosity, was a great success. We made €125 from that alone. Once we have reconciled the accounts, we hope the whole day will have raised several thousand towards our restoration fund.
A fête accomplie indeed.
For other posts about the work we are doing to restore the chapel, please click on ‘Teysseroles chapel’ under Topics in the sidebar. You might also like:
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