Life here is never boring, and sometimes, even the simplest of things takes a twist, which leaves us wondering how we manage to get through a day without some disaster, or another.
Take this weekend as an example.
On Saturday, we headed out on the bikes, on one of our favourite little rides, that takes us up to Bonnieux, across to Lacoste, and back via Lumieres and Roussillon. It’s a lovely little route, along quiet lanes, where we can take our time and simply enjoy the views and relish the little things that we notice along the way.
There’s always something different, and this time it was the distinctive smell of a Fig Tree, growing on the verge, effectively in the middle of nowhere, with ripe fruits dropping to the road, bursting on contact, staining the tarmac red with seeds and juice.
I should make it clear that I’m an absolute sucker for Figs, and even have a little tree growing in a large ‘bucket’ on the terrace, waiting for each fruit to ripen and turn purple, before picking it, and munching it sun-warmed, direct from the tree.
I could happily be like the ducks, we were watching at L’Isle Sur La Sorgue, all loitering, with very specific intent, under a tree that overhangs the river running through the centre of the town. They were all patiently waiting for the fruit to fall, each one of them doing their best to catch a fig in its beak, before frantically dashing out of reach of the others to enjoy it in peace. I could happily be one of those ducks, in fact I would probably say that they could be my spirit animal!
So a roadside fig tree, groaning with ripe green figs, was calling for me to stop, and as we hadn’t had a second breakfast croissant, I happily took the chance to eat one or two, or if I’m honest probably ten, before we headed on our way.
They were delicious, and as we were off to visit friends, staying near Oppede that evening, we drove back that way, with a large bowl, to pick enough to make a cake and a bit of jam, to keep my fig-fix going into winter.
We found a stick, pulled down the highest of branches and got scrumping, foraging, picking, and snaffling as many of the fruits as we could, although rather like the times I went strawberry-picking as a child, almost as many fruits went into my mouth, as went into the bowl.
We got quite acrobatic in our efforts at picking, scrambling up and down the bank to make sure we filled the bowl, before hopping back into Fifi and continuing on to Oppede, where we spent a delightful few hours chatting over drinks.
As we headed home in Fifi, with her roof rolled back, watching the sunset colouring the sky beyond Lacoste, I went to get my phone from my pocket and realised it wasn’t there, checking the seat around me just to make sure it hadn’t slipped out. No sign of it, so I sat back thinking I must have put it in my bag, and thought nothing more of it.
The drive back, under the darkening sky, was beautiful, the stars blinking on above us slowly but surely, as we pottered back through Bonnieux, and back down the winding road towards Apt.
Arriving home, I popped the figs in the fridge, and went to get my phone, only to find that it wasn’t in my bag either, which led to a frantic search of the house and car, to no avail. It was nowhere to be found.
My stomach sank. Where on earth could it be? That little piece of technology that carries so much of my life on it. The more I thought about it, the more I remembered feeling it in my skirt pocket whilst we had been picking the figs, and I hadn’t seen it, or felt it since. The only possibility I could think of, in what was now a bit of a panic, was that it must have fallen from my pocket, during our acrobatic fig-scrumping!
We called it, but it went to answerphone, so at least no-one had picked it up. There was only one thing for it. We would have to go back to the fig tree, at the side of the lane, in the middle of nowhere, with torches to see if we could find it.
I have to say Andy was incredibly understanding, as we put Millie in the car (not that she would be any good as a search dog), and headed back through Apt and out towards Roussillon. By now it was 10pm, and we would much rather have been heading off to bed, than going off to scramble around under a fig tree, below the stars, looking for a lost phone. Aaagh!
We got back to the tree, started looking, scrabbling about in the dark, with just the car headlights to light our way. Then we tried to call it again, hoping that the battery was still working, and that it hadn’t passed the time, when it is set for ‘Do Not Disturb’, so would still ring, and hopefully help us to narrow down the search area.
This time though, it was answered, almost immediately, by the friends we had visited during the evening. They had found it on a chair, after we’d left, but hadn’t worked out how to answer it until this call, and my phone was the only contact number they had for us, which really wasn’t any help at all.
So we thanked them profusely and arranged to cycle over to pick it up the following morning. To say I was relieved was an understatement. I also felt rather stupid, but on the bright side, Millie had spent a lovely few minutes snuffling around under the trees, so at least she was happy!
I do sometimes wonder about how I manage to get through a day, without something going wrong. In fact if I’m perfectly honest, I really have no idea how I managed to work, doing the job that I did, making difficult decisions and managing a rather heavy workload, without everything falling to pieces around me, perhaps it did, and I just didn’t ever notice. One thing is certain though, and that is that life is never boring.
So the following day, we headed back on the bikes, over to Oppede and gratefully, collected the wayward phone, enjoying a coffee and chat, before cycling back to do something with the figs that were still waiting for me in the fridge.
Needless to say a fair few just got eaten, but I have made a couple of kilos of jam to keep my fig-fix going into winter…
And also made an Almond and Fig Cake, which turned out to be light, moist and incredibly delicious, especially as a dessert with a ball or two of vanilla ice cream…..
It was all a bit of an adventure, and I’m sure that this winter, when I munch slices of baguette, slathered with butter, and the fig jam, I’ll be whisked back to that tree, and remember the fun we had collecting them, and the night time hunt for the lost phone too…
In the meantime though, if you have a few figs to hand, and fancy a quick, easy cake recipe, then can I offer this as a suggestion.
Almond and Fig Cake.
Melt 80 g butter in a pan and allow to cool, before mixing in 3 lightly beaten eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla essence .
In a separate bowl mix together
125g ground almonds,
40g caster sugar
35g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Put the dry ingredients into the liquid, and beat them together to make a batter, pouring it into a greased and lined 9 inch spring-sided tin.
Place halved figs, seed-side up into the batter, sprinkle with a table spoon of sugar and pop it in the oven (preheated to 190 c) for 20 mins, until firm and browned. Eat hot, cold, with ice cream, cream, extra figs, or just on its own.
Delicious, and even better still, enjoyed with friends and a glass of wine