And let's face it, a C XIII priory at €450,000 is pretty much a snip, even if it does require some work ("heating, insulation and plumbing"): it has 16 bedrooms and 6 reception rooms, for heaven's sake! It also has zero bathrooms (or alternatively, it has none at all, which somehow seems like more), which I admit could be a drawback in some peoples' minds. Although the French seem to have coped for years with such circumstances. Think of Versailles.
At least we don't have too many romantic notions about owning property in France: we know how French workmen don't, and we're up with most of the excuses they can come up with, and we're also habituated to the soul-numbing bureaucracy. So rest assured, you're not going to get another rehash of "A Year In Provence", partly because the Lubéron is hors de prix but mostly because we're old and cynical enough to have very few fantasies left. Sad, but true.
So at this point in time we're focussing our research on the Tarn, l'Aude, and l'Aveyron, where prices are still reasonable and the climate's not too bad. There are some lovely places out there. We also have to get this place up to scratch so we can sell it: happily, that should not take too long. A bit of destruction work, some bagar rouge and a few tiles and the first floor's done ...
Of course, we also have to work out exactly how we want to do this. You have gîtes, which are kind of like a motel only quainter, and you have chambres d'hote, which is more like staying with a family. I definitely want to keep up with the cooking: hell, I'll even cook breakfast if necessary (somehow, knowing that you don't actually have to get up makes it so much easier to do so, never worked out why that should be the case) ... we'll see how we go.
Anyway, I was bustling around in the kitchen organising some chicken in white wine, lemon juice and rosemary when I came across the remains of a loaf of industrial pre-sliced pain d'épices with which Jeremy had toyed and then apparently lost interest, and there was the arse-end of a packet of ladyfinger biscuits in the pantry: and of course, I have those little rectangular silicone moulds ...
Didn't take much to line the moulds with slices of pain d'épices, fill the middles with coarsely crumbled biscuit and then top them off with the rest of the bread slices before beating up an egg with milk and sugar and a few drops of pure orange essence and pouring that over them. After twenty minutes or so in the oven, something that quite definitely lifts the humble bread pudding out of the realms of the ordinary.
I suppose I really should get the camera out and go down to the garden so as to have actual documentary evidence that our apricot tree does, in fact, have apricots on it. At least five as I write, each gamely hanging onto their twig, but I'm pretty sure that they'll come down with the Black Death or something and rot off soon enough. And even if I did take photos, I'd just be accused of photoshopping them. Because it is a known fact of life that our apricot tree is sterile.
|babbling fool tries to change clouds with mind control|
|breast implants and threadworms|
although I'm not sure what Margo would feel about the last one. The mind kind of boggles at the thought of quilting whilst having sex (all those sharp needles) and I really have difficulty imagining all those Amish women gathered around quilting illustrations from the Kama Sutra onto a betrothal quilt. Although I can see that could be useful.
And I would like to go on record as saying that even if Samsung have (surprisingly) managed to improve some aspects of the user interface - like now there is a separate period key on the virtual keyboard, and if I press on that for a few seconds it comes up with the most recently used punctuation symbols, which is actually rather handy 'cos it avoids shifting in and out of numeric mode - they've managed to fsck other things up sufficiently to piss me off some more.
It used to be I'd get a text, the phone would delicately fart, and if I slid the green jigsaw piece into its hole on-screen it would go directly into the message thread and show me the message. Which I would look at, and then back to business - or more usually, back to sleep ... this has been Improved. There is now a rather ugly slider arrow (on the left for missed calls, on the right for SMS) and if you swipe that all the way across it will indeed show you the new message, which I will look at.
Oh, and the c+cidella (ç) comes up as uppercase, which is both ugly and incorrect. Whatever. Sophie will just have to get used to my referring to her boys as "les garkons" rather than "les garsons" (for a "c" without its cidella is always hard in French - with a goodly number of exceptions of course although I wouldn't say that to Sophie because she'd kill me, they are not exceptions but totally non-arbitrary rules).
Still, I should be grateful for small mercies: the thing lets me make phone calls, admittedly on its own terms.
So anyway, after two days of beautiful blue skies and blessedly hot temperatures, woke up this moaning to find it raining. Heavily. Which kind of dampened, if you'll excuse me, my enthusiasm as I trolled around the market, but at least the spring vegetables are out in force and I escaped with asparagus tips at a price which did not require taking out a second mortgage, mangetout peas, baby carrots, runner beans and even - in an excess of enthusiasm - some bog-standard fresh peas to be shelled.
Having also picked up some little pears and some more pain d'épices I might have another bash at that bread pudding: the marriage of pears and ginger is often a happy one, and by a strange quirk of fate we stocked up on ice-cream the other day, which solves the problem of what to serve with them.
* For this to work properly you do have to use a PIC $ZZ9,9(3),9(3) clause in your COBOL formatting, I admit.