The fishing season starts with a bang here in our village, I provided the whimper later in the day for reasons that will become clear to the reader after the following few paragraphs.
In Champagnac-La-Riviere there is a local angling club who have what has to be the best idea for the opening of the 1st category rivers and lakes. Essentially this involves starting fishing at sunrise on the 12th March, which incidentally this year gave a high of –2 degrees at that hour, one hours fishing then off to the bar.
Now I enjoy the odd few glasses of the local grapejuice, but not normally at this hour. However with fingers like Captain Scotts and a nose akin to Rudolph, I was grateful for the glass of white wine with cassis waiting at the bar for me. Warm handshakes all round and a quick check on catches (mostly blanks, myself included) and a second glass is “obligatoire”, quickly followed by a third. The warming effect of this beverage, it has to be said, is excellent. It also has the added advantage of allowing the part of the brain which is responsible for talking in a foreign language to function more easily, although not necessarily correctly.
A table for twelve had been laid in the bar, the last supper sprang immediately to mind.
All of the food in our local bar is cooked on site, no radiation roasts here. Our first course was the most delicious French onion soup with garlic bread and although the red wine was served in glasses, it is also applied liberally to the soup too. I do not usually eat a lot for breakfast, or drink alcohol, so kept telling myself it was lunchtime as a huge steak and equally large bowl of chips arrived on the table. Custom dictates that you must drink red wine with the main course. Quelle surprise!! It is now a little after ten o’clock in the morning and my liver is expecting overtime pay. Cheese and salad followed the main course, and yes………a glass of red wine or two, just to accompany the cheese really. Trying to eat, drink and speak french with my lips partially numb and an inane smile on my face was a challenge.
Normally, I was told, we would fish again for an hour or so before returning to the bar for aperitifs, however as the outside temperature was still a balmy zero degrees the breakfast ran into lunchtime. Un Pastis ou un café? I took the sensible option. “Un grand café noir, s’il vous plait, merci.’ I said with a whimper before strolling home for a good long lie down.
- Tony Scott, Fly Fishing in France
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