Posted by: kathandroger | January 26, 2011

Priorities…a la francaise

As mentioned in previous posts, we are both volunteers at the Restos du Coeur. It is an organisation with very clear structures, rules and roles – which is both good and bad, but mainly good. It does mean that there are various training days that have to be done and we were both summoned to Poitiers today for our “Mieux connaitre les Restos” training. Having seen the agenda we weren’t desperately enthusiastic, but I did a course there before Christmas and therefore knew that the lunches are well worth the trip. So that was my main line of argument to persuade Roger (who hates sitting down and paying attention for 10 minutes, let alone several hours!) to come with me. We felt a bit better about it when we woke up to find it was raining and looked as thought it would be set in all day, hence we would not miss out on our cycling afternoon.

Once there, things began as expected. We were very warmly welcomed along with our colleagues from Chatellerault and a small number of others. The start was scheduled for 9.30, but we’ve been in France long enough now to realise there was not a snowball in hells chance of that happening. By about 9.45 there was still lots of plugging in of cables and sucking of teeth around the laptop, projector and video player. By 10ish all was declared to be ready…and we were off! A quick intro and straight into a video. Only prob was that the aforementioned equipment would not play ball, so more teeth sucking ensued. Eventually poor old Jean-Francois, who seemed on the point of throwing the whole lot out of the window, looked around in desperation for help. Luckily we quickly diagnosed that he’d plugged the red lead in the yellow hole and vice versa…and we were off again – at 10.20! The next couple of hours meandered around, until some focus was brought to events around 12.20 with the realisation that lunch was arranged for 12.30. With extreme urgency – in great contrast to the previous 3 hours – several slide were dashed through and at 12.30 prompt up we got and headed next door for our dejeuner! It is important to bear in mind that we were in a warehouse, on an industrial estate. But that means nothing when it comes to lunch. Having held lots of meetings and training events in the UK in similar situations I know that we’d have had a few sanies, a pork pie or two and a bit of fruit if we were lucky. Today we started with a tasty potage, followed by a plateau of charcuterie, then pork chops with salsify (accompanied by a glass or two of red wine), next cheese, apricot tart and coffee. Now that’s what I call priorities!

It was, I’m afraid, all downhill from there! We did have a bit of an exchange (chat) for an hour or so, then it was over. One little anecdote did amuse us from the afternoon. Generally the food that is handed out is well-regulated and all comes from the central depot in Poitiers. A couple of years back, however, a lake close to Chatellerault was being emptied and the owner offered his several hundred carp to the Chatellerault centre. They were cleaned and laid out on a table in the middle of the room. There is a large African population which comes largely from Guinea, often quite large ladies in their colourful natural costume, frequently with babies tied to their backs and always pulling substantial shopping trolleys. They love fish! Apparently things went mad and all green beans and bags of pasta were refused that day in favour of carp. We were left with a wonderful image of the ladies trooping out, pulling trolleys overflowing with carp behind them. A little touch of a Guinean market in Chatellerault!


  1. As someone who runs training courses in the voluntary and charitable sector in the UK and also lives in France I thought this blog entry was truly hilarious. Well done, you captured it perfectly, I laughed out loud.

  2. Have you ever watch the show of the enfoirés to the TV ?
    Me I am a fan of Christophe Maé and you ?

    • Yes, we watched the enfoires on TV last year. I think they played in Montpellier the other night?
      We like Christophe Mae too, but prefer Jean-Jacques Goldman!

    • Bonsoir Marinette,
      Oui, nous aimons JJ Goldman, mais mon favori est Elvis Presley-est’ce que tu as lu de lui dans les livres d’histoire?
      Bises, Roger.

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