Over the years, I have found myself in some truly embarrassing situations. Being offered a genital massage in a posh Cape Town spa was pretty memorable (if only for the fact that the South African therapist actually said gentle!) That story still haunts me on nights out with my old Fleet Street buddies. Then there was the time I vomited in my hand in the back of a black cab before politely asking the driver to stop so I could chuck it in the kerb and continue the journey home....there are too many more humiliations to mention but last week's expedition to Aquasplash in Antibes comes pretty close to topping them all.
The girls were enrolled at tennis stage for the week and the highlight was a trip to Aquasplash. They begged me to come and join them and also begged me not to wear a bikini that might a. give me a wedgie on the slides or worse b. come off completely on a slide. Add to this the fact that the tennis coaches were taking the kids along (we are talking tanned, fit, uber good-looking 20-something trainers, say no more) so cue much trying on the night before to find suitable swimwear that wasn't too mutton and would save my blushes on the slides.
I settled for a black one piece and headed off for an afternoon of fun. Managed to say hello to aforementioned coaches while my hair was still intact, which was a good start I felt. I can't remember if it was slide one or two but I felt a sharp pain in my butt as I came down where something sharp dug me. I shrugged it off and carried on doing the rounds in the wave pool and water chutes. We decided to stay a bit later than planned but went over to say goodbye when everyone else was leaving. Suddenly Livvy, who was standing behind me, nudged me hard and whispered: 'Mum, you've got a hole in your costume and it's right on your BUM!' Yeah, right, stop winding me up. Issy stepped back and gasped: 'Mum don't turn round or everyone will see!' This is presuming no-one had spotted it already as it probably happened within minutes of arriving.
I stood there rooted to the spot, rigid with embarrassment, saying goodbye to all the hotties and the kids, then chucked my towel on the only spare sun lounger and leapt onto it without turning around, quite a feat of gymnastic excellence.
It was 32 degrees, so hot you could have fried an egg on my chest, but I couldn't go back in the water as the hole was actually a gaping great crevice right on the crack of my arse! The shame! I lay there thinking, please God let no-one have noticed, just as Stefan, the girl's very hunky coach, came back with a little boy who had lost one shoe. He was hunting around me looking for the other shoe and very probably wondering why I didn't get up to help like any normal parent would. I stayed, buttocks clenched, on my lounger, praying he would leave without rooting around too close to me! Why is it that whenever you want to look cool, something awful happens to drop you right in it?
Moving on, my neighbours here have been gifting me some lovely home produce. I was walking the dogs when I stopped for a chat with Michel, who lives down the road. He is married to the former headmistress of the village school Issy goes to and now he is retired, he is always working in his garden. He invited me to look at his new dry stone terrace and vegetable patch where he grows artichokes, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, green beans and strawberries to name just a few. He grows everything organically and makes his own compost. I left with two beautiful flowering courgettes and a coeur du boeuf tomato the size of a grapefruit, which smelled divine. I ate the tomato for lunch - it tasted as good as it smelt - but didn't do the courgettes justice, slicing them into a madras curry instead of cooking them the way Michel advised, steamed and then drizzled with lemon and olive oil. Still, they tasted good.
Tonight I was walking the lasy few metres after an 8k run when I saw Rosine next door. I told her how good our olives are as she helped me harvest them last autumn and she invited me in to taste her home made vin d'oranger, made with the oranges I gave her from our garden. It was amazing, very sweet and tasty, but maybe not the drink you should be enjoying straight after a 45 minute run in the hills. We chatted for ages and then her husband Agostino fetched a bottle from the shed and insisted I take it home, chill it in the fridge and enjoy it as an apero, which I will but perhaps after a pint of water first.