Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another one of those days ...

Well that was bloody quick. One week we're appreciating mid to high 20°s, right now the day starts off around 5° and struggles to get up to 19°. Nice and sunny, I'll grant you, but there's a playfully vicious little breeze and it just Is Not Warm. Which is a bit of a blow.

(Of course, since I wrote that things have changed. Exceptionally, for the better. Bright sun and lovely blue skies, and we've managed to get back up into the 20°s. Mustn't complain.)

Malyon's been skyping us again: she's all excited, been invited to a wedding (not, I would like to point out, her own - not yet) and hasn't a thing to wear. One of Tony's cousins, or something like that. Which forces me to admit that she and Tony seem to be quite serious. Hmm.

Market time again, and you can see the season changing there too. The peaches and nectarines are still around, but you just know they're going to be cottony and disappointing, and the pears and apples are making an appearance. The tender young beans have disappeared, and in their place there's broccoli (can handle that) and - ugh! - cauliflower. Even if it is yellow or violet, it does nothing for me. (Apart from causing shudders, that is.) I have to admit that it does look quite pretty, though.

One of these days I'm going to make a mourning meal, declined entirely in shades of black and purple. Squid-ink pasta, vitelotte potatoes, black salsify with beurre noir ...

On the other hand, the guy from the Drôme is still around with his tomatoes, and I managed to find some tender young ears of pearly-white sweetcorn, much to my surprise. Some of that's going to get cut off the cob (which then gets scraped with the back of a knife to get the last bits of starch and milky juice out) and be gently fried in butter with onion, poivron and some decent curry powder: the rest is destined for the barbecue, and a messy end with heaps of melted butter.

Still going through the throes of getting my new laptop fit for purpose. First thing I did when I got it (well, second thing, to be quite honest - the actual first thing was to admire how sparkly it was, and observe just how well the glossy black finish attracts finger smudges) was to note that it came pre-installed with Win7 Frog. I have enough problems as it is without that, and fortunately I'd ordered the install DVDs with the machine (only another 5€, and worth it) so I got that out and found, to my relief, that it was in fact the multi-lingual version. So three or four hours later I had a nice new English installation, and heaved a sigh of relief.

Since then it's been copy time: getting all the various projects and mail folders and general junk transferred, downloading and installing the essential tools and now, before I nuke the old machine and set it aside for Malyon or whoever, I need to do a sort of inventory of all the old software tools that are still there, work out which ones are definitively obsolete, install the others (assuming I can find the media) and then back everything up anyway. What fun!

Anyway, I spent quite a while wandering around Chambéry: not all of it intentional. I had a really busy Friday up at the office with Clément, the software guy from a client in Lyon, running tests on some stuff I'm supposed to be doing for them, and surprisingly enough was still sufficiently alert on leaving around 7:30 to notice hat the front right tyre was rather flat. Never mind, a quick stop at the station on the autoroute made it all better, and it was up for replacement anyway ... Oddly enough, Saturday morning it was fine, so I headed off planning a few boring hours hanging around in the afternoon getting the front pair replaced at Norauto or somewhere, so the irony was not totally lost on me when I got back to the car after the after-market beer with Bryan to find it completely, utterly flat. Pancake-shaped.

Still, I am not unequipped, so I dug out the jack and, with some difficulty, got the car up off the ground enough to undo the bolts and, after a well-placed kick to loosen the wheel (mags have a nasty tendency to sort of weld to the hub) got it off. The jack, of course, chose that moment to tilt and then to buckle, leaving me looking like a completely incompetent prat, with the hub resting forlornly on the ground. At which point I decided screw it, and phoned the insurance, who sent around a jolly dépanneur who had a bloody good laugh but fixed me up.

Of course I was probably not his only call-out so that gave me an hour to wander around, and to note that the French too are quite capable of suffering from grocers' apostroph'e.

I still had to get those tyres replaced, so after that it was off to the industrial zone alongside the autoroute to the north of Chambéry to find a place that would do that for me. Preferably without having to make an appointment for sometime in the next week. And as luck would have it the first place I went to would in fact do that, and so by 16:00 I was bored witless, ravenously hungry, but at least I had two new tyres.

Jeremy had, of course, forgotten to put Nutella on the shopping list and in any case I still needed some phyllo and a huge pot of dried chives, so rather than take the autoroute back home I took the good old départmentale and whipped in at Lidl at St Jeoire to get these few necessities. (For those of you who don't know, that's a German discount chain. Often have odd things you can't find anywhere else, can't imagine why. And if you see something that you like, you're better off buying lots: they may well never have any again.)

So far so good, except that as I was only going to buy two or three items I hadn't bothered with a shopping bag (and anyway, as I'd had to empty the boot to get the spare tyre out the shopping bags I had were pressed into service to hold things on the back seat) and of course I bought a few extras and no sooner had I paid for everything when my huge jar of chives took a dive to the floor and shattered. Which meant another, very quick, red-faced trip through the place.

Still hadn't eaten, which probably explains why I thought I might as well continue on the back roads and stop off to take a few photos up at the old tower above Cruet. So I drove through Montmelian, and Arbin, and noted as I drove that it's definitely vendange time, because Arbin stank of grape juice.

Or so I thought until, having taken my photos and noting that the car still smelt of wine, I opened the boot to find that a bottle of red had smashed and of course emptied itself. Some days you're better off not getting out of bed.

Still, managed that last barbecue of the season - unless, of course, I do another tonight. A little rouelle de jambon, smeared with Encona and grilled - though I say so myself - to perfection, with sweetcorn and potatoes baked in the embers. On reflection, with a glass of nicely chilled white to hand, perhaps the day wasn't so bad after all.

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