|Advent day 20, IPA beer and Cabernet-Syrah red wine|
Advent day twenty, Sunday 20th December 2020
|Père Noël visits the village|
Père Noël visits the village
We had a bit of excitement in the village today as Père Noël was in town. Normally he would hold a party in the village hall, or salle des fêtes, where his helpers would have laid the tables with decorations, chocolates, mugs of hot chocolate, glasses of orange juice and trays of pastries. The room would be filled with around forty children and their parents, and Christmas music would be the backdrop to excited chatter as they awaited the arrival of Père Noël. Once seated in his chair next to the Christmas tree, he’d hand out the presents stacked beside it. But not this year.
|One of Père Noël's helpers and her bike|
The presents were wrapped, his helpers were ready, but the village hall remained dark and closed. Not to be thwarted by Covid-19, Père Noël found himself a van, his helpers decorated it, filled it with the presents and plenty of Christmas chocolates, and he set off to hand deliver the gifts to the thirty-one under elevens in the village. We must have looked a cheery sight as our slow procession made its way around the village and hamlets, three of us on bikes, ringing our bells, followed by Père Noël and then a second car with a few more helpers and the sound system blasting out festive music. At each house we stopped at, happy faces peered out of windows as they awaited our arrival. Some of the younger ones might have been a little wary of the big man in red, but the excitement in the eyes of those old enough to understand was magical to watch. I may not be an over-the-top Christmas person, but even Covid-19 couldn’t stop me from being one of Père Noël’s helpers in the village again this year.
|Cathedral St Pierre, Poitiers|
France Trivia advent calendar, day twenty, Aliénor d’Aquitaine (1122-1204)
Living as we do in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, the name of Aliénor (or Eleanor) of Aquitaine, is one we stumble across quite regularly. Eleanor truly was a grande dame of the middle ages, who not only inherited the vast lands of the duchy of Aquitaine, which included the Poitou, Limousin and Gascony areas of south west France, but was also the queen consort of both France and England. Her first marriage was to Louis VII, who became king of France, but they separated when she was thirty as after fifteen years, she had yet to bear him a son. Her second husband was Henri Plantagenet, count of Anjou, duke of Normandy and future king (Henry II) of England. They married in Poitiers and the impressive cathedral, which is right outside Ed’s flat, was built at her request. During the next thirteen years she had eight children, including five sons, three of whom became kings. One of her sons was Richard the Lionheart. She died when she was eighty-two, which strikes me as a pretty great age to reach in the twelfth century.