Sunday, July 11, 2010

There's oil on the beaches ...

Suntan oil, that is. Along with abandoned drinks cans, cigarette packets, condoms, Parisians and all the other detritus of the shorefront. Yes, France has shut down for the summer, as usual: the juilletistes have left, another month to go before the aoutards do the same in their turn. And right now we're enjoying reasonable temperatures: up in the mid-thirties at the moment, which I must admit does not really inspire me to move at all. And it doesn't really cool down that much at night either: we had dinner out on the balcony last evening, and at 9pm it was still more or less sweltering.

Mind you, I suppose I could have thought of something for dinner which was not duck breasts cooked gently in their own fat with little freshly-plucked new potatoes dusted with thyme and chopped onions cooking alongside them.

Which of course brings me to The Joy of Hammocks, or what to do when you get home from work and it's too bloody hot to think of anything except some rosé and a lie-down. In my case, this involves getting a glass, putting something cold and pinkish in it, and wandering down to the garden with a cigar, just to make sure that no-one's shifted the hammock from where we put it up, underneath two big acacias. To date, no-one has, but it's always better to be safe than sorry, I feel. And at least if I'm in it, people will think twice before walking off with it.

The other thing about that is that to get down to the garden you have to walk down 50m or so of the little path and cross the stream: nothing particularly exceptional about that, just that Joëlle's raspberries have burst out of her garden and into the path, where they're fair game for all passers-by. Me, in other words.

Malyon is turning up sometime in August: until then she's working like a dog. Or that's what she says, anyway. In theory she was going off to Blackpool to work in one of the casinos, but there was apparently a bit of a cock-up on the catering front (ie she got a phone call the day before she was headed off to ask when she was turning up) so she decided to carry on working at the bar in Glasgow, where at least they're competent. And I'm not entirely sure that Blackpool has much to recommend it, anyway. Whatever, we are to be privileged by the presence of Tony: she feels that as she's met his parents, it's only fair that he should have to put up with hers. Just so long as they're not too bloody noisy we'll survive.

Last Saturday, Margo being off at her salon at Morzine (somewhere up in Haute-Savoie, if you really want to know), I invited myself (and - under protest - Jeremy, who had other plans for the evening) round to Sophie's, who'd organised an evenings debauchery. Well, that's perhaps going a bit too far: let's say an evening with some of her colleagues. God, schoolteachers can drink. A right gang of pissheads where rosé is concerned. And, let it be admitted, given what they have to put up with you can understand why. It was rather a good evening, even if Jerry didn't get to go off to the lake for the fireworks and a free concert, as he'd planned. Tough luck, self-denial builds moral fibre. Or so it would seem. And in any case, I wasn't about to let him go off and get up to godnose what, maybe even enjoy himself, without being close to hand.

Did my usual turn around the market before going off for lunch with Sophie, and as I had some time to kill, and being more or less in the right spot, I thought I'd stop off up at the top of the parc du Buisson Rond, which used to be the grounds of the chateau de Boigne. General de Boigne had an interesting history - started off life in the 1800's as a penniless servant boy in Chambéry (or something along those lines), got engaged in the army and went to India and became general of some maharajah's army before returning, stinking rich, to Chambéry. To which he eventually gave most of his money, which is why there's a column, supported by four elephants, to his honour in the main square. But I cannot think why the nice forged gates have "Vermont" on them, unless of course he admired George Washington.

Anyway, he built himself a nice neo-classical chateau with some of the loot, and left it and the grounds to the city when he died. Up above that there's the old Barberaz cemetery, right next door to the chateau des Gottelands, who were definitely old money. It's a nice calm spot for a bit of an amble in the shade, you can always natter to the headstones if you feel like a chat, and behind the chateau there's a little sort of fountain where you can (well, there are no signs saying you can't) bathe your feet and head, which I did.

Whatever, after that little bucolic interval I headed off and got the salad ready, flambéd the gambas in Scotch and soused them with white wine and cream sauce, and opened the rosé. Did not, exceptionally, drink that much: too damn hot and stifling, for one thing, and for another we were all of us headed off to Mumblefuck in the evening for a barbecue at Karen's. If for no other reason than to let Jerry catch up with Amelia.

There is one disadvantage to air-conditioning in cars. It's all very well when you're driving along, nice and cool and relaxed, but when you finally arrive at your destination, get out of the car and find that for some unaccountable reason they've forgotten to air-condition both house and garden, it's rather like being stifled by a hot, dry, fluffy towel. And Mumblefuck was even hotter than Chambéry - about 37° when we turned up, around 5pm. We opened the car doors and started to wilt.

We finally had a stroke of luck though: the thunderstorm that'd been lurking all day decided to get off its arse and do a decent evening's work. Much appreciated, as it meant it was actually cool enough to get a decent night's sleep when we finally made it home, a bit after midnight.


  1. Tony.... Amelia.... I hope you have explained to your kids that you are at present still too young to be grandparents :-)

  2. I should point out that Jerry and Amelia are "just good friends". We don't get to see the girlfriend(s). And Malyon is well aware of our views on children, production of.