1. Firstly, the agricultural fair was SHIT. Shit, I tell you, and I was entirely predisposed to love it. The dog bailed at the last minute (= we could not be bothered to take him on the tram), so we were thrown on the mercy of the "Remarkable Cats" for entertainment. My god, the remarkable cats. They were remarkable chiefly for being: some cats in nylon carry cages in a species of church hall, displaying no particular distinguishing features. The younger son and I walked around doubtfully saying things like "I suppose that one's quite large?" and "is that one of those Egyptian ones? Ah no, he's just lying funny", before finally concluding that everyone in there was dangerously mad and we should exit at all speed.
We went to the fair around 1pm which was apparently and tragically too late for the majority of the animal based entertainment, and by the time we reached the far-flung animal part of the whole sordid business, there were only a selection of exceptionally pissed off horses tied to lorries waiting to go home. Fingers had a testy hoof aimed at him by a sinister Welsh pony, but he has good reflexes and managed to avoid maiming. The angry pony reminded me a great deal of Evil Jimmy who I used to ride in my childhood, a grey hellion who had never met a child he did not want to separate from several of its limbs. As well as a seriously energetic bucking habit, Evil Jimmy broke one of my friend's toes stamping on it with great precision, and once bit me with such conviction that he removed a whole chunk out of my tweed hacking jacket (I liked to dress like a PG Wodehouse character in my childhood) and managed to break the skin. The whole 'mill around close to the arse end of lots of overwrought horses' fair activity seemed a little dubious from a health and safety perspective, what with my deeply-ingrained belief that "standing close to the arse end of a horse you don't know" is generally to be avoided. We missed the advertised horse whisperer, but I assume he was just wandering around whispering "don't kick people, please".
Get tae fuck, says this Shetland pony, quite plainly, through his heavy mullet.
Other than horse violence and unremarkable cats, we were pursued around the square by a slightly menacing tzigane style percussion band, got a free lollipop and a Ville de Bruxelles baseball cap by standing and pretending to be interested in a poster about archeology, and a free apple from the organic hippy shop which was doing its strenuous best to ignore the frites/candyfloss/hotdogs fest going on outside. The apple was offered "parce que c'est la semaine du client" which somewhat begs the question: what are the other 51 weeks then? After that, and despite the dubious promise of some men in a car park waving wooden swords, Fingers insisted we left.
"I will never come back here, ever" he said very seriously, as we hiked wearily up the hill to where the tram was terminating without any warning. I could not think of a very good argument against that. Thankfully, I spotted Eric Sax's campaign car, which cheered me up:
Remember Eric Sax? Well I saw him IN THE FLESH recently in a stationery shop, and it has fanned the flames of my obsession. He was extremely glossy and tanned and had a lavender pocket handkerchief. More generally, it is local election time in Ukkel and I really must collect more election material and analyse it for you. There is much to be said on the subject.
2. Physical disintegration continues apace: I have acquired a stye, the first since I was about 14, and a selection of attractive facial wounds indirectly attributable to a cleanser that is not working out for me at all. I am also sporting lip dessication to the point of bleeding wounds and a big red nose from my inevitable Rentrée cold. Tomorrow I have a proper law meeting and yet again, I will face the grubby embarassment of my working wardrobe. Pray for me that it is very cold and I can wear my Uniqlo +J pencil skirt and, I dunno, something else? Maybe a jumper. One without holes. Or a roomy blouse (ugh, blouse) that does not gape. I have not worked this out to my own satisfaction, perhaps I should get up and do so. What do people wear to work nowadays? How essential is a jacket? How essential is it that the jacket should be clean?
3. We made a salted caramel cake, by combining (i) a Nigella butterscotch cake recipe that looked a bit grim but sounded do-able (ii) a Trish Deseine recipe for salted caramel sauce that I must have already made but had entirely forgotten (iii) a number of resource-motivated substitutions (who the fuck knows what Muscovado sugar is in Belgium anyway? Sucre roux? Cassonade? Whatevs. We used 'some brown stuff from the back of the cupboard'). It had caramel flavoured buttercream between the layers and salted caramel sauce swirled on top. I thought the cake both delicious and successful and surprisingly symmetrical, however I am the only one. We made caramel twice as part of this exercise, which has now left me with the dangerous belief that I am totally on top of this caramel business and I have made a rash promise to make tablet/fudge. I welcome your recipes.
4. We have just been to the flea market at the Place du Jeu de Balle, which was its usual combination of appalling and amazing, with a particular emphasis on UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN and 'What in the name of all that is holy??' I was tempted by a stuffed guinea pig and also by what I believed to be a ptarmigan, but both were way out of my price range so I settled for an obscure Zola novel in a garish 1970s edition. Lashes bought, for reasons best known to himself, a packet of mid-80s German stamps for €3. Fingers sulked throughout. He is suspicious of crowds and does not feel the siren lure of cardboard boxes full of postcards of Queen Paola c1982 and cats made out of seashells. A woman tried to sell us a perspex coffin.
On balance, I am thus voting this weekend: highly successful. Please let me know about yours.