May 8 was of course a public holiday over here, celebrating la victoire glorieuse de la France in WWII. We very reasonably skipped the apéro at the mairie, and went off instead to the foire de printemps at Narbonne. Think of it as a sort of half-assed A&P show, only without the combine harvesters, and you'll get the idea. In any case, it all just goes to show that I really should not be let out on my own.
Somewhat to my surprise the montage was relatively fool-proof, for I got it all together without losing any skin or, indeed, my temper, and there were no parts left over when that was done. Quite providentially Richard came past at that moment with a sack of fresh mussels, as he'd been out in the kayak at Gruissans, and couldn't help himself. So Margo very generously accepted a bucket-load, which cooked up - apparently - very nicely. (I wouldn't know. Given my history with the little rodents - I'm thinking oysters here - I do tend to avoid shellfish unless I absolutely know that I can eat them without, um, side-effects. It may be paranoia, but at least I'm not squatting the toilet all night.)
I hear the collective intake of breath as I tell you that, not content with that, we headed off to Montpellier the very next day, to take a look around Ikea and see what they had that we liked. You'll be relieved to hear that we left, a number of hours later, arms unencumbered, having bought nothing. (Apart from lunch, that is, which was when I discovered to my horror that they would not permit me to have a glass of wine with my salad. Only with a hot meal - must be healthier or something.)
I know what I did do, which was help them pack it into its carton, flash the plastic and walk off with it. So OK, neither of us should be allowed to go out without adult supervision. And of course once I got it home I was confronted with the existential question that hangs over all those of us with small kitchens - where to put the damn thing? Good one, Bruce: as it happens the faithful old Kenwood doesn't see that much use, so it's been banished to the pantry and the KitchenAid has taken its place right next to the imposing black German multi-function microwave.
So just for a change I headed off to Narbonne on Saturday, hoping that just maybe after the market I would be able to find the Arab bazaar that I vaguely recalled was over by the gare, and that perhaps they would have some of life's necessities like sweet chili sauce and oyster sauce - oddly enough, these are things that are not easy to find in these parts.
I managed to pick up some cherries, first of the season, some of the adorable little pêches plates about which I have written before, spare ribs and tomatoes with taste and, just because I can, a couple of daurade royale (which I learn are bream) destined for the evening barbecue accompanied by some skewered vegetable chunks - courgette, kumara and onion, I thought.
Although I am still on the lookout for some decent oven gloves: the pair I have are on their last legs but I will not be having with those damn silicone ones that make me feel as though my hands are encased in an over-sized football. So if any of you are wondering what exactly to buy me as a spur-of-the-moment present just because, now you know.
Sadly I was stiff out of luck: they stock many spices - I even recognise some of them - but the shelves were destitute of what I crave. Maybe I'll have no choice but to stock up next time I head off to Chambéry.
So cue a quick trip on Friday night to pick up a new fitting and a spare tube, head back home and start to take the old one down. Somewhat to my surprise, when I exposed the wires that lead from the switch to the old fitting I discovered that all three were red, which is not really what one expects. I guess that the guy ran out of wire.
Whatever, the tingling stopped after a while, and I cursed a bit and decided that I was doing no more till I'd got some more reels of cable and rewired the damn thing comme il faut.
Hence, if you like, my feeling that life is conspiring against me because when I came back from Narbonne past Bricomarché with the idea of at least getting the cable, I was reminded of the fact that they close at lunch-time.
And now, children, I'd better drag myself inside from the bright sun and start planning dinner, for I have a large hunk of pork with the ribs still in and not much of an idea as to what I shall do with it, nor what to do on the side. Decisions to be made.
* Actually that's Cash - for Catherine - and Terry, but I can't help myself.