A neighbour and I set out on a walk with the dogs early last Saturday afternoon. It was beautifully sunny and, as the sun sets around 5.30 in November, we had plenty of time. Or so I thought. We stumbled upon an area that I hadn’t been to for some time, but the landscape had changed completely as trees had been cut and new ones planted. About an hour and a half into our walk I suddenly realised that I had absolutely no idea where we were! I have ‘getting lost’ form, and a few years ago Luc spray painted a few key trees in the area as a guide. But the trees had been cut down; my landmarks had turned to sawdust!
Deeper and deeper into the forest
I called Luc, but he was in the middle of a football match — the urgency with he told me this made me wonder whether he’d been called in to replace the centre forward — and said I’d have to wait until half time. This gave us ample opportunity to cast ourselves even further adrift. We appealed to the dogs for their take on the quickest way home (I’ve often abandoned the reins on horseback as horses have built-in GPSs and are excellent at finding their way back to the stable). Alas, the dogs were having so much fun I suspect they led us astray further to keep the party going.
Cranes, helicopters and cannibalism
With the sun setting at an alarming rate, and the wintering cranes returning to their digs at a nearby lake, my thoughts started turning to rescue helicopters, hungry wild boar, and cannibalism. By the time it was actually dark, to our relief, we hit a tarmac path, although we had no idea where it led. Sometime later we spotted flashing car lights in the distance, tapping out what looked like a message in flashlight morse code, possibly ‘French team replacement saves damsels in distress during half time’? We were haphazardly bundled into the back seat of the car as he had ‘a match to get back to’.
Get lost app
I’ve since installed an app on my ‘phone, which shows me how to retrace my steps if I get lost. I’m already wondering how long I’m going to be amused by its bizarre and random bilingual bossiness. Every so often it springs to life and says: ‘You ‘ave marché quatre kilomètres in fifty-deux minutes’, ‘Allo, ‘Allo-style. I’m not sure that getting lost wasn’t preferable. One thing’s for sure: The dogs were ecstatic about their prolonged outing; we heard Java’s friend throwing himself at the door at 6am the next morning for a replay.
Recipe for pear and almond tart (serves 4-6)
- 100g flour
- 50g butter, diced
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tin of pears
- 40g sugar
- 50g ground almonds
- 100ml cream
- 4 tablespoons fruit alcohol (I used calvados)
To make the puff pastry:
Mix the ingredients together in a mixer, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or even overnight. Roll the pastry out (remember to sprinkle flour on your work surface), and fold and roll several times, remember to turn the pastry 90° each time. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate again. To use the pastry, just roll out again according to the shape of your pastry case.
To make the filling:
Arrange the pears in the pastry case, then mix the other ingredients together and pour over the pears. Bake in a very hot, preheated oven (220°C) for 30 minutes. May be served hot, lukewarm, or cold.