Sunday, July 31, 2011
Diplomatic skills and the world garlic champion .
The start of the weekend garlic festival in the little market town . Wilf joins me, bright and early, on the croissant run . Although it's barely seven the square outside the cafe is already bustling . In the market hall a huge vat of garlic is boiling away in readiness for lunch , the stalls are doing a brisk trade selling garlic strands to Dutch tourists and a pipe band is somewhat incongruously practising for the noontime ' Garlic Queen ' parade . The highlight of the day, this year as every year , will be an attempt to break the world record for garlic peeling .The record stands at 26.5 kilos in 30 minutes .
On the way back we're followed down the drive by a white van with a large cartoon chipmunk brandishing a power saw painted on its side . It's the tree surgeon that I phoned after the April storms. He looks at the oak branch dangling menacingly above the barn and says out loud ' that's not good. You want to get that fixed '. I bite my tongue while thinking of a wide variety of responses that a less diplomatic individual might come out with . He clambers up the tree with all the agility of a monkey , examines the offending branch , and then shimmies effortlessly down again . ' I wouldn't park the cars there if another storm comes along ' . With that he's off down the drive promising to come back in November to remove the offending branch . Progress, of sorts .
Another white van arrives shortly thereafter . It's Audes friend from the womens cooperative with her cement mixer , crew cut and dungarees . She glowers , stubs out her cigarette and gruffly informs me that she's come to regrout the terrace walls. . Today , she's wearing a tee shirt that says ' You've just got lucky ' printed in large capital letters across the front . For the second time that morning I employ my diplomatic skills and remain silent .
Wilf sensibly ignores all this activity and settles down for his post-breakfast , pre-lunch, doze. Ever the optimist , experience tells him that it's better to ' count the garden by the flowers , never by the leaves that fall ' .