Honey-packed week end

My beloved has gone, my unwanted guests have gone and I’m looking forward to a few idle hours on the sofa watching the Giro, stuffing envelopes with numbers and tombola tickets and making my lists, before bursting into action in the kitchen again. The past few days have been extremely busy but the next week will be positively frenzied, even for me, building to a crescendo on Saturday. We’ll then be off to the Luberon for some rest and relaxation and (yet another) attempt on Ventoux.

Meanwhile, Friday evening’s meeting for the Kivilev volunteers, followed by a BBQ, went well and my modest efforts were much appreciated. I am constantly amazed at the quantities of food sunk by small, slim, French people. As you know, I always over cater and there wasn’t so much as a crumble-crumb left. Additionally, despite being told that there was no need to buy anything for  dessert, M Le President (another man who doesn’t listen) had bought a number of fruit tarts which were also consumed with alacrity.

I’m now into the home run with my baking. I just have eight of my (in)famous pain d’epice to make and a couple of large date slices. I’ll also be making the desserts for the post-Kivi BBQ. I’m still undecided but, based on what I have in my cupboard, we’re looking at chocolate bread and butter pudding, summer fruit pavlova and lemon slices. I’ll also use up the remnants lurking in my fridge to make some more savoury cakes for the apero. It sounds like a lot to do but the key, as ever, is planning and preparation.

Inscription has also gathered pace, probably thanks to this article in the newspaper, and with prices rising this week end, I know I’ll have a full postbox on Monday. Large numbers also sign-up either the day before, or the morning of the event. If I recall correctly, we had a further 150 sign up last year on those days. If this pattern continues, we should have a not dissimilar number of entrants to last year. For the moment, numbers appear to be equally spread between the cyclosportif and the randonnee.

Yesterday, my beloved and I enjoyed a long ride, with plenty of climbing, in the Nicois hinterland. There were lots of cyclists and very little traffic – bliss. It was the warmest day of the year so far so, despite slathing on the sun bloc, our silly, cyclists’ tan lines are even more pronounced.  Despite the lack of rain, the countryside is still looking lush with an abundance of wild flowers in bloom. I’m pleased to report that I rode strongly and feel that my form has almost returned. Yesterday afternoon was spent enjoying the Giro and (finally) planting the various containers on the terrace. I have decided to give the terrace a bit of a (much-needed) face-lift. It’s a large, long wrap around terrace which enjoys sunshine throughout the day and it has groupings of tables, chairs and loungers along it’s length so as to better enjoy either the sun, or the shade.

Saturday evening, the club Treasurer’s son-in-law (who’s a bee keeper on the Tanneron), came to collect my bees. We had no real idea of the size of the hive. We imagined that it was just a few stray bees, and their queen, who were enjoying our hospitality. Imagine our surprise (and indeed his), when he (the bee keeper) lifted the tablecloth to reveal a sizeable number of bees clinging to a whopper of a honeycomb (header photo above). We’re talking around 5kg of honey and around 5,000 bees! He firstly smoked the bees into submission and then dumped the table and cloth, with its hive, into a couple of gi-normous dustbin liners to transport them back to the Tanneron. Sadly, we ended up with a few orphans which he said it was best to kill as they could turn nasty. The sad remains of his killing spree are on the balcony. I’ll have to clear them up otherwise they’ll attract ants which seem to eat anything and everything.

While this process was taking place, he very kindly told us everything we ever wanted to know about bees, and more. He’s a 5th generation bee keeper and so is steeped in bee-lore. Incidentally, the honey from the hive was clear and delicious, with just a hint of pine.

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