Apart from that it's a wonderful season: crisp and bright in the moaning, when the dogs and I go out for our respective bowel motions, and then in the afternoon when the low sun lights up the old stonework and a few rays filter through the leaves, and the sky is vast and the colour of lapis lazuli, it is almost too beautiful for words. Luckily, we've got used to it, and are no longer surprised.
But not tonight - it being Monday now - as chez Réné, our itinerant drinking session, had organised lunch at le Gallois, a little gîte/restaurant at Capendu, all of 4km from here. We turned up, all seventeen of us, around midday, and the last of us rolled out some time around 16h. It's a bit too soon to start on the obituary: announcements of the death of the good long French lunch are somewhat premature.
I am planning on cooking that duck liver au torchon, which in fact (according to the excellent Mssrs Ruhlman and Polcyn, of Charcuterie fame) means not really cooking at all, given that it just involves poaching the thing, wrapped tightly in a tea-towel (hence the name) in barely simmering water for all of 90 seconds. As he says, you're basically just softening the fat (and a hypertrophied duck liver is, mostly, fat) so you can make it into a nice shape: also, it'll have been salted and soaked in alcohol and most bacteria do not really thrive in fat (you are starting to see the common point here?) so that's fine. Just keep it in the fridge, and eat within a week.
I have my eyes on a very nice replacement, same five gas burners including the ridiculous 4 KW one for the wok, and the same huge oven only electric rather than gas (which is actually better for patisserie and stuff like that): I have but to convince myself that I really want it.
That can wait. For a bit, anyway. Before that I have to go buy a couple of old-school dumb phones, of the kind with a cord that you just plug into a wall socket, in order that I may, in fact, just plug them into some of the phone jacks around here in The Shamblings™. This is because, in common with many, we have two phone numbers: good old POTS, and the VoIP number that comes with the Livebox that provides us with essential things like Internet and kitty porn. In principle one plugs one's Livebox into a phone jack and the phone into the Livebox, and whether someone calls on the POTS number or on the new-fangled VoIP number the phone will ring.
Sadly, this turns out not to be the case - at least, not reliably.
"Admit it", I said to the anonymous "technician", "this is not optimal. True, I now know that the software in your frikkin Livebox is brain-dead and has hissy-fits, and I know what to do about it, but I ask you how I can know when it has had a hissy-fit, given that we do not know that we have missed a possibly life-or-death phone call?"
I put it to him that this too, although admittedly a solution, was one which required me paying about ten baguettes-worth of my own money to fix a problem which was, in theory, their responsibility, and was also unaesthetic in the extreme; but I could tell he'd lost interest. So we exchanged civilities, hung up, and I resolved to do as he had suggested whilst waiting for Orange to stick out a patch: which'll probably bugger something else, but that would be par for the course.
Anyway, like I said earlier it is now autumn and the dogs' walks are necessarily somewhat curtailed during the day, for that means it is hunting season. And around these parts lots of people go hunting. We prefer not to go up into the pinède, for there the hunter's vision - already blurred by heroic quantities of cheap plonk - will be even further obscured by the pine forests; and down amongst the vines where some go for rabbits it is no better. I suppose I should take some comfort from the fact that hunters usually kill other hunters rather than innocent passers-by (hunters tend to wear hi-vis vests along with their ridiculous little deer-stalker hats, which makes for a better target), but I would prefer not to become one of the exceptions to this general rule.
Also, we've just arrived back from a weekend in Spain with José and Guillain. I don't think I've eaten - and drunk - so much in the space of 36 hours for quite some time. We left home at some ungodly hour on Saturday to get down to Empuriabrava in time for the market which was the ostensible reason for going, and had an apéro. Then we ambled up and down the market, headed back to the bar, and had another apéro. Then as it was getting on for 14:00 and thus lunch-time, we found a restaurant, had an apéro and a full lunch, with wine.
There was a disco for the over-fifties, so we hung around there for a bit and José insisted on a little digestif, which in my case turned out to be about 4 inches of whisky in a highball glass: as a reward for being so good we were then allowed to go to bed. And after a final apéro with breakfast this moaning (you ever tried chocolate-filled churros?) we stopped off briefly at La Jonquera to pick up a few essential and otherwise unobtainable supplies - such as dry sherry, dry Martini and queso manchego - before heading home to find that Rafaelo had neither burnt the house down nor been slobbered to death by the dogs in our absence. Which has to be good news, I guess.