Proud boasts

My beloved and I can make two proud boasts. Neither of us has ever changed a nappy, and neither of us has ever been to a hen/stag party. Admittedly, when we got married many years ago, hen/stag nights were usually fairly tame affairs. I spent the night before my wedding enjoying dinner with my family in a nearby Italian restaurant while my beloved waited anxiously at home in London with his parents before setting off early the following morning to the church in the Midlands.

It has to be said that neither of us enjoys drinking copious amounts of alcohol and, if I’m honest, neither of us could’ve afforded a hen/stag do back then. A lot of our friends, particularly those from university, got married at around the same time and were similarly strapped for cash. When our respective siblings got hitched, they had hen/stag parties but I can’t recall whether we were invited. In any event, we didn’t go.

The subject reared its head because my beloved’s nephew is getting married next month and he’s just had his stag do, a three-day bender weekend in Prague. My brother-in-law went along, largely to keep an eye on his younger son who has Asperger’s. Neither of them seemed to particularly enjoy the event and my brother-in-law wasn’t impressed by the hi-energy evening event which he said had been provided by Calvin Klein.

“I think you’ll find that was Calvin Harris,” said my beloved, keen to score points! However, it seemed a shame to spend so much money on an event that neither of them really enjoyed. The nephew was ritually humiliated by his mates who were, no doubt, just getting their own back. No mention of the architectural splendours of Prague but maybe they didn’t feature on the trip!

The nephew’s partner is having a Brittany-themed weekend in Blackpool which my sister-in-law has (wisely) declined to attend. This frankly sounds equally horrendous. My header photo assumes the two events swapped places and my beloved’s nephew had to dress up as Brittany!

I get the impression that the hen/stag dos, along with the weddings, are part of some sort of competitive game where each successive couple tries to outdo one another. Personally, we find it all rather sad and pointless, but then maybe it’s just us.

“What about the nappies?” I hear you cry. That’s far easier to explain. We’re childless from choice and we generally steer well clear of children until they’re potty trained and can communicate a bit.

Vuelta pangs

When the route for this year’s Vuelta a Espana was published in January my heart sank, though not for the reasons you might imagine. This year’s race started in Andalucia – last visited in 2015  – and later visits northern Spain, Asturias and the Basque country, three of my favourite places in Spain. I had to go! Sadly, I knew I couldn’t since it clashed with a family (beloved’s not mine) wedding for which I was making the cake. Instead I’ve had to settle for watching it in its entirety on the television, a poor subsistute for being there in person.

This was brought home yesterday when one of our friends unexpectedly donned the race leader’s jersey. My beloved and I were beside ourselves with joy for him. So few riders ever don the leader’s jersey in a grand tour. Indeed, Rudy Molard is the first rider from his Groupama-FDJ team to wear the leader’s jersey in a grand tour in 13 years. The last being Australian Brad McGee, also in the Vuelta back in 2005. If I recall correctly, the previous French riders to don a leader’s jersey would’ve been Thomas Voeckler in Tour de France 2011 and Sylvain Chavanel in Vuelta a Espana 2011.

Competition to get in and stay in yesterday’s break was fast and furious, particularly since the day before’s stage winner had come from a long-range break. But once the break of 25 riders formed, the peloton seemed content to let them get away. Rudy was the best-placed rider on GC (28th and 3:46 back) to get into the break.

Once the break’s advantage reached over 4 minutes, Rudy became the “virtual race leader.” However, most assumed that Sky or, as on the previous stage, another team would up the tempo to reduce the advantage. But no one, not even Sky seemed to have the appetite for a chase.

Inevitably, the breakmates attacked one another, shattering the group, and a trio of riders finally stayed clear with another threesome, one of whom was Rudy, in hot pursuit. At points Rudy seemed to be flagging as he led the second trio in hot pursuit and, once the leaders started playing cat and mouse, they were in sight. But it was a case of too little, too late. Rudy was riding for the jersey, not the stage win and he succeeded. My beloved and I had been screaming encouragement at the television screen for most of the afternoon, and I’m sure we weren’t the only ones.

The outpouring of love for Rudy on social media was lovely to witness. We also learned that his nickname in the team is Mr Gourmet! Watching him mount the podium, you could see how unaccustomed he was to all the attention and he wasn’t too sure how to react. Finally, you could see he was starting to appreciate just what he’d achieved. Remember, it was only back in the spring that he’d won his first WorldTour race, stage six of Paris-Nice, raced on his adopted-home turf.

Speaking post-race to Eurosport, Rudy said:

A leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour is both beautiful and emotional. It’s a high point in one’s career. I’ll try to make the most of it. I started thinking about it (of the leader’s jersey) only at the end of the stage. I thought about victory, but it was not easy to manage. We were 25 (in the breakaway), there were a lot of attacks, I buried myself for the win. In the end, I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try for the general and we’ll see how it goes.” Even when the peloton crossed the line with a sufficient time gap, I still didn’t really believe it.  Let’s see if I can defend the jersey until Sunday, that’ll be good enough.

His team chose yesterday evening to announce that he’d resigned for another two years. They must be delighted to have retained his services particularly as in the post-race interviews he reinterated that his role was still to ride for his team leader. Let’s hope he hangs onto that jersey until Sunday’s difficult, taxing ascent to La Covatilla.

Postscript: Some of Rudy’s advantage was eroded post-race by a 20 second penalty for late feeding!

Looking back on our trip to Saint Jean de Luz

Saint Jean de Luz is a fishing port on the Basque Atlantic coast and a famous resort, known for its architecture, sandy bay, the quality of the light and cuisine. The town is located south of Biarritz, on the right bank of the river Nivelle, opposite Ciboure. The port lies on the river estuary while the resort nestles in a sheltered bay, just a few kilometres from the Spanish border.

The town’s wealth stems from its port and its past, as a fishing town and a haven for Basque pirates. Indeed, English sailors used to call Saint Jean de Luz the “Viper’s Nest”. The town’s prosperity peaked during the 17th Century when it was the second largest town in the region, just behind Bayonne.

The town is renowned for its royal wedding connections as Louis XIV married Maria Theresa, the Infanta of Spain, on 9 June 1660 in its cathedral, the main door of which was subsequently bricked off allegedly so no other couple could walk in their footsteps.

We’d previously visited the town on earlier trips to the Basque country, and had ridden all along the coast in both directions, but had wanted to stay here again for a few days to better get to know the town and enjoy the facilities of its Thalassotherapy centre in our hotel.

It might seem odd that, living as we do on the Med, we head to the Atlantic coast for a vacation but it is quite different. Saint Jean de Luz has a real bucket and spade family holiday feel to it, largely because of its beautiful sandy beach, which our stoney beach at home really doesn’t invoke.

We spent our five days here just pottering about, enjoying the fine weather, the beach, our hotel, the market and the largely pedestrianised town. We ate breakfast each morning in one of its many excellent patisseries, enjoyed lunch either in the hotel or out at another restaurant while dinner was largely a glass of wine and some tapas while listening to/watching entertainment put on by the town. While we much enjoyed our stay, five – seven days here are sufficient to really get to know the place.

Steamy summer

In an effort to combat August’s steamy temperatures, I’ve taken to getting up really early. A quick ride on the home-trainer, breakfast on the balcony and then a spot of housework, followed by a cold shower, all before my beloved wakes. He’s been finding it more difficult to sleep in the heat as there’s not too much difference between top day time and night time temperatures. We don’t have air conditioning instead we rely on the passage of cooler air through all the open windows.

Early morning is about the only time the temperatures fall below 26C and the cicadas give their cooling leg rubbing a rest. If only keeping cool was that simple for the rest of us. In an effort to reain cool, I’ve been wafting around the flat in cool floaty outfits while my beloved is permanently topless. He’s been swimming daily in the pool which has certainly helped his mobility but he’s finding it difficult to concentrate in the office, the hottest part of the flat, in the afternoons.

According to the weather forecast the top day time temperatures should start to ease below 30C this week. Welcome news for all but the most ardent of sunbathers like my sister, who’s over here for the next month. It’s unusual for the Cote d’Azur to have these daily high temperatures for two consecutive months (July and August).

Even the Domaine’s animals are feeling the effects of the heat. The dogs wearily trot out for comfort breaks and hurry back home into the shade. The rooks have found themselves some shady perches in the forest, the pigeons only appear late afternoon and potter about in the shade. We’ve not seen hide nor hair of Mr Squirrel though the magpies are still upsetting anyone and everyone.

My beloved, in his own inimitable style, has not been helping with the work load quite the reverse. He dripped sweat all over the marble floor and then walked in it. It was easy to see the imprint from the soles of his shoes. I was not happy as I’d only recently swept and washed it. I had to re-wash it because his sweat strips the shine from the marble! Of course, I could’ve wait for him to do it……but hell would probably freeze over before that happened.

When it’s this warm, you really don’t feel like cooking or eating much, just plenty of cold soups, fresh fruit and salads which means regular early morning trips to the market. I’m aware this is beginning to sound like a moan. It isn’t, not really. I’m just looking forward to a slight dip in temperatures to make it much more pleasant throughout the day. When it’s hot, productivity slips alarmingly and sitting in the car with the air conditioning on full blast is a welcome option.

The Musette: speedy Sunday roast

It’s possible to have a roast lunch within 45 minutes of returning from a Sunday morning ride. I admit that it’s a pared back version with few of the typical British trimmings but to be honest my beloved much prefers it this way. I appreciate that this probably amounts to sacrilege to those of you who think no Sunday roast is complete without roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and oodles of gravy but this is my healthy version which relies, as always, on the very best ingredients treated with the utmost, love, care and attention.

Ingredients

French butchers will typically have a photo of the cow from which their beef comes. Mine is no exception and this well-hung and well marbled 500g (1lb) piece of beef from the ribs (côte de boeuf) came from a cow with a twinkle in its eye. Obviously, he had no idea what was in store for him. Probably thought he was going on an away day. This joint served three hungry cyclists.

Well hung and marbled beef and a magic touch of truffle flavoured salt (image: Sheree)

Method

1. As with so many things in life, a bit of planning and preparation the night before pays dividends. Blanch your vegetables firstly in boiling salted water for two minutes and then refresh in iced water to retain the colour. Drain, dry with kitchen towel and place in the fridge.

2. Before leaving for your ride, take the beef out of the fridge and leave in a cool spot to come to room temperature so that it’s ready to cook when you return.

3. On your return, pre-heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7 (425°F/400°F fan) while you’re having your post-ride shower.

4. Season the meat, rubbing it all over with plenty of salt – in my case one flavoured with truffle – and especially into the fat, place on a trivet in the roasting tray and cook for 20 minutes for medium rare (15 minutes for rare).

5. Cut the panisse (recipe below) into fat slices, toss in 1 tbsp olive oil and season with ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Place on a baking tray (half sheet pan) in the oven at the same time as the beef. Take the haricot beans out of the fridge.

6. Finely chop half a fat shallot and gently fry in 1 tsp olive oil until translucent.

Allow beef to rest for at least 15 minutes (covered in foil) then carve on diagonal (image: Sheree)

7. Take the beef out of the oven, cover with aluminium foil and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, turn over the panisse and switch off the oven.

8. Add 1 tsp unsalted butter to the shallots then add the haricots, warm through for ten minutes before serving.

9. Discard the fat and the bone  – I give the bone to a neighbour’s dog – and slice the beef on the diagonal. Serve with the crisp green beans and panisse, which should be golden and crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside – just like roast potatoes. Serve with the juices from the meat and enjoy.

Sunday roast is served (image: Sheree)

 

Panisse ingredients

  • 1 litre (4 cups) filtered water
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 285g (2¼ cups) finely ground chick pea (garbanzo) flour

Method

1. Lightly oil a 23cm (9 inch) square cake tin and line with cling film (plastic wrap).

2. Bring the water, oil and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan. Don’t let it boil!

3. Whisk in the sieved chick pea flour and continue whisking, to avoid lumps, until it thickens – about three minutes.

4. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue to stir until the mixture becomes very thick. This generally takes around ten minutes and helps you work up a bit more of an appetite.

5. Pile the mixture into the oiled and lined baking tin, smoothing the surface with a pallet knife and leave it to cool.

6. Once cold, tip out onto a chopping board and cut into servings and cook as suggested above.

7. In Nice panisse are shaped a bit like flying saucers because they pour the mixture into saucers to set. They’ll keep for a week in the fridge but I generally freeze any excess for up to three months.

Sheree’s handy hints

1. It’s important to cook meat from room temperature otherwise the centre of the meat won’t be sufficiently cooked. We’ve all been served wonderfully caramelised steaks and burgers only to discover when we cut into the meat that it’s cold and raw on the inside – send it back!

2. If you prefer you can cook the beef by initially browning it well on both sides in an oven-proof frying pan (skillet) and then popping into the pre-heated oven for a further 5-10 minutes depending on how rare you like your meat.

3. Obviously, you can serve the beef with whatever you want but choose side dishes that you can easily prepare in advance and then pop into the oven with the beef to reheat or finish cooking on the hob.

Date night: the horses

The view from our terrace encompasses our local hippodrome. We much enjoy its year round festivities which often conclude with displays of pyrotechnics. Its summer racing season drew to a close this weekend and, having not darkened its door to watch any races for a while, we decided to go on Friday evening. We took our semi-resident expert, my sister Lynn, who has an account with Paddy Power and wins a fair bit of money on horse racing.

My beloved and I qualified for half-price tickets so its was Euros 9,00 for the three of us to get in, plus free car parking. Kids go free and there’s plenty to amuse them with bouncy castles etc. We easily found seats in the Tribune and opted for bottles of coooling water rather than anything alcoholic, before turning to the free information sheets to select our runners for each of the seven races: all trotting events, six in harness and one mounted.

Obviously, my sister is not familiar with trotting, either mounted or with a harness, but nonetheless, she still had more success than either of us in picking winners. I was at least fairly consistent as my horse in the first three races was disqualified for breaking into a canter. Thereafter, in the fourth race my chosen horse finished – finally! –  I then had two third-places and a fifth. Obviously, I’m never going to win big on the PMU (French equivalent of The Tote).

The Racecourse

Our local hippodrome, is one of the larger racecourses in France, having opened its doors in 1952, initially with temporary facilities, and it wasn’t until December 1960 that it was officially inaugurated. Its most prestigious  race is the Cote d’Azur Grand Criterium of Speed, one of the great classics of the trotting season in Europe, held during its winter season.

The racetrack covers approximately 63 hectares and can accommodate up to 12,000 people, with a tribune seating ​​6,000. It has several tracks, including 16 hectares of grass tracks for the flat and over the sticks, 4-hectares of  flat sandy tracks and a 3-hectare red-earth trotting track.

Aside from the horse racing and jumping, the track gets used for numerous exhibitions and events throughout the year.

Trotting

French horseracing is among the most active and dynamic worldwide. It organizes more than 2,000 meetings a year with an average of 8 races per meeting covering all disciplines: flat, jump and trotting. You can bet on many of these races only via the PMU.

France is the world leader in organising trotting races. It has also created and conceived its own horse breed, le Trotteur Français (the French Trotter). More than 11,000 trotting races take place in every year, representing 61% of the total French races organised, which includes both harness and mounted trotting races.

And that’s not all…………

It’s a jam-packed sporting week-end with the start of what’s sure to be a fascinating Vuelta a Espana, the MotoGP from Silverstone and the third match of the 2018/19 football season for Ligue 1 here in France. Tonight we’re off to watch OGCN play at the Allianz Riviera against Dijon which, despite the absence of Super Mario – yes, he’s staying, break out the party hats – banned for first three matches of the season, we’re hoping will be our first victory of the season.

Reflecting on our trip to Pornichet

We had gone to the start of this year’s Tour de France because it wasn’t far from La Baule, a place both of us had visited as teenagers. I’d enjoyed a delightful last holiday with my parents and sisters while my beloved had less pleasant memories, something to do with the sanitary arrangements! I booked a spa hotel in Pornichet in the bay of La Baule primarily because it directly overlooked the beach. I was after a few day’s rest and relaxation, particularly for my beloved.

I was interested in the history behind the original building and learnt that it had been built of granite in 1868 by a Belgian Viscount, in the gothic style, and christened Chateau des Tourelles by the locals on account of its circular towers. It was subsequently acquired in 1882 by a French arms manufacturer for 40,000 Francs. On his death in 1904, his son Louis Flornoy inherited the property but was forced to sell it, due to mismanagement of his fortune, to M Legrand, a local newspaper owner.

In 1938 the mayor of the 12th arrondissement in Paris acquired it to provide holidays for disadvantaged children. In 1940, without so much as a by your leave, the German army occupied the building. Post-war, it once more welcomed holidaymakers from Paris for the three months of summer but in the 1995s it fell into disuse and was closed. A family company, which already owned a couple of spa hotels, thankfully rescued it some 15 years later.

The new extension has been grafted onto the original historic building in a wrap around style which doesn’t swamp its beachside facade. Its bedrooms are spacious with large balconies, most of which have a sea view. The hotel’s main attraction is its thlassotherapy spa which proved beneficial for both my recently injured hamstring and my beloved’s still recuperating leg. We whiled away many an hour in its salty, warm waters.

Our four days passed far too quickly and we merely dipped a toe into the Tour as opposed to slavishly following every stage. We pottered along the seafront and around the small town of Pornichet but there was little need to leave our cocoon, our haven of tranquility. The beach in La Baule was pretty much as I remembered it, wide, golden and sandy, but nothing else in the town struck a chord with either of us.

We had lunched at the hotel on arrival. It had vegan options on the menu and the food was excellent. No need to stray too far for sustenance though we did try out a couple of the patisseries in town. Well, it would’ve been rude not to! As soon as we learnt the hotel did Sunday Brunch, we booked a table. This turned out to be a very fortunate move as Brunch was extremely popular, and not just with residents. As you’d expect, it included plenty of fresh seafood including oysters.

It’s a hotel we’d happily visit again, though next time I’d fly to Nantes and hire a car. It’s really too far to drive. The trip confirmed my happy memories and dispelled my beloved’s less than memorable ones.

In praise of our recent trip to Rioja

Architecture and Scenery

On our most recent trip, my beloved and I were very impressed with Rioja, a gorgeous region in northern Spain. We’d previously ooohed and aaahed over its more recent architectural delights such as the Frank Gehry designed Marques de Riscal winery and hotel which the sun tints every shade of wine. Though it’s not the only amazing combination of wine and architecture in Rioja. At the foot of the Sierra de Cantabria mountains, there’s the cedar clad Ysios winery which has an undulating roof, designed by Santiago Calatrava. Plus the late Zaha Hadid created a decanter shaped annexe for Bodegas Lopez de Heredia’s winery.

This time we visited the picture-perfect, old walled town of Laguardia, set atop a hill in the middle of a valley, with the Cantabrian mountains in the background. It’s surrounded on all sides by vineyards which offer a glimpse into the region’s wine making past and present. Founded in the 10th century as a defensive town for the kingdom of Navarra, this undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the region.

Apart from Laguardia’s two metre-high, 13th century defensive walls, its other main feature is its underground tunnels which kept its inhabitants safe during battles and allowed them to escape into the surrounding hillsides. Once the town no longer needed these for its strategic military position, the locals decided they were perfect for storing wine. We visited the tunnels under our hotel and they were the perfect temperature for storing wine, but I found them a bit claustrophobic.

Our hotel overlooked the town’s main square containing both the old and the new town hall buildings. On the new building, there’s a quaint pendulum clock where three figures come out to dance to a traditional song at certain times of the day. Crowds gather just before they’re due to dance. On either end of  the main street, there’s a church. On one side is the church of San Juan, a Romanesque building, and on the other, the church of Santa Maria de los Reyes, which has an impressive Gothic facade.

We much enjoyed meandering around the town’s narrow walkways and in the gardens outside the walls which contain a bust of local lad, the fabulist Samaniego, and a dolmen.

Food and Wine

The food in Rioja lives up to the wine that accompanies it. It’s fabulous on every level. In Laguardia alone there are 50-odd small pintxos bars plus a number of local restaurants, including the one in our hotel. I’ve previously written in praise of the food in Spain and it’s particularly true of the food in Rioja.

The region produces red, white and rose wines in its three principal areas: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa much of which is subjected to the Rioja Protected designation of origin.

Rioja Alta

Located on the western edge of the region and at a higher elevation than the other two areas, the Rioja Alta is known more for its “old world” style of wine. A higher elevation equates to a shorter growing season, which in turn produces brighter fruitier flavors and a wine that is lighter on the palate.

Rioja Alavesa

Laguardia is in this area and, despite sharing a similar climate as the Alta region, the Rioja Alavesa produces wines with a fuller body and higher acidity. Vineyards here have a low vine density with large spacing between rows. This is due to the relatively poor condition of the soil with the vines needing greater distance from one another and hence less competition for the nutrients in the surrounding soil.

IMG_7654 (Edited)

Rioja Baja (Oriental)

Unlike the more  continental climates of the Alta and Alavesa, Rioja Baja is strongly influenced by a Mediterranean climate which makes this area the warmest and driest. In the summer months, drought can be a significant viticultural hazard, despite irrigation. Summer temperatures typically reach 35°C (95°F). Baja wines are very deeply coloured and can be highly alcoholic, with some wines reaching 18%. They typically do not have much acidity or aroma and are generally used as blending components with wines from the other areas.

It’s time to put my hand up and admit we did bring a few bottles of Rioja back to France with us.

 

The Musette: melon gazpacho

What do you do when your fridge freezes everything? “Isn’t that the fridge freezer you recently paid a small fortune to have mended?” I hear you ask? Yes, it is! We returned from vacation to discover the temperature of the freezer was -25C, and the fridge -10C. I fiddled about – a technical term – with the inner dials and managed to increase the temperature of the fridge to -8C. Hardly a result.

I rang the company that services my appliances only to be advised that my technician of choice was on vacation until 20 August, but would be able to visit on 31 August. Yikes! An awful lot of fridge/freeezers must be playing up. Are they all Gaggenau?

The company promised the technician would give me a call with some advice before the end of the month, so I sent him a video which I hope might help him diagnose the problem. So, now what to do with some partly frozen fruit and veg?

When we ate out last week, my beloved had Melon Gazpacho as a starter. So, that’s what I made. It was really refreshing, just what’s needed in the hot weather.

Ingredients (lunch for 2)

  • 1 medium sized melon
  • half hot house cucumber
  • spring onion (scallion)
  • 240ml (cup) filtered water
  • bunch coriander
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Method

1. Remove rind and seeds from melon. Chop everything into bite sized chunks and add to liquidiser. Process until smoothish and taste to check seasonings.

2. Pour into bowls while still chilled and enjoy.

Now, could anything be simpler than that recipe? Anwers below please!

 

 

Happiness is……

After a few frustrating months, today I finally managed a very sweaty 45 minutes on the home trainer without so much as a twinge in my right knee/leg. I’ve been having problems with it since I slipped over in May. Initially I thought I’d tweaked my hamstring, as my foot slipped from underneath me on a gravel slope. But the pain, which came and went, finally settled in my knee for most of the holiday. Thalassotheraphy helped, walking didn’t. It was sooooooooooo painful, I almost rang my beloved’s physio for an appointment.

Just like my right arm, which I injured hauling too heavy shopping bags out of the car, a spot of R&R has mended  – touch wood – the problem. To be honest, we’ve looked like a right pair of oldies hobbling all over the place. My beloved’s hip has been giving him gip but, after swimming and exercising daily for the past 10 days that too is much less painful.

I used to tease my Dad about the visible and not so visible signs of aging as he gradually slowed down. He always used to say: “Wait ’til you’re older!” To which I’d reply: “I hope I get to find out!” Generally, of course, I like to totally ignore my age and carry on as usual but recent health scares have provided a bit of a wake up call. “Seize the day” is now definitely my motto.

I hate not being able to ride regularly. It’s been particularly hard this summer as we holidayed without the bikes and drove over roads we’ve regularly ridden in the past. All being well, that’s now behind us as my beloved also rode for 45 minutes on the home trainer without any discomfort in his hip. He’s had some lifts put in his cycling shoes as the leg he broke is now a centimetre shorter and that’s certainly helped, along with further strengthening his leg in the pool. It’s amazing how quickly you lose muscle and how long it takes to regain it. “Use it or lose it!” is so true.

It’ll take us a while to get back into our stride and back up to speed but it’ll so be worth it. I’ve really missed going out on the bike for a ride. It gives me an opportunity to decompress, put the world to rights and just…………breathe. I’ve missed all my usual routes where I inevitably spend far too much time gazing at property porn, there’s stacks of it down here on the Cote d’Azur. Plus, just gazing out to sea from the various climbs which I find so calming and restful, plus it takes your mind off the grind of riding uphill. I’ve also missed swooping downhill. Just reward for hard work.