This morning while out on my not so early morning run with the dogs, I saw a lone teenage girl puffing and panting as she jogged along the lane. We said bonjour and a few minutes later, along jogged her even more puffed out parents, in spanking new trainers that looked suspiciously like they were on their first outing, along with child number two and closely followed by what looked like their very game granny bringing up the rear. The sight of two wilted Christmas trees forlornly standing by the recycling bin, one with fake dusty snow at the base, confirmed that January 1st has arrived.
While the vast majority of us are already making plans for new fitness regimes and emptying the cupboards of endless supplies of mince pies and half eaten Christmas cake, it is gratifying to note that the French see no reason to stop the celebrations after New Year’s Eve. I’m with them on this as there is a half full bottle of Champagne in the fridge left over from last night and the bubbles simply won’t last so I will just have to finish it off later. As I ran past the second most popular restaurant in my village, the Jarrerie, I was greeted with cries of ‘Bonne Année’ from couples and families who were heading in for a long and lavish New Year’s lunch.
Handyman announced this morning that his resolution this year is to lose 10 kilos. ‘Ok, well you need to cut down your portion sizes and do more exercise,’ I offered helpfully, immediately casting myself in the role of his personal trainer. ‘There’s some new outdoor gym equipment by the tennis courts and to help you get started, when I make a curry later, I will only cook half the usual amount of rice.’
‘Great,’ he grunted moodily as he tucked into a mushroom omelette. ‘Well, I’m thinking as it’s a bank holiday today maybe I should just start tomorrow…..’
Instead of our usual New Year’s Eve party, we went to our favourite restaurant Ecole des Filles with our lovely and amusing friends Helen and Neil for a degustation menu that was quite simply one of the best meals I have ever eaten. The seven perfectly sized courses (I know, sounds horrific but somehow we managed) kicked off with a delicious tiny lobster bisque, followed by king prawns, scallops, then foie gras and venison for the carnivores and locally caught fish for me, locally produced gorgonzola and rounded off with a Grand Marnier soufflé worthy of a Masterchef:The Professionals final. Each course was accompanied by Champagne, white and red wines chosen by the sommelier and such a good time was had by all that we barely noticed when it turned midnight.
Eve, who runs Ecole with her chef husband Stephane, was on hand to greet everyone despite having given birth to their beautiful daughter Manon less than four weeks ago, and little Manon lay in a baby carrier on the bar, blissfully sleeping through the festivities and captivating every guest who took a peek at her. It was a bit like having our own little nativity scene.
The last year has been an up and down year for many friends and family. Pretty much everyone I know has suffered some sort of loss. We lost my lovely nanny Kit in June, and the world of journalism is all the poorer for the passing of Sue Carroll and Sue Malins, both hugely talented, wonderful writers who died way too young.
I am convinced 2013 will be a good year, certainly for Mat and Milly, who got engaged after Mat proposed while mid-way through competing in a Transatlantic race, coming an impressive second overall on arrival in Barbados (but he won Milly and that’s what counts. ) After starting 2012 in treatment and not at my best, it feels good to be at January 1st 2013 feeling healthy, energised and en forme once more.
My new year’s resolutions are to play more tennis, get my book published (it’s finished so that’s a start,) stay healthy and update this blog on a weekly basis (prompted by my mother in law telling me this morning that while she enjoyed the olive press blog so much that she read it several times, she would actually quite like to read something different now, so Jean, this is for you.)
As I was too busy eating and quaffing and making merry last night to send out happy new year wishes, I am wishing all my family, friends and readers known and unknown a very Bonne Année, peace and good health to you all.
I am a London-born journalist, married with two daughters, who one day took a punt and upped sticks with my family, our cats and dogs to start a new life in the South of France.
Prompted by the desire to have an improved quality of life and better manage the balance between working and tasting the coffee, we sold up lock stock and barrel and headed for the little Provencal village of Le Bar sur Loup, 30 minutes from Nice.
Our beautiful Victorian house in Hertfordshire was swapped for a derelict villa on a hillside which represents a huge black hole into which we throw endless fistfuls of money but hey, we have sunshine, views to die for and the best rose in the world to drink.