Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Holidays schmolidays

February 18th 2009

Issy just made me laugh. We were listening to Adele and she said, ‘I always thought this song was called Chasing Payments!’ She needs to keep making me laugh as I’ve just discovered their half term stretches for two long weeks, not ten days as I thought. With weekends, that’s 16 days off. The girls are celebrating while I am mildly panicked. One of the best things about state schools in the UK is the fact that the kids get bog standard week-long half terms and fairly manageable Christmas, Easter and summer holidays (although that might be selective memory playing tricks on me as six weeks summer hols is enough to try the patience of a saint.) I used to be the smug one when all my private school fee paying friends moaned about the eight week summer break and three and half week Christmas hols. It’s particularly handy when you’re self employed and work from home to have a school term that outweighs the length of the holidays. This year, they have an Easter break a month after going back to school followed by nine weeks summer holidays! All this in addition to every Wednesday off and more bank holidays in May than the UK gets all year. Vive la France!
I’ve been really sad reading about Jade Goody’s cancer battle. To be staring death in the face when you have two young children and are not yet 30 is a hideous situation. I must admit, I hate Big Brother and all it stands for (although I’m a closet fan of Celebrity BB) and when I interviewed Jade three years ago, before she had the infamous racist run in with Shilpa Shetty on CBB, I wasn’t impressed. She was promoting her new perfume for a reality show on Living and I was interviewing her on her mobile while she was driving her car! We got cut off three times which was frustrating enough but when she mentioned going to Mumbai to source spices and ingredients for her perfume, my interest was ignited as I love India. ‘What did you think?’ I asked, to be met with ‘Well, it wasn’t very nice, it wasn’t clean and it was smelly’. I dismissed her as an ignorant airhead but watching her prepare to marry and get her house in order for her two sons as she faces up to a premature and painful death has been an education in courage. I’ve just re-read the last few lines of the interview where she told me: ‘I’m good at seeing things through. I’ve never had money before so I’m very grateful for it. I’ve had some great opportunities and I can look after my family.’
Signing off with a poem Issy wrote this morning, it's called Your Angel in Heaven. It says it all.

Your angel in heaven
Is the guardian of your heart
Give her your worries
And your fears
So hope and peace can start
Keep the angel near you
And know how much she cares
For when you need love and joy
Your angel will be there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Running and partying

February 16th 2009

Feels like we are really becoming part of the community here. Last weekend we went to dinner at Fiona's with a few other people from the village, lovely food and lots of wine consumed by all. Then we were invited for tea on Saturday by Shan and Tony. Iain had the car so I suggested walking to the girls, who are allergic to any form of outdoor exercise. They live above the village and forgetting I was running a half marathon on Sunday, we set off. After 20 minutes of constant uphill trudging, the moans were getting louder from behind, along the lines of 'That's it, mum, this is not funny. You like walking everywhere but not everyone in this family is addicted to exercise.' Then Livvy refused to walk any further.
As we rounded the final bend, they livened up when they saw an imposing chateau on the edge of the hillside with a winding drive, like something out of a fairy tale and realised this was where we were heading. Suffice it to say I have never seen such a beautiful house here, so tastefully renovated and with grounds and views that I can't do justice to in words. Then we had to return to our half finished shack!
Sunday morning was the semi in Cannes, 13 miles along the seafront, and brilliant training for the London Marathon. I set off with my very fast friend Lucy, but we parted at 6k so we could run at our own pace. With blue skies, winter sunshine and the sea just yards away, running doesn't actually get much better than this. My official gun time was 1 hr 57 but my unofficial time was 1hr 55. Really pleased, particularly as my preparation consisted of a 3am bedtime Friday night after copious glasses to celebrate my friend Karen's birthday. Am sure I could be even faster if I led a quieter life but what fun would that be?
We celebrated with some rose at a bar in Cannes followed by a late lunch of roast chicken at Wayne and Lucy's, more wine and a lazy afternoon in front of a roaring log fire, followed by the hilarious sight of their very jolly friend Rupert arriving in a lime green mankini.