|Another one for the collection|
Actually, reboot that. I had occasion to fill up the wine tanks the other day, in anticipation of Beckham's impending visit and the damage that could do to the stocks, and the nice guy at the cave coopérative suggested that I go take a look at the damage around Homps and Olonzac just a few km to the north, so having better things to do that is what I did. Just looking, you could be forgiven for saying "so what?", but when you look closer you can see that half the leaves are on the ground, and those that are still on the vines are starting to wither because the stems have been twisted and bashed about. And the odd thing is that there's a very clear line: just out of Homps on the right of the road the vines were healthy and happy, to the left - not so much.
Much to my relief - and to that of my proof-reader - the delivery guy turned up Friday in a squeal of tires and to an excited chorus of barks from STD (who seems to reckon that his job description involves protecting all of place St-Régis against people that he has not personally authorised) and hastily handed over my new keyboard, so I now no longer have random characters appearing as I type. Any future misspellings will be entirely my fault.
|Kitties! Look at them whilst I steal your wallet|
Now there's something I am going to have difficulty replacing when eventually my Logitech one dies on me as I can only reasonably expect it will sometime in the not-too-distant future, given how long I've had it. So far I've been able to get away with cleaning out the accumulated greasy gunk once a month, but I don't know how long I'll be able to get away with that. And the only one I've been able to find is some cheap Bluetooth knock-off, which will probably try - and perhaps succeed - to pair with my phone, and stubbornly refuse to talk to anything else. (Now that you ask, no, I don't particularly like Bluetooth. My experiences with it have been - mixed, at best.)
We squeaked through in that department but the meal was not without its mishaps: in an excess of enthusiasm I took the heavy baking tray with six individual soufflés au chèvre et citron atop it out of the oven one-handed, and had almost got out to the table when the damn tray warped as it cooled and delivered all but one up to the mercies of gravity and a very hard tiled floor. I am afraid that I used a few of the choicer, more robust rude words in my repertoire. Bitch, Bruce.
We fled, and went our way up to la cité more or less as planned, and about the first thing we did was find somewhere to eat. And, of course, drink. Yes, Beckham went for the cassoulet, which would not be my meal of choice in summer but there you are: Margo, wiser, went for terrine and then just a cuisse de poulet and of course I had no option but to choose the foie gras followed by a magret de canard poelé. I must admit that I had not expected to be served an entire duck breast all to myself, nicely cooked though it was.
We rolled out after dessert and tried to walk off some of the surplus-to-requirements calories, unfortunately coming across a coutellerie selling some rather interesting hand-forged cutlery which we may have to revisit sometime soon, but after a couple of hours forcing our way through the masses of tourists (I had, I must admit, forgotten that Carcassonne is kind of a tourist Mecca, being a World Heritage site and all) we all got thirsty again and decided to head stop off at Trèbes on the way home for a refreshing health drink in a shady bar on the banks of the canal du Midi.
Beckham had expressed a desire to go off to the beach on Sunday, but when she finally made surface there was a gentle breeze playing around, and I guess that the thought of being sand-blasted on Narbonne-Plage didn't really appeal all that much for a after a late, leisurely lunch of left-overs we decided instead to go get a dose of kulcha at Lagrasse. Where, in addition to other virtues too numerous to mention, such as its C14 covered marketplace, the abbey, the river and the rabbit-warren of narrow twisty streets, there are also a number of bars - all of them, at the start of the tourist season, open on a Sunday to welcome the thirsty footsore visitor.
Made it there and the tables were bare, so we were forced to mingle and chat with various people we know until, surreptitiously, serried lines of glistening bottles appeared and the fatted pizza was slaughtered and laid out. Any semblance of order disappeared as the able-bodied and small children descended in droves, milling around trying to snag the tastiest bits of pizza or a half-full bottle, leaving the senile and the grannies sitting on the sidelines and smiling benignly. Far too bloody much food, as usual, and I really should warn you that "Label 5" Finest Blended Alcoholic Shoe Polish is considered down these parts to be an acceptable substitute for whisky.
And after about an hour of that the whistle blew to remind us that we were here for a serious purpose, ie major eating and we went off to find our seats between a very gai gendarme and his Camerounais family, and a serious but very pleasant family who turned out to own the couple of Ferraris I sometimes see parked out at the top of the village.
One thing led to another, and after the trou Normand and the fireworks but before the dancing had really got seriously underway it started pelting down, and after ten minutes sheltering under the tables it became apparent that this was likely to continue so with some regret we decided that discretion was much the better part of valour, and stumbled back home.
* Don't bother going all medieaval on me. I am merely specifying that the hectares of which I speak are in fact square, rather than oval or star-shaped, or something that looks like a splodge of vomit.