Thursday, 31 May 2007

An Adventure Begins!


We are travelling down to Brest by train as Chief Patissier feels it might be too onerous to drive such a distance. Far easier to go by train than trying to navigate ourselves through the desolate uncharted wilds of Finistere and risk getting horribly lost in some God forsaken hamlet where only an obscure Gallo dialect is spoken. Finistere has always been a somewhat backward disreputable and barbaric area of Brittany.

I am inordinately pleased at the prospect of travelling by train although I have little previous experience of that mode of transport having to the best of my knowledge only ever utilized it twice before, both times as a very small child. Once, having stowed away in a laundry hamper to Calais and the second on the return journey to Bordeaux in the luggage wagon accompanied by a somewhat elderly gendarme. I seem to remember the return journey being far less comfortable. However I sincerely doubt whether Chief Patissier and I will be travelling as luggage. I understand they have rather fine first class carriages which travel between Paris and Nice but whether we will be able to avail ourselves of this level of service on the Rennes to Brest route is, I am certain, an entirely different matter.

I am in a vexing position of great indecisiveness regarding what I might require for the sojourn. I will of course need to equip my self with suitable travelling clothes but as we are to be away for two nights I am at a loss as to whether I might require two sets of full evening dress , we shall naturally dress for dinner. Or whether one will suffice.

Finistere is, by reputation ,incredibly generously endowed in terms of annual precipitation, so much so it makes the Cotes D’Armor seem positively arid by comparison! Added to which Brest is notoriously windswept and therefore warmer clothing may be sensible even for this time of year. I have no intention of packing my galoshes, however as I am sure Brest has perfectly respectable pavements and I have no intention of cavorting about in the mud.

We are leaving the chateau and children under Madame Grognonne’s direction and, providing that youngest does not yet again attempt to dismantle the engine of the motorcar unsupervised, I am sure all will be well. Madame Grognonne has promised to ensure all firearms are kept out of the children’s grasp and Chief Patissier has ordered very specific instructions regarding their archery practise in our absence to avoid any possibility of accidental damage to his portrait. Sensible precautions on his part I am sure however, I find It is incredible how resourceful small children can be and who can say what we shall discover when we return. He did not after all forbid the use of firecrackers in the salle and accidents will happen even in the best regulated households I fear.

It is for such a reason I have been very clear with both Madame Grognonne and Jacques previously known as Henri, that if the weather proves to be inclement whilst we are away that they are, at the first sign of a storm to seek out Loic and ensure he is safely stowed indoors. With his reaction to loud bangs it is quite possible without such precautions ,should it become thunderous I may return to discover him rigid and sopping wet having been caught unawares and rooted to the spot , unnoticed in some neglected corner of the garden for the entire duration of our absence. The poor man having given an arm and a leg to his country I think it is the least we can do , added to which having had Madame |Grognonne struck by lightening twice I think to allow a second member of my household to suffer the same fate might well be considered to improvident.

Having recently reviewed the household finances Chief patissier has also taken the precaution to speak with our local bar tabac and wine merchants and left strict instructions that under no circumstances is Jacques, previously known as Henri, to purchase either Absinthe or Cognac on our household account whilst we are away. He had every intention of taking the cellar key with him for safe keeping but I pointed out that should there be some sort of emergency, access might be needed to the cognac for medicinal purposes and he therefore relented reluctantly. I must say I find his attitude a trifle excessive on this point after al lit isn’t as if Jacque, formally known as Henri , is likely to use the alcohol for any thing other than horse liniment is it?

We intend to commence our journey demain matin at an early hour so I fear that I may well be unable to write my journal tomorrow or even, Quelle horreur, for the entire length of my absence form Chez Nous. After all I always transcribe my thoughts at my dear Louis XVI writing desk that Chief patissier presented me with on the occasion of our marriage and I can hardly be expected to carry that with me on a such a short expedition!

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The photograph above is an image of one of the grande rues in Brest and shows it as a thriving and busy thoroughfare well equipped with mercantile establishments, as I can see at a glance that there are at least 2 milliners and a purveyor of ladies vetements I have high hopes of adding some much needed refinements to my wardrobe which has become of late rather rural in aspect for want of the opportunity to augment it without anything resembling haute couture . I realise bien sûr that the purpose of the visit is the advancement of the patissiers industry but it would be an unforgivable sin not to take advantage of decent shopping emporiums whilst we are there.
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14 comments:

sally's chateau said...

I have a foreboding that something awful is going to happen !

Alan@RealAbsintheBlog said...

You "left strict instructions that under no circumstances is Jacques, previously known as Henri, to purchase either Absinthe or Cognac on our household account."

Attention! Aren't you aware that Jacques could just buy them on the internet using a credit card?

Pondside said...

Yes, Un Peu, shop til you drop, but make sure that it is on M le Chef's carte de credit!
Merci beaucoup for the lovely comments you've left for me. Yes, I visualise the breaths in colour - grey leaving my body and all of the blues and reds breathing in!
Of course you can come any time - no excuse needed - just hope on a plane and come for a stay and a tour at Pondside!

muddyboots said...

l agree with sally, something awful IS going to happen. please don't forget to pack the first aid kit in your portmanteau...just in case?

lampworkbeader said...

Have a good trip and remember to keep your powder dry.

The Country Craft Angel said...

Whatever will we do without you? Glad it will be just a short break. But do enjoy and spend lots!!

Look forward to hearing about it on your return.

warm wishes
x

Posie Rosie said...

Oh do hope you get to travel first class, loved the image of you as a stow away in a laundry basket!

annakarenin said...

well have a jolly good time and rest assured that nothing untoward will happen at home with all those extremely capable people there to keep an eye on things.

ChrisH said...

Damn I've missed you! Just my luck ! I was going to pack my bags and head in your direction and beg to be taken on as Madame Grognonne's apprentice. It's got to be easier than running a free hotel here!

Suffolkmum said...

Hmm, I have a sense of foreboding too ... I do so hope you won't be travelling in the luggage compartment ...

Hopping Moon said...

Is it wise, I wonder , to leave the chateau under Madame Grogonne's direction? Hoping it's a fabulous trip!

Thanks so much for your kind comments.

Pondside said...

Oh darn - just peeked in to see if there was a new installment before heading for bed - too tired to stay up to my usual hour tonight. I guess I'll have to wait until morning.

Fennie said...

Well, enjoy your break and we look forward to double tales on your return - tales of the chateau (you never know, quite possibly - though unlikely I grant you all may be well and the inmates may even have repainted the place by the time you arrive back again) and tales of Brest - to where I have never been and which I know only from the old Hornblower stories of the Brest blockade in the 1790s more than a century, I suppose, before these tales. I guess all has changed. But I would like to know of the Isle of Ouessant, which sounds an incredibly romantic place and the sort of setting that someone might choose were ever they to write a book called 'The English Lieutenant's Woman' or even - (because surely there must have been a prison there at one time) The Bird Woman of Ouessant. Anyway, too much rabbitting as usual - enjoy your journey to the literal (as well as littoral) end of (the) earth.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

No orders against firecrackers . . . indeed . . .events awaited!