Politics à la Plage

As a bit of a stickler for etiquette, there’s a right way of doing things even on the beach. 

Arriving at the beach at the top of the Promenade des Anglais we politely arranged our towels a discreet distance from the aqua water. We hobbled carefully over the grey pebbles to swim in the temperate water before returning to our camp and relaxing. All was well. 
Before long however all was not well as the Russians invaded. Not being well versed in beach etiquette they plonked themselves down right in front of us, blocked our view and proceeded to have very loud conversations in Russian. 
And then it really was beach politics as the Americans moved in, complete with kids, stroller and toys. They pushed their way to the water’s edge and decided no one else was getting a look in. 
All we needed were the Germans!
We decided to swim and then sat in the pebbles in the surf. Victory, no one was in front of us. “We will fight on the beaches… We will never surrender…”
The Americans retaliated by changing their baby’s nappy next to us. Dirty tactics indeed. 
Game over!

South of St Tropez – The Var

There was a stretch of coast between St Tropez and Toulon I’d had my eye on. Belonging to the region known as The Var, it looked as though it would be worth a visit. 

And so off we went, driving towards Hyéres before taking a long, windy road past dozens of vineyards. It seemed as though it was taking forever and wasn’t the scenic coastal route I’d had in mind, but suddenly we emerged from the green and overlooked the most spectacular glittering blue view of Cavaliére and the Var coast. 
We wound our way down the cliff and meandered along the coast towards Le Lavandou. An interesting peninsula caught my eye on the map and so a detour to Cap Bénat entailed. While I anticipated a deserted beach at the end of the road, the French had other plans as it was a private estate or domain. End of the road indeed. 
We set off back the way we came, stopping at a tiny cove for a very quick swim before heading to St Tropez. 
To be honest I haven’t fallen in love with St Tropez. I’ve only been once before and while it certainly embodies the glamour of the Riviera with overly expensive cars and overly tanned women with eating disorders, I feel it’s not quite for me. 
We left St Tropez, sat in the obligatory traffic jam and went back to Valbonne for a quiet evening and an early night. 
The Var coast was definitely worth seeing but I’m still a fan of Cap Ferrat!

The Saga of Norman

The perils of renting one’s house out to strangers means that there are inevitable damage and breakages. 

Things haven’t been too bad although it seems the oven is broken, someone has nicked the nice glass salt and pepper shakers and oil cruets, the hair dryer has gone, several glasses appear to be broken and one of my prized green glass bottles is missing albeit a small one. All fairly manageable although slightly inconvenient. 
Norman the goldfish however, appears to have thrived in our absence. He’s bigger than he was with a glorious tail, fatter and more energetic than before. We were innocently admiring his tail when the penny dropped, it was as though he was a different fish…
This imposter is the fake Norman, now named the Forman.
Where is the real Norman?
Now we wait for the ransom letter to arrive…

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!