Grilling tonight

What is it with guys and BBQ’s? Could someone please explain. Many years ago I allowed my husband to purchase one. There followed many unfortunate evenings of half-cooked or alternatively burnt food until I suggested a modified menu: fillet steak or fish (in tin foil parcels). Of course, as my reward, I always got to clean up the not inconsiderable mess left behind by his culinary pretensions.

When we moved to a flat in central London, my husband gave the beloved BBQ to his brother, but he has always hankered after a replacement. We still live in an apartment and, even though we’ve already had one close brush with death by fire, my husband is always looking longingly at them in the garden centre.

While on vacation earlier this summer in Austria, I found a suitable halfway house. It’s a powerful electric grill, easy to clean (yes, I’m still in charge of cleaning up) and quick to use. Ideal for all cuts of meat (without bones), fish, sandwiches, vegetables, French toast etc etc. We have found it particularly good for duck breasts. It renders the fat, but doesn’t overcook the meat. My husband is now as happy as Larry and, on those rare occasions when he’s home, is happy to experiment with his new toy which he has on a special table out on the balcony, to add authenticity to the experience.

Yesterday evening, a girlfriend came over for a swim and stayed for dinner. My husband was able to demonstrate the full range of his domestic capabilities by cooking her duck breast “a point” and opening a bottle of wine. I’m sure she was suitably impressed. Even better, it took me less than 5 minutes to clean up after him.

Everything and nothing

A combination of my recurring chest infection, the heat and a whole load of work has meant that I’ve probably spent more time than I would have liked indoors over the past week or so. On the plus side, this has allowed me to watch the Eneco Tour, Tour du Limousin, Tour of Ireland, GP de Plouay and some of the action from the athletics in Berlin.

Specifically, I had to check out how Romain Mesnil fared in the pole vault. You may recall this was the gentleman who ran around Paris naked, with only his pole for company, in order to attract a new sponsor. Apparently, it had the desired effect plus, according to L’Equipe, he now has a large female fan club. There were three Frenchman in the pole vault final, with Mesnil finishing second. This was sufficient for him to get his kit off yet again though his modesty, in the photos I saw, was safeguarded by the French flag.

The live racing I watched was notable for a couple of things: Boonen back to winning ways as the Eneco Tour went through his home turf; Cavendish notching up his 21st win of the season in Ireland; Russell Downing holding off a stellar bunch of names to clinch the overall in the Tour of Ireland and Simon Gerrans coming nicely into form with a win at GP de Plouay.

I am of course now looking forward to seeing Messrs Valverde, Sanchez and Vinokourov duking it out in the Vuelta. I already have an hors category mountain of ironing to keep me occupied during the first few days, while the Vuelta is in N Europe.

Cycling, even at a gentle pace, in this heat is tiring: doubly so with my cough. Last Friday, I rode up to Tourrettes-sur-Loup and had there been no one around I could have quite happily dived fully clothed into the village fountain. Instead, I had to be content with dousing myself with several bidons worth of cooling water.

It’s also been very humid which has a disastrous effect on my hair, when it’s not confined under my helmet. Do you remember that episode in Friends where Monica plays table tennis in the Bahamas and her hair looks as if she’d stuck her finger in an electric socket. Yes, well mine’s not quite that bad but you get the general idea.

A girlfriend has likened the effect of the current weather conditions as one big, long, hot flush. Since I’ve never had one of those, nor do I want one, I’m prepared to take her word for it.