In two weeks time

In two weeks time, Agnes and I will attempt to cross the channel and enter the Eurozone. Schengen here we come (hopefully!)

We have booked our escape vehicle, funny how an inflatable dinghy crossing the Channel has plenty of seats going the other way!

It’s lucky Agnes likes water but she’s not much of a swimmer so hopefully we won’t have to make a swim for it.

Under the cover of darkness we’ll hide under trucks and hang on to the axles as we stowaway south.

We’re brushing up on our French, “Oui Monsieur, nous habitons pres de Nice. Je travaille a Londres mais je vol normalment chaque weekend à France à chez nous. Voici ma…”

And that’s where it all falls apart as we don’t have any proof of permanent residency in France, maybe because I’m not a resident and Agnes is a dog.

Fingers crossed we don’t get to that point as I don’t want to get sent back or stuck in quarantine in Calais.

Remember how easy it was when we used to fly!

Hiding in Hyde Park

Freedom!

Another glorious day in London after a wet and fairly cold week so we took the opportunity to walk to Hyde Park.

By mid morning helicopters were starting to circle overhead and sirens could be heard so it was time to head back to the middle class safety of Maida Vale before it all kicked off.

Apparently the right wing extremists are popping into town to meet the Black Lives Matter protestors and save a few statutes. ..

Time to head home.

The In-tray

For the past few months I’ve been working harder than I have in years. On one hand it’s been good to be so busy, on the other there were weeks when I felt like I was sinking.

New projects have been dumped in my virtual in-tray each week as my job has quadrupled from when I first started. I’ve added new team members, lost one team member and absorbed a huge workload.

While working from home has been a good thing and I’m happy not cycling to Camden every day, my working hours are longer and I’ve been slogging away for ten or so hours a day designing and managing multiple projects whilst hunched over a small laptop.

I’m now approaching the end of the season as twenty projects will be finished for Autumn 2021 and suddenly I’m a little concerned. What does my future look like? Will there be a Spring/ Summer season in the world of licensed product in 2022?

As I work eighteen months in advance, this is a complete unknown. Retail has been closed for months and profits are non-existent.

With recent layoffs I have no doubt of my productivity but if the products aren’t selling, new creative may not be needed.

As the shops are reopening next week, let’s hope the Brits (and the rest of the world) go back to doing what they do best, shopping for stuff they don’t need!

And in the meantime, perhaps I can get to France and use some of my annual leave!

Low Carb Lockdown

While the riots apparently kick off this weekend, historic television is censored, (Little Britain is no longer available so something good is coming from all this) I decided to stay focused on the thing I can control. It was time to start cleaning up my act after becoming the Lockdown Lardarse.

During Lockdown, it just wasn’t the time to deprive oneself of basic pleasures. With everything else we’d given up, we had to have something to enjoy and so we indulged. And the results weren’t good.

With the departure of Big T to France, I decided to take advantage of the time alone to get back on the wagon (weekend drinking only, Wednesday is not the new Friday) and get the extra padding off.

My usual tactics, what works for me is low carb, high protein and high fat. It turns out there’s a name for it, Keto.

It’s easy. Eggs, cheese, lots of salad and vegetables, berries, fish. Obviously not all together but luckily for me, pretty much all my favourite foods. Grilled halliumi salad? Scrambled eggs with feta? Omelette? frittata? Job done.

After five days I have noticed a difference. I’m sleeping brilliantly, my face looks less puffy and the numbers on the scales are heading in the right direction.

While London falls into chaos around me, at least I’ll be ready for summer, if it happens!

Priorities!

Bon voyage

On Monday, Big T printed off his essential travel documents (how easy it used to be), donned a face mask, took a packet of handy antiseptic wipes and set off to Heathrow to see if he could get to France.

Our tenants have moved out for the summer and there were things to be dealt with and so, while second home travel is deemed non-essential, we felt it was worth a try.

And so it was, as a few short hours later (with no social distancing on the plane), Big T was sitting in the square in Valbonne enjoying a beer al fresco as he’d got through without a hitch and was back in the French house for the next couple of months. With a leak in the roof, a pool to sort out and an overgrown garden, he’s got plenty to do.

The bigger challenge now is how Agnes and I will be able to join him as we have to travel through France by train.

With the new UK two week quarantine fiasco (hello, where was this three months ago?) being reciprocated by the French, I don’t fancy a two week stay in Calais upon arrival so more to come on that, hopefully on June 15th.

Bon voyage and bon courage!

50 shades of grey

Just to keep things superficial, three months on I have become Cruella de Badger as my hair has grown a good three inches longer than I would like and unfortunately all of that new growth shows the reality of the situation.

In addition, my hair is thick and now quite big so it’s not exactly Hakuna Matata from Maida Vale!

It seems I have two white streaks at the front and then about fifty other shades varying from dark blond (wishful thinking) to mousy brown. Yes, there was a reason for indulging in expensive hair colouring it would appear!

While hairdressers are still shut and it’s unlikely I’m going to be able to do anything about this until August, I’m soldiering on, resisting the temptation to either cut my hair myself or do a dodgy home colour job as it’s too hard to decide which of the many colours to choose from!

When all this is over, I may embrace the grey, but let’s be honest, I’ll be straight off back to Marylebone to get this mess sorted out.

Where to start?

In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen so many changes in the world that it’s hard to know where to start and what to comment on.

I am concerned about the future as we see peaceful protests become riots, looters breaking into shops to steal trainers (seriously?), race issues becoming more divisive, attempts to “correct” history by statues being defaced and toppled, arguments over whether people who menstruate can be referred to as women.

People are different. People come in different shapes and colours. Some people are better at some things than others. Some people are stronger than others. Some people can run faster than others. We are not one size fits all.

It’s hard to say anything without sounding racist, sexist, fatist, ageist or anything else these days.

I believe in meritocracy. Rewards are given to those who accomplish and achieve. I wouldn’t want to be given a job because of the colour of my skin, the genitals I have or the gender I choose to go to bed with. I don’t want to be a box ticking exercise.

By having an opinion I run the risk of offending pretty much everyone. Yes, black lives matter but don’t all lives matter?

In the UK riots are being predicted for the summer. By posting that on the DailyMail, surely the seed has been sown, wouldn’t it have been better not to suggest social unrest to the masses?

With lockdown in complete chaos, mass gatherings for protests, children not returning to school and the predicted mother of all recessions on the horizon, it’s fun times ahead and so on that note, Big T has departed to France.

Another crazy day

It seems like Lockdown (or lack thereof) has brought some swings and roundabouts with it. Or ups and downs out of the blue.

Yesterday another round of corporate lay offs was announced and sadly, closer colleagues were “let go.”

The corporate terminology involves words like streamlining, restructuring, cost effectivity and efficiency. All good until you’ve been streamlined as that won’t pay the mortgage.

On another note (having so far dodged the streamlining) I had a performance review with a member of my team yesterday.

Things have not been going well for the past few months. The person in question was a temporary employee, still on probation and decided that, as the feedback was constructive but less than positive, she would just quit. Effective immediately. Now that’s streamlining!

To be honest it’s a case of problem solved as I’ve been doing her job (as well as my own) for several months anyway and things clearly weren’t working. Sometimes things have a way of sorting themselves out.

And so now to clean up the mess and get on with the job at hand.

The Communal Garden

As we have been enjoying the Hottest Spring in the History of the Universe and have been stuck at home, we have discovered the joys of the communal garden.

Small children come and visit every day. We have four year old Sophia who is a little bit bossy and very confident. She likes to come and see Agnes and then stays for a while until her parents retrieve her and I can get on with some work.

We also have Ellis and Finbar, a sister and brother (7 and 4) who live a few flats down. They have a little toy Welsh Terrier called Buttons who also comes to visit.

And then there are two little boys who live across the garden. They always wear matching outfits and play with enormous inflatable gladiator hammers. They get into trouble a lot!

Above us is the baby Archie who has to wear a helmet as he had a very special operation on his skull because it wasn’t quite fused when he was born. He belongs to a lovely couple who dropped off home made brownies. We like them a lot.

And then there’s our next door neighbour Harriet who is going through a breakup in lockdown. We enjoy chatting with her and have introduced her to Sophia, the bossy four year old who is helping her clean things.

And after a bit of a rough start we met John the gardener who wasn’t so bad after all. He was extremely drunk mind you, and had lost his key to the garden.

There are a few people we don’t like but the good apples are outweighing the bad and it’s like having the biggest pub garden right outside your back door.

There’s always something going on and the people watching is fascinating!

Rules or no rules

The rules of lockdown have become a little confusing. It’s ok to play tennis, golf and go sailing and it’s ok to have your cleaner round to clean your house. So very middle class!

After that it’s a bit grey. You can have one parent round but not two. You can go to work but ideally not on public transport so either by bike or walking. If you drive, the congestion charge in central London has gone up to £15 and is now applied every day instead of just weekdays.

Regardless of the rules, Britain has basically decided that lockdown is over but the long hot summer holiday of 2020 continues as surprisingly, no one wants to go back to work.

Well, that’s a surprise. Pay them their salary not to work and tell them to stay at home and then turn on the best Spring weather ever seen and it’s a recipe for Brits to head to the parks and beaches and generally enjoy themselves.

Our local park looked like the summer of love this week as people basked in the sun, picnicked, played football and kissed on stripy towels.

Is it really appropriate to wear a thong bikini in the park?