Ten years ago we were invited to Philippe’s fiftieth birthday party. It was an elaborate, all day affair with lots of food and merrymaking. We thought perhaps he had let his sixtieth birthday and retirement pass with just a quiet, family celebration until he caught Paul a few days ago and told him we were invited for some drinks at midday on Saturday. Just some drinks and nibbles I could cope with, the thought of a big party filled me with some trepidation.
“Oops, could be more than a few drinks,” said Paul, “I’ve just seen Philippe and Matthieu carrying a whole lamb on a spit towards the barbeque.”
At midday cars arrived from all directions and family and friends assembled in Philippe’s garden. We nervously approached and were instantly welcomed and gathered into the party. Tomas, the young boy who holidays here each year and loves to ride his bicycle, had flown from Lille to Toulouse by himself as a special surprise; he was so proud to be there. Tables and benches were all set up and the garden was awash with colourful balloons. Pastis or a grape skin aperitif and delicate pastries were handed round before we sat down to eat a lengthy meal of melon, ham, salad, terrine, lamb, haricots de Mamie Christiane (Philippe’s mum), cheeses and profiteroles. This was all accompanied by wines from the family’s vineyard. It was a happy and joyous occasion. Paul managed to get some snaps of the occasion from his 'phone, the quality isn't great but it gives you a flavour of the day.
|here comes lunch|
|Philippe and his brother Jean Michel removing the lamb from the spit|
|the elderly gentleman in the red shirt is Mister 'Mas, Philippe's dad|
|my knee is no longer hurting|
Philippe’s ‘posh’ brother from Paris made a long speech (I couldn’t follow it but there was a lot of emotion and Philippe cried) before he was presented with a special gift - a brand new shot gun.
|gift presentation and tower of profiteroles|
The meal finally ended at about 6.00 p.m. but the party continued until the early hours. Paul and I left early, staggering back home at about 7.00 p.m. to a rapturous welcome from Rick. It's unusually quiet in the hamlet today.