The Summer Wardrobe

It was another bank holiday, the joy of May when strangely there are two!

Summer Fridays have kicked in at work so I was off to France for a Friday to Tuesday morning, hurrah! First stop after lunch was a trip to Grasse to look (strategically) for a couple of summer dresses from Fragonard. As I’ve previously mentioned, going to Fragonard is a truly sensory experience. The scent of beautiful perfumes clings to packaging I only wish I had designed. Add delicate thin cool cotton and original patterns and it’s the perfect recipe for summer.

I did manage to buy a couple of dresses, perfect for weekends in the South of France and never to be worn in London! It’s a very different style but thin, translucent cotton is essential to summer survival so that was a necessary journey. And that was a good start to the weekend!

The Morris Cup

As we now have a very snazzy ping pong table folded up under the cabana, we’ve been enjoying a rather competitive ongoing tournament.

Friday evening saw the start of the Morris Cup (a shiny, plastic silver trophy has been purchased) and the competition is certainly heating up as we search for the worthy winner.

Big T and family are all very serious ping pong players and every family gathering involves a dusting off of the bats. I had been written off as rubbish but it seems I am now making progress as practise has certainly helped me improve my game.

Luckily Big T made the correct decision when buying the bats as he invested in the “anger resistant” bats which apparently don’t break if you smash them on the table in frustration. Luckily that didn’t happen and instead a lot of laughter ensued as we drew 2-2.

To be continued through the summer…

Leaving the Compound

I am now in the midst of weekend commuting.

Three nights in France and four in London. It’s a routine which requires organisation but otherwise the change of scenery is needed and vey much enjoyed.

Last weekend we decided to actually leave the house and garden and ventured out for dinner at a local brasserie in Le Rouret, the Bistro du Clos. We strolled down from the house with the little dog in tow and a very relaxed evening was had by all.

I hadn’t been there before and was pleasantly surprised. Excellent people watching as the people of Le Rouret seem to be discreetly wealthy and rather smart. Certainly more than the hoi palloi of Valbonne!

The food was excellent, very seasonal and delicious. The prices were reasonable and as we strolled home, past a pond of croaking frogs destined for someone’s plate, it was a very pleasant evening indeed.

I have a feeling we’ll be heading back again soon.

Gone to the dogs

On Sunday we decided to go to a Fete des Chiens in nearby Bar sur Loup. A dog’s day out so of course Agnes came along as well.

It turned out not to be the local version of Crufts which we’d been expecting but rather a gathering of hunters and their dogs. It was strangely republican in the US sense of the word.

We watched a bemusing display as a dog ran around in a field until a small brown bird appeared and ran away. The dog wasn’t allowed to chase the bird which must have been the point of the rather underwhelming exercise. Obviously the dog was not a badly trained terrier.

We walked past all sorts of varieties of hunting dogs all baying like mad at the small terrier on the red lead.

We saw a very large and prickly boar asleep under a tree. Agnes caught a whiff of him and went berserk. The boar wasn’t very interested.

We spotted lots of orange clothing for sale (to avoid being shot by other hunters) and then managed to avoid a very dubious plate of meat for lunch.

We saw some rabbits in a hutch (dog went crazy), some trout in a paddling pool (not really a fair fight), more hunting dogs and that was that.

We decided we’d seen enough of hunting and went home to enjoy lunch in our garden and a game of ping pong. Definitely more our style!

Strategic Shopping

I have taken up strategic shopping. I think it could be a new hobby as I find it incredibly satisfying and of course, quite vacuous!

It involves doing countless hours of research, maintaining wishlists on various websites, working out what I have in my wardrobe and then strategically working out what I should buy for the season.

I change my mind a lot, relook at products again and again and then slowly and carefully place orders. I return things if they’re not right and hopefully I end up with clothes which will be with me for several years to come.

While this probably doesn’t sound very spontaneous I’ve realised that spontaneity or rather, panic shopping led to me buying some horrible summer dresses last year, ones which looked rather middle-aged.

My tactics seem to be paying off as I built a winter wardrobe which should keep me going for the next few years and now I’m working on my transitional/summer clothes.

In the spirit of Swedish Death Cleaning (more to come on that), I’m also trying to take the approach of one thing in, one thing out with varying degrees of success.

Hedging my bets

I seem to have been working on hedges for the past month.

In France I’ve been clearing out layers of dead leaves and cutting back branches on a giant laurel hedge. It’s been an endless project and the bloody thing keeps growing back.

In London it was time to trim the hedge at the front of the house. We had inherited the hedge trimmers from the previous owners upstairs and so with a weekend in London (and it wasn’t raining) I decided it was my window of opportunity so off I went.

The hedge was quite large, wider than I could reach and certainly taller than me so I took one of the kitchen stools outside to stand on.

Things were progressing reasonably well. I was about halfway through when the inevitable happened. I cut through the electrical cable. One minute I was zapping through branches, the next minute the cord fell to the ground and that was that.

Bugger.

I had two options. Buy a new hedge trimmer or attempt to repair the one in hand. I chose the second option.

I stripped back the insulation on the wires and cycled down to the nearest hardware shop to buy electrical tape and a handy electrical block which involved poking wires through either end and tightening with a tiny screwdriver. I then wrapped and wrapped the whole thing with electrical tape and hoped I wouldn’t fuse everything in the flat and electrocute myself.

I will add that I was not the first person to have this accident as the cable already had a repair in place. I decided that it would be better to take the previously repair apart and reconnect it rather than having two joins.

Anyway, with the repair complete, I gingerly plugged in, turned on and amazingly, I was back in business. Hurrah (well, sort of).

I finished the hedge (apart from a couple of bumps) and decided to call it a day. Hopefully it will grow back slowly…

Ping Pong

A week later than expected, a new Ping Pong table was delivered in France. It was delivered unassembled and we almost went to pieces as well!

It was perhaps one of the most complicated items of assembly I’ve undertaken and involved wheels, locks and hinges which enabled the table to open and close.

It started as a two person job and soon became three. Two hours after we started, the table was finally complete. The mechanisms worked despite our misgivings and the new table tennis table was installed under the cabana.

After regaining some energy, we had a test run and decided that it had been worth it. The small white balls pinged and ponged back and forth across the new grey table. The Little Dog jumped up and down in excitement and ran away with every ball which headed in her direction.

Agnes just wanted to take part as each ball was retrieved without damage and so a new sport was discovered for dogs.

And so the summer of table tennis begins!