Tuesday, 23 July 2013

La Belle France

So, we are back from our holidays, and very blissful they were too. I can summarise thus:

Mountains, cable cars, glaciers, flowery meadows, geranium-clad chalets and other associated features (see 'cows' below). God the Alps are gorgeous.

Sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine.

Swimming pools. Empty at times. As I ploughed up and down a completely empty campsite pool in blistering 30something degree heat I promised to myself that I would try very very very hard to be happy if I ever win the lottery.

Turquoise lakes. Truly turquoise, like the turquoise felt-tip you use to draw 'mountain lake'.

Cows with actual bells on - how do Alpine farmers ever get any sleep - what a blimmin racket.

Bicycles. Lots and LOTS of bicycles. Men in lycra at every turn. MrB was in bikey heaven on those hairpins. I wonder if being in France while the Tour is on is a bit like being in Britain in the two weeks after Wimbledon when everyone is suddenly prancing about in tennis whites.

Food, obviously. Honorable mentions to ice cream, tartiflette (which is not exactly hot July fare, but when in Rome etc etc) and baguette viennoise. The Mighty Hunter returned from an early morning trip to the local boulangerie bearing this briochy stick of loveliness and we were all smitten. I suspect oldest b-boy liked it mostly because it is soft and does not necessitate the intensive chewing action required of a normal baguette and which I am forever nagging at him to practise. For he currently has FOUR front teeth. At the top, I mean, two, and then two more, like a shark. I was able to ignore it while the new ones were still but stumps, but now they're more or less completely in and the milk teeth are still there, and it's starting to freak me out a bit.Anyway, if anyone can point me in the direction of a really good recipe, I'll be very happy.

Decent coffee.

But really, indecent tea. They honestly have still not got it. We inadvertently turfed up at a very chi-chi lakeside hotel one afternoon, where I ordered a tea, foolishly thiking that if I was paying 5 euros for a cup of bloody tea (yes, that is FIVE EUROS, my friends. Like, practically five pounds when I have my real brain installed) then they would at least deliver it in a proper state to be drunk. But alas no. The same old: teapot of hot water, teabag in a little paper envelope and no flipping milk. Seriously guys, how hard can it be?? I'll come and teach you how to do it. Really. I'll even teach you in French if you ask me nicely. At least I was saved by the fact that at long last the French seem to have got over their historical aversion to fresh milk and dragged their sorry arses into the whole concept of, you know refrigeration, so I didn't have to put up with ghastly UHT in my morning cuppa.

On this subject, however, I would like to give an extremely hard stare to the Novotel in Reims, where we stayed overnight en route and which had nothing by little tubs of evaporated milk to put in the tea in the room. I was really very unhappy after driving for twelvety hours down the most boring roads in the known universe. French motorways are lovely and empty with nice big 80mph speed limits, but DULL is not the word. Nothing ever happens. I never thought I'd be glad to see the M6 again, but at least you get to change gear every now and then.

Oh dear. I had not intended to rant at all. We had a lovely time, really. The French are delightful in pretty much every other way, and their country is just fabulous, as you can see from the first part of this post. Next time I am stuck in a jam onthe M25 I'll rue my words. It was grand. And I must say it is most gratifying to come back to a sunny warm Scotland for once and see Twitter and FB full of people celebrating the end of term in England when my children only have 3 weeks' holiday left. Mwa ha ha.

Hope everyone else is enjoying a lazy summer break. I will post a picture of an Alpine meadow once I have finished with all the washing.