Thursday, 7 June 2012

A Small Taste of France in a Very British Week

Well, Jubilee is over and some of you may be thinking 'Thank God!' (possibly The Queen), while others of you may be feeling sad, having enjoyed a superb celebration of all things Red, White and Blue.

Whichever way you lie, I thought now was perhaps the time to turn your thoughts across the Channel. I am ashamed to say that I have not been in our Green and Pleasant Land for the celebrations of our wondrous monarch. But before you shout 'Traitor!' and 'Off with her head!' I would like to point out that I am unashamedly a massive fan of the Queen and always have been. I think she is completely marvellous with an extraordinary work ethic and a superb sense of humour. It's just that when we booked the half term holiday months and months ago, we had not put two and two together with regard to it being Jubilee weekend. Indeed, I have been a little angst-ridden at taking my children away at such an historic moment in time, though I had a suspicion the weather would be better where we were going. Which it has been. Small consolation then. Still, we watched the boat parade on French telly and they were all waxing lyrical about how marvellous it was and how fabulous the British are at being stoic in all kinds of metereological adversity (the French would have long buggered off home for 'un petit tisane' to warm themselves up) and we sat around feeling Proud To Be British. No other country could have pulled off such pomp and circumstance as splendidly as us with so many cheering crowds and adoring subjects. There was briefly an interview with a slightly long-haired bloke with impeccable French complaining that the Monarchy was dead and anachronistic and wanting us to be a democratic republic like France. At which the French interviewers were quick to point out that their Presidents attempt to play the Monarchist and that the system really isn't all that democratic. I rest my case. Giscard D'Estaing and Sarkozy, or even De Gaulle, could never pull a crowd like Betty. And if you think of Kate and Wills still to come - and hopefully for a long reign - then I don't think the British Monarchy is going anywhere fast. In these grim times, it is the one thing that lifts the spirits and creates a sense of belonging and purpose amongst the people. It also attracts millions of tourists (and their money) on a daily basis. Now, that can't all be bad in times of deep spiritual and economic recession, can it?

However, I still feel a teensy weensy bit weary of all things Union Jack (despite sitting beneath my Union Jack bunting), so I thought this would be a good moment to remind you that our friends across the water (the French television presenters were very keen to keep pointing out the 'special relationship' that England and France have always enjoyed - albeit in a brotherly-sisterly bickering sort of way) have many excellent qualities and, indeed, excellent products to offer the jaded British palate. Indeed, as I write this, I am sitting outside at my long wooden trestle table covered in a very smart Artiga table cloth. A friend of mine in Gloucestershire has matching cushions which she precured on a visit here. But now you do not have to schlep down to South-West France to purchase such goodies (appealing as that might be) - no, you can sit in the kitchen or study at home, surrounded by your Union Jacks, Terry Wogan on the radio and the rain lashing against the windows and click around a fabulous new site called FrenchFoodWineAndMore. At which point, I hasten to add, this is not a sponsored post. I don't do those (no-one's asked me to!! - actually I lie, I was approached to do Tesco Home Insurance and such like and funnily enough it didn't appeal to me). So, this is just me telling you that there's something good out there that you may like to take a look at. It is run by an English friend of mine who has lived in France for over 25 years, so she knows what she's talking about. The products are top-notch quality made by 'artisan' companies in the Aquitaine region and you won't be finding them on the shelves at Morrisons, I can tell you. We are talking exclusive quality products here which would make fabulous gifts for your friends and family - or treats for yourself. Go on, you know you're worth it! Brighten up those dull English 'summer' days with some truly uplifting Artiga stripes (inspired by Basque traditions), or tickle your palate with some extra-special, beautifully packaged French delicacies washed down with a bottle of Bordeaux straight from the vineyard next time you attempt a picnic on the beach in Abersoch or Polzeath with a slice of Warburton's bread and a strong westerly...

Et voila! a little taste of French Food and Style brought to your door without the cost of the air fare. I am simply way too nice to you, aren't I? And please note, that if you are one of those people who like to touch, taste, smell and see, then FrenchFoodWineAndMore are making an appearance at the Brocklesby Estate Country Fair, near Grimsby, Lincolnshire, on 24th June 2012 and at the Revesby Country Fair, also in Lincolnshire, on 5th August 2012. So there you are, I have even sorted you out with an Anglo-French weekend away without the need for a passport - simply taste all that lovely French food and wine at the fair, and take your haul away in a super-stylish Artiga cloth bag (Cath Kidston is so yesterday!) which you can then swing effortlessly off your arm as you tuck in to some of the best cod and chips that the famous fishing port of Grimbsy can offer. Parfait, alors!
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