Sunday, March 25, 2018

Hah! No Pictures ...

Once again the devil throws up on my eiderdown: I find myself, through no fault of my own, with four kg of foie gras au torchon in the freezer. So anyone who turns up at The Shamblings™ this year may find themselves asked to help deal with this situation. There's also some duck breast turning into prosciutto hanging in the garage, along with that wild boar ham: and speaking of which Daniel Carle is supposedly arriving at Martin & Angela's some time this moaning to drop off some more.

Good thing there's now a bit of room in the freezer: good, too, that the boar is supposed to arrive ready-cut, which means I won't have to turn up nonchalantly swinging the sabre saw. That tends to attract unwanted attention, especially if the gendarmerie happen to be making one of their periodic rounds in the area.

Those of you who take an interest in such things will doubtless be aware that over here in Ole Yurrup there is a cold snap: I can confirm that this is the case. It snowed on Wednesday, and that turned to heavy rain on Thursday, and it got cold and dismal enough that we felt it necessary to turn the fire on. Not so much for the heat; just for the flames.

Of course Wednesday would be the day I had to go through to Lezignan to get new tyres put on Sarah's rear end, and the fact that 5mm of snow is enough, in these parts, to make people - especially those with big 4x4 SUVs - drive like pithed frogs did not improve my mood: already dyspeptic enough at having to go out in -5° weather, and with one of those bloody ridiculous half-width spare tyres on to boot. In principle you're not supposed to go over 80k with one of the damn things but I need not have fretted, I was lucky if I managed to get up to 60.

And then when the rain arrived it came from the Wrong Trousers, for the wind had turned to a violent easterly and this is not a good thing because a) it makes for very wet rain, what with all the humidity from the Mediterranean and b) it's hammering on the eastern side of the house which almost never gets any rain and was built in consequence, so the verandah roof leaks and we have major lakes, with tides, out there. Which doesn't impress the dogs, either. With the exception of Emma, who could care more. She has an unrelentingly sunny disposition, and she loves water. Also, she is known as Piddling Emma and for good reason, so sometimes we find lakes out there even if it's not rained. Such is life.

While I'm thinking about cars, little Suzy went off for the mandatory contrôle technique the other day and - to general consternation - is actually good to go for another two years, provided we shell out some €200 to get the little warning light that is permanently on fixed. Not too bad for 15 years, almost 300 000km on the clock, and zero maintenance apart from the odd oil change from time to time. Try telling that to the young folk today.

Oop't bar things are still somewhat shambolic - that is, it is rather more probable than not that what you get is not what you ordered, also the dishes that you did not order at a table of four are all but guaranteed to arrive spread out over a period of an hour or so - but what the hell, we is has our bar back. And we are taking over! Of a Friday evening, anyway. Between the English, the Irish, the Germans, the French contingent from Montbrun, the Dutch couple that turned up on our doorstep one bitterly cold night a few weeks ago (having discovered that the lock had broken, and they were locked out), a couple of Swedes and a Dane from Douzens, some yoof and the Mouxois who don't mind sharing the place with us, there's probably about thirty of us.

And Tuesdays it's lad's night out as Martin and Terry and Nev and Ivor and José head up for an evening playing pool ... I think Margo wants to get me out of the house for she gently hinted that perhaps I should go up as well, but I pointed out that no-one really wants to lose an eye to an unfortunate stroke of the cue, also Lionel would be upset when I rip a great gouge in the felt, and that is where the matter rests.

It was grey and dismal when I went through to the market at Carcassonne the other day but hey! the first of the local asparagus are out (you really should avoid the dry wizened spears that have spent a couple of days in the back of a truck coming up from Spain, just saying) and on top of that the reptile family from Marseillette actually had some bigarade, the bitter Seville oranges, on offer and so I did the only thing possible under the circumstances and bought all they had left, which amounted to just over a kilo. And now it smells bright and sunny in the kitchen as they simmer in the big copper pan, all chopped up nicely, waiting for their apotheosis as marmelade.

I had actually thought, when I went off to get the few kilos of sugar required, to pick up some preserving jars as well, but when I'd finished boiling it up to 104.5°C (soft ball) it became apparent that they were not going to be enough, and of course it was a Sunday so the odds of being able to go pick up some more were pretty low: happily, rummaging under the crooks and nannies in the pantry and below the stairs turned up a few lurking jam jars and so now I find myself with about 2.5kg of Seville marmelade on my hands. Metaphorically speaking.

 We bravely left the house yesterday for points south, down in the rugged stony Corbières, to see if we couldn't find a little fête de la bière artisanale that was supposedly being held somewhere called Portel des Corbières. And we made it, despite Goofle's best efforts at killing us by sending me off along little twisty roads (I suppose you could call them that, they were actually sealed, which is pretty good) and through gorges and ravines. There seems to be no option to say "Do NOT want the scenic route" when using Google Maps on yer phone. Mind you, it was still better than the first time ever we came down this way, some seven or eight years ago now, when the now superannuated GPS Of Doom sent us from Carcassonne up and over and onto the southern flank of l'Alaric and along goat-tracks and through a military firing zone, just to get to St Laurent de Cabresrisse. I think, on the whole trip, we saw maybe three houses and thirty-odd sheep, so it was definitely restful.

Anyways, they'd doubtless cunningly planned this little festival to coincide with the solemn and sacred Feast of St Patrick, and there were loads of people. Rather more, we thought, than they'd planned on. Also, on the website there were five little micro-breweries announced: there were in fact seventeen of them. That rather surprised me. Whatever, it was all excellent; although "Vlad", the 9.8% Imperial Stout (two English guys and a Belgian, from up in Ginestas), was very smooth and without a hint of bitterness it did leave me, an hour or so later, thinking wistfully of a nice little nap somewhere quiet.

And in keeping with the spirit of the day there was an enthusiastic and surprisingly competent Celtic punk group providing the music: three guys dressed, to all appearances, in dead badgers. We left, not too soddenly, shortly after their mid-afternoon finale, and I couldn't help but notice that the queue at the fish'n'chip wagon wasn't really getting any shorter.

Whatever, this has been kind of episodic due to Busy!, also I have to rummage through the fossil pile to find papers for the accountant so that he can fabricate the end-of-year statement and that I may pay income tax, and there are drinkies at Montbrun tonight so perhaps I should go and shave.

Mind how you go, now.

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