Pleasurable afternoons

Pretty much as forecast, it rained all day today. The outlook for the week end is fortunately much better. Today was my first English lesson at the club conducted over home made cakes (mine) and refreshments. It was a smallish group of differing abilities but thankfully those that spoke some English were more than willing to help those that spoke none. So we went back to basics, starting with the phonetic alphabet and continuing with some brief exercises to illustrate my points.

This has my name on it!

We also discussed English culture and customs, albeit in French. I was extolling the virtues of afternoon tea, one of my all-time favourite meals. Largely because as a child it was my reward for an afternoon spent learning ballet. My Mum thought ballet would make me lighter on my feet; she used to complain that I sounded like a herd of elephants going upstairs. It had absolutely no effect whatsoever.

We had afternoon tea at The Queen’s Hotel which was largely a haven for elderly ladies and gentlemen whom I would regard very much as my personal audience every Wednesday afternoon. Having been into the kitchen to choose my cakes and pastries directly from the chef, I would return and visit with each individual or group dotted around the vast lounge; politely enquiring as to their activities over the past week, before updating them with my own. One lady used to let me wear her mink stole and hat. I would love giving everyone a quick twirl in my borrowed finery. Sadly, The Queen’s Hotel was demolished to make way for New Street Station.

While living in London I would often meet friends for afternoon tea in one or other of my favourite watering holes. I particularly liked afternoon tea at The Lanesborough (handy for Knightsbridge), The Dorchester, The Westbury (great scones and handy for Bond St) and Claridges.

The home-made cakes went down well, particularly the spiced ginger bread. Fortunately, they left a few slices of both cakes; the other was a chocolate and vanilla marble cake, for my beloved to enjoy.

On the road again

The weather the last two days has been bright and sunny, albeit with a  wintery bite. I’ve started wearing  my winter jacket but haven’t yet had to don full-fingered gloves. But it’s only a matter of time before they, and my shoe covers, are required. The mountains behind Nice now have a thick covering of snow and most local ski resorts are opening this week end.

The past two days, I’ve ridden with my beloved around my winter circuit. Yesterday, as I reached Blvd Kennedy after the Garoupe climb, Christophe Le Mevel and Geoffroy Lequatre zoomed past with one of my former clubmates, and the current U23 regional champion, in their slipstream. I chased after them, they were only rolling along at around 30km, so I soon caught them up. It’s good to ride along with people who can maintain an even tempo and, as there were no climbs for a while, I could merrily wheelsuck, and chat to my friend who was on a training ride with them. 

I’m slowly clearing the decks workwise but haven’t yet found time to tackle the ironing mountain. However, my beloved is off on business for 10 days on Monday which will give me sufficient breathing space to get the flat in apple-pie order for Xmas. The Xmas cards arrived today and will be despatched this week end. I have yet to buy any presents, although I do have my list. All of them can be purchased over the internet and delivered to the recipient in time for Xmas – perfect. 

I have made the cake which needs to be fed with copious amounts of alcohol over the next week or so and then marzipanned and iced (both home made) just before Xmas. I’ve also made a second Xmas cake for my clubmates at the recreational afternoons down at the cycling club house. Though there’s going to be precious little recreation for me as the “boys” have decided they’d like to learn English and IT skills. So I have tomorrow’s lesson all prepared and I’ve made a couple of cakes to accompany the tea and coffee.

Saturday, is the Telethon: France’s fundraising for local children’s charities. We’ll be riding, en masse, from St Laurent du Var to Mandelieu La Napoule and back. It’s quite a sight to behold: imagine, if you will, two Tour de France pelotons on the right-hand side of the road. But, I guess it’s not terribly popular with car drivers. The weather forecast is promising. This is followed on Sunday by the departmental championship. My club has held this honour for the past ten years but, largely due to falling membership,  may be hard pressed to hold onto the coveted trophy. Naturally, M Le President has been exhorting everyone to turn out and fortunately, the pointage isn’t too far afield; it’s only at Antibes.

Postscript: Break out my favourite beverage, those boys in claret and blue are through to the semi-finals of the League Cup. Our opponents in the next round will be  Blackburn whom we will also be playing in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.