Friday, 3 August 2007

Flash Dance

Thursday, market day again.The stalls from the morning market have been cleared away and there's not so much as a lettuce leaf left on the bleached limestone of the now deserted Square. Soon the afternoon torpor sets in; the air is heavy with hardly a rustle of the leaves in the plane trees; there is just the sound of scraping chairs as the waiters in the restaurants tidy up. The shops shut for the lunchtime siesta. Where all was bustle, now it's quiet, drowsy.

In the heat of the afternoon, a few persistent tourists make the slow trek up the hill past our house to the Square to marvel at the medieval architecture. Cameras click and try to capture the history of the place in mega pixels when really it's written in every large stone, every massive Gothic arch. Shuttered windows with pretty flower boxes full of orange geraniums look down on the Square, while the swallows twitter in their nests under the huge beams which hold up the arcades. In the shaded cafes, couples linger over chilled beer and a family crowds a table top with Orangina bottles like so many skittles.

At around six in the evening though, as a little gentle wind starts to take the fierceness out of the day's warmth, the pace quickens. White vans appear and disgorge tables, chairs and a PA system. Smaller rustic vans arrive and local producers set up their stalls around the edge of the Square for tonight is the Night Market.

Soon there is a steady stream of people heading up to the Square, just as the sun is setting, the last few golden rays visible at the end of the alley which runs at right angles to our road. The western sky fades from pale blue to lightest gold, apricot to lavender as the far dark clouds reflect the last of the light. As darkness falls, there must now be a hungry crowd of about two hundred visitors, walking round the displays, tasting and testing.

It's a brilliant concept. The local farmers and vegetable growers provide the dishes, all ready to eat. Choose from grilled organic lamb, tartiflette, a potato dish with onion and salmon, kebabs made from local beef, pate de foie or pizza with country ham or goats' cheese. The nearby vineyards are represented too; taste before taking a few bottles back to your place at the big communal tables. Dessert is a delicious tarte aux pommes with a nippy eau de vie de pruneaux on the side. The children love the Nutella crepes, chocolate smeared round their mouths. Everyone is satisfied with the bargain.The guests get a memorable meal, in a wonderful setting at a reasonable price direct from the producers; they in their turn, get a wider appreciation of the quality of their home grown specialities.

In the corner, on the steps which form a little stage, a great 3-piece band belts out some good old rock and roll classics. The pretty lead singer is excellent, sounds a bit like Shakira ,while my elder son eyes the electric guitar with longing in his heart. The lady behind the huge paella pan is boogieing away, having a ball, and three little girls are making up a dance routine under the arch of the Black Prince's Tower. I get up to dance too and my boys are terminally embarrassed but I don't care. Revenge for tantrums in Sainsbury's! A couple of elderly village matrons, on their usual nightly stroll, shake their heads and move away to quieter parts.

It's getting late now as families with toddlers, finally asleep in their pushchairs, drift away. Dads carry exhausted little ones, soft pudgy arms wrapped round big strong shoulders. Older children, wired on Coke and sugar, dance and skip down the hill to their waiting cars. The music stops at eleven o'clock and even the teenagers stop comparing mobile phones and move on.

We take a detour to see the glow worms again on the dark side of the hill, little tiny green flashlights in the long grass and a magical end to the evening.

14 comments:

sally's chateau said...

Lovely the way that all generations can enjoy night out, ha, sweet revenge for tantrums in Sainsburys !

Crystal Jigsaw said...

A beautifully descriptive blog. Really enjoyed reading it. Especially the paragraph about food!

Crystal xx

Faith said...

Oh Patsy that was gorgeous. I would love to go. Never seen glow-worms and would love to see them too.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

That was beautiful Patsy ...would love to see glow worms.

Suffolkmum said...

Fabulous. Wish I was there, it sounds magical. Food made my mouth water - what are you and Sally doing to me!! Love the revenge for the tantrums.

Elizabethd said...

Love the night markets, such fun and a completely different feel to the daytime ones.

bradan said...

What a wonderful description, really makes me want to be there!

FunkyMunky said...

I'm sure I'll embarrass my daughter in similar fashion when she's older. I might just have to borrow your quote as my reason for not caring if she squirms!

Beautifully descriptive blog. I really enjoyed reading it.

The Country Craft Angel said...

You transported me there with you...how lovely.

I love to visit the fair at night-has the same effect.

warm wishes

@themill said...

Oh, how I wish I was there! I can see it, smell it.
Love the glow worms. Like walking amongst fairy lights.

patsy said...

Thank you all for your interest, glad I've been able to share it with you.
I shall reserve a big table for us all next Thursday and we can dance and gossip into the wee small hours!

Pondside said...

What lovely blogs, Patsy. I've just caught up and wish I could be wherever that market town is! We have fireflies here at night, but absolutely NOTHING else that is described in your blog. At times like this (reading such a great descriptive blog) I look out at the woods and long for a little man-made history, music, exotic food and company!

Posie Rosie said...

Oh Patsy, you capture it so well, you know you are away when orangina is mentioned, the kids love it. Fab blog. Posie.

elizabethm said...

sounds magic. know just what you mean about the sweet pleasure of embarrassing your children - could see even our twenty odd year odd getting faintly restive when we went to a music festival on our Newfoundland holiday and we got a bit enthusiastic. Don't cramp my style is what I say!