Grouting the pool

Another relaxing day was spent transitioning into the South of France by repairing the grouting in the pool.

As the pool had to be partially drained to reset the chemical balance, it seemed like an opportune moment to repair some of the old grout which had disintegrated over the years.

With a washing up bowl and a cup of waterproof grout, I spent a satisfying few hours waist deep in water repairing any missing grout above the waterline. With the excess cleaned off, the grout was gleaming white and I felt it was a worthwhile job well done.

I would add however that repairing swimming pool grout is really only for the OCD, not an activity to be undertaken by normal people!


A few days later

It’s fair to say that sixteen hours of travelling wiped us out. Agnes and I were exhausted after we went over the wall, or rather under the channel and it took a few days to start to settle down.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from going on a marathon washing session as, over the winter, our storage room had leaked and everything inside was covered in mould. It was a discovery Big T had made upon arrival so at least I was forewarned.

My obsessively well-organised stacks of bedding (by bed size) were in chaos, some sheets were in holes, some with mould, some had miraculously survived. Clothes had to be thrown away and the whole thing was a sorry sight after being a delicious wealth of lavender-scented cotton.

All there was to do was to wash all the bedding again with vinegar, bleach and anything else and then bake everything dry in the sun to see what survived.

There were casualties and there will need to be replacements and of course, the next project will be to find the source of the problem and then try to remove the mould from the landlord’s cupboard.


Marseille to Antibes

By the time we arrived in Antibes, everything was starting to drag and we were very tired.

Agnes was pretty fed up with sitting under a seat for ten hours so insisted on standing in the aisle which was moderately inconvenient as passengers insisted on walking up and down. Most inconsiderate of them!

We pulled into Cannes where an announcement was made, something about the police which I didn’t quite catch so we sat for ten minutes waiting. It felt like another ten hours.

But eventually we were off, the train creaking forward slowly and ten minutes later we were in Antibes where a very tanned chap was there to meet us.

We’d arrived!

Lille to Marseille

I had booked first class and thank goodness, the second class TGV looked like an outing to Butlins.

Originating in Brussels, it looked as though the whole of Belgium was going on a package tour. We set off to the other end of the train.

A nice quiet cabin (only two small children) and a calm environment meant that Agnes tucked herself under a seat and went to sleep, at least for the first couple of hours.

We weren’t alone as we had two different neighbours but with my brave attempt at conversation, “j’ai une chienne, Monsieur, pas de problem?!” things seemed to be ok.

Let’s not jinx it, we’ve still got over three hours left to go….

Calais to Lille

We had accidentally bought a second class ticket (I can assure you there’s no one second class in this travelling party!) but we boarded the train in Calais and were pleasantly surprised.

An empty train was a pleasure but too short as half an hour later we arrived in Lille.

I paid 90 cents to have a wee. A fairly outrageous price but worth it to take advantage of a toilet before boarding the longest leg of our journey. Lille to Marseille, 4 hours and forty five minutes. Agnes did a wee for free and had had a second poo in Calais. So much easier to be a dog!

Here we go!

Bonjour France!

So far so good! We have made it to Calais and are now waiting for our train to Lille.

It was business as usual with a cheery wave of the passport and the efficiency of the dog taxi and suddenly we were in France! Whee!

We stood in a queue for half an hour as the woman in front seemed to be planning her summer holidays. We bought Agnes a dog ticket for the very reasonable price of €7 to go to Antibes. Oh, to be a dog!

It is quite hard to drink coffee with a face mask on, so they don’t seem terribly practical but I am playing by the rules, for now! I’d better stay off the Pernod (note to self)

And so that’s a good start. Let’s hope we can get back in when the time comes!

Stage One London to Folkestone

I remember how it used to be leaving London as the city gives way to green fields dotted with trees and electrical pylons. Blue skies and puffy clouds signify the English summer as we dash through at high speed.

Sitting on the first train I’ve taken since March, I felt nostalgic for the olden days, you know, like February.

Still, it’s nice to see the countryside from the window of a completely empty train. If only the trains are this empty in France!

Agnes did a big poo at St Pancras so that’s one less thing to worry about and I sanitised my seat with my extra large antiseptic Flash wipes so we’re good to go!

Next stop Folkestone where we get the dog taxi through the Euro Tunnel!

Escape from Alcatraz

It’s been almost four months, we’ve maintained a radius of a mile but now we’re throwing caution to the wind with a face mask and antiseptic wipes in tow.

Today Agnes and I have left the safety of the Mansions and ventured out on an intrepid day of travel insanity as we head south for the rest of the summer.

With the theme music to Mission Impossible circling around my head, we have left Alcatraz and have plunged into headfirst into the changed world beyond.

What will happen? Will we make it?

Exciting adventures ahead in the next twelve hours as we await our first train for the day at London St Pancras!

A bientot London, we might be back by lunchtime!

Biking Mad

Last night I went back to upholstery for my next class, three and a half months later than expected.

I’d had concerns about how to get there and decided that cycling was the best solution as the tube is horrible in the summer anyway and I couldn’t justify a Covid moment.

And so off I went, six miles to Hoxton. It didn’t sound like a lot but forty minutes later, it certainly felt like it.

I worked on my chair for three hours and made some progress and then cycled home for another forty minutes. I believe I mentioned that my cycling fitness isn’t what it used to be!

It’s fair to say I was shattered by the time I got home at 10:30pm and am not looking forward to repeating it on Thursday in thirty degree heat.

Still, last chance before France and hopefully I’ll be able to pick things up again in September.

Big floral!

Wheel fitness

I cycled to work for seven years, every week day, come rain or shine but mostly rain. In the winter and in the dark. It wasn’t far but it did something. Twenty minutes each way, six miles a day.

Since I’ve been working at home, I haven’t been cycling and so today I went out for the first time and cycled for a hour.

It’s fair to say that my bike fitness is not what it was and I’ll certainly be feeling it tomorrow!