Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Couple of Days in Albi

   Peter's pick for his birthday so last Thursday, we packed up the car and drove north to the city of Albi via the Black Mountains.
   Years since we were here and I'd forgotten what a stupendously lovely city this is with its red-pink brick buildings and bridges across the Tarn. 
   Dominating the view is the cathedral built by the Church to remind those around that The Church Ruled (this was after they'd slaughtered thousands of Cathars). More fortress than holy place, it's large and ominous. Every square centimetre of its interior is painted, one of the main paintings being of the Last Judgement and depicting, in rather too vivid detail, what happens if you break one of the seven main sins. When Peter bought three postcards of the fate awaiting gluttons (and another one), the young man behind the counter pointed out that the cathedral sold postcards of all the sins. We'd just picked our favourites. 
     Outside was much cheerier with beds blazing with orange and yellow flowers, and a marvellous formal garden. Signage in braille means that everyone can "see" its intricacies.  

A Walk on the Flat.

    Ten kilometres is nothing when it's all on the flat, the trees are in bloom, the sun is out and there's the prospect of a riverbank picnic at the end of it. 
    Not much to add to these photos except that I've never seen so many cowslips in flower, and that that exquisite village is Camon. 

Strawbs and spuds at Albi market

   Before leaving for the trip back, we bought picnic supplies at the little market at the end of the street our hotel stood on. A big chunk of crusty bread, a fresh goat cheese, a slab of pâté, some tomatoes, and a basket of meticulously arranged gariguette strawberries--the first of the season--from this little girl and her maman. 
   I couldn't resist taking a surreptitious shot of this shopper riding off with his big bag of potatoes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Enormous Easter Omelette

  Lately I've been a mauvaise blogger. There's just been too much else going on, mainly in the garden where the emerging forest of nettles and dandelions has to be wrestled with. You don't really want to see shots of those, do you? Thought not.
    Anyway, a week ago last Easter Monday, we drove into Mirepoix lured by the promise of hte making of a 1000-egg omelette. "Ooof," or rather "oeuf." Not having read the fine print on the poster meant that, by the time we found a parking spot and made our way into the square, all the communal tables were heaving with the about-to-be-fed.
    Still, we could at least watch. I'd somehow imagined that battalions of helpers would crack each egg individually until they'd reached the magic number and that they'd all then be beaten together and poured, in one enormous yellow slosh, into a colossal pan. Then--and I hadn't quite worked this bit out--an enormous flip would roll the cooked eggs into the traditional omelette "purse" shape. It wasn't quite like that. The egg-cracking had been done ahead of time, a series of omelettes was made, and the result looked more like scrambled eggs. 
   We couldn't eat the official version so we sat outside at a café and ordered, of course, omelettes. 
   Meanwhile, a man walked by with a giant bunch of shiny balloons, jazz musicians played and the carrousel twirled. Not a bad way to pass a Monday afternoon.