Thursday, 17 May 2007

UN PEU LOUFOQUE QUEEN OF THE DESERT,


As there is no school for the remainder of the week due to the feast of the ascension, and we are still foot loose and free in the absence of the chief Patissier, I planned a petite surprise pour les enfants by way of a diversion.

Madame Grognonne, who can be incredibly resourceful when one least expects it has procured for us, from Fatima and one of her many and numerous relatives a genuine Moroccan tent and we are to go on an expedition and camp overnight like the Bedouin of the desert!

Since reading her book “Persian Pictures” I have been a great follower of the splendid British writer and traveler Gertrude Bell. I feel we have so much in common. I myself being both a scholar and a linguistic, and having like Gertrude,(such an unfortunate name!) from childhood a yearning to explore the world beyond my horizon. Why, I recall, as a small child being returned by train, accompanied by a rather elderly gendarme, to Bordeaux having stowed away in a large hamper filled with clothes and linen being sent to my mother across the channel. It caused an awful row and my dress had the aroma of camphor for weeks afterwards. I was in hindsight immensely fortunate that I had been discovered and that the luggage had not been lost or misdirected in transit otherwise I might have ended up somewhere terrible like Alsace Lorraine never to be heard of again!

Sadly of course my position denies me such freedoms now, but the world is changing and perhaps if I am able to instill even a small sense of adventure in my children it may enable them to take flight themselves and see places I may only ever dream of. A nights camping is but a trifling thing but may not even a tiny spark, if it is nurtured well, grow to set the world ablaze ?

Fatima and Abdul Fahide and several of their cousins, brothers and sisters will go on ahead and set up camp in secret and Madame Grognonne and I shall follow later in the day with the children in the governess cart, under the jolly ruse that we are off to hunt for late violets in the woods.

Henri Jacque Le Cravacher has kindly volunteered to rest Chez Nous to tend to the dogs, cats and chickens and guard the cellar in our absence. I know we are going for only a very short time but one can not be too careful as there are some awful rogues about. Whilst Chief Patissier is away I feel responsible for Chez nous’s safe keeping, I am sure he would be furious if on his return he was to discover the silver gone and the cellar empty. I pondered briefly with idea of leaving Madame Grognonne behind but swiftly realized that would be ridiculous for me to be left in sole charge of the children and the catering, which, I am sure you would concur, is an absurd idea to consider even in jest!

Madame Grognonne has gone to great pains to aid me in my cunning plan and has assisted me in the deceit by sending the children on foot some four miles into the next town on some spurious errand thus allowing us plenty of time to pack and secrete all that we shall need by way of provisions. Although Fatima has assured us that all has been provided for in the way of bedding and catering , we have packed several blankets,4 roast chicken a half case of burgundy, some cognac, champagne and plenty of profiteroles just in case. One can never be too sure one has enough and I do find children tend to eat far more heartily out of doors than at the dining table.

Hush! I think I hear the little dears returning now their grumbling voices carried on the breeze and the faint sobbing of youngest as they trudge down the lane bearing a full barrel between them. How clever of Madame Grognonne to think of pretending we had run out of cooking sherry! She really is quite irreplaceable!

I do hope they are not too tired to enjoy our evening of delights!

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The photograph is of Gertrude Bell, If your education is somewhat lacking in the history of Great Women of our times you may like familiarize yourself with her exploits by reading this simple synopsis http://www.flatrock.org.nz/topics/money_politics_law/gertrude_margaret_lowthian_bell.htm
For those who are better equipped to cope with the written word I recommend your perusing “Desert Queen “By Janet Wallach .

11 comments:

Pondside said...

Well, Un Peu, I have always said that safari dress is incredibly flattering to the female figure. Always wanted to live in between-the-wars Africa!
Your refreshed profile is lovely and I was quite thrilled to see my little contribution, as I just know that if only the right someone would read your blog that we'd have a series to rival Mappa and Lucia.

Frances said...

I will try to sleep tonight, but still wonder what will happen on this excursion. Hoping that the provisions will be adequate.
A demain.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Those poor profiteroles......

muddyboots said...

did this brave woman feature on woman's hour a while back? if you need to visit iran to visit the wonderful buildings & buy fantastic carpets l know a man!! Persian food looks very interesting as well you know!

sally's chateau said...

I'm packing right now or rather 'my woman' has been issued with instructions to prepare for my departure. Will we be required to dress for dinner ?

Suffolkmum said...

I also hope the provisions will be adequate and the little ones returned home in one piece ...

KittyB said...

The very cheek of it - Gertrude is a beautiful name, my own beloved spaniel Gertie (Dirty Gertie from Number 30) is officially called Gooseclose Gertrude, she is named after Gertrude Bell (who was a local girl) and Gertrude Jekyll. And when she has puppies next and we keep one, she will be Gooseclose Vita (Sackville West).

That sounds like my kind of catering. Profiteroles and burgundy. Yum, Glug!

@themill said...

Oh UPL, please don't tell me Alsace Lorraine is an awful place! It is where the Farmer and I are spending a week in June. Do hope there will be profiteroles and burgundy tho'.

@themill said...

Forgot to say, I think Gertrude Bell was a distant rellie of the Farmers family.

Fennie said...

Back in the dear old days when we were all in that awful See-ell primary school, I wrote a blog about the woman whose grandmother cooked for Gertrude Bell, so you can tell Madame Grognonne that provided she doesn't mix the chicken and the profiteroles and remembers the angle at which to put in the tent pegs the young ones may grow up to be great explorers too, not that there are many places left to go. But was it wise to leave Le Cravachier in charge of the cellar? Or am I confusing his habits with those of the Polish gentleman?

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Will you be taking the barrel of cooking sherry with you?