Samantha David is a freelance journalist and writes for various publications including BBC Online, the Sunday Times, the FT, Living France, everything France, and France Magazine

Samantha David, writer

The Secret Cevennes - articles by Samantha David

 

 

DIY Fever

I quite like making and mending for Christmas. It feels olde tyme and festive. There’s a certain peace that comes with sitting round the kitchen table being creative with the kids, the cats purring beside the Aga, the dog in her basket, dinner simmering... all that romantic countryside stuff.

We’ve been making pomanders this year. Oranges studded with cloves and tied up with ribbon so they can be hung up to dry out and scent the house. (Top tip for these is make the holes with a toothpick so you can push the cloves in more easily.) We’re keeping some of them, but the rest are destined for presents along with various bits of ever-so-slightly grubby child embroidery and some wonky chocolates which didn’t quite set but which are apparently “yumptious”.

The Christmas card factory is in full swing too, which means every carpet in the house is full of glitter. But it’s all going to have to stop this weekend, because Posting Deadlines are upon us and if the Darlings back in the UK are to receive these offerings before January, the parcels will have to be dispatched prontissimo.

This is good though, because from now until New Year life will be increasingly hectic. The boys from the Mairie have already put the Christmas lights up in the village, but the church has to be decorated and the creche with its newly repainted santons has to be installed, and we have to put the tree up in the village hall. Then there’s the carol concert on the 17th, followed by the Christmas market, the village lotto, the puppet show for the children, the oldies’ Christmas Dinner, and the New Year’s Eve bash.

All these projects - from the tree deorating to the New Year’s Eve bash - have been undertaken by various village associations. The trouble, in a depopulated little place like this, is that most associations consist of only one or two people who rely on everyone else to help out. So in the end everyone does everything; it’s just that different people organise things.

And needless to say the budget is usual Sweet Fanny Adams, so every time there’s an event out come the poster paints and the hammers. Again. If we aren’t making and mending at home, we’re doing it in the village hall and because one thing leads to another... (don’t even ask), I thought it would be fun to repaint the hallway.

Why did I think that? What on earth was in my tiny mind? Repainting the stair well, balancing on a series of wobbly ladders as an excited mob of kids rush to and fro scattering holly berries and trailing tinsel in their wake... this is utter madness.

Trouble is, now I’ve started I’ve got to finish. It looks so dreadful with all the old paint scraped off and the new stuff only half completed, I can’t abandon ship now. So fingers crossed I can get it done before Christmas Eve when various delightful relatives arrive...

Lumme. I’ll be glad when it’s all over and the kids go back to school so I can have a rest.

What’s more I have a feeling that the New Year’s Resolutions are going to contain “I will stop doing crafts, DIY or decorating.”

As usual.

Next column will be uploaded around New Year’s Day.

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