Yesterday was my last kind-of-free day before the marking begins. I usually spend about three hours a day on marking, but that has always been in addition to my usual workload. It only lasts four weeks for the main body of marking, but then there’s additional marking which I usually do as well. For the exams earlier in the year, I did another three weeks on top. I think there is one question I really know inside out and I’m pretty sure by the end that I was one of the only people marking it, since all the other questions had finished and it was just this one left. I guess a lot of people had been stopped on that question.
Anyway, I took a couple of the ladies with me on a bit of an excursion. I’d got a couple of packs of Living left to deliver and so it was too nice a day to waste by not making a full day of it. Having picked the ladies up in Angoulême, we took the backroads through Ste Catherine and Marthon to Piégut Pluviers. I’d seen a fabric warehouse in Javerlhac that I wanted to stop at, but we were a bit pressed for time, so that will have to be another day out instead.
The main purpose for visiting Piégut (Pee-ay-goo, not Pie-gut..). and having discussed this at length in the car, hearing Sarah singing ‘Pee-ayyy-goo, Pee-ayy-goo’ to the tune of Pie Jesu has forever damaged it in my brain. I know every time I see the sign or think of that town, I’m going to hear Sarah singing ‘Pee-ay-goo’.
We were actually going to Sausageland, a British butchers in the town. They do British cuts of meat, like hams and thick slices of back bacon, which are just impossible to get in France, if not imported. The French like their pork, but you just cannot buy whole ham hocks to roast yourself. Upon hearing about the shop, one of the ladies’ sons thought we were going to some sausage-related theme park without him and he was very unhappy.
From Sausageland, it was time for lunch. There is no point trying to do anything in France that involves needing shops to be open at lunchtime, so we stopped at a Routiers. The Routiers are kind of transport cafés, but don’t let that put you off. They often serve good food at low costs and have huge queues. This one, in Reilhac, was off the beaten track – the road between Rochechouart and Nontron is not very busy at the best of times, but I saw a sign and seeing as it was 11.49 and we had no chance of getting to Rochechouart before 12, we decided to make the most of it. I know French restaurants are open between 12pm and 2pm, but that doesn’t mean you can go in and expect something to eat at 12.30. Oh no. That’s not how it works. 12.10, you might get a tut. 12.20, you’ll get a look and a tut. 12.30 and if they are not full, they might tell you they have no food left.
Anyway, this Routiers was on a little square with a church and a few tables outside. It wasn’t busy, but by the end there were five or six other people there. I don’t know where else you would find a four-course lunch for 11€. Tuna salad to start, pork and lentils for the main course, tartes aux fruits for desserts, cheese if we wanted it and then coffee. We could have had wine too for that price. Listening to old French songs, sitting in a bar with rows of pastis and Ricard 51, with the church bells ringing out each quarter-hour – that’s the French lifestyle I hope never changes. You either have to embrace that or go somewhere else.
It might not have been very busy, but the two guys running the place were very willing to come over and practise their English. They were quite surprised we could speak French, although I think they have certain expectations. When Rachel asked where the toilets were, the guy on the bar was convinced she was asking for an internet connection (toilet/internet??) – they obviously think we’re more in need of being branché (connected) than needing to wash up.
From there, it was time for a quick tour of Rochechouart (and more plans for another trip) and then on to La Brocante. I think the words Aladdin’s cave were mentioned several times. I love that place. It’s the glassware and jewellery for me. I’m not bothered about furniture and stuff, but little china tea-cups and saucers, wash jugs and bowls, glass lampshades, vases, shiny, sparkly things… they all get my attention. Unfortunately, it was a pit stop, not only because it was 29° and we had a car full of meat, but because I had lessons and there were various children to be picked up.
Anyway, it’ll be a good month before I’ve time to go out gallivanting but since my Mum has lent me her camera, I will be happy to get back snapping. It’s amazing how much my blog relies upon a camera. I look at things, want to take a picture and then think ‘that’ll be good to share’. Be thankful I didn’t take a picture of the builder’s bum Verity and I saw on Thursday, but be ready for an onslaught.