Archive for February, 2011

Food related items

February 28, 2011

Firstly the good news is that our local ‘superette’ has reopened after sitting there dismally neglected for well over a year. The previous managers got into financial difficulty  and upped and left all of a sudden, although it was clear things were rapidly going downhill. The meat and vegetables were left on display long after they were past their best and the cheerful people who took over the shop became rather surly and bad tempered. The customers voted with their feet and didn’t go in unless it was a dire necessity.

The new people have completely gutted the interior and transformed the shop into a clean and spacious area where there is a small but comprehensive selection of  all the basics. Unfortunately they have a large number of  ‘Grand Jury’ products – a ‘cheap’ brand which is cropping up in all the supermarkets and is noticeably of inferior quality.

However, the bright smiles and welcoming attitude of the ladies who have taken over make you want to support them and wish them well in their  new enterprise.

The second news item is that we have a market on Saturday mornings now.  Nearby villages only have a market once a month so we are being spoiled. It’s strange though, that some weeks there is quite a good selection of stalls but at other times there are only a couple of fruit and veg merchants and  the fish van. But on March 12th we are promised an extra special market including lots of local products that we don’t normally see on our doorstep.

Now, the final bit of news is that today I plucked up the courage to try ‘steak tartare’ at the local restaurant. It appears as one of the ‘plats du jour’ from time to time and I have often asked myself if I dare give it a go. Yes, I’m usually game to try anything edible and there aren’t many things I really dislike – oysters and tripe come to mind – so it was high time I gave the raw mince a chance.

“I’ve never eaten steak tartare so I’d like to try it” I  said to Fabienne when she came to take our order.

She nodded approvingly,  “with chips and salad? That’s how it’s usually served.”

“Yes please”.

“And a side order of sick bag” whispered Bear, but Fabienne doesn’t understand English.

Actually, Bear was quite concerned and assured me that I didn’t have to eat it. He even offered to get me a second meal if it was awful.

The restaurant was busier than usual and we had to wait a bit longer for the meals to arrive so I’d drunk half my wine by the time Fabienne appeared carrying three plates.

She put down Bear’s ‘boeuf braisé’ and then there, in front of me was a plateful of meat (with a raw egg on top) and chips and another plate full of mixed salad.

“It will take me all afternoon to finish this!” I exclaimed.

“Don’t worry, we’re not closing” quipped Fabienne.

Well, it was much better than I’d expected:  already seasoned and the texture was softer than I had  thought. In fact, it was quite delicious.

There were just two small problems: why did they put the hot chips with the raw meat and serve the salad on a separate plate? And, why was there so much of it?

It was very good but I simply couldn’t finish it all. About a third of the meat found it’s way back for the chickens and cats (by way of a small plastic bag) and I had to leave half the chips on the plate. But, I was a good girl and polished off all the salad.

Would I choose it next time it’s on the menu? Well, I’d be tempted but I wonder if they do half portions.

The Kitchen

February 17, 2011

You may remember that way back in July CC made a start on giving the kitchen a makeover.

Well, I’m pleased to report that it is 99% finished as of yesterday (well more like a week ago as I started this post last Wednesday!) when the dresser was finally assembled. But thereby  hangs a tale –  another tale of Bear and his moods. He’s never been good at DIY so I asked Jay if he would put it together. However, when he started to undo the packages Bear was not happy and made it clear that HE was going to assemble it.

Jay went off upstairs while I tried to calm Bear down and we agreed we’d leave the parcels done up for the time being.

But later, unaware of this little fracas, CC attacked the boxes. Bear came along and went mad. He started shouting at CC; I tried to remonstrate with him; he became more and more insulting and finally Whale came out of his room and shouted back in CC’s defence.

It was quite noisy for a few minutes but eventually CC persuaded them to grow up and discuss things calmly. We left them exchanging insults in a slightly more civilised manner and went into the garden. It was all peaceful again when we came back.

It seemed politic to accept Bear’s offer of lunch at the local brasserie to give everyone time to get back to normal and,  sure enough, he came back after lunch as though nothing had happened.

I offered to help him put the dresser together even though it might mean more arguments as Bear does not like to be corrected. However, he took it in his stride when I pointed out one or two minor errors and even seemed relieved when I suggested that Jay might put the drawers together.

CC joined in as well  so in the end it was a joint effort – all four of us!

The final wall was painted a couple of weeks ago but we had to pinch the doors off the spice cupboard to put on the new cupboard under the worktop as we couldn’t find any others to match. You will notice that the new cupboard (far left) doesn’t have drawers either but the gap for the wine rack should, hopefully, detract from this slight discrepancy. CC also decided to change all the knobs to finish off the effect of a new look.

There is one visible place that is still waiting to be  finished off though. I wonder if you can spot it in this photo:


It’s in the arch on the left of the doorless spice cupboard. The wallpaper has been stripped off but some of it refused to budge without taking a substantial amount of  plasterboard with it. CC wants to find some more wallpaper to paste over and then paint but Bear insists several coats of paint will do the trick.

There are still a few little bits and pieces to do before it’s really neat and tidy everywhere but I’m more than happy to see it just about completed at last.

Manic Monday

February 11, 2011

Mondays are usually busy now that it’s my day for ‘going to work’ but this week I was dreading the beginning of the week and how we were going to fit everything in.

One of these days I’ll get my mojo back and start driving but as I’m still very uneasy about it, it was down to Jay to be a taxi – all day long.

His day went like this:

7:30 –  take Bear and me to the hospital where I had to check him in at admissions and then sweet talk the man on the gate to let us drive into the hospital grounds to deposit Bear at the Diabetic day Centre.

Poor Jay had to wait while Bear was settled in and to my horror I discovered that it would have been possible for me to stay with him. He was not at all happy that I had to leave him and go to work as the other chap in the room had his missus by his side.

8:15 –  take me to my place of work and then go back home.

9:30 –  take CC to her dental appointment when she had her top brace fitted. (She wouldn’t wear one as a 12 year old and is suffering now -to the extent that she is willing to put up with 18 months of brace wearing now).

10:30  – bring CC home.

2:30 – bring CC to town to take over my advanced class so that I could go with him to pick Bear up at the hospital. If I needed any proof that Bear was not in a good mood the first thing the nurse said was that they couldn’t get his BP down. It had been about 200/90 all day despite an increase in medication. I had to wait for the doctor to come and explain the follow up appointments (nephrologist and cardiologist)  and they finally let him out.

He thought they had looked after him well and they had made an effort to speak English with him but he said he took one look at lunch, couldn’t work out what was supposed to be and refused to taste it.

Amazingly, we got back to the class before CC had finished but we swapped back again and Jay drove her and Bear back home.

He was supposed to come and meet me when I finished at 6:15 but Bear came instead.

He was in a bad mood.

“Why are you so late? You finish at 6o’clock”.

I tried to explain that the class finishes at 6 but we may carry on a few minutes if necessary. I can’t throw everyone out on the dot. While they put their coats on and say their goodbyes I have to put things away, turn off the photocopier,  close the shutters, have a wee and finally lock up.

Jay understands this when he meets me and even comes to help carry my heavy bag – not that I’d expect Bear to do likewise.