Saturday, June 11, 2011

Some silken moment goes on forever ...

Well, I promised to whinge about it, and so I shall. The trip back all went swimmingly (apart from discovering that the autoroute access at Pertuis is only a demi-echangeur, forcing me to do 20km southwards before getting off and then back on in the northerly direction), heading north on the A51 until it came time to get off the sucker before hitting the traffic jams around Valence and take the D1075 up to Grenoble.

Off I duly got, and was hooning carelessly (that's "carefree", not "driving like an idiot", thank you very much) round a corner when all of a sudden I came across a huge, and apparently pointless, tailback that must have been about 10km long.

Godnose what the sucker was doing there, but I followed the damn thing for about 30km, at an average speed of all of 20kph. A far cry from the trip down. Still, end of a long weekend I suppose, and of top of it the Dutch are out and about, so what more can one expect?

At least the thing sort of petered out after Serres as people stopped off to have lunch or whatever, and I managed to overtake the campervans that were raising my blood pressure, and then when I did get home around 15:00, it was bright and sunny - just the right weather to crack open a bottle of rosé. Which, of course, bowing to narrative imperative, I did.

I can, incidentally,  confirm that duck breast, goat cheese, caramelised fruit and honey/mustard glaze is definitely worth making. Margo did not appreciate it - not that I really thought she would - said she couldn't taste the meat.

Me, I think she's ruined her tastebuds with too many years of not smoking. Jerry certainly scarfed it down with vague moans of pleasure, even although I did have to use apple slices rather than figs as planned.

Thursday started out rather unpromisingly. For starters, it was fair pissing down: on top of that, the lycée at Challes wanted Jerry back (he'd checked out on Monday as all they were doing, as the exams are on, was watch films in class). So we headed glumly off, and as we're waiting to turn left across the nationale in Challes there's a light "thunk" as the car behind runs into me.

Or, more precisely, was pushed into me, by the car behind her. Which came out rather the worse for wear, as it took a towball in the radiator, and the bonnet had crumpled alarmingly. My car was fine, still a right arse standing around in the rain helpfully filling out the little constat amiable (so-called because, in principle, you should not be madly shouting at one another, this is France and it doesn't always work, just saying) as one is supposed to do at accidents.

So Margo took Jerry the remaining 500m, and imagine my surprise when she came back with him still in the car. The bloody school did not want him at all, just one of us, to sign a paper saying that he wasn't there. Now why in hell's name they specifically asked for his presence I shall doubtless never know ...

Didn't leave me in the best of moods for going to Lyon, especially as by this time "pissing down" had turned into "torrential", and I swear that bits of the autoroute were more like a swimming pool than anything else. Quite honestly, at points I wondered if I wasn't about to find out what aquaplaning (otherwise known as "screaming in mindless terror as your car hurtles out of control") was like.

Whatever, Saturday's come round, as it will, and we have a long weekend in front of us - Pentecost, don't you know? (For all the strict separation of church and state, the French do love their religious holidays.) Which may go some way to explaining why Chambéry was somewhat deserted this morning, as I did the usual prowl around the market.

Still, can't complain, fewer people to bother me as I pluck the baby vegetables from their resting-place, and caress the bloom on the red-gold apricots. And let's not speak of the delicate sun-warm melons (not, pace Pratchett, the green warty ones), you'd have to go and lie down for a bit.

And I managed to pick up some cherries, which I rather feel are destined to be halved, pitted and then bathed with just a hint of arancio and maybe a spinkling of sugar before heading down our throats. Simple is always good.

Still have to think of a fitting fate for the butter beans (which are, oddly enough, haricots beurre in French), the tomatoes that actually smell of tomato, the two firm aubergines and the baby zucchini, the size of fingers (OK, biggish fingers, but fingers nonetheless).

Plus the nectarines, and the flat, white Italian peaches which are such a bloody pain to eat (tidily) but taste wonderful. And the redcurrants ...

Truth to tell, the only blot on the horizon (for after a rather dubious start to the day, it turned out bright and fine) was the anti-nuclear protesters, dressed up in white coveralls and gasmasks, handing out leaflets doubtless designed to make us all run for the exits screaming "we're all DOOMED!"

Prats. I like cheap, clean, safe electricity.

Still, the scowly-face worked, no-one tried to slip a leaflet into my shopping basket, and I managed to finish my rounds without being obliged to kill or mutilate anyone.

Although that did get a bit tested later on in the day, when I wandered past le Refuge with the firm intention of sipping a white in Karen's honour and found that there were what one could loosely call musicians performing there.

I might be being a bit generous here: let's just say that they had musical implements which seemed to be plugged in (unfortunately only 230VAC, rather than the 30KVDC preferred on the TGV) and noises were coming out of their mouths.

Which, personally, I could have done without.

And sadly, the same sort of madness was going on in place Metropole, and it was loud enough for me to hear as I sat and sipped at Le Modesto. Still, at least that lot weren't singing in French.

On the bright side, it was enough to drive me back home seeking respite (before you ask, Sophie's headed south with the rest of the lemmings), where I've spent my time since out on the terrace, soaking up the sun (and yes, white wine does make an excellent substitute for UV cream when taken orally) pondering the great existential questions that confront us all these days.

Such as, should I do rouelle de jambon on the barbecue with some of those vegetables, or should I go for basse cote in the frying pan? Or, just possibly, tandoori chicken?

I've been working on the matter for some time now, as the sun sinks lower (as does, let it be admitted, the level in the wine bottle) and still have not managed to come to any firm conclusion.

Well, not one that lasts for much more than five minutes, anyway. Perhaps I should just sit out here some more, listen to the crickets, bask in the sun and carry on marinating my liver. An idea is bound to come to me. At least I've got a firm grip on dessert.

Oh, by the way, Mal made it to Ecuador and apparently heads off into the jungle today. I doubt we'll have much news for a while: somehow I suspect that broadband connections are pretty scarce out there.

Later ... my problems have been resolved. I went down to the garden and picked blackberries, which are even as we speak making lascivious noises cuddling up to the cherries, and I spotted some magnificent rosée des prés (horse mushrooms, to you) so it's beef with mushrooms and pommes sarlardaises to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment