October 7th 2008
Where to start? It's my birthday today, 42, and I do feel it. I was going to let it pass by without too much trauma but it feels wrong not to celebrate so Iain and I went out to lunch in Ventimiglia, about an hour drive and just over the Italian border. We had to look for a kitchen and floor tiles and everyone here says Italy is cheaper so off we went. As usual we gravitated to the most expensive shops and ended up finding nothing cheaper than here, so nothing ordered yet.
Funny how the moment you cross the border, you can see the difference between the Cote d'Azur and the northern Italian coast. It's much more industrial, less picturesque and has a totally different feel to it.
We went for dinner last week to the parents of a friend of Livvy's in Chateauneuf. Lucy runs a catering business and served up a table laden with delicious curries, which was mannah from heaven after four months in a relatively spice free zone. It was like the Waltons around the table, four adults and seven kids, all tucking in noisily. It made me realise how much I miss my friends and getting people round the table for long, wine fuelled suppers. It's great to be making friends at last.
We are out a lot at the moment to try and escape all the mess at home. All the furniture is under sheets of plastic, there is nowhere to sit or chill out or eat meals, and it feels like we are a million miles away from any kind of sanity. I find myself lingering in kitchen showrooms, desperate to make myself a coffee and read the paper and pretend it's all mine! I have come to the conclusion that Iain really enjoys the drama of living on site during a major renovation - he loves the banter with the builders, the bartering on prices and watching everything materialise from a shell whereas I prefer to just be around for the end result. Never ever again.
The weather has cleared up and the last week has been glorious. Chilly mornings and evenings mean we can no longer eat supper outside but by 10.30am it is in the low 70s. We spent all weekend at the beach although I regretted going for a swim on Saturday. After 20 minutes in the water I was practically hypothermic when I got out and spent the rest of the afternoon with my teeth chattering much to Issy's amusement. The summer beach ban on dogs ended on October 1st so Oscar and Tallulah can come with us from now on. They love the beach, they chase each other and dip their paws in the sea and wear each other out.
I stumbled on a famous Indian restaurant in Grasse last week so we are off to try it tonight. The girls have been moaning about how awful school dinners so they are really excited about going out. Today Livvy had a raw omelette with a meat filling which sounds vile. How can it be that school dinners here are worse than in the UK? Especially when the cost per meal works out at 6 euros (over £4). We really thought they would be eating fantastic local produce but there's a yawning gap between what is available in the supermarket and at restaurants and what is served up in the school cantine. I now feel bad about putting anything that isn't home cooked on the table so have been spending hours making lasagnes, roast dinners, Morrocan tagines etc to make up for the lack of decent food during the day.