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!

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


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!