11 June 2009
10 June 2009
Last weekend started badly but I’m glad to say improved somewhat. It started on Friday when a rather large, no, a humungous, bill arrived from the UK tax authorities when I was confidently expecting a rebate. I just know that I’ll have hours of useless dialogue on the phone as I try to convince them that they should be paying me instead of the other way round. This will be a real test.
Then J started dropping hints that it was French Mother’s Day on Sunday. I mean we’ve just had UK Mother’s Day and now we’ve got another one – what a rip off! There’s only one Father’s Day. All these Fetes would test anyone’s patience
Saturday saw me taking Guy into to town for his scooter test. We went in early and I made him go through the busy Vence traffic just to get him used to French driving techniques which generally consist of nutters trying to touch your mudflaps and seeing how close they can get to your handlebars without actually knocking you off. After about an hour of absolute chaos we stopped for lunch and then Guy went off to his testing centre.
As he completed the formalities in the office, I had a look in the classroom where the ‘students’ get shown videos on road signs and driving tips and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Under the large video screen there was a painting about 4 feet long and 2 feet deep. It was a painting of a body but it was somewhat abstract. It didn’t have arms as such but fingerless limbs but that wasn’t the disturbing thing. There in the picture was a huge, well, willy! If my French had been better I’d have asked what was going on but as I left Guy with a ‘bon chance’, I thought that the boys sitting in that room probably all felt somewhat inadequate whilst the girls – well, I wouldn’t know what they would think – probably apprehension I guess.
Anyway, I’m pleased to say that the picture did not seem to affect Guy and he passed his scooter test. This will give him some semblance of independence as whenever he wants to see a pal, he’s reliant on either J or me driving him there. Now he can take his scooter.
Saturday evening saw the Scotland cricket team thrashed by South Africa – not an unexpected result but given that Scotland were doing unusually well with only 12 balls to go and then lost it big time, it was quite disappointing. Still, Tan, my neighbor, did his best to raise my spirits by repeatedly pouring glasses of wine for me when I went over to his place looking for some empathy.
All in all then, a varied and somewhat testing weekend.
Picture, is of course, a triumphant Guy on his scooter heading off to school for the first time on two wheels. The girls will be flocking round him!
9 June 2009
Our neighbour Angie, is expecting her second child. Originally due in early July, the birth is now expected this Wednesday, the 10th June. Ten days ago Angie started having contractions and headed for hospital where she is under the care of a Dr Michel Sussmann, who is a much sought after surgeon, following his delivery of Angelina Jolie’s twins last year.
Dr Sussmann is taking excellent care of his patient which is what you’d expect given the amount of money Tan is paying him and he even used his influence in the Fondation Lenval (the hospital) to get Angie one of the highly sought after ‘sea view’ rooms. We visited Angie on Sunday and I have to say I was very impressed.
Patients have a choice of rooms - sea view, street view and even a suite which we reckon was what Brad Pitt forked out for. There are several types of staff looking after expectant and new mums and the food looked delicious. When we were there on Sunday, Angie was presented with lunch which consisted of Grapefruit, Gnocchi with a meat casserole and vegetables, cheese and dessert.
Unlike when she had little Violet in the UK and she shared a ward with several other patients, Angie has her own room with a TV and space enough for Tan to stay if required. It’s all rather hotel-like but look at the picture – the view of the Boulevard des Anglais and Nice beach. There’s not many hotels in Nice right on the beach and with a view like that.
Here’s hoping everything goes well on Wednesday. Keep your fingers crossed.
8 June 2009
It just happened that way – not planned, just a coincidence. Me, Guy and Shadow all had haircuts.
In the ten years I’ve been in France I’ve only had five haircuts, each one worse than the one before so I used to wait until I was in the UK and then go round to a place I’ve been going to for years. That wasn’t so difficult when I was travelling to London most weeks, but since I’ve retired it’s been a problem. Do I pluck up the courage and get my hair done by a French ‘hairdresser’ (quotes are deliberate) and look like I’ve fallen under a council grass cutting machine or wait until I look like an ageing hippy and get it done on my twice yearly visits to London?
As I wasn’t due to get to the UK until September, I plucked up courage a couple of months ago and went into a ‘men only’ place in the local town. I checked that he used electric clippers and waited for the worst but amazingly, I got a haircut which was as good as, if not better than I used to get in London.
Buoyed by this apparent success, I dragged Guy round there last week and both him and I got our holiday haircuts (we’re off to Corfu in a few weeks time). Guy refused to let me tell the hairdresser (no quotes and intended) what to do and ended up like he’d just had his hair washed – there was virtually no hair on the floor. When he’d finished with me, there was a mass of silvery grey hair all round the chair, just the way I like it. Nice and short and when I put my crash helmet on for the trip home, it was rattling around on my head!
Next it was Shadow who only gets his hair done once a year, just in time for the summer heat. A few weeks ago when I booked him in, with my poor French causing confusion with the ‘hairdresser ‘, I simply pointed to a poodle who had just been done and said, ‘la meme’ (the same). Poor Shadow. When I picked him up on Friday afternoon after his shampoo and cut, he looked like he’d been close shaved. The problem was that whilst the top and sides were short, he wouldn’t let her near his tummy or his bollocks. I had to hold him as she cut away and he tried to get loose and savage her.
Still, the benefits are there for all to see. He looks several years younger, several kilos lighter and there are no hairs all over the lounge.
The problem was his shampoo and set cost more than twice what I paid for Guy and myself combined. Working it out on an hourly basis, the lady in the poodle parlour is paid rougly the equivalent of a UK Member of Parliament but there’s no doubt she does a better job!
Shadow is pictured with his new hairstyle. He’s not as bad tempered as he looks – he hates having his picture taken.