We've just completed two back to back art courses here with amazing tutor Nicola Slattery (who will be back in 2012 so watch this space). What better way to unwind than to attend a bikers party at our new neighbours farm. Our neighbours love motor bikes and their friends seem to be, for the most part, Hell's Angels (or at least lookalikes) but we had our invitation and we wanted to welcome them properly to this special part of the world. We took along friends who are visiting from the UK (safety in numbers) and as we strolled the half mile down the road, bikes roared past reminiscent of early shots in The Rocky Horror Show.
A nicer bunch of people you couldn't hope to meet. As the evening wore on more and more people wanted to try out their English on us and we were soon making friends left, right and centre. Pit Bull, a 'non standard' Harley rider from the Alsace, regaled us with tales of derring do which often concluded with the phrase 'kiss my wheel'. As the hostess fretted about the lack of salad, Mark turned to me and whispered that everyone seemed to be doing very well thank you, on the great platters of meat that weighed down the trestle tables.
Then the gauntlet was thrown down, a challenge - England v France, cherry stone spitting. well, I know I shouldn't get involved but I find it almost impossible to resist a challenge. To the utter dismay of my friend we stepped up to the mark and popped the first of our cherries into our mouths. A platter had been set about 4ft away and the aim was to land your pip on target. The first round saw everyone spitting wide. Round three saw me hit my rhythm and my pip landed smack in the middle of the plate before bouncing out agai. Valerie, a petite biker from Alsace saw her chance and landed a pip on point. Pipped at the post, I felt gutted but offered my congratulations before heading for home.
We needed to be up early the next day to check out the chickens at louhans market. Mark has built the best chicken house in the world and now the search for it's lucky inhabitants begins. Confronted by thousands of feathered friends, hundreds of breeders and hoards of crowds, we felt quite overwhelmed. I was distracted by the rabbits and goats and by a stall with a variety of animals, all in miniature. We soon got into the swing of asking about egg production, laying life expectancy, food and preferred conditions and found we agreed on what makes a good looking chicken. we've narrowed our list of potential new family members down to 6 breeds and will make our final selection in August.