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The delights of northern food

September 24, 2012

Back to the web in Valbonne was bliss. Shedding the long trousers, jumper and putting on the shorts, which were still sufficient until way after dark in late September was a reminder of the good life we have left behind in the south of France. Do not get me wrong, Arundel is probably the best place to live one could find if living in England, and I have enjoyed living there but real living is down here in the Cote d’Azur.

We arrived back in paradise at about 4pm and by 5pm were tucked onto the web, our outside bar, with the lovely Suzanne and the gargantuan Peachy Butterfield who proceeded, I was going to say gradually, but what I really mean is quickly, to empty a bladder of rose which he had “rescued from a boat trip in the week that was taking up valuable fridge space.”  It was at this stage that we were subjected to that most wonderful trait of the south of France; spontaneity.

The first to arrive unannounced was Currencies Direct client Paul “Slash and Burn” Thornton Allan who told a story about my style guru Mr Humphreys whom he had encountered at “church” at Cafe Latin earlier in the week. According to Paul, Mr Hunphreys was keen to try some designer fake tan, clearly concerned about possible sun damage to his delicate skin. He applied it to the most delicate of areas and then for good measure to the rest of him and awaited results. With nothing apparently happening he had another go and then another before taking to his bed amid some disappointment. In the morning he awoke and discovered that the lotion had in fact worked wonders but to the extent that he “looked like Ghandi”. Seemingly now he is the only person wearing long trousers in the middle of summer.

Next to appear, although this had been on the cards, was the Master Mariner Mundell, keen to keep us chaps focused on the Bistro Rally today despite some forecasts of some rain in the morning. He was also attempting to keep the whole day afloat for the WAGS who were understandably disappointed that support vessel Sea Breeze was a very late non starter. One of the many phone calls he made to his competing captains revealed that there was some space available upon one of the boats but it was limited, and subject to a parade of the hopefuls, clad in swimsuits before the start. Clearly the captain did not want any fuglies ( f…..g Ugly’s) on board. This seemed to us chaps to be a perfectly reasonable precaution but was met with some hostility by the girls present. This seemed a little bit ungrateful considering the lengths to which the Master had gone to ensure their participation. Of course those lengths did not extend to allowing girls on L’Exocet during the race “this has never happened and never will happen” was his quite understandable attitude.

A couple of others showed up a little later but by this time the rose had done much of its best work in obliterating my memory. It is a bit weird being a guest in one’s own house but we were entertained in sumptuous northern style with what was referred to as a “chicken dinner”. There is no mucked about food involved; what you get is roast chicken, roast potatoes and in something of a departure, and obviously aimed at the guests rather than our host and guardian Peachy Butterfield, piles of steaming vegetables. This is all garnished with a special northern delight; gravy. There was a tense moment when he appeared to be unhappy that the gravy was not lumpy enough, that apparently viewed as being a sign of its virility, but he was polite enough to let is pass with just a fleeting insult to his long suffering wife and cook, the lovely Suzanne.

A northern beetroot

A northern beetroot

Once dinner had degenerated into sampling some Lemoncello which Peachy had “discovered” in its hiding place in the garage, there was more discussion about the proposed “audition” for the girls to see if they were suitable crew for one of the other boats today. In order to put the attendant beauties minds at rest, Peachy suggested that he use his new iphone app” fit or fugly” to ensure that they all passed muster. It takes a picture of the subject and by careful measurements of the features of ones face pronounces on a scale of 1 to 10 whether one is fit or fugly, fit being 10, fugly being 0. The application must still be in the development phase at it produced some alarming results, giving Peachy himself the lowest rating of the night, a 2, but was working sufficiently well to pronounce me as the fittest amongst the dinner guests with a 6.

Chris France

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