Monday 26 September 2011

Viva la difference........

The Autumn light in late September glows in south west France, picking out the orange, pink, red and plumb of flowers still in bloom. Fat figs hang heavy, striped and fit to burst. Amber coloured, quince-jellied drips blob the kitchen table, coffee-marked mugs and the French crumbs of broken bread finish breakfast. Outside, the hum and buzz of insects are warming to the late morning heat.

I read a book. I make more coffee. I read a magazine. I drink more coffee.

Red, white and chequered with quails eggs, cheeses ripe and firm, tomatoes rich and deep, bread from which a whole meal can be made, potted shrimps: pink-brown and buttery; lunch on the terrace is shaded by plump, black grapes that hang low over the view of fields freshly harvested. The silence broken only by the squawking of force-fed geese and rutting-bulls or the the whine of le facteur's moped, buzzing through the twisted lanes to deliver a fine new pair of Crocs with a fancy-Nubuck-finish, going-out Crocs.

Plus ça change plus c'est la même chose..........

Top tip: keep your mind agile and alert..... learn a new language.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Girl on a bicycle.........

In the spirit of keeping young and beautiful….it is after all my duty to be beautiful ……. and because according to Jill Shaw Rudddock's The Second Half of Your Life , apparently one yoga class a week just doesn’t cut it and I should be exercising six times a week, I've started walking to work. And then I tried a Boris-bike, as they are known in London.

Now, I am not a natural cyclist. Not even close. I don’t have the best sense of balance and I’m scared of my fellow road users. However, I am now working only 25 minutes walk away from home and it’s all down hill and so, I reasoned, why not give it a go, at least on the way there. And so I cycled to work. I say cycled, more like free-wheeled.

First of all I had to find a bike bay near home. There are two, the nearest is small and, it appears, always empty. The other is much bigger but is almost half way to work. Still, it’s a start. Then there is the business of purchasing your ride. They don’t make it easy for the casual user. There is a lot to read and agree to and buttons to press on the touch screen. It costs £1 to hire your bike during a single 24 hour period and if you complete your journey in less than half an hour there is no further payment. Finally, a release code is issued, valid for 10 minutes, which needs to be punched into a pad on the bike’s stand. Fearful of failing to complete all the instructions in time, I finally yanked the bike free and ran over my own foot before discovering the saddle was stuck at the lowest level. Being taller rather than shorter, I was forced to ride the bike with my knees up round my ears, as if in training for the can-can.

The next day I picked out a more suitable bike, the saddle extended to the highest position, before starting the payment process. Armed with the code I released the bike and attempted to mount but this time it was too high and again the adjustable screw was fixed solid. I wobbled on tippy-toe into the traffic and held my breath for the brief journey.

Undefeated, I tried again the next day. This time I selected a bike and checked the height of the saddle first, making sure it would need no adjustments. I punched in the code and, like Goldilocks and the three bikes, it was just right. However, I was wearing a skirt that was pencil in design and not really suitable as it turned out for such sport and so I had to hoike it up, thigh high, in order to pedal. I also broke all my own rules. I’m always forever telling friends to wear a helmet and a high vis-vest or a reflective sash, but failed to myself. I think these bikes are a good idea but I think need to be better prepared.

Top-tip: a cycling helmet in city traffic makes a lot of sense.... and could be a fashion aid for a bad hair day......

Saturday 3 September 2011

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day???

Well hopefully not if you live in England......... a bit of a damp squib? Dull? Unreliable? Even my first grown and of which I had such high hopes, such ambitions: the salads, sauces, soups....resolutely won't go red.

As we wave good-bye to August and the sticky fingers of lollies licked too slowly, strawberry-stained mouths and sand-between-our-toes...or not......and tip-toe out of the rock-pools, hang-up our shrimping nets once more, and step away from the 99s, there is still the hope, a desperate, clinging, collective wish...... it could be an Indian summer. Nothing, incidentally to do with India who enjoy their summer in the same months as we do, albeit a good deal warmer. No, the hope of hot'n'sunny September days hangs heavy in the air and I imagine that is why I've been invited to Regent's Park open-air theatre tonight and also to a party-in-a-garden and a BBQ too. We are taking a picnic and a good deal of wine and blankets and wet-weather-kit-just-in case.....

And just in case the sun doesn't shine through September I'm off to France for a few days where there will be a higher chance of less rain and a guarantee of free-flowing pink wine and I shall walk and talk and eat outside before coming in for the winter.

Last night I had an extraordinary dream about an ex-boyfriend....very vivid and quite disturbing.....where I apparently expressed thoughts and feelings quite untrue of me and more akin to him.....what does it all mean I wonder? Don't eat toasted cheese for supper perhaps?

Top tip: whether rain or sun, go see The Gaurd, hilarious and Brendan Gleeson is sublime.