Monday, 30 April 2007

Pole dancing in the hayloft or an unexpected excursion

It is a gloriously sunny day here in the heartland of deepest Brittany, a fact that is extremely welcome after so much rain . The storm clouds all seem to have disappeared, so my head is feeling mercifully a little lighter. A good job too, me thinks as the entire house seems to have gone to pot whilst I have been suffering bravely in my bed of pain!

I came down to breakfast this morning to an empty kitchen still scattered with the remnants of last nights repas, the children not up from their beds and the door still un-mended. It would appear in the absence of myself and the chief patissier Madame Grognonne chose to neglect her duties as housekeeper in favour of entertaining a follower of all things ! One Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch no less if I surmise correctly!!

Evidence of this was everywhere, in the red stains from spilled eau de vie on the tablecloth, the 6 empty vodka bottles , the half washed dishes and the presence of a large pair of red leather knee high riding boots propped by the range. I am rather loathe to picture where the owner of the boots may be at the present moment for fear of my headache returning. However, since his black felt hat and highly embroidered waistcoat have been abandoned in an obvious trail across the yard in the direction of the hayloft I can only ponder on whether Madame Grognonne has embarked upon a course of late night Polish lessons. I do hope her studies do not include anything as vigorous as a Mazurka as the hay loft floor was never designed for folk dancing by some one of her proportions!

Had she chosen to leave the maison in such a slovenly state in order to perfect her jousting skills or take herself to our archery butts I may well have felt less aggrieved, for a healthy mind must needs come first from a healthy body and I am quite used to the sight of her appearing from the ornamental pond decked in weeds after a bit of early morning scuba diving amongst the goldfish but this THIS!! It is a sheer dereliction of duty and an extremely poor example to set les enfants. Further more I shall not hesitate tell her so at the earliest opportunity.

I was forced to fetch the children out of bed and command eldest to dress and bathe the younger two whilst I sought out Chief Patissier to take them all to school. Chief Patissier is “faire-ing a pont today” as tomorrow, being Mayday is a public holiday here in France. To Faire the pont (build a bridge) is a pleasant French custom whereby if there is a holiday close to the weekend then a real break is made of it and an extra day is taken. We have so many bank holidays in the month of May quite frankly everyone might as well stay at home. August is just as bad as the entire country goes on les vacances and nothing is done until September has begun.

These thoughts reminded me to send Chief patissier to call into the bar tabac on the way home and collect Gilles, who will undoubtedly be there, “comme d’habitude”, having an early morning absinthe. Absinthe is banned in France, some silliness on the part of the government I fear, but that has never been a thing to overly worry our local hostilier who keeps a cellar of the stuff and sells the odd glass to faithful frequenters of his bar. He almost came a cropper when a new gendarme arrived and was offered a glass before revealing his true identity and attempting to perform a arrest for the sale of noxious substances and endangering public health and safety! Fortunately for the bar keeper the gendarmes body was found some weeks later floating in the river with his pockets filled with stones. So the authorities were none the wiser. I am always telling the children to be very cautious when playing near water, obviously this poor gendarmes mother was not as assiduous in her childrearing as I have been!

To tell the truth I think Chief Patissier had chosen to faire the Pont in order to avoid taking his midday meal at the “Petit Chevre” in the village, where he has recently taken to eating during the week. I suspect this ruse is a means of avoiding a meeting with Antoine and Jean Claude who, since the last night of the play, seem to be getting along like a house on fire, something which, for some reason I am quite at a loss to fathom, has discombobulated Chief Patissier no end.

Chief patissier having returned with Gilles, Gilles having fixed the electrical system admirably with a piece of gum and some bailing twine he happened to have about his person and then excused himself to return to the bar for a mid morning absinthe. I took stock of what the day must hold for us and how we were to achieve all that must be done without the presence of Madame Grognonne and without alerting Chief patissier to the latter’s absence .

Since Chief patissier seemed so intent to stay chez nous all day under my feet I have set him to mending the door and cutting the lawn as well as tackling the other myriad chores that require attention with such a large residence as our own to maintain. Perhaps with hind site this was not altogether a wise move on my part. He appeared shortly afterwards at the window bearing an entire branch of my magnolia which he had managed to decapitate with the lawnmower . This must have been some feat as it is such a magnificent specimen tree, standing at least 15 feet tall and he is mere 5 feet 8 inches in his stocking feet , added to which the lawnmower is, or so I am led to believe ,quite heavy. One can only imagine that he and the lawnmower were airborne a the time.

Lunch time approached with still no sign of either Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch nor Madame Grognonne. I had earlier taken the precaution of removing the trail of clothes and secreting them by the well where I hoped they would discover them. I am convinced after his reaction to the mere sight of the Polish émigré yesterday that, if my dear husband discovers that Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch has been up all night teaching Madame Grognonne to conjugate her Slavic vowels and thus preventing her from preparing his breakfast this morning, he will take the pitch fork to both of them. I am not you understand concerned for Alexi Vlodaflodavodavitch, whom I am sure is quite capable of fending for his own well being, but good housekeepers are hard to find here and I do not wish to be left to peel my own potatoes should Madame Grognonne be incapacitated in anyway !

I hit upon the plan of persuading Chief Patissier to accompany me on my errands. This had the added bonus of proving me with someone to carry my parcels and excusing me from the onerous chore of preparing a luncheon for us both chez nous.

We drove, therefore, to the next town day and had a fine meal at the local inn after which I carried out the weeks shopping at the bustling market. It is wonderful; that a small excursion into the world of commerce in search of trifles can lift ones spirits so! Even with Chief Patissier walking behind with the baskets being most grumpy and tiresome.

I am not, as you will understand, accustomed to organizing the menu for the household myself, under normal circumstances as in all well run households, Madame Grognonne presents me with the weeks menu each lundi matin and I invariably approve it, unless, of course , I have a particular fancy for a specific dish, in which case we take a walk the pair of us to the village shops to purchase whatever comestibles are deemed necessary.

However this morning I have quite enjoyed myself at playing the little housewife I have lodged in my ample panniers a fine assortment of delicacies from which she will one hopes concoct something delightful ! Three kilos of tripe, such a pretty creamy colour, I have never tasted it but it looks delightful, a large punnet of strawberries, 2 cantaloupe melons ,a kilo and a half of gherkins ,and a slightly over ripe ox tongue. What else could a good cook ask for, or even a middling cook such as she for that matter!

We are en route chez nous at this moment via the school where we shall delightfully surprise the boys by collecting them in the motorcar, such a treat! I am looking forward to a nice refreshing pot of tea on our return, always presuming Madame Grognonne has recovered her decorum and ousted her pole from the premises! If this is not the case I can see I shall have to think quickly and devise copious reasons for us to continue to circle the village in the motorcar until she has done so.

I leave you now my dear petite vache as ever your affectionate un peu Loufoque.
For those of you who may be interested the photograph is of the previous owners of Chief Patissiers motor car, Monseuir du Bagnole and his charming wife. They are rather eccentric local chicken farmers and had purchased the vehicle originally to provide housing for for some of their more discerning poultry. Chief Patissier persuaded them to sell it to him for 145 francs and a years supply of gallettes which I think you will agree was quite a bargain!


Posie Rosie said...

Tripe,...yukky, hope your recipe was good, enjoying catching up.

Alan said...

Nice blog!

"Absinthe is banned in France:" no, it isn't. The French authorities insist that it is called something else, e.g. "Spritueux aux plantes d'absinthe," absinthe also being the French for wormwood. See the Wikipedia article on absinthe.

Of course if Gilles likes it even more because he thinks it is banned, maybe it is best not to tell him!

And if you want to get him a present one day, you can find on my blog (March 27th post) the details of a shop in Paris with more than 30 different absinthes.

toady said...

UPL Who is Alan? Is he Alexei's brother, does the Chief Patissier know? Toady

Blossomcottage said...

Hey how come you pick up someone called Alan,I can't even pick up feas when the dogs are covered in them. I suppose its because you are that funny wordy thing in two languages, I don't have that excuse I'm just blonde dumb, and can't spell, can't speak french either. any way great blog and I think you ought to be in print in the better class of book shop.

Blossomcottage said...

sorry FLEAS

muddyboots said...

bonjour combien des bottles of vodka avec vous drunk then? your life sounds sooo very exciting dear, sunshine, rain, drinkie poos, wonderful. back to my double espressos & paperwork. c'est la vie & lets have a great may day!

Alan said...

Hi blossomcottage. There's nothing wrong with dumb blondes ... well, I suppose that depends how dumb ... and how blonde.

Toady, don't worry about who I am. I find the best way to stop worrying about who I am is to have another absinthe. Try it.

ChrisH said...

I was beginning to feel better until you mentioned over ripe ox tongue, gherkins and tripe! Tres disagreeable. Chris, still recovering from the Ace Gang.

Inthemud said...

Sounds like Mne Grognonne had a grand old time! Glad your head is getting better.

Love the old car!


Blossom dear I don't think they would let me past the door in the better class of book shop let alone have me in print there!!
Alan according to his blog (click on his name) is a peddlar of alchofrolic drinks!!Especailly Absinthe,, coo I've been edumacated today I honestly thougth it was banned I shall tell Madame Grognonne to search it out post haste and forthwith!!Thanks !

Tattie Weasle said...

Is there a good recipe for tripe and do you think the other side would appreciate it? Possibly not - but the comment was just begging to be said!!!!

Tattie Weasle said...

Is there a good recipe for tripe and do you think the other side would appreciate it? Possibly not - but the comment was just begging to be said!!!!

Suffolkmum said...

Good one Tattie Weasle! Quite a challenge to come up with something good out of tripe I'd have thought. Your life does sound wonderfully insane. And you pick up purveyors of alcoholic drinks.

jackofall said...

Just nipping over to ask the other side now about recipes for tripe - just because they stitched us (you) all up doesn't mean we have to stop winding them up, we're all still registered there.


Tatty weasal just for you Tripe a la mode!!!

Woozle1967 said...

Trip conjures up memories of my mum cooking it for our dog! Never got over that!x

Withy Brook said...

Tripe is very good food for dogs - good on your Mum, Woozle.

Un peu - I shall have lots of food going next time (certainly scones, with strawberry jam and cream and coffee) and wine if you are very good, but perhaps it would be safer to leave Mme Grognonne behind. See you there soon.

Frances said...

Merci bien, for taking me far, far away from my humdrum worries, to the unpredictable delights of your household.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I just have this wonderful picture in my mind of the red boots, the panniers and the tripe....thank you

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