Shortly after we'd purchased the lake 'Mountain Man' turned up. He has a most alarming appearance - big bushy black beard, black stumps where his teeth should be....he looks like, well, like he lives rough on a mountain, part man, part grizzly, hence his name. He swept into the house in a haze of Gauloise and over a pint of Pastis advised us that we should now empty the lake. At first, I thought this was one of his hilarious 'blagues'. Why would you want to empty a lake? But it transpired that this was a common occurance round these parts. People empty their lake, sort out the fish, get rid of any nasty predators and then fill it up again. Our lake had not been emptied for many years, there was much talk of a great catfish lurking in the depths, and I suppose we were curious to see what we'd bought. MM would make all the necessary arrangements and a date was set. We were to provide a 'casse croute' for the men and lots of red wine. Bob and MM were to be in the vanguard and set off early in the morning to commence the emptying. Most lakes around here are manmade. There's a big dam with a pipe at the bottom which is covered. You remover the cover and the water is forced out - simple. MM heaved the cover away and Bob was on the other side waiting for the gush. Nothing happened. There was consternation from above, much banging and cursing, still no water. After a minute or two Bob heard some gurgling and then, POW! a Coypu shot out at huge velocity, followed by another and then a bolt of water. The poor things must have been living in the pipe quite happily until their watery world was turned upsidedown!
More men arrived and the fish were sorted into sizes, there was a high consumption of alcohol. I'd be lying if I said that alcohol has never passed my lips before noon (but it would have been a long time ago in a desperate, hair of the dog, kind of way) the idea of red wine for breakfast was very unappealing to me. However, a mixture of nerves, excitement and a 'when in Rome' mentality took over and I did have a glass or two. It was strangely pleasant. Cognac in the coffee, why not? Several hours later, the fish had been sorted. Then they were put back in. Sadly, the mythical monster catfish was not found. I'm still trying to work out what the point of it all was.