Swimming at Paddington

I came back to London and this year, things were different. After two months of summer swimming, I decided to look for a gym with a pool rather than going to the pubic pool at Swiss Cottage.

After a couple of reconnaissance missions to inspect showers, pools, number of swimmers, pubic hairs, distance from home and many other criteria, I decided to join a gym in Paddington.

The added bonus of a 20% corporate discount and the fact that it takes me five minutes by bike to get there, convinced me this was the right place and so far I’ve been three times.

The pool is clean and quiet, there’s a nice steam room and sauna which I suspect will be very appealing in the winter and so far I’m very pleased.

And now back to watching YouTube swimming videos to try to improve!

Now where was I?

Time has passed and I’ve been back in the UK for almost three weeks. It was quite a shock coming back to London, I was struck how green and lush it was which meant it had been raining for months. My UK avocados were enormous from all the rain so the little courtyard garden had thrived in our absence.

The London flat seemed filthy and cluttered, a little claustrophobic and no private garden, pool or view. It all seemed rather dark and cold after the bright sunlight and heady temperatures in the South of France.

Agnes went to bed in disgust while I quickly put on the first jumper I’d worn in three months. Summer was definitely over for the two of us.

Before long we’d adapted and were soon back in the routine of going out four times a day for Agnes. Indeed, my first morning in the park I had an argument with some dog owners who wouldn’t return Agnes’ Peppa Pig ball.

We were definitely back in London!

The last lunch

With the last day rapidly approaching (at least for me and Agnes) we enjoyed a final lunch in our local village Michelin-rated restaurant.

It lived up to expectations with a delicious salad of greens with chilled barrata, a piece of tender pink politically-incorrect veal and a berry selection with a pain perdu (French toast in France). With an aperitif of a cold coupe de Champagne, it was the perfect summer lunch and an ideal end to the season.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two and a half months since we arrived, shell shocked in Calais and ate delicious cold prawns with aioli and moules frites for the first time in many months. It felt like we’d escaped from Alcatraz.

In a day or so we’ll board the train and start the journey north as we head back to the UK.

It seems too early as we’d love to be here for September but with the house rented for the last two weeks of August and then the winter rental, it’s not an option to stay.

At least in January we’ll have a memory of a lovely lunch and yet another dip in the pool!

The entire Riviera by boat in a day

Last weekend we joined a couple of friends in Antibes and set off on a small motor yacht to spend the day on the water.

The weather was a little overcast and as we sped off towards Nice, it seemed like the ideal temperature.

We were going at quite a clip and were bouncing over the waves or occasionally bashing into them.

The scenery was stunning and we soon arrived at Cap Ferrat where landscaped gardens complete with funicular railways dropped down to the water from the multi million euro estates they sheltered. What a lifestyle to take your private rail to the beach below!

On the far side of Cap Ferrat we discovered a bay of enormous super yachts complete with helicopters and sailing boats stowed on deck. We gaped in awe at the sheer magnitude of these vessels when the tender or support boat would have been bigger than anything we needed!

Heading along the coast we discovered that apparently the fuel gauge wasn’t working. Not a problem if you’re sailing but with a large outboard engine, somewhat essential. We decided to pull into the port just before Monaco and refuel, just in case.

The friendly pump attendant laughed at our captain’s lack of experience in boat handling having only just qualified but we were soon tied up alongside and happily refuelling before we headed back to Cap d’Ail where we anchored for lunch.

Cap d’Ail was quite rolly and one thing you don’t want is to eat lunch with a sideward swell rolling you around. One of the party was decidedly green and so we felt it was better to weigh anchor and keep moving forward rather than rolling from side to side. Off we went!

And so we moved forward at breakneck speed, from Cap d’Ail back to Antibes in a hour. We bounced and bashed our way down the entire riviera and it wasn’t the least bit relaxing!

By the time we got back to Antibes, our friend had made a miraculous recovery (how, I’ll never know!) and was happy to continue on and so we went around Cap d’Antibes and down to the islands off Cannes for another blast of the Riviera before eventually heading back in to Antibes where we jumped ship.

We were sun burned, wind burned, salt sprayed and whip lashed. It had been a fun day out and we’d covered the length of almost the entire Riviera.

Certainly not for the faint hearted, next time it might be nice to go a little slower!

Rosé on tap

This year we have discovered the joy of Rosé in a box and it’s been quite a celebration!

We have a number of Roséline bottles with glass stoppers which were working perfectly for refilling with water. Oh how naive!

When we spotted the Roséline brand of Rosé in a box at the supermarket (five litres for €24.99) it seemed like the ideal solution. We can’t get rid of glass without driving it to the village so now with the box in the garage, we have the joy of Rosé on tap which is a little disastrous and all for a very affordable price!

The good news is that as we’re actually reaching saturation point for the summer, the end is in sight!

Summer continues

It’s been a while as July turned to August and the summer continued. I have been working well, breaking my day up with multiple zoom calls and swimming sessions. Pool maintenance continues and I’m proud of how good the pool has been this summer. No panicking this year.

My swimming has improved from watching YouTube videos in between zoom calls and I’m even thinking of looking for a gym with a pool when I go back. It’s never crossed my mind before as I’ve used the local pool in Swiss Cottage (verrucas and pubes) but perhaps a private gym would encourage me to swim through the winter. One can hope!

The inevitable return is looming in about ten days as Agnes and I will lead the troops home to London. Apparently it’s been very wet and chilly so it sounds like we’ll be putting the fire on upon our return.

Until then, I’ll be swimming several times a day, while I still can!

Vaccinated, the rules change again

Apparently I am now considered to be vaccinated as France now recognises the Indian AstraZeneca, Covishield.

Just in the nick of time it would seem as the French rules are changing…again.

From August 1st, double vaccines will be required to go to restaurants, shopping centres, bars and long distance train journeys.

As I am now booked to do the journey back to the UK in mid August, this is a huge relief as I was worried Agnes and I would get stuck in Marseille. Or rather I would!


At the age of almost 52 I had never been stung by a wasp, until today. I thought it was rather unsporting as the wasp was hiding in my yellow trouser leg and stung me as my foot emerged from the hem. Off he flew angrily as if I was the one at fault. They were my trousers!

While it was still hurting an hour later, it seemed fine and looked unlikely that I was going to go into anaphylactic shock.

Wasps. Not very sporting.

Flat Monday

After the huge build up and excitement of the Euros Final including company emails giving us Monday morning off to recover from our inevitable hangovers, Monday was very flat indeed.

Being in France, we didn’t quite get the full excitement, but with expectations running high, the mens final at Wimbledon and the final leg of the Tour de France, it seemed everything had been crammed into one day. We cheered, we screamed, we booed, and then there was nothing.

Despite the England loss, it had been a good match, gripping football and then sadly a loss at penalties. Everything riding on five players and five attempts at goal. And then game over. Back to work.

A viewing with the devil

This week we listed the French house for a winter rental as we’ve done for the past two years. It means we have guardians on the property and the mortgage is covered, a win-win situation.

Last year we had some difficult tenants so we were keen not to make the same mistake twice.

We had two viewings, felt cautiously optimistic about the second viewing and then the third viewing arrived and the devil walked into our house.

It’s fair to say that I am an extremely bad judge of character. I take everyone at face value and assume everyone is as honest as I am. Luckily Big T is an excellent judge of character and is not in any way as naive or trusting as me!

A 50-something French soon-to-be divorced father of three arrived to view the house, he walked around, didn’t ask questions, claimed to be an opera singer, told us that he liked to maintain an open house policy with his friends but of course he wouldn’t in our house, invited Big T to stay rather than staying in the studio and accused the dog of taking cocaine when she zoomed around like a maniac obviously picking up on his energy. It’s hard to explain!

He seemed keen to take the house but finally I started to realise that something wasn’t quite right. As he backed his black Mercedes out of the driveway, winking at us as he went, Big T caught my eye and looking down at his number plate, three black sixes stood out in relief against the white background. The devil had surely come to visit!