French islands, the neighbour’s dinner parties, Italy, engagements, a big party, medical tests and French news.
Douched, lathered, exfoliated, second douche, a quick towel dry, gently rubbed with a good reconditioning body cream, and finally buffed up till I shine! I mean my 1999 MG of course!
Looking gorgeous, roof down, daughter in the passenger seat, we head off for a bit of retail therapy in Cannes. Hair blowing in the wind (thank God I have had the highlights done recently) 5 euro sunglasses on, Beethoven’s 5th blaring away, JS’s credit card in one’s handbag and not a care in the world.
Then, junior pipes up, “concentrate on your approach to le rond-point Mum”
“You’re in the wrong lane and stop admiring yourself in the mirror!!”
“Excuse me, Tash, I was thinking how wonderful the French dress their islands, beautifully planted with each department representing their particular regions cultural highlights.”
“French Highway Code 46, section b & c state precisely how to enter an island, and you are not conforming Mum!”
We sit in silence for the rest of the journey, radio off and park at Cannes. Enter “Morgan”, Junior heads straight for the dresses, and I tap her on the shoulder and calmly tell her that the next time she shouts at me, remember who has JS’s credit card, and it’s not you junior, and promptly exit from the shop.
That’ll teach Miss Perfect Driver 2012.
The French neighbours continue to ask us for dinner, either they find the English curious or are determined to make us practice our French. This time it was the turn of Charles and Mirose.
Third on the left, opposite the donkey and goats grazing area, an enormous cloche packed full of tomatoes and lettuces and alongside this is the chicken run and the bunny enclosure, a small snail farm, vineyard, olive grove and what looks like a small cannabis field!
So, it was easy to find the house at any rate!
There were the usual 14 of us St Blaisians (our undercover name) and the customary enormous amount of food and wine. I was shown around the bunny enclosure for some reason whilst JS chatted up the lady St Blaisians.
Dinner was served. Salad starter with freshly cured snails and donkey saucisison, bunny fricassee and goats cheese for afters. Copious amounts of their own red wine and finished off with homemade 90% orange liqueur, which the majority of men appeared to be accompanying with a bit of the Cannabis field!
We slept for two days after this dinner party!
July seems to be the date that the French Health services try to destroy your hopes of a good well planned summer break and send us girls the option to have various medical tests done which we are told in a small booklet the importance of accepting their offers, particularly since it is FREE.
Now skip this part if you cannot stomach medical explanations!!
Naturally Olif accepts without understanding a word of the explanatory booklet, and takes her freebie referral letter to our GP.
1. Mammogram: Ok with this one
2. A Hemoccult 11: Not sure of this one.
3. Hematologie. hDl, VLDL,TSH, and gamma G.T.: Not a clue
4. Up your houses…definitely know this one and absolutely no one goes there but my Mr J.J. and JS! (We don’t need to know this – Mike!)
Mammogram goes fairly well, small tits and a few bumps(those are the tits!) the radiologist suggests another X-ray and an ultrasound there and then (no waiting around here in Draguignan). By this time I am a nervous wreck. Chantal reassures me and we have the scan done. Mr Radiologist looks at me straight in the eye and says,
“You have breasts like a 19 year old Madame Speer, a little dense but perfect!”
Hemoccult. A DIY colon cancer testing kit definitely not for the faint hearted! An important test but in the 20th century you would have thought there was a more acceptable method! Will not broaden on this one, but if you get your best friend to post off your test do not tell them what is in the envelope under any circumstances!
Hematologie. Strapping good blood results for a near 60 year old who loves her wine, French cheese and sirloin steak! Thank goodness for good genes.
It’s too hot for golf at the moment, 36 degrees plus, but got 45 points in the last match, must have been the relief after the medical tests, going to live.
To celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary I booked us both an overnight stay in Apricale. Booking.com told me it was one of the most romantic prettiest villages in Italy, beautiful restaurants, charming people and well worth a visit.
Not quite true. A very unusual village with magnificent views of the Ligurian coast and countryside.
Parking is half a mile away from the village, it is perched high up on a mountain. The hotel reception is a kitchen with two stunted grumpy warlocks manning the desk, the bedrooms are dotted around the village and access to them is via a shrunken sized golf trolley, chauffeured by another warlock and trundles along the darkest cobbled streets you have ever seen, until you reach your allotted room six stories up a pitch black spiral staircase. It was the spookiest place I have ever been to.
JS suggested we make the best of it all and have a quick shower and head off to a restaurant. It was one of those Italian showers, hundreds of taps, spouts, handles and no instructions. My man said he would give it a test run first. Closed the stiff shower doors, pressed a button and Niagara came into action. Every possible hole whooshed boiling hot water in every conceivable direction at my mans naked body. He looked like he was doing the River dance on stage.
“Open the door Nessie!”
“I can’t JS, it’s stuck”
“Press another button” and as he did this the water then shot up to the ceiling and cascaded towards me. What is it with JS and water?
After a large drink or two and some pasta we headed back to the witches den. Snuggled down, gold crosses worn across our chests, then DONG, DONG, 12 times this bell rang out, the bell tower was next to our bedroom! Every quarter of an hour this happened throughout the night, and on the hour we had the hour strike and three minutes passed the hour it repeated the process just in case we had not heard them the first time! At breakfast we faced the other guests (that is, the ones that had not been whisked away by the Apricalian ghosts) all wearing ear plugs!
Tripadvisor.fr gave this hotel 4/5 ratings and booking.com 8/10, so beware.
New bathroom looking excellent, no Italian shower however and new larger shower fitted in the apartment, so now if Frank or Richard drop the soap their bottoms do not hit the shower doors!
Tash and Cedric are no more, an amicable parting thank goodness, but she has moved on and looking for alternative interests! Thank goodness the new bathrooms were finished just before the split.
Tess has got engaged to Keith, he presented her with a massive rock, and she immediately accepted, brought up well by her mother!! Wedding arrangements in process, the royal wedding will have nothing on this one…
So, one daughter foot loose and fancy free and the other one heading down the aisle.
Not yet 60, but getting closer. A baby born in November who loves the sun, parties, champers and her mates close by, persuaded JS to organize a “before you are an OAP party” this summer at St Blaise.
Apologies to those of you who we didn’t manage to invite this time, but I’m not sixty yet so may have another one for the UK lot in November, bank allowing!
It was quite a multinational affair, Dutch, Belgium, French, Egyptian, German, some Brits, Irish, Portuguese, and Italian.
The family cavalry arrived a week before, and worked so hard, cleaning, erecting furniture, drinking, blowing up balloons, more drinking, mending dips in the road, ferrying guests from airports to their b&B’s, and even more drinking!!
Friends helped a lot…
Mathias supplied us with 80 salmon fillets.
Richard and Kate prepared them all.
Bob designed and hand illustrated the superb table plan.
Colin repaired all the lighting.
John and Honor supplied Olif with champers and constant moral support as well as doing 200 poo bin runs.
Tess strutted about looking gorgeous until she lost her false nail and her handbag with her entire life inside, i.e., her mobile.
Tash came to the rescue and was the calmest of us all.
Maudie blew up 400 balloons.
DD filled in a 4 foot hole in the chemin.
Frank cut down trees and chopped 300 logs.
Keith assisted Frank and remained as calm as Tash despite meeting for the first time the entire Speer clan.
Maudie designed the most superb invitations.
Barty patiently took over 200 party photos.
JS and I cannot thank those of you enough who helped us make the party such a success. Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
All pictures and graphic work will be on my site once I have persuaded Mike to sort out my spelling mistakes and grammar!!! (But not until him and Frank get properly credited for handing out the pre-party Rose so efficiently despite getting ever so slightly sloshed – Mike. PS: photos are here.)
If anyone has any extra photos please do send them along.
Latest French news. Copied from radio Riviera news. The most boring station in the south of France!
Grape harvest woes – This year’s grape harvest in France will be “exceptionally low” at 42.5 million hectolitres Agriculture Minister Stephanie Le Foll yesterday told a meeting of wine industry representatives. Le Foll says this year’s harvest will yield the lowest volume of wine since 1991, but that the situation is the same around the world. Winemakers say that though production will be down because some vines were damaged by the frost and hail earlier in the season, this year’s vintage looks “promising”.
Grace film casting – Around a thousand locals have been signed-on as extras to appear in a new film about the life of Monaco’s Princess Grace. 18-hundred hopefuls, men and women aged 30 to 75, turned up for the casting at Nice’s Riviera Studios. Those selected will now have to wait until the end of September or November for their chance to appear before the cameras. Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth are starring in “Grace of Monaco.”
The wealthy French are selling up and moving to Switzerland, cheaper taxes and no Hollande!
Finally and not least, we assisted friends of Tash yesterday to move from a flat to a wonderful new four bedroomed house.
Gaetan is an Army officer, so persuaded 14 other French army mates to help with the move. These strapping muscled men loaded up our 4×4 and trailer with over 100 boxes and away we went from le Muy to le Luc. In a gale force of over 75km per hour (that’s enough to blow your skirts up ladies!). It also stopped Frenchmen stopping their cars for a wee at the side of the road.
By the time we had made it to HQ, we had lost 4 boxes, which may well be in St Tropez at this very moment!
The future holds quite a bit of travelling…
A Greek wedding in Athens on Saturday.
An Edgbaston golf Club rally by Team leader Roger Wood, heading from the 10th to the Var, with a visit to the Gorge du verdon and aperitifs at St Blaise.
8 days in Croatia, weather permitting with the MG.
And finally a gentle drive to the UK for my official 21st and to have both me and the 4×4 serviced! Cheaper to have both done in the home countries rather than France!
Such is life.
All my love
Colin. I have a friend who would like to know the good looking flight Instructress who taught you instrument training recently, you know the one, when all your windows steamed up! Happy birthday for Tuesday. xx
Em, Chris and G. could you send some homemade curry over because we have 14 neighbours coming for lunch and would like to sample it.Good luck for Tuesday.
Jeff and Nancy. Hope the wedding anniversary went perfectly perfect.
David D. Delay your arrival to JLP. Weather absolutely terrible!
Mummy. Hope you had a perfect sunny break in Sardinia.
Tess. Keep that ring under wraps when in Dudley!!
Barbara. Have test run the motor bikes, but think we may need the scramble bikes for uneven terrain, may swop the Harley Davidsons!
Kate and Big man. Missing you, but it’s so cool here at the moment we may have to start on Big Man’s pile of logs, in which case you will both have to come over in October to replenish the stock! Bring Keith with you.
Buzz. How are the tootsies?