Today I had to get up early for a meeting at the bank. I was up ’til 3 am reading, so it was a bleary, weary Jenny who managed to get dressed and stagger into the car. Luckily Stef was driving. The bank manager was absent. She hadn’t told us. We showed up, but she wasn’t there. No biggie, I wasn’t feeling very cerebral, so I went off to buy fresh bread, paté and cheese in Houdan. Houdan is a lovely Medieval town with a Gothic church covered in scads of gargoyles, and one of the best bakeries in France. Cunningly called “La Flute de Chaud Pain” (flute is a baguette, and also an instrument- Chaud Pain (hot bread) is pronounced like the composer, Chopin, so it is a fun pun, and the baker was finalist in the show “France’s best baker” two years ago. 

First though, I went to the cheese shop. There are over 3,000 different types of cheese in France. And they have seasons – a bit like fruit. Right now, fresh cheeses such as mozzarella, feta, and such are in season. Also in season are the Camembert cheeses (also known as stinky cheese…) so I bought a feta and a Camembert. After I went to the charcutier shop, which is a French word for delicatessen, where you can buy cuts of meat, along with sausages, meat-pies, patés, roasted chickens and such. I bought a country paté there, sort of a home-made coarse pork and liver paté. Then I went to the Flute de Chaud Pain and got a baguette, a pain au chocolat (sort of a croissant wrapped around a chocolate bar) and a coffee.

I sat in the sun with my husband, and we had coffee while admiring the huge Gothic church – the church my daughter Julia was baptized in nearly 20 years ago. It seemed like ages ago, but the church, which was built in 1510 on the foundations of an even older church dating from the year one thousand, made me realize how tiny our lifespans are compared to history.  The gargoyles on the walls have been staring at the village square for nearly a thousand years. To make myself feel better, I went home and had the paté and cheese on the fresh bread – with my homemade lemonade and watermelon pickles. We might not live long, we can still live well!

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