When the band was invited to a “soirée” at Arboucave I must have missed something in the conversation. I knew we weren’t taking instruments, but should turn up with some food to share and that only three of us were available, but I had no idea it was a karaoke evening, complete with a very high quality sound system.

There weren’t many people, about twenty, but what the event lacked in numbers was very much made up for in enthusiasm and friendliness, with people really throwing themselves into everything they sang. All the singers had good voices, but especially a young guy called Alex, who made every song he sang sound effortlessly beautiful. The variety of music was impressive too, from country and western to heavy metal, pop rock and even a bit of Italian opera thrown in.

There was so much food! Everyone must have brought enough for 10 people! We tucked into crisps, nuts, olives etc for the apéro, followed by quiches, all sorts of salads, mountains of bread, cold meats and cheeses. Most of the desserts were untouched, there were so many, even though people had two or three pieces each, but we all took home the remains of what we’d brought

I was quite happy just to listen and to chat with Jean Michel and Jean Marc from the band, as I didn’t know anyone else, but as we finished eating, Alex came over to ask if I knew any Irish songs; the first one that came to mind was “the rocky road to Dublin”, which is difficult to sing as it rolls along at a good pace and has very few breathing spaces. Suddenly a microphone was thrust into my hand and the lyrics appeared on the screen. I have never sung it so fast! It was difficult even to get my tongue around the words and by the finish I was quite short of breath, so fast was the rhythm! But they all seemed to enjoy it. I did a few more songs later on, “chasing cars” and “zombie” among them, as well as “sweet dreams” and “knockin’ on heaven’s door” with Jean Michel. I suspect they were only just getting warmed up by the time I left just after 11. I had over an hour’s drive home and didn’t want to be too late.

I now use Google maps to get anywhere I don’t know, which was the case last night; the way to Arboucave was fine, dual carriageway , then reasonably big, straightish roads, but google thought it’d have a laugh on my way home and took me along all the smallest, twistiest, country roads, through lots of tiny villages; I was counting on the last 25km being dual carriageway, but that didn’t happen. An hour to get there, but nearly an hour and a half home – thanks Google!