Thursday, 5 May 2011

141. The empire strikes back!

5th May 2011. I encountered the same lady in town again yesterday - she of the cryptic comment about "dogs being for sentimental people" - mentioned here in March. As our paths crossed anew, she came out with the same phrase again but this time I was ready for her with a pithy phrase of my own. It was a heart-warming moment to watch her jaw drop in amazement! Another minor victory!

The weather forecasters here keep warning of a long hot summer and certainly if the temps in April and May in these parts are anything to go by, they may well be right. Today, the forecast is for 24°C which will get no complaints from us. I must admit though that once temps rise much above 30° then it's starting to be outside my own comfort zone. In Spain a few weeks ago, we had a dry 36° in Seville and it was very pleasant indeed. For me, I start to struggle with high temps when they're coupled with high humidity. I have memories of being in Naples once when it was 43° with the humidity up at ~90%.. Ouf!
A beautiful evening out on the river - had an excellent outing in an VIII sculler (3 nenettes & 5 mecs). There was a warm breeze blowing and we rowed up the Nive non-stop to the turn-round point under blue skies and a hot evening sun. The boat was well balanced (not always the case) and felt solid as we cut through the pollen-dusted olive green water, and we made satisfyingly swift progress upstream with only the rhythmic whoosh-whoosh of the seats for company.
It's outings like this when it all goes well that makes rowing so rewarding. After a while, I found I'd 'zoned out' as I focussed totally on all the technical aspects of the stroke. The challenge is - if you think the last stroke was pretty good - to make the next one even better. And the one after that. You can't be wondering what colour to paint the spare bedroom or any other trivia - and that's another reason why I enjoy it.. it's a great exercise in clearing the mind. Did 14km (Running total: 644km).
Now doesn't this beat a 10 mile tailback on the M25..?
6th May 2011. There's an article in today's Guardian that caught my eye.. the headline was "Coffee, vigorous exercise and nose-blowing may trigger a stroke. Doctors have identified eight everyday activities, including drinking coffee, that often precede a haemorrhagic stroke.."

These eight triggers include: "...drinking coffee within the past hour was most strongly linked with ruptured aneurysms, accounting for an estimated 10.6%, with vigorous exercise at 7.9% and nose blowing at 5.4%. These were followed by sex (4.3%), straining on the toilet (3.6%), drinking cola (3.5%), being startled (2.7%) and being angry (1.3%). Both cola and coffee contain caffeine, which can raise blood pressure."

It didn't mention combinations of the above factors but being startled while indulging in vigorous sex in the toilet/rest room in Starbucks must clearly be something to avoid..! As Basil Fawlty would say: "That particular avenue of pleasure has been closed off!"
A comment under the article made me laugh!

"Basically confirms a theory I have had for some time... that statistically speaking the most dangerous activity a human being can indulge in is 'living'. It should be stopped IMMEDIATELY. I'm off to bed now with my Hi-Vis pyjamas on. Just in case."

Don't say you don't learn anything here!

7th May 2011. Minor setback out on the river this morning.. Went out in an VIII sculler and things were shaping up nicely for a good sortie when there was an ominous dull thud that seem to ripple through the boat followed a second or two later by another. I saw what caused it as it surfaced in our wake - a large straight log a good 12" in diameter was bobbing in our wake. After the excitement died down, we set off again only to find the boat wasn't answering to the rudder (aka the Bismarck syndrome!). So we did a quick about turn and returned to the clubhouse. On lifting the boat out of the water, we saw that the rudder had been completely torn off. Only 7km this morning (Running total: 651km).

I somehow forgot to mention that the other day we had some new asparagus for lunch.. Thick as my index finger, tender and white, Madame served them with a crispy fresh baguette to mop up the vinaigrette - they were so tender I ate all of mine. 

And yesterday, as a total surprise, she prepared some scallops in saffron with spaghetti.. with a glass of cold rosé..   She followed this up with some pistache ice cream with a splash of Amaretto.. If you haven't tried Amaretto over your ice cream, try it.. That's all I'm saying!

On the lunchtime national news, there was a clip about the coast just to the north of us and they played Sacha Distel's The Good Life over it. I couldn't find his version in English on YouTube so here he is with La Belle Vie en français.. (well he did write it!)
While I'm here, one of my favourite Piaf songs - Milord:
How does that old expression go..? They don't write them like that anymore.. What a voice! I love the sound of that tinkling piano as well.

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