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THE AULD ALLIANCE


cats on the fire but now only herbs. I have staying in my chambre d’hôtes ex-army Anglais


The O


10 Juin Mon cher Angus,


ur village is planning the fête de St Jean for midsum- mer on 24th – we dance around a large feu de joie with brave hommes jumping over it – long ago they threw


– Major et Mme Stanton – he wear trousers the colour of sang de boeuf, and are here to sign the Acte de Vente for the house they buy in the next village, but when he tells me ‘I am trained to kill...’ I wonder if he is friends with Messieurs Frazeur et Molokai at La Pouche. Mme Toulon, the femme de chambre, says there is a gun in the drawer of the buffet at La P. Les Stantons took me to a very dur BBQ Sunday lunch at a très beau petit château of their friends full with price- less meubles and more men in red pantalons. I feel I am arrivé in a colonial outpost where the expatriés drink for La Grande Bretagne... while eating enorme amounts of meat – la cuisine is made by the host who likes to put on the tablier – pinafore? – for this occupation. Here is very sleepy, sunny and slow after all the activ-


ité. The sunflowers are coming out, the lavender bushes are veiled in papillons and I wish to be-comme a lizard in the ombre. So it is good to just sit in the auvent, watching them plant melons in the field below the road and hear the huge water arroseurs lazily throwing great arch of water over the maize fields – ‘pouf... pouf...’ ils chante. A tomate, with oil and basilic on croûte is the parfait lunch


d’été, my courgettes have the first open fleur this maitin and I will soon mix breadcrumbs, lemon zest, garlic and éshalot sauté in butter, combiner with parsley and egg then farci into the fleur and fry en pâte tempura. Si délicieuse.


Amitié, Claudine


A correspondence between a French cook and a Scottish gardener WORDS SUKI URQUHART ILLUSTRATIONS BOB DEWAR


alliance Midsummer Day Dear Claudine, I


lit a huge bonfire last night and ran around it sunwise in celebration of the summer solstice on 21st, to pay homage to Baldur the Sun God of Light and to annoy my


evangelical neighbour. He of course is being historic, being hysteric, as there are records of early Presbyterian Ministers having trouble suppressing pagan fires. The lushness of June is almost immoral; you wonder how those Ministers coped with the sheer sensuality of nature and understand why the Solstice celebrations erupted into Baccinalian excess, maypole dancing and the like. I have been rootling around in the local library and the mother and toddler playgroups and


having got past


the computer games, I found a section with books in and borrowed one called The Auld Alliance. Did you know that since the original treaty between our countries in the 13th century, Scots were automatically citizens of France until 1903? I also discovered that in 1292, Alexander III’s wine merchants,


in Bordeaux, kidnapped the Bishop of St


Andrew’s to get King A to pay his outstanding wine bill. Your Mr Frazeur from the Highlands sounds as fishy as our Murray Fraser from Tralochie, who did a runner to France. More details are emerging about his strange habit


of putting on a frock and walking down Ardbeath high street of a Saturday. The police were up at the castle introducing the special fraud squad to poor Iona Fraser who is at her wits’ end – says where will she live if they confiscate the castle. You talk about the heat and having to water, but here


it’s the opposite. Recent prolonged rain has vandalised my garden. Blooms sag and sigh and go brown at the edges like dress trains trailed in the mud. Salad leaves become smeared and splashed and, along with early fruit, have a watery taste. Scotland can be a heart-breaking place to grow things - you wait all year for June and then it rains.


Regards, Angus 162 WWW.SCOTTISHFIELD.CO.UK


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