A three day week

A three day week is very civilised.

It was a long weekend so I had Monday off and now, with my last summer Friday tomorrow, I’m sitting at Gatwick airport going to France for what, I suspect, may be the last weekend for a while.

I’m doing the Monday morning return so am squeezing every last second out of the weekend despite having to get up at 4am London time.

And then next weekend I’m off to New York and wait for it, Minneapolis. Now there’s somewhere I haven’t been!

Not quite as sunny

Before long, it would appear the naysayers were right, the skies were darkening and rain was forecast.

After a short amble through a forest, a drink at the pub, a stroll around the church and wander through a local mill, it was time to repair to the butter yellow thatched cottage for lunch and an afternoon with the Sunday papers.

Time for a rest as the next month is gearing up to be very busy.

Did I mention I’m off to New York?

Walking Tours of London

During the past two weeks, Letad and I have combined flat hunting with evening walks around London.

As a result we’ve explored areas from Islington to Tufnall Park, Kentish Town to Swiss Cottage, Camden to St Pancras and Primrose Hill to Little Venice. From North to West London but no further out than Zone 2, of course!

The evening forays have introduced us to areas of London we’ve never explored and have been informative, educational and quite fantastic!

More to come on the Walking Tours of London…

Sunny Sunday

Despite the gloomy predications of “it always rains on the August bank holiday”, Sunday morning was a glorious vision of blue skies and sunshine.

Saturday had been spent throwing children around in a gorgeous outdoor pool at Exeter University before setting off for a reunion with my parents as their return to Australia was rapidly approaching.

It was a very civilized afternoon on the lawn with tea, cake, football and handstands. My first handstand resulted in a rather disastrous landing as I successfully winded myself and conked myself on the back of the head. Luckily I didn’t have concussion and proceeded to a slightly more successful head stand. Time to go back to yoga it would seem.

The evening was spent at a local pub where things culminated in me giving Letad a piggyback from the car to the front door. Hilarity ensued…

Goodbye Bro

By early evening, my brother returned from Hamley’s, a little last minute shopping for his kids as he was leaving to go back to Australia.

By 6:30pm I felt able to face food and so we strolled down the road to Marine Ices, a local Italian restaurant which was full of screaming kids as we were there early and it’s a well known family-friendly restaurant.  www.marineices.co.uk

We ate and then returned to the little flat so my brother could quickly pack. Time was of the essence and he needed to get to Heathrow. We’d planned on going with him to wave goodbye but as we walked down to the tube, we decided that perhaps a mini cab was a better idea, it was cheaper and hopefully quicker.

And just as well as it turned out as he’d got the time of his flight wrong and made it with only ten minutes to spare.

Bon voyage bro, hopefully it’s not another twenty five years before you’re back!

An Evening of Debauchery

It was Friday evening and as my now husband, brother and two of my cousins were in London, it seemed like a great idea to meet up for a drink, check out my cousin’s new girlfriend and spend an evening with my brother before he set off to Australia.

A good idea indeed until it all went horribly wrong…

It must be said that we were all feeling quite tired. Letad and my brother started the evening (or afternoon) at the fake beach at Made in Camden. www.roundhouse.org.uk

The Beach at Camden

Needless to say, I decided the fake Camden beach wasn’t my cup of tea as it’s really just a big pile of sand on top of a building with some deck chairs, so I relocated everyone to The Lansdowne as it was on my way home.  www.thelansdownepub.co.uk

I nabbed an outside table and before long Letad and my brother arrived. After a drink we started to get a second wind and as one of my cousins arrived, we were all starting to feel on good form. Funny how that happens. My other cousin and his girlfriend arrived and before we knew it, the pub was closing.

As one thing led to another we found ourselves at the corner shop buying a very expensive bottle of vodka. Apparently we all thought this was a good idea and so we crammed six people into the extremely small lift (only recommended for four and in hindsight an extremely bad idea as the lifts are often getting stuck) and we headed up to the little flat in Chalk Farm for an after party.

Letad was bartender, a role he’s held before and I should have remembered the outcome last time when we were in LA. The Bon-Voy-Birthday

The drink (not actually of choice) was straight vodka, on ice with lemon or as Letad called it, a Martini. Served in a champagne flute, it was lethal.

It was fun…

Let’s just say all was going well, dancing ensued and then, as the night wore on, it wasn’t as much fun anymore as my cousin wasn’t very well. Food poisoning!

Eventually the party ended, Letad and I went to bed but not for long as I was also struck with food poisoning. Disaster!

My cousin and I had eaten at The Lansdowne and while I’m sure the drinks didn’t help I’m absolutely convinced that there was an element of food poisoning involved.

The following morning I struggled out of bed to let the John Lewis delivery men in to deliver our wedding presents. What they must have thought I can only imagine as the bodies of my cousin and brother were strewn across the floor in the living room and I wasn’t feeling very well at all.

With the boxes stacked in the hall, I barely made it into the bathroom as the food poisoning continued and then continued for the majority of the day.

Eventually my cousin, armed with a couple of emergency plastic bags, felt strong enough to leave and my brother set off across the park to buy presents for his kids.

Letad and I sat on the sofa and opened our wedding presents. It wasn’t exactly how I’d imagined and I swore that I would never drink again…

Flat Hunting

After a few days back in London and a slight altercation with my landlord over a water bill, it seemed like it was time to come down from my ivory tower, the Little Flat in Chalk Farm, and start looking at flats.

The reality is that I work in London, in a good job and we need the income. We will be starting married life fairly unconventionally as Letad will be dividing his time between France and London.

Having said that, a one bedroom single Princess pied de terre is just too small for a married couple with two (part-time) teenage kids. And so, on Saturday afternoon I set off to look at a two bedroom flat in Kentish Town, an up-and-coming area between Camden and Belsize Park.

Flat hunting in London is an extremely depressing pastime. Flats are small, dirty and overpriced and while our budget could buy a house outside the city, in London it’s most likely a one bedroom flat unless it’s a complete shithole…

It’s the ground floor flat… enough said

Let’s just say that first impressions were bad and I’ve renamed Kentish Town with a Cu at the beginning. Never one for crudeness, I can’t possibly write it but it summed it up perfectly.

It didn’t help that the estate agent had forgotten about me and showed up half an hour late after I rang to see where he was. London estate agents don’t have to try very hard as demand exceeds supply but really, that was pushing it.

When he did finally show up we went inside. It actually wasn’t that bad and I could see there was potential. As I’ve lived in extremely small homes for the past twenty years, I’m quite comfortable with the idea of bijoux. Letad, however, is significantly taller than me and struggles to fit in the bed for midgets at the Little Flat in Chalk Farm. Somehow I felt he wouldn’t feel the former mini cab office masquerading as a flat, would work for him despite the luxury of a second very small bedroom.

We have until the end of the year and then the lease is up and we’ll have to move from the Little Flat in Chalk Farm. Flat hunting now begins in earnest.


From Nice to London… reluctantly

We spent the morning washing clothes before deciding to do a drive-by past La Maison Pierre. It had been a while since we’d seen it and the estate agent had been back in touch. Were we still interested?

The gate was unlocked and we walked down the sun baked drive to the sound of cicadas. It was incredibly tranquil, the neglected pool filled with insects, the house was much as we remembered it.

We went for a coffee in nearby Roquefort les Pins to discuss the pros and cons as we both felt it would make an amazing adventure.

A few hours later we dropped off the hire car and drove the screaming Mini to the airport. It was back to reality as the honeymoon was sadly over.

The time came to say a very tearful goodbye to Letad. We had had our share of airport goodbyes but now, with the pig rings on our fingers, it was so much harder.

I welled up like a Dobson (for those who know) and the little black piece of coal let me down as emotion won over stoicism.

We’d had an insane few weeks, it had been mad, fun, annoying and brilliant. We’d been from the highest high to lows with concern for our future but we’d done it and ironically, more than any other moment, I felt it saying goodbye at Nice airport.

The last thing I wanted was to go back to London, to the world of consumer products and corporate speak. Why? When I could eat cheese in the South of France.

I wiped my eyes as I went through security. I hoped Letad would make it home in the screaming Mini and I wondered what the next six months would bring as we embarked on our new journey together.

It had been a fantastic adventure so far.

Corsica Day Eight – Calvi to Nice

After a lovely relaxed (but rather warm) evening in Calvi where we congratulated ourselves on our good decision to head north, we awoke to overcast skies.

It was a relief from the temperatures of over forty degrees (the thermometer in the car stopped at forty so we weren’t sure exactly how hot it had been) but it had been extremely hot.

We made our way to a late breakfast as the skies became darker and the first drops of rain began to fall. As breakfast progressed, the rain became torrential, thunder rumbled and lightning streaked through the sky.

Darkening skies

I started to wonder if the ferry would sail that afternoon.

The horizon vanished and we sat on the terrace drinking coffee and watching the storm progress. I do love weather with passion but only if it doesn’t inconvenience me!

En route to Calvi

An hour later and the tropical storm was still overhead. The torrential rain lashed down and we decided we would have to make a run for it. With huge cracks of thunder, jagged flashes of lightning and rain beating down on the car, Letad checked us out, waded through almost knee deep flooding, we left Calvi and started to head to Ile Rouse.

By the time we arrived after being stuck in a bouchon (traffic jam) for a while, the weather had cleared and the temperature was back up to 32. Oh good!

We boarded the ferry and bid Corsica adieu as we sailed out into the Med, to a rough sea and buffeting wind. 

Enjoying the spray

We spent the next five and a half hours sitting outside as it was very unpleasant inside, mostly because of the decor but also the motion resulted in a slight feeling of nausea which was best not to prolong.

Arriving back into Nice
Around the cap

We arrived in Nice drenched in spray and covered in salt from the crossing and decide to head straight to Valbonne for dinner and bed. We were crusted in salt but as always managed to enjoy ourselves as we reminisced over the weeks gone by.

Nice bathed in a golden light

We hoped the wedding had been a success, we remembered the laughter of family and friends sitting in the square, we laughed ruefully over the wedding washout and we talked of our Corsican adventures.

It was hard to believe it was over. Three weeks had passed in the blink of an eye and now we looked forward to the future.

Tired (and hot) we made our way to the Little House above the Boulangerie for one last night.

Corsica Day Seven – Agaccio and North

From Propriano, we drove to Agaccio, the biggest town on Corsica as we headed up the west coast. We strolled through the market, had a coffee, looked at our hotel and decided that while we could sit by a pool for another day, we were feeling more adventurous.
The market in Agaccio

We decided that we would continue on to Calvi at the north end of the island. It was a risk as we may not find somewhere to stay but we felt it was worth it. Agaccio was another beach resort and we were ready for adventure.

We set off north and drove inland discovering some of the most beautiful Corsican landscape we’d seen. 

Inland villages

Just before Corte we discovered the Pont de Vecchio, a railway bridge built by Gustave Eiffel in 1826. It was an impressive feat of engineering in an inhospitable surrounding.

Eiffel’s bridge – from below
Eiffel’s bridge

We debated hiking down to the natural rock pools below but decided to push on to Venaco and Corte where we discovered the true heart of Corsica.

The new road bridge

As the road wound on we passed through the multitude of Corsican terrain, from alpine mountains to desert scrub and finally back to the blue green water of the Mediterranean. We wound our way to Calvi where we found our hotel for the night, Hotel La Villa, a spectacular five star hotel nestled into the hillside above the town. www.hotel-lavilla.com

It would appear the gamble had paid off as we didn’t have to sleep in the car after all!

We lounged by another freshwater pool and swam as we prepared for our last night in Corsica.

Another lovely pool

Sadly the honeymoon was coming to an end.