Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Weekend

Well. The weekend.

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.

"Remarkable" cats

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.


Lola said...

We had some 'friends' round last night which we do very rarely because, as on this occasion, it necessitates far more house cleaning than either of us is comfortable with. The dinner went well, thankfully, and we now have a nice house which will remain clean for, oh, several more hours, I imagine.

Today we both worked on presentations that we are going to be doing (separately) at work this week, and consequently are both rather tetchy, despite having a soothingly clean house.

As usual, I very much enjoyed reading about your weekend, especially the stationery shop, because one so rarely finds it spelled correctly nowadays. I hope your meeting goes well; I am wholly unqualified to comment on matters of couture so you're on your own (but I'm sure other commenters will help out).

Have a good week

Accidental Londoner said...

Now, see, your weekend sounds rather enticing, and also rather hilarious, in comparison to mine, which has been spent packing mountain gear (!) for a business trip to Nepal, and squelching soggily across a blasted (Hampstead) Heath in the pissing rain to try and run in a new pair of hiking boots.

The high point however was a trip to the sublime Vauxhall Tea Rooms for glorious steaming pots of tea and a slice of cake you could hold a large door open with. Worth adding to the 'to do' list if you've not been for your next trip back to London - don't let the 'Vauxhall' put you off; it's right near the wonderful city farm, which has the most enormous bunnies ever and a similarly angry looking Shetland pony to the one you encountered on your weekend. Ace!

Sara Padrusch said...

For some reason I almost never find stuffed dead things in American junk shops, though I did see some small rodents which had been turned into a wrap of some kind. My children begged me for it, but I could already see my dog either trying to eat it or make love to it and either option would be sub par.

I did spend part of the weekend piling gourds on the sideboard in an homage to fall and have started putting pumpkin creamer in my coffee. My anglophile daughter asked if it would be good in tea and I honestly cannot imagine that it would not be. Thoughts?

Nina.L said...

Pumpkin creamer sounds marginally unfortunate, at best, largely as I dislike the taste of pumpkin and the various spices with which it is associated. However, pumpkin creamer, in an English cuppa, sounds sincerely revolting. Please advise if it isn't , if anyone is brave enough to try.
A propos your weekend, as an ex Belge expat, it made me laugh so hard that I cried. Many thanks.

Barbara said...

Spent horrible weekend chained to my desk trying to grind out my first official audiobook. Seem to have developed terminal cotton mouth ness. Hoping audiobook company wont notice. (yes. Very likely i'm sure). As bad as recording the eleven hours of grisly melodrama was, worse was the editing process which took literally four times as long as the recording. At a certain point burst into tears wondering what was wrong with working in a shop, for Gods sakes. Yours sounds much more diverting.

Patience_Crabstick said...

The "remarkable" cats are killing me. I am trying to imagine how such an exhibit would fly in the US, where a cat would actually have to fly to be considered remarkable.

My weekend: spent frantically cleaning for 08:30 house appraisal today upon which all our financial hopes are pinned. Also had to pick up my daughter from school Friday night (two hours, round trip) and deliver her back on Sunday morning.

I did manage to consume almost an entire Manhattan.

Joi said...

In Holland, muscavado suger is Donkere Basterd Suiker. I am not even lying. That is what it is called. 17 years on: is this really still funny? (YES SO FUNNY FOR NOW AND EVER)

I spent Friday with friends, celebrating my starting a new and vastly different job in London next week that I'm not convinced I'm qualified for. I spent Saturday and Sunday anxiously eating and rocking in a corner because ooohhhh the slow creeping dread.

Does the disastrous cleanser mean we can expect some FaceGoopage?

DES said...

This "weekend" you speak of seems to imply, nay promise, that weeks come to an end in Belgium, whereas they do not here; at best I can struggle to catch up with my piles of work while wearing more comfortable clothes, and the dogs can offer their help more assiduously, though no more usefully.

I sympathize with the agonies attendant upon needing to present a professional appearances. Despite being ever so much older than you, I still have not really worked out how to do it. If anything it has become more daunting, blast it, although soothingly I care somewhat less, so that works out, sort of.

Will there be pictures?

Misiula said...

Eric Sax! That photo! Whoa. Can't wait to read your Uccle election coverage :-)

My weekend was crap. I spent 6 hours of Friday night doing the work that should have been done by three people, then I spent the rest of the weekend moping and trying to recover from the tiredness and unpleasantness of the experience. Now I'm angry with myself and the universe for wasting a whole weekend.

Michelle said...

Lothian (Edinburgh) Buses Open Day (part of 'doors open weekend'). Never have so many small boys (and let's be frank a few large boys too, ie full-grown men) gathered with so much joy under the roof of one grey concrete edifice. Some certifiable person thought it was OK to let children sit in the bus vans (I can't think how else to describe a van with Lothian Buses livery?!) and peep the horns; NON-STOP. And I had a bad hangover. Getting the hangover the previous night was the good bit. Standing in a bus garage full of men and boys (some literally shouting I LOVE BUSES) and constant horn honking on Saturday afternoon was less good. And all my 3 year old wanted to do was go on and off the different stationary buses. Didn't want to go on the open top bus, or sit in the drivers seat and play with the controls, or go on the bus that went through the bus-wash. But was ecstatic at the opportunity to go on and off different non-moving buses. His dad was happy cos he got to take a photo of him holding up 5 and 1 fingers in front of the Hearts cup (which was in front of the Hearts bus). I don't even want to think about that any more.

Waffle said...

Ahahahahha. Oh god, MIchelle. "I LOVE BUSES". Sympathies.

Sara - you are on crack. Do NOT put "pumpkin creamer" in tea. I cannot think of a wronger thing.