By the time Wilf and I ventured out at six thirty the village was already a hive of activity. The first of the pottery stalls were being put up on the village green while over by the petanque court Madame Bay and the ladies of the catering committee were overseeing the laying out of the lunch tables. Their long suffering beret sporting spouses waved at us as we headed off along the lane. A little further on the mayor and his deputy were erecting a rather official looking 'road closed' sign to divert the traffic. While we chatted Wilf took the opportunity to let any visiting dogs know that this was his freshly christened territory.
At ten thirty the village bells peeled out for the first time in decades summoning villagers and visitors to the church for a special potters mass. The little old village church hasn't had a priest for more than fifty years but for this special occasion the 87 year old retired Abbe from the next village was called upon to officiate. He cut quite a figure in his green and white vestments. Mass over, the bells peeled out again and the ageing Abbe was helped ( half pushed , half pulled ) into the farmers rather splendid 1913 Chenil-Walcker to be driven the fifty metres from the church door to the kiln. 'It belonged to my great-grandfather' the farmer told me, stroking the front wing with pride. The first car to be registered in the village and still in working order today. These country folk don't waste much.
Here in this part of France the locals speak Occitane - an ancient mix of Spanish, French and Catalan. To our surprise the mass and the blessing of the kiln were conducted in this impenetrable sing-song language, full of glottal stops and clashing syballants. The old Abbe ended the blessing of the kiln with the words : ' On the day that God gets bored the moon will shine all day, ewes will leave their lambs and fired pots return to clay'. God certainly wasn't bored yesterday. The sun shone out in cloudless sky, the kiln spewed out smoke and cinders, the Abbe had a restorative glass (large) of armagnac, the villagers enthusiastically joined him and Wilf slept happy and content on the front door step. I'm glad this little place with its characters is part of our journey through life.