Wednesday, June 30, 2010

French "Good Taste" exposed ...

Fancy this as wallpaper? Personally, I think I'd have had nightmares if I had to sleep with it when I was young, and these days I'd probably chuck up. But don't worry, I don't think anyone makes stuff like that anymore. The only reason that I got a look at it is that old Henri from across the road gave his house to  his daughter Nathalie and her husband Gerald (Tax Avoidance 101) and they are gutting the place to make it fit to live in. And a bloody good thing too, if you ask me.

The twenty-first of June today, the longest day of the year. Good old pagan summer solstice, wicker men and Britt Ekland prancing around starkers and all that. My theory is that it's because of the fact that it really is the longest day that it's so bloody cold and damp: you've got all that extra time to be miserable in. Supposed to clear up for the weekend though, which'd be rather nice because I really am looking forward to a barbecue.

Sunday we headed off to Frangy so that Margo and Karen could do a bit of work together: there's a big crafty expo in Milan in October, and Margo would like to be there. Provided it's not too expensive, of course. (By the time you add up the stand rental at some appalling number of euros per square metre, the minimum surface you can rent, the upfront payment just for having electricity, the joining fee and all the rest, you could easily be looking at 2000-3000€. And hotel bills and transport on top ...)

Anyway, took advantage of that to drop off the boat anchor for her to play with. I spent a bit of time the week before backing up all of Margo's stuff, nuking it from orbit and installing XP, getting all the service packs on and stuff like that, and I must admit I really was surprised at just how useful even an old Pentium can be, when it's unencumbered by years of cruft. Whatever, Karen's happy, it's hers, she doesn't have to share it, and it does what she wants. Which isn't too bad. On the other hand, when she has enough money to buy a real computer, I am not going to see the old Compaq coming back here. I don't care how tender-hearted she is, she can still take it to the tip.

Later ... well, for once the met office got it right and it has in fact fined up. Went outside a short while ago and found all the neighbourhood cats lined up on the road, each in their own little zone, with their mouths open staring at the sky; 'tis the season when baby birds learn to fly. Or not, in some cases, and around here you only get one chance.

Headed off to Geneva on Friday: I got a phone call out of the blue a week or so ago asking if I could give a quote for a display driver adaptation for Windows CE (or whatever Microsoft call it these days), which was fine, and then there was a loud thunk as a rather heftier request flopped into my inbox. This time, video, virtual keyboard, serial ports, SPI bus ... the funny thing is, I actually knew  - quite intimately - the product that was being replaced, as I was working on it when Gespac went titsup all those years ago. And the people on the other side of the conference table from me were ex-Gespac types.

So I went off and - despite ViaMichelin's best efforts - actually managed to find the place and meet up with Sandrine. So by the looks of it, that's about 20-25 days-worth of work over the summer, which is good. And the prospect of more to follow, which is even better. (I should perhaps explain that I must be one of the miniscule number of people that don't actually have a GPS - at least not one that works - so before I go anywhere I tend to get the driving directions on the Michelin website and print them out. Despite the fact that I have to put my glasses on to read them and then take them off again to carry on driving ... and despite the fact that they're sometimes not as clear as they could be. In fact I had to wing it as it turned out: much of Geneva and the surrounding built-up area is in fact countryside, so one minute you're driving along a four-lane road and then turning off onto a barely sealed track. Quite literally in this case: the chemin des Grossefouilles or somesuch, forbidden to non-agricultural vehicles and in any case it was blocked by roadworks at the far end. A pain. Never mind.)

Up at the crack of dawn on Saturday: not only did I have the usual shopping and going to the market to do, but I also had to head through to Aix to pick up Jeremy, whose stage has finished. Now he has all of three days college left before the summer holidays. Lucky bugger. Anyway, we managed to squeeze his gear into the car and headed back to Sophie's for a barbecue lunch. Fortunately I'd picked up a big chunk of beef basse-côte (which, as usual, I marinated in whisky and Encona) as well as the huge slice of rouelle de jambon, as the three adolescents seemed to have not eaten a thing for the past few days. So famished were they that they even ate some salad, which is pretty rare.

By the time we'd wrapped all that up it was getting pretty hot, so I headed home and checked that the hammock was still fit for purpose until it had cooled down sufficiently for me to contemplate mowing the paddock.

Whatever, right now Margo's disappeared to her thing at Morzine and although Jeremy's come home I've only seen him for the short time it took to eat dinner: catching up after computer-deprivation. There was a lovely miles-high thunderhead with lightning playing inside it quite spectacularly just a short while ago, as I caught up with the rosé on the terrace, but that's buggered off as well and so quite honestly I think I'll head off to bed. A bit before midnight, for once.

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