Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's a man's world

I have come to the conclusion that the dogs are taking over my life. Whenever I go out, I have a guilt attack about not taking them with me, but when I do take them, they are a hazard. They jump around the car and Oscar has developed a worrying tendency of squeezing his chubby body under the driver's seat to nestle into my feet right by the accelerator. The first time he did it I nearly drove off the edge of the hillside as I thought it was a big hairy rat!

As if dealing with our two dogs isn't enough, I now have the pleasure of all the various waifs and strays in our neighbourhood coming to visit. It can only mean one thing - Tallulah's season is about to begin which is when our house and garden turns into the village's canine red light district. They scramble down the steep bank through the pine trees from the road and wander around our garden, peeing everywhere and searching out Tallulah, who loves the attention, the old slapper, while Oscar runs circles round them yapping like a demented lunatic and trying to start a fight because now he has been neutered, he can't have her and he is determined that no other dog will either.

This week I woke up to find a Jack Russell in my bedroom, the following day an alsatian was wandering on the terrace and for the last two days, Alchy, the huge rottweiler/boxer cross who lives down the road has been staking us out so Iain's first job when he gets off that bike is to put up a proper fence.

Much as we have had fun this last week while Iain has been away, with Bastille Day fireworks at Juan-les-Pins which were fantastic, and a lovely lunch and day on the beach at Vegaluna in Cannes, I have come to the conclusion that I wouldn't make a very good single parent. I picked up a flat pack TV unit last Friday and told the girls I was intending to assemble it when we got home with Iain's tool kit. When they had picked themselves up off the floor from laughing, they both offered to help me. Sadly, we couldn't even lift the box out of the car as it weighs 52 kilos so we have been driving around all week with the back seats folded down and a huge great box in the back, with the girls and dogs crushed in beside it. Job number two for Iain, he will be thrilled we have missed him so much!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Olives a-plenty

Two weeks ago, my Italian neighbour Rosine spotted me as Issy and I walked to school. She rattled off to me in Italo-French for about five minutes and as we left, Issy said, Mum did you understand any of that? I heard the word olives but that was all I could decipher, so Issy explained that she was saying that the olives she helped me pick in our garden last autumn should now be ready to eat. It has taken me two weeks to get down to the shed to dig out the bonbonniere containing all our olives in a salted water and bay leaf solution and when I opened the lid to see a white crusty coating on top, I feared the worst, after all they have been in there since November.
I took a scoop out and we all tried one and they are delicious! The best thing is I have enough to last us all summer. It was lovely to serve up olives from our garden that night drizzled with a little garlic and lemon juice from the lemon tree. There is a Barbara Good in me just struggling to get out and grow everything from scratch but the reality is, it's very time consuming to be self sufficient. We have olives, lemons, oranges, plums, figs, and rosemary growing here so I think that will have to tick the home farm box.
We went up to Pre du Lac last weekend to watch the Tour de France go by, it's the first time in many years they have taken a route through this particular area and everyone was out to cheer them on. The speeds were fantastic and it was a blaze of colour as two packs - the advance pack of four and the rest - sped past but in about 45 seconds it was all over.
Iain is motorbiking through France, Italy and Austria this week and by happy coincidence, the girls are at tennis camp this week so the house is quiet, tidy and an oasis of zen-like calm, which is a rare occurence indeed.
With two months of school holidays stretching ahead, I thought I would plan some good stuff for the girls to keep them occupied. You would think with a pool in the garden and fantastic, guaranteed sunshine that that might be enough but they are more likely to play on their nintendo DS or watch daytime TV than swim or hang out in the garden. Whenever I suggest the beach, I get, 'Noooo the beach is so BORING unless we're with our friends.' So Iain and I spent two hours putting up the tent for them to camp out in. I thought the novelty might last a week, not so. They stayed in the house until 10.30pm when I ordered them to take down sleeping bags and they seemed reluctant to leave. They took power cables, a lamp and a laptop to watch a movie on - and were back in the house at 7am cooking breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast. So much for the great outdoors.
The next day we did the Picasso museum at Antibes. It's housed in the amazing Grimaldi chateau where Picasso spent two months working, with phenomenal views across the sea. So we have also ticked the culture box too.
It is Bastille Day tomorrow and the fireworks are incredible all around France so we are heading down to Cannes to watch the display tomorrow evening. There is always something going on here, the same is true of London too but it seems so much easier to get everywhere here. A traffic jam lasts 20 minutes if you are really unlucky and then it's all over.