A Cheeky Weekend

Friday and after what had suddenly turned into a rather insane afternoon, it was finally 6pm and I made a dash for the tube. I was sneaking off to France for the weekend!

My timing was good and by 7:15pm I was at Heathrow with plenty of time to spare for my 8:40pm flight. Except that it wasn’t 8:40pm after all as my flight was delayed.

I was flying British Airways for a change and so I settled down for an hour and a half wait filling the time skyping with one of my best friends in LA.

By the time I arrived in Nice it was 1am. A tired Letad was waiting for me and we were both a little grumpy. It was very late.

Saturday morning we emerged mid morning in much better moods and went to look at a house. One of the things we both want is a garden and so we’ve started looking at nearby houses. The little house above the Boulangerie is progressing well and at some point we’d like to sell it.

The house we saw was interesting. It needed a lot of work but the garden and pool were very appealing with a rustic terrace, olive trees and a view of the nearby hills. It was very tranquil and despite the rain, we could see the potential. Hmm, food for thought.

We set off after a quick lunch to go brocanting. One of my favourite pastimes, there are second hand furniture warehouses called Trocs selling all kinds of crap and some hidden gems. Each weekend there are Vides Grenniers (Empty Attic, the French equivalent of car boot sales) where antique beds, glass balls and large gilt framed mirrors can be found lurking behind 70s melamine furniture.

This time we stumbled across a nice cabinet which would be fabulous in the new bathroom. I hope it’s still there on Monday!

The current house project is to create a bathroom from what was a bedroom and a bedroom from the room formerly known as the bathroom. The little house above the Boulangerie is set over four floors and the bathroom was a floor below the main bedroom, next to the living room.

Having spent quite a lot of time in the house, it was maddeningly inconvenient to have to go up one flight for a shower or down two flights for a bath. Why not swap the bathroom and the little bedroom over to have a lovely new bathroom across the landing from the master bedroom? Genius!

This week Letad and his brother are working on the new bathroom. I’m very excited to see their progress on Saturday!

The weekend and the rain continued but our spirits weren’t dampened as we enjoyed a lovely Sunday lunch in nearby Bar sur Loup where we ate at L’Ecole des Filles, a rustic restaurant in a former girls’ school. The food was delicious and we enjoyed a relaxed meal and good conversation accompanied by a few laughs.

After lunch we repaired to the little house where we arranged furniture and pictures and the bedroom in the eaves has been transformed from dark and depressing with a water damaged floor to a calm, restful retreat.

I’m really quite enjoying the process of furnishing the little house.

Monday morning and at an absurdly early hour, we got up and drove to the airport. It dark, raining heavily and Letad had forgotten his glasses. Not the most relaxing journey!

All went well as I landed in a sunny London and by 9am was on the Gatwick Express heading to work.

Only five days and I’ll be heading back to France for a welcome week off work, a week to organise the wedding!

Busy, busy!

Dress for success

After a weekend dreaming about chiffon and satin, Harriet the designer sent over four dress options and, well really, how could I resist?

The idea of seventy people simultaneously turning to look at me in a dress I didn’t like was enough to make my decision. I’m not that keen on being the centre of attention unless I’m being witty and I’m not particularly bridal. What could be worse then, than wearing a lace, sparkly horror which has caused several sleepless nights?

I’m slightly concerned about the timing of everything as we’re not choosing fabric until the end of May but Harriet has assured me that all will be done and the most fabulous dress which isn’t a wedding dress will be mine. 

After this I’m delighted to say that I won’t be buying another wedding dress… ever again!

Vitamixing

5am and the birds woke me with their inaugural dawn chorus. The winter of discontent is officially over and I’m feeling fantastic after what feels like months of doom, gloom and complaining about the weather. Hurray!

There was no point trying to sleep so I got up and weighed myself. Hurray the giant lentil is finally retreating and I’m starting to feel like me again. After what seems like forever but in reality is about a month, I’ve lost about five pounds. I’m not quite at my fighting weight yet but with just under three months to go until the wedding, things are looking good.

With the day off to a fabulous start, I decided to risk using the power converter which arrived yesterday and take my trusty Vitamix out for a spin. The Vitamix is the world’s most expensive blender and something I used daily while living in LA.

Since relocating to London I’ve missed my morning smoothie, my easy soups and my experimental hummus which never quite worked. At the outrageous price of over £400 in the UK (which I would never pay) I was extremely nervous about blowing up the Vitamix with the higher voltage.

And so with my ingredients ready and waiting, I plugged everything in and flipped the switch. Great news, I didn’t get electrocuted and the Vitamix didn’t explode. Another massive hurray for the morning as the familiar sound of the Vitamix doing its job filled my ears and before long, a delicious breakfast smoothie was ready. Yum.

With breakfast finished, the washing on, the early morning sunlight filling the little flat in Chalk Farm and still only 7:30am, I might even go to work early. After all, I can be there in ten minutes!

Can the week get any better? I suspect it might….

Staycation

This weekend I’ve been on staycation, the term used when one stays at home but has a vacation, for those who don’t know.

Saturday morning and I jumped on the number 31 bus to Homebase. As luck would have it they were having a 15% off sale and I thought I’d buy a bag of potting soil. Exciting times!

I have a couple of hardy New Zealand flax which have miraculously survived the winter and I thought they would enjoy being replanted in lovely new soil.  

I also thought I’d be able to carry a bag of soil and a new plant home on the bus. That was before I realised how heavy potting soil is in the UK. It must be denser than the stuff I’ve bought in the US because I could barely lift the bag let alone contemplate getting it home. Sorry boys, repotting will have to wait.

So I wandered around and found a couple of really nice new plants instead. I tied up the fronds and with two Agnes B canvas bags, slung one over my shoulder and carried the other in my hand. I may have looked a little odd but before long we were all home and two lovely new plants were installed on the roof terrace. 

Beginning to feel more like Venice!


I then went to work oiling the outdoor furniture and with that done, I decided it was time for a sit down.

Two days later I got up.

The weather has been glorious and very welcome. I’ve been lying on the sofa in the sun reading and I’ve even put sunscreen on as it felt so warm. Surely it was more than the 14 degrees it claimed to be.

I made a delicious brunch of quinoa, spinach and mushrooms and now at 4:30pm having just emerged from the shower, I feel remarkably relaxed. The afternoon has cooled and so I’m repairing to the indoor sofa to continue doing nothing for the rest of the day.

Ah bliss, a lovely staycation!

Dress part deux

After an hour of silk, chiffon, crepe and all things lovely, we sat down to talk about money.

I gasped in horror and feeling slightly sick, my voice wavered as I said, “I’m so sorry Harriet, there’s no way I can do it.”

We were equally disappointed as we’d really enjoyed meeting and had hit it off.

Harriet immediately started looking at ways to bring the price down, different fabrics, different techniques and will phone on Monday with four possible solutions.

In the meantime I’m off to work. Visions of chiffon in my head. Can I have the dress I’d really love?

I really, really hope so.

Waiting for Harriet

I’m sitting in one of my least favourite places, Starbucks, as I wait for Harriet the dress designer.

I left home outrageously early as I thought it would take over an hour to get from Chalk Farm to Parsons Green but with a minor transport miracle, it only took forty five minutes.

I have photos of dresses I like (from when I started looking last year), I have shoes I like and I brought a dress I like. With my arsenal and a renewed sense of dress optimism, I’m hopeful all goes well this morning.

Wedding dress part deux…

17 days

Only 17 days to go until I go to France for a week! Hurray, I can’t wait!

We have lots of wedding things to do (finding a caterer being fairly important) but I’m hoping we can cram everything into a couple of days so we can have a few days off.

This means I’ve been in my job for almost five months. It’s gone amazingly fast and when I think back to where I was this time last year, what an enormous change.

In April last year I was skipping across Regents Park to Agnes B. It was fun and I enjoyed it for the time I was there. I miss some of the people I met and I enjoyed chatting to the customers. 

Now I’m back in my real career where I spend long hours sitting at the computer, where I have challenges and deadlines but perhaps the joie de vivre isn’t quite the same.

Pros and cons to both…