Saturday, September 24, 2011

The drinks, I suspect, are on me ...

Injustice, I fear, will always be with us. To make myself clearer, I should explain that I have a car (well, a white van) which belongs to the company, and Margo has her little red Suzy of which she is very fond (but not so much so that she won't abandon the poor thing to my tender mercies should she have to head off to a show).

Now for historical reasons, which must have been important at the time but seem to have slipped my mind just at this moment, the Suzy is actually registered in my name.

So far so good, but I would like to point out that I have never, ever, had a speeding ticket in France due to my driving always correctly and prudently and religiously observing the speed limits etc etc (we are not going to talk about the situation in NZ if you don't mind, that is kind of irrelevant and certainly impolite) whereas Margo has, to my certain knowledge, clocked up more than three.

I am perhaps a bit smug about this, I admit, which makes it all so much more unfair that thanks to my being the registered owner, the points from her latest effort came off my licence! Much wailing, and gnashing of teeth: next time I'll pay more attention to those nasty little letters.

Anyway, Margo arrived back from Alsace on Monday to spend the night before heading down south for the next salon. Of course she came bearing food: fresh spaetzle (which are the Alsatian variety of noodles, and very nice too), the Dutch caramel waffles which are sinfully good, pain d'épices and some flammenkuche bases, of which I can now say, having read the fine print on the packaging where they're obliged to mention such things, that they involve no yeast, just flour, oil and salt. Which I suppose makes them nowt but an unleavened flatbread, and that in turn is doubtless why to get that blistery appearance you have to crank the oven up to about 250°C. Good luck with that around here.

Next time I shall try sticking three slate tiles in the oven for 20 minutes or so to heat up, and then sliding the garnished rounds on top (hopefully managing not to get them all over the oven floor), but even without that they didn't turn out too badly. Just not absolutely authentic. Topped with sour cream, ham or bacon bits, sliced onion, rounds of goat cheese and, for me anyway, little dabs of confiture de figues: makes a nice change from yer standard pizza. Although it seems that I really should mix the sour cream with fromage frais, must try that next time. Still got three of the little sods left to experiment with.

Whatever, I woke up this moaning believing myself in Britanny, thanks to the mist draped around the place. OK, it's beautiful in its own way, with everything dim and hazy and the low soft sunlight filtering through but it's definitely autumn and starting to get a bit nippy. Now that is something of which I do not approve.

Saturday is set to be a red-letter day, as Karen returns from the wilderness of Mumblefuck for a day in the big smoke (aka Chambéry), apparently to celebrate her birthday. (No, I have not asked which one. I, sir, am a gentleman.) Oh, to be down from the mountain-tops for a single day of depravity in the teeming city of vice and diverse iniquities! (I hope you recognise sarcasm when it bites you on the leg, for Chambéry is a stolid bourgeois town and its inhabitants uniformly models of rectitude. After 19:30 of a Friday night there's probably more life in a bottle of formaldehyde.)

Anyway, this can mean only one thing and that is a few more glasses than usual of vitamins at the Refuge at lunch-time. I suppose we really should let Pierre know so that he can cancel the musical "entertainment" that he apparently thinks adds to the ambiance, but on the other hand it would be fun to watch Karen pelting them with bread rolls or whatever.

In the ROTM* department, I get the funny feeling that Orange have managed to fsck my Livebox with a firmware update at some point. After a couple of years of good and faithful service, over the past week we have started to have problems. Strange ones, at that.

Now you should know that of a morning I usually lounge around in the comfy chair downstairs with my coffee and laptop, check out whatever there is to look at and download a few bits and pieces: nothing out of the ordinary. Evenings, same thing. (Yes, I know, boring ... but conversation is not a strong point in this household, especially in the mornings, before coffee.)

Of course, I'm connected over Wifi down there, and the signal strength is none too good, but apart from the occasional connection hiccup with Windows 7 it's not bothered me particularly - until now. What happens is that the Livebox drops the ADSL connection, tells me that there is no broadband connection, and stubbornly refuses to find one until I reboot it. At which point, when I reconnect and start surfing again, I have the same problem.

But if I have a wired connection, or I'm in the office right next to the beast so with an excellent Wifi connection, things work fine. This is kind of annoying, because I rather like lounging in the comfy chair. Guess I'll just have to take a powerline adaptor and a bit of CAT5 down there. Bummer.

You know we moan a bit from time to time about French bureaucracy, and usually with reason (of course). Still, credit where it's due: we received a letter the other day addressed to "Jeremy Bimler, 317 St Pierre d"Albigny, France". OK, it's probably not that miraculous, there can't be that many St Pierre d'Albigny's in France and once it gets here the Bimler family is probably well-known. Due to - well, things.

None of them, I hasten to point out, related to mild nuclear incidents, nor the Congress of Fleas. (Which is NOT a sex position.) And no, I am not going to be more explicit. Those of you requiring details can send a stamped self-addressed envelope containing €50, and we'll see how we go from there.

Well, it's Saturday anyway, and for some strange reason there were oompah bands marching around the place, with concomitant noise and generally making themselves disagreable. I think it was something to do with the Chambéry-Turin connection. Whatever, must get more heat-seeking rounds for the rocket launcher (note to self, update shopping list).

A quickie, alas, with Karen (who was remarkably restrained for someone approaching her 40mumblth birthday): we had a few problems actually finding a bar we could get into as most of them seemed to have these giant TV screens out on the terrasse for some strange reason. But we eventually wound up at Cardinal's (service, as we finally noticed, "à l'Irlandaise" ie get yer own at the bar because the waitresses aren't here to mollycoddle you, don't actually know what they are there to do but it almost invariably seems to involve one of the anonymous rooms out the back) and managed to get a drink before dehydration set in.

NOT Sophie.
And then, I'rm afraid, it was off to see Sophie for a little barbecue (well, that was the plan but her gas bottle ran out so it was emergency cooking on stupidly small French stove) and wine-siphoning.  One of those odd discount stores I go to has, for reasons as yet unclear, a vast supply of Australian wines at ridiculously low prices: case in point, the "Ninth Island" 2006 Tasmanian chardonnay, which was unanimously voted "bloody excellent". Shall have to pick up a few more bottles of that next time I go past.

Especially as Lucas, Jeremy et al are, at 17+, old enough to drink wine with their elders for the apéro and with the meal: that treasured bottle didn't make it very far. When I say "a few more", make that "lots".

And after that excitement it was the usual: wine opened, attack the pork chops and the merguez and the salade Sophie, and then on to the three very creamy St-Marcellin cheeses I picked up at the market. Two of which, I think, Lucas managed to finish off by himself, using only a spoon. God alone knows how that happens. Some sort of bottomless pit/black hole/wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing I suspect, but it is a real phenomenon.

I gather, incidentally, that for once you actually managed to thrash the French. (I know this because Sophie made certain remarks when I turned up.) Do try not to lose it in the finals, alright?

* that's Rise Of The Machines, for the statistical flukes amongst you who missed Terminator

1 comment:

  1. We thrashed the French in that we scored more points than them. I do not think that it was a World Champions performance and *shudder* SBWilliams (wash my mouth out) played good. Ma'a Nonu also. There was some good Gallic "whadda we do now?" moments and you could just see them about to do something outrageous but then Nonu would tackle them.