Back to Cap Ferrat

Off the plane, on the bus to Sophia Antipolis to collect the car and after a delicious lunch at the local PMU (a betting shop with an excellent chef) it was time to head to the beach. 

It was very hot, 39 degrees in the car and despite there being closer beaches, we set off to one of my favourites near Cap Ferrat. 
A beach hidden from tourists beckoned and before long we were swimming in the lovely benign water of the Mediterranean. It felt like a very long way from gritty Camden. 
It had been a long time since I’d been swimming and I do miss living near the ocean. Neutral buoyancy is always a good thing. The stress of recent weeks washed away in the clear, azur water which the coast its name and people-watching replaced work for an afternoon. 
Nice to be back in France. 

Back to Gatwick

7am and it was my old nemesis, the Gatwick Express. My fourth visit to Gatwick in the past couple of weeks and I’ve renamed it The Gatwick Snail.

Still, we’re off to France for a few days of well-deserved rest after a few weeks of madness. 
I have promised myself I am not cleaning the house or doing any DIY projects including restoring beds between now and Monday. 
Bon Weekend!

Gem versus the IRS

After a week of phone calls, a few tears of frustration, patience and rueful humour, I have finally made progress with the IRS. 

It seems they will give me my money back. It also seems I can file an amended tax return for the year in question. And then I hope the problem will be sorted. 
There’s nothing like the threat of an $8000 bill to motivate one into action. 
I’ve been on fire this week, problems sorted, decisions made, thousands of emails sent. 
The only thing left to do is go to France and for that I’m going back to Gatwick!

The Marital Midget Bed

After a year of suffering from sleep deprivation due to space deprivation, we finally broke down tonight and bought a bed. 

I had left my lovely queen size bed in LA and have suffered in the midget’s bed for two and a half years. 
Add the rather large frame of the Whippet, a pair of very hot feet (mine), stifling summer temperatures (yes, it’s  true) and things have been a little tense. 
The new king size bed (UK king = US queen) arrives next Friday. Hooray! Break out the big girl sheets!
But the pressing issue is where are we going to put the midget’s bed as it came with the flat? I suspect it might have to be a bed under a bed or a bed on the balcony. Bed with a view?
The Little Flat which looked like a jumble sale… definitely time to move!

Two days in Berlin

Two days, four trade shows, a vegetarian restaurant in a city of carnivores, a torrential thunderstorm and the world cup semi final against Brazil which Germany won 7-1.

It was an insane couple of days where I got up at 3:30am and went to bed at midnight and then followed that with another twelve hour day. Needless to say I was exhausted by the time I made it back to Chalk Farm.

Berlin looked like an interesting city and one I’d like to go back to. I caught glimpses of monuments, drove past the Brandenburg Gate and sensed that Berlin would be worth returning to. If I’d had another day, it would have been perfect.

But it was a work trip and work I did.

Where to next week?

Taxed to the Max

I had a nasty surprise as it appeared the IRS (the US Internal Revenue Service) had decided to clean out my bank account without telling me. Is that even legal? No warning, no letter, no notification.

I have diligently filed US taxes for twenty years and was told I didn’t owe anything for the past two years as there is a reciprocal agreement with the UK. I pay 40% tax on my UK income so that seemed like the least they could do.

On another note, I received a letter from HM Customs and Revenue today stating that I have been undertaxed by £300 and that will be deducted from my account.

How is this fair? 

I’m now thinking of going on benefits and living in a council house.

Good Intentions

I left work with the intention of going to an exercise class. The intention was good. Stepping outside the air conditioned office, I discovered it was hot, a lovely balmy evening in London. Was I really going to exercise?

I walked in the direction of the gym… stopped, debated and then turned around. I decided a better option was to join a few colleagues at a nearby bar for a drink.

Call it team bonding, I might have felt better this morning if I’d made it to the gym!

A Florentine Feast

After several meals which had failed to impress, we were determined to discover good food in Florence. 

We started the late afternoon with drinks on a rooftop terrace in view of the duomo (what wasn’t?) and as the breeze wafted over us and the shadows lengthened, we had an ideal view of Florence (apart from someone’s washing nearby). 
Eventually we reluctantly descended from the roof and set off on a mission. We were determined to avoid the duomo. It seemed as though we kept walking in circles and all streets led to the enormous domed cathedral and so we set off in search of dinner away from the madding crowds. 
We ambled along for a while exploring the streets until tired feet demanded a rest. Our first stop, the Tartare Express where a balding taxidermied boar stood guard at the door. 
We sat at a table on the street, rested and had a drink while offering constructive criticism to passers-by before continuing on in search of something with a nicer name as by then we’d dubbed it the Pig Express. 
Eventually, after a few false starts, we discovered a lovely restaurant with an outdoor patio. The street was quiet, the clientele were over forty and no one appeared to be wearing a bum bag. Despite being told there was no room at the inn, by the time I returned from the bathroom via the handicapped lift (I didn’t have a choice), we had secured a lovely candle-lit table outside. Bliss. 
We were optimistic and finally, not disappointed. Letad enjoyed a delicious meal of Italian balls, from mozzarella, to cheese-filled Gnudi, to pungent meatballs in a rich tomato sauce while the real star of the meal was a delicate zucchini soufflé paired with an incredible cheese fondue sauce. Accompanied by an excellent local chianti, it was a meal to remember. 
As we ate, buskers appeared and while I’m normally not thrilled at the prospect of being a captive audience, the sound of a lyrical flute echoing off the ancient stone walls, set the mood perfectly. Even an accordion player couldn’t break the magic, as a surprisingly subtle rendition of Blue Moon filled the evening sky. 
We left replete having discovered the magic of Florence and emerged back into a people-filled piazza to look at the fake David. He does indeed have a surprisingly big hand! 
An evening to remember.