February flew by faster than Jim Shea at the Winter Olympics. Still we managed to get a lot done, checking off item after item on our boat improvement/maintenance to do list. We enjoyed the company of new and old friends. There has been a great group of boaters here in Roanne this winter, and there was never a dull moment.
Early in February we got together with our oldest American friends here in France. We met in early 2000 when we all bought boats from the same broker at the same time. Buying a boat can be a somewhat traumatic experience, and we all held hands and helped each other through. Ardente is moored here in Roanne this winter, but with the Canal du Centre closing early last September, Allez les Bleu, who planned to winter here, had to stay in St. Jean de Losne. They came to visit by car instead, and we brought out the party hats and horns and did a take two on New Year's Eve.
The Super Bowl brought our American friends together for another party. We could have watched the game late on Sunday night, as it was broadcast live here in France at midnight. Instead, since the Niners were not playing, we decided to catch the first rerun on Monday at 10am. We were careful not to listen to the news that morning as we didn't want to hear who won. We settled into our comfy chairs in front of the television, watched the game and enjoyed a Champagne brunch. The game was broadcast as if we were sitting in the stands in New Orleans. There were no commercial breaks, and the half time show was included. Great game, great day.
We have enjoyed watching American football this year thanks to our Canal Plus satellite subscription. The commentary of the games is in French with lots of Oh la la la las! Formidables! and the occasional Oh Bébé! The Monday Night Football game and one other NFL game are shown each week. During the colder days of winter, football and cable movies have kept us happily entertained.
Next on the busy Roanne port social schedule was Chandeleur, a new event for us. We had never heard of it before, but our English friends said that it is similar to Pancake Day in England. Martine from the Café Santa Monica, the official port hangout, which is just across from our barge, invited everyone from the port to come to the café on a Saturday afternoon for some pancake flipping. This is a French tradition, a week or so before lent, where you flip a crêpe while holding a piece of gold in your other hand. Tradition says that if you successfully catch the crêpe you will be blessed with a good year financially. Martine made the crêpes, explained what to do and everyone lined up to take a turn flipping. Judging from some of the catches, some of our friends are going to have to go on a budget this year. After lots of laughs, we all sat down to plates piled high with Martine's delicious crêpes.
Our Port Mardi Gras party at the Café was tamer than most Mardi Gras parties around the world, but it was celebrated with the same enthusiasm. Everyone wore masks and even the dogs were invited. The fun really began when Otila brought out a bag of the little item that we like best about French parties, the pea shooter. Little colored Styrofoam balls were soon flying through the air and bouncing off of party hats as everyone perfected their pea shooting techniques. Not only did the kids turn out to be the best shots, but they were great at collecting the balls from under the tables to send them on their second and third trip toward your hat.
On the second Friday of the month, we all head over to the café for lunch. Our port lunches are getting bigger and more popular as more people are coming back to their boats after going home for the winter and everyone makes sure to sign up during Happy Hour on the Wednesday before. Martine and Otila always prepare something to please everyone, and there is never a shortage of wine. Lunch lasts about 3 hours and is followed by games, boules if the weather permits. We are working on Charades, but with all of us coming from different countries the book, movie and song titles are a bit challenging. Our February lunch was on such a beautiful day that after our boules match no one wanted to go inside, so we joined the parade of French port strollers and took a walk around the port.
Now that all of our winter improvements have been completed and there are no more parties scheduled for awhile, it is time for a break, so we are going to pack up the car and head south for our spring vacation. Toby is already waiting in the car, smiling, just thinking of the fun that we are going to have.