The Isle of Wight

For my birthday (a month ago) we went to the Isle of Wight. It was quite by chance as we’d been trying to get to the Isles of Scilly but as they were completely booked up forever, we settled on the Isle of Wight and I’m so glad we did.

Big T had been as a child but I had never been so a new destination is always a good adventure.

We took the train to Portsmouth and connected with the catamaran direct to the island. Door to door in about two and a half hours made it so easy and we’ll certainly be going back.

We stayed in the very charming town of Seaview which faced Portsmouth and from there we started to discover deserted beaches, secret seafood cafes, beautiful unspoiled villages, personal history and so much more.

Deserted Island
Seawall
Fishing and sailing

My appetite was whet again for sailing and Agnes indulged in a little paddling as we enjoyed my birthday lunch at The Hut, Colwell Bay.

Fabulous seafood of all descriptions under an open roof in mid September. It couldn’t have been better!

The Hut

We enjoyed an emotional journey to visit the 12th century church at Bonchurch where the ashes of my grandparents were scattered and then we walked around the windy coastal path for lunch at a hidden shack. It was very special.

The Old Church at Bonchurch

Leaving the island, I certainly felt a pull to return and of course, Agnes loved it! I suspect we’ll be back!

Not going home!

Deal

Last weekend we went on a day out by train to Deal and what a fabulous day it was!

The view from the cliff top from Dover to Deal was nothing short of Mediterranean as the sun glinted on the waves below and the cliffs gleamed white in the sunshine. Spectacular!

Arriving in Deal we meandered our way down to the High Street where independent interior shops sat next to wine bars, food stores and a Saturday market was in full swing.

We found our way into the conservation area where tiny fisherman’s cottages captured our hearts and imaginations as we (or rather I) have fancied a weekend cottage by the sea for ages.

Tiny

We spent a lovely day in Deal, we sat on a bench by the sea, we learned about the Goodwin Sands, we walked to Walmer along The Strand, we drank Dandelion and Burdock which was not like the original, we visited two very nice pubs to support the local economy and then we headed back to London on the train.

Deal beach and pier

We were tired but replete from sunshine and fresh air.

Spyglass Cottage

I fell asleep that night dreaming of tiny seaside cottages with carved wooden seagulls in the windows.

Deal Castle

Since September

Things have been very busy, days and weeks are blurring into each other and every deadline met is followed by another three.

This year has challenged me on the work front and I’m still feeling challenged.

Multiple moving parts or spinning plates mean that to take one’s eye off the ball for a second results in about a billion things falling through the cracks or smashing to the floor. We’ll, maybe not quite that bad but that’s how it feels sometimes!

With all this comes a return to the office in a couple of weeks which means I’m now sitting in a Superdrug waiting for a corporate flu jab. At this stage I’m taking anything I can to avoid getting sick when we’re all sitting back in the air con!

Swimming at Paddington

I came back to London and this year, things were different. After two months of summer swimming, I decided to look for a gym with a pool rather than going to the pubic pool at Swiss Cottage.

After a couple of reconnaissance missions to inspect showers, pools, number of swimmers, pubic hairs, distance from home and many other criteria, I decided to join a gym in Paddington.

The added bonus of a 20% corporate discount and the fact that it takes me five minutes by bike to get there, convinced me this was the right place and so far I’ve been three times.

The pool is clean and quiet, there’s a nice steam room and sauna which I suspect will be very appealing in the winter and so far I’m very pleased.

And now back to watching YouTube swimming videos to try to improve!

Now where was I?

Time has passed and I’ve been back in the UK for almost three weeks. It was quite a shock coming back to London, I was struck how green and lush it was which meant it had been raining for months. My UK avocados were enormous from all the rain so the little courtyard garden had thrived in our absence.

The London flat seemed filthy and cluttered, a little claustrophobic and no private garden, pool or view. It all seemed rather dark and cold after the bright sunlight and heady temperatures in the South of France.

Agnes went to bed in disgust while I quickly put on the first jumper I’d worn in three months. Summer was definitely over for the two of us.

Before long we’d adapted and were soon back in the routine of going out four times a day for Agnes. Indeed, my first morning in the park I had an argument with some dog owners who wouldn’t return Agnes’ Peppa Pig ball.

We were definitely back in London!

The last lunch

With the last day rapidly approaching (at least for me and Agnes) we enjoyed a final lunch in our local village Michelin-rated restaurant.

It lived up to expectations with a delicious salad of greens with chilled barrata, a piece of tender pink politically-incorrect veal and a berry selection with a pain perdu (French toast in France). With an aperitif of a cold coupe de Champagne, it was the perfect summer lunch and an ideal end to the season.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two and a half months since we arrived, shell shocked in Calais and ate delicious cold prawns with aioli and moules frites for the first time in many months. It felt like we’d escaped from Alcatraz.

In a day or so we’ll board the train and start the journey north as we head back to the UK.

It seems too early as we’d love to be here for September but with the house rented for the last two weeks of August and then the winter rental, it’s not an option to stay.

At least in January we’ll have a memory of a lovely lunch and yet another dip in the pool!

The entire Riviera by boat in a day

Last weekend we joined a couple of friends in Antibes and set off on a small motor yacht to spend the day on the water.

The weather was a little overcast and as we sped off towards Nice, it seemed like the ideal temperature.

We were going at quite a clip and were bouncing over the waves or occasionally bashing into them.

The scenery was stunning and we soon arrived at Cap Ferrat where landscaped gardens complete with funicular railways dropped down to the water from the multi million euro estates they sheltered. What a lifestyle to take your private rail to the beach below!

On the far side of Cap Ferrat we discovered a bay of enormous super yachts complete with helicopters and sailing boats stowed on deck. We gaped in awe at the sheer magnitude of these vessels when the tender or support boat would have been bigger than anything we needed!

Heading along the coast we discovered that apparently the fuel gauge wasn’t working. Not a problem if you’re sailing but with a large outboard engine, somewhat essential. We decided to pull into the port just before Monaco and refuel, just in case.

The friendly pump attendant laughed at our captain’s lack of experience in boat handling having only just qualified but we were soon tied up alongside and happily refuelling before we headed back to Cap d’Ail where we anchored for lunch.

Cap d’Ail was quite rolly and one thing you don’t want is to eat lunch with a sideward swell rolling you around. One of the party was decidedly green and so we felt it was better to weigh anchor and keep moving forward rather than rolling from side to side. Off we went!

And so we moved forward at breakneck speed, from Cap d’Ail back to Antibes in a hour. We bounced and bashed our way down the entire riviera and it wasn’t the least bit relaxing!

By the time we got back to Antibes, our friend had made a miraculous recovery (how, I’ll never know!) and was happy to continue on and so we went around Cap d’Antibes and down to the islands off Cannes for another blast of the Riviera before eventually heading back in to Antibes where we jumped ship.

We were sun burned, wind burned, salt sprayed and whip lashed. It had been a fun day out and we’d covered the length of almost the entire Riviera.

Certainly not for the faint hearted, next time it might be nice to go a little slower!

Rosé on tap

This year we have discovered the joy of Rosé in a box and it’s been quite a celebration!

We have a number of Roséline bottles with glass stoppers which were working perfectly for refilling with water. Oh how naive!

When we spotted the Roséline brand of Rosé in a box at the supermarket (five litres for €24.99) it seemed like the ideal solution. We can’t get rid of glass without driving it to the village so now with the box in the garage, we have the joy of Rosé on tap which is a little disastrous and all for a very affordable price!

The good news is that as we’re actually reaching saturation point for the summer, the end is in sight!

Summer continues

It’s been a while as July turned to August and the summer continued. I have been working well, breaking my day up with multiple zoom calls and swimming sessions. Pool maintenance continues and I’m proud of how good the pool has been this summer. No panicking this year.

My swimming has improved from watching YouTube videos in between zoom calls and I’m even thinking of looking for a gym with a pool when I go back. It’s never crossed my mind before as I’ve used the local pool in Swiss Cottage (verrucas and pubes) but perhaps a private gym would encourage me to swim through the winter. One can hope!

The inevitable return is looming in about ten days as Agnes and I will lead the troops home to London. Apparently it’s been very wet and chilly so it sounds like we’ll be putting the fire on upon our return.

Until then, I’ll be swimming several times a day, while I still can!

Vaccinated, the rules change again

Apparently I am now considered to be vaccinated as France now recognises the Indian AstraZeneca, Covishield.

Just in the nick of time it would seem as the French rules are changing…again.

From August 1st, double vaccines will be required to go to restaurants, shopping centres, bars and long distance train journeys.

As I am now booked to do the journey back to the UK in mid August, this is a huge relief as I was worried Agnes and I would get stuck in Marseille. Or rather I would!