Summer celebrations

My recent regime of hill climbing is proving more difficult than anticipated. With the exception of Col de Vence and L’Ara – two climbs with which I’m most familiar – my three consecutive ascents of other hills are proving to be more slow, slower and slowest. The exact reverse of what I’m supposed to achieve. I am of course persisting but may well have to seek advice from my cycling coach once he returns from his cycling trip from Verbier to St Tropez. Yes, he’s put together a challenging ride for a small group of American clients, staying in 5-star luxury en-route. These types of trips appear to be very popular with north Americans so he’s hoping it might lead to further business.

It’s Saturday, so we’re riding with one of the teenagers and our friends who have a tandem – never fancied giving that a go. In theory, the teenager can’t ride during the week unless accompanied by his older brother. However, we do know that he’s been out most days, generally on his own. We’re perpetuating the myth, to prevent his mother from worrying, by taking him out with us at the week ends. We’ve broken the “news” to his Dad whom we chatted to on Skype yesterday, en route back home after successfully racing on the Asian circuit. I do hope, despite his hectic race schedule, that he’s going to be home for his younger son’s first bike race.

This week the temperature has really ratcheted up a notch, indeed it’s been almost sultry. I like to get up and out on the bike early to profit from the slightly cooler air and find myself choosing, wherever possible, shaded routes. I still haven’t resolved the hot feet problem but I do find improved hydration and circulation by wearing compression socks helps. I should add that the socks are only worn indoors.  The last two days, it’s gotten quite windy in the afternoons. However, it’s not been a cooling sea breeze, no it’s been a hot Saharan wind. We don’t have air conditioning, I open the windows front and back and the flow of air keeps the place cool. Yesterday, the wind was blowing dust and debris onto my recently washed and cleaned floors, so I shut the windows which unfortunately made the flat feel like a sauna.

Yesterday evening, Bastille Day celebrations kicked off down on the specially closed-to-traffic sea front, animated at regular intervals by live bands and DJs playing different types of music. The whole place was teeming ensuring a bumper evening for the local restaurants though equally a large number brought their own and had a picnic on the beach. As usual, there was a splendid firework display. These types of festivities will continue all week end long up and down the coast. While sound carries a long way on still summer evenings we’re just far enough away not to hear anything.

This week end is the traditional start of the French summer holidays meaning we can look forward to a bumper crop of free entertainment. When I say “free” I mean there’s no charge for entry. As local taxpayers we do indeed pay for the entertainment, but it’s a small price to pay in order to maintain the coast’s biggest source of income – tourism. According to the local newspaper, we’re heading for a bumper season with bookings well up on previous years. I suspect that on account of the global recession, northern Europeans are staying somewhere closer to home, the French are staying home and we’re attracting even more visitors from eastern Europe and Asia.

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