So anyway, Friday finished up with a bit of excitement around these parts: a forest fire about 6km away I guess, between here and Douzens off to the west. First we knew about it was the great billowing plumes of yellowish-grey smoke, and then a big twin-engined turboprop came flying slow and low overhead, circling and banking so hard that if there were any passengers they'd certainly have lost their lunches on the first pass.
Now there is no market around these parts of a Saturday - unless I go through to Narbonne or Carcassonne, which I suppose is not really any different from heading off to Chambéry - which left me at kind of a loose end. Of course, I had other things to do, which is probably why I decided to go for a walk instead of doing them.
Anyway, I was actually kind of enjoying myself as I ambled along the rocky track, with the cicadas doing their thing noisily in the trees and the hot air full of the smell of pines and sage and rosemary and thyme and lavender - then it dawned on me that the stones were bouncing the heat back on me and that the pines, too far off to offer any shade, were doing an excellent job as a wind-break, and that not only was the air hot, it was also still.
Monday I had to head back up to Chambéry for two weeks, minding the shop whilst Renaud's off on holiday at Arcachon, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone, combine business with pleasure, and any other metaphor that happens to spring to mind: we went off to the local Intermarché, picked up a 7m3 van, bundled ourselves and Shaun into the thing, and drove merrily off into the morning, destination St Pierre and the final emptying of our left-over stuff from Sue's Garage.
So we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves, all things considered, as we headed back to Montmelian to pick up Jeremy and take him out for a birthday dinner. Under protest, I must say: oddly enough for someone in his line of work, he really only eats to live. Also, he's got this thing against eating in restaurants, which I suppose is kind of understandable.
We twisted his arm, he grudgingly consented, and we went past la Fine Fourchette, which isn't half bad in my experience: it was closed. It is August, after all. On top of it, the 15th of August, which over here is a public holiday, for some reason which escapes me.
Off then to Chambery, passing by Challes just on the off-chance (everything closed, might have known it), parked, and started hunting. OK, so the dump is considered to be kind of dull after 20h even in the height of the season, but that evening it was clinically dead. The quiet of the grave was broken only by the tourists wandering vaguely, I assume looking - like us - for somewhere to get a meal that wasn't going to fight back, or be all passive-aggressive.
And there's an interesting question. I put it to you, if you were a tourist, freshly arrived in Chambéry after a long coach trip from Turin, would you actually choose to go find an Italian restaurant and eat pizza? I thought not. But those flocks of tourists I spoke of earlier swooped down with gleeful cries and settled in to do exactly that. I dunno, whatever happened to the spirit of adventure?
Whatever, Margo drove the van back down the next day, hopefully arriving in time to take Shaun off to his first doggy obedience class (see where that gets us, ha ha) but it was my lot to head off up to the office, answer the phone if required and generally look after the place. Not that there was much looking after required, everyone's off on holiday and I think in those ten days I fielded one phone call, which turned out to be a wrong number anyway. Hardly any mail either, and no bills, which is always a pleasant surprise.
Things have changed in Paris I guess, Dave Lebowitz writes lovingly of the shabby-swish little cafés serving original food, Le Camion Qui Fume which sells the best burgers in the Ile de France, and other such delights that we stuck here to vegetate in the provinces can only dream of enviously, but still ... going through Carrefour the other day, right next to the fish department was a gleaming sparkly-new erection of wood and stainless steel in which a couple of Japanese-looking guys presided over a fresh squishi bar.
Finally, some alarming news, I guess: my preferred journal of reference for the hard sciences had this warning Nude swimmers warned of GONAD-GOBBLING FISH ON THE LOOSE for those who like to go skinny-dipping off the Scandinavian coast-line. So just mind how you go.