Haring around to find Easter chocolate treats

IN my Toulousain apartment with street views (immediate) and ceilings (high), I have taken the first steps into the world of evening entertaining.

The other night I invited a few chums - a lad called Jens, he’s a German, a Scottish girl called Charlotte, a Britisher called James and a French lady called Stephanie who speaks French ever so well, for a few drinks and nibbles.

Unable to cook and unsure I could satisfy the palates of such an international crowd, I served cheese and red wine and easy things like that.

LIFE is full of strange condundrums.

And I don’t mind telling you that the older I get the more confusing I find the world.

Why, for example, does no one ever admit they are a bad driver?

Why is it so many talented footballers seem unable to string a sentence together?

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Where do big people buy clothes in France?

Why do teachers think it acceptable to take days off when it snows?

Why is the the moment the seat belt signs go off on an aeroplane everyone suddenly has to get up?

And why, dear readers, does the rather unusual wig shop at the end of my road turn into a bar a night?

It is a mystery that has puzzled me for some time. By day it is an ordinary retail outlet selling toupees and extensions, by night a Toulousain hot spot. You couldn’t imagine a more lively syrup shop. There’s music and dancing and they smoke inside.

I have asked my neighbour, Michel - he’s a boy not a girl despite his name, and another neighbour called Anne-Marie, she’s a girl from New Zealand, who has noticed the same phenomenon and they don’t know either.

What’s puzzling you? Do drop me a line at marstonjames@hotmail.com.

LIVING life here in France isn’t all croissants and camembert I can tell you.

The unbelievable administration, the dogs everywhere, the graffiti, the snails, there are a few things that annoy me about France.

But living abroad is always an interesting experience and pastry-wise you can’t fault France.

This weekend another French delight has also come to my attention - chocolate.

It seems that what with Easter and everything, everyone wants it.

As a topic chocolate is taken seriously, and I have found myself in more than one discussion about where to buy the best chocolate, where to avoid, what is traditional and what is not.

Someone even mentioned that here in France the bells of Rome are somehow involved and magic their way around western Europe with eggs.

Rather intrigued by this snippet of information, I was determined to find out more.

In the local newspaper Le D�p�che, which translates as The Dispatch or something like that, I found the answer.

According to Le D�p�che, which did a whole feature called Easter: Traditions and Flavours, Easter is a Christian celebration in origin and the bells send themselves out from Rome to hide eggs in gardens.

The article went on “For traditionally, and without doubt since the 7th century, churches silenced their bells on the Thursday before Easter as a sign of the forthcoming crucifixion of Jesus. They didn’t start ringing them again until the Sunday to announced the joy of the resurrection of Christ.”

The article went on to say that “the bells of Rome make their way round the country leaving eggs for children, except in the east of France where they do things differently.”

And in Spain, Germany and Anglo-Saxon countries - and by Anglo-Saxon they mean Britain - “it is not bells that transport eggs but the hare of Easter and children wait for hares.”

Unable to find a hare at short notice and unwilling to go through the administration necessary to let the bells of Rome know I am a resident of France, I had to settle for a bunch of daffs and bar of Milka.

*James’ Mailbag:-

DEAR Readers,

This week one of my regular correspondents, a theatrical lady called Brenda, dropped me a line to tell me she managed to pick up some Toulousain delicacies in Trimley.

I was most impressed.

If you’d like to drop me a line feel free at marstonjames@hotmail.com


Hi James!

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed Eastertime! I shall be arranging flowers at church which is very enjoyable.

Thought you would be interested to know that we went to Goslings then The Sausage Shop in Trimley yesterday and bought - A Toulouse, bacon and mozzarella flan!!

Haven’t sampled it yet!

Love from Brenda x

SO far I have managed to rent a flat here in Toulouse, buy furniture, set up a life, and just about make myself understood in French. Indeed I can understand most conversations.

But I know there is always room for improvement when it comes to learning languages so I went along to French lesson number one this week.

The teacher, I can’t remember her name, started by discussing the passive tense - one which I don’t often hear in speech but tend to find written in books and newspaper articles. Anyway, it’s one of those things you need to know.

Me and a Spanish lad called Fernando, who I found almost impossible to understand because of his Spanish accent, discussed what happens when you’re a victim of crime and have to go to the police station.

Handy to know I suppose though as you might expect of France it means a lot of paperwork.

I WAS most interested to read this week that Princes William and Harry might be Suffolk-bound.

As regular readers will know I always support the Royals, however badly behaved they are, and I rather like the idea of them moving to Wattisham to fly helicopters.

If they do make it here I wonder if there might be an opening for a couple of celebrity night clubs in Stowmarket?