Last Sunday was one of those golden days that's good from start to finish. The sun shone, the Pyrenees were as sharply defined as a cardboard cutout and the trees on the road to Pamiers are beginning to show their autumn colours.
The reason for going there, as it always is on a Sunday, was to prowl around the flea market. Out last visit was several weeks ago and I always maintain that the karma builds up the longer you leave it.
Sure enough, we were hardly in the square when Peter spotted the base of an old treadle sewing machine. We measured it--these days I never go anywhere without a tape measure in my handbag--and saw that it was exactly the right size to fit at the end of the island in the kitchen. The big dining table feels a little too big for the two of us sometimes. Besides, recently it's been covered with papers, projects and various other stuff.
The base was priced at 40 euros. We offered 30 and the deal was done. Later, after crèmes, pains aux raisins, and an hour's browsing, we lugged the sewing machine base along the street to the car park and shoehorned it into the trunk of the Clio.
Back home, we found that the chunk of butcher's block that's been following us around for years was exactly the right size for the table top. Its grunginess disappeared under vigorous sand-papering and a coat of oil has turned it the same golden-brown as the cabinetry.
Last Sunday's other highlight was
Mirepoix's Apple Festival was the highlight of last weekend, the umpteenth one we've been to. Each year, there's a different theme. We've had boats, planes and, in 2009, it was music's turn. Hence the "pom, pom, pom" line on festival posters.
As always pommes were everywhere, , green, yellow, red, russet, streaked, strung from the 13th century beams, displayed in shop windows and, at their most magnificent, secured individually to wire bases to create giant bongos, guitar, pan pipes and musical notes.
We milled around in the sunshine, deciding whethger the tarte sold at that stall was better than the one sold at this stall, and admiring the Corvette-red shine of the toffee apples.
A group of men pressed apples in an old press to make the freshest possible juice. Musicians played old French songs. It was all quite splendid with the sun beating down and the outdoor cafés packed to bursting. We left with three kilos of apples, and a pie.
If you're wondering what happens to all those thousands and thousands of apples (each one attached by hand by volunteers) they're taken down and given to the Red Cross and to food banks.