Monday, August 23, 2010

Never trust a bloody hammock ...

I really do hate summer. Not only is it too short, but it fills me with evil alien ideas, like getting up really early in the morning and wandering around just to look at things all dewy and with that marvellous early-morning late-summery light on them. See? If I'm not careful I'll wax poetic, and then I'll have to take extra medication. To get rid of the surplus wax, if nowt else.

Yeah, whatever. What I really wanted to do was to warn you about the perils of hammocks. They seem friendly enough, comfortable and welcoming, then one day, like a wild dog, they turn around and bite you in the arse. Quite literally, in my case. All I'd done, I swear, was go down to the garden - part of the ritual check, make sure no-one's stolen it or anything - and flop down with relief in the hammock on realising that it hadn't in fact disappeared: so one of the ropes broke. (No, I am so not overweight, don't try to pull that one on me.)

Result: a 1-meter horizontal pratfall directly on the coccyx. I suppose I should be grateful that not too many people around here understand English, because I spent most of the next five minutes hobbling around shouting words that begin with F and B at the top of my voice, then I did it again, with feeling. Once I could actually feel anything again, that is.

Another thing I should say was that perhaps I over-exaggerated  the death of French cuisine. The cheese-eating surrender-monkeys  can still make a pretty decent foie gras de canard aux lobes entières, and a little vin liquoureux (2004, from the Gers, as was indeed the foie gras) to go with it. So things are still working, somewhere. (You might want to make your own pain aux figues to go with the foie gras, should your local baker, by some oversight, not be in a position to supply it. Slightly sweet, the combination is, as they say, "une tuerie" - lit. "a massacre", "to die for")

Yeah, you guessed it: another lunch with Sophie. I really am extremely lucky in that Margo doesn't mind (too much, at least so long as she's fore-warned) my disappearing for four hours on a Saturday for a lazy lunch and a chat with my best friend. Aforesaid afternoons usually involving vast quantities of wine, although always in moderation. Of course. Because otherwise it wouldn't be good for us. And anyway, once we'd finished the white (it was only a half, as you can see) we went on to rosé which is, as I've explained before, positively beneficial due to the vitamins and things.

The night before, just to spite Malyon (who'd disappeared down to Grenoble to spend quality time with the sole friend that hasn't yet headed off to one of the four corners of the globe) I'd made a peach and cream tart (I've told you about that before, so I won't go into the sordid details again) and as Jeremy, too, had gone off there was quite a bit left over. It went down rather well after the foie gras; you could do worse than to try it. I agree it looks rather like a quiche that's past its best-by date, but don't let appearances deceive you: it really is rather delicious.

Which, incidentally, brings me to the subject of cooking for disappearing sons. This is something that becomes pretty common as they reach adolescence, especially in summer. Now I would like to point out that, at least in the cooking department, I tend to be fairly well organised. I know who's going to be where during the week, so how much meat I need to buy, and in the morning I go down and get whatever I've planned for dinner out of the freezer. Then I head off to the office with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart (well, maybe not), happy in the knowledge that all is well. Until the phone call at 16:00, announcing that Jeremy will not be eating at home that night. (Well, let's be fair. It's a phone call asking me if it's alright by me if he spends the night at a friend's, or whatever ... you want me to say "no" and stunt his emotional development, maybe turn him into a serial killer or an accountant?) Whatever, I start wearily planning Meals With Leftovers ... of course, the other side of the coin is getting a phone call at 16:00 checking to see if it's alright if so-and-so stays the night, and of course (s)he'll need feeding: cue a quick bit of research on how to stretch 450gm of meat to feed four. Or, at a pinch, five.

Getting back to lunch, the little lake has an island in it (I'm not sure that's really the word, you could probably wade out to it if you took the right route) covered with grass, patches of rushes and a few big trees. Someone's thoughtfully hooked a rope with an old tyre hung from it on one (but I suspect that's reserved for orangoutangs) and the others seem to be there just for climbing up and jumping off. And, no doubt, incidentally raising the blood pressure of any parents who happen to be watching ...

Thursday evening was a long one, we didn't plan it that way but we sat down to dinner on the balcony and somehow, just didn't get around to getting up. Apart from going to fetch another bottle of wine, because talking dries your throat. Yeah, we spent four or five hours swapping stupid stories of our mis-spent youth and the odd bit of family history that's still percolating around in my neurons with Malyon. Not something we get to do very often these days, and it was rather fun. (Less so the next day, mind you. Good thing I had some Doliprane up at the office.) Must make a note to self to do it with Jeremy before he leaves home.

The other thing you'll find at Lac St-André is, of course, a little bar-restaurant. These are often over-priced and particularly mediocre: this one is, apparently, just over-priced. Which I suppose is better than the other option. I have to admit that when they're offering a bit of Angus beef at 25€ and a bottle of vin de Savoie at 20€ it does make me gag a bit. (And yes, I know that the wine's where they make their margin, but I could buy the bloody bottle for 5€. That's something that's always stuck in my craw.)

Whatever, they do have a nice terrace, lovely parasols, and the coffee at least is good and you don't have to take out another mortgage just to buy a cup, so that's what we wound up doing.

Of course, it was at that time that Jeremy chose to call to see if I couldn't pick him up from Montmelian on the way home, so after organising that and heading off I got another call to say not to bother, he was going to take the train ... sometimes I wonder. Anyway, I'm off to bed. Goodnight, all. Mind how you go.

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