The Tour de France is oh so close

Early this year the cycle club put out a call for volunteers for the Tour de France. Now, it’s been awhile since I last volunteered and given that our club is called Club Metropole de Nice, Cote d’Azur, and both the mayor and Prefet are members, I put up my hand. More accurately I filled in a form on line. I volunteered to help out for a week as we weren’t following the Tour as it departed Nice because my beloved was doing l’Etape, which has now been postponed until next year. And, as all you cycling fans know, the Tour itself was pushed back two months.

Mid-August I got a call from the Town Hall enquiring whether I was still available to volunteer. I replied in the affirmative and the lady on the other end of the line heaved a huge sigh of relief. Obviously, her task had not been going well. I imagine that many who might have been available in July were no longer free at the end of August. I basically said I would do whatever, whenever. It’s a strategy that has stood me in good stead in the past.

I’ve advised my beloved that he’ll be looking after himself for a week. I tempered it with saying I would ensure that there would be plenty of food in the fridge. He’s most unlikely to starve but I know from bitter experience that I’ll have to thoroughly clean the place after he’s been left to his own devices for that length of time.

We’re getting together outdoors this evening to receive our Rapha kit, luncheon vouchers, free masks, hand gel, tram passes and accreditation. I’ve been pre-advised of my role which is essentially meet and greet, something I’ve done before and where my linguistic skills and local knowledge are hugely helpful.

I’ll be honest, I’m not looking forward to wearing a mask all day but it has to be done. How much cycling I’ll see remains to be seen. In fact, I may not see any cyclists at all! Typically, I would get my press accreditation and be jostling with the thousands of journalists, TV and radio crews who follow the Tour. Most of these will be reporting from the studio rather than in situ and conducting interviews via Zoom or similar.

Hopefully, next week I’ll have something interesting to report back on. Meanwhile, here’s a few earlier posts about some of my volunteering at cycling events:-

World Championships: Part I

World Championships: Part II

La Kivilev

Tour de France 2009: Monaco

Sunshine’s Macro Monday #55

Even more photos from the Domaine’s gardens! This time I’m featuring my late mother’s favourite plant, the Agapanthus. She used to have clouds of these, the versions in lilac-blue and white, in large bright blue ceramic pots on the terrace.

We have large drifts of these all over the Domaine garden, but only the lilac-blue version.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your helpful feedback and kind comments on these posts – most encouraging.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday Challenge was hosted by Irene a formidable photographer who encouraged us to scrutinise the smallest of details by getting up close and personal and bringing someone or something to life in a photograph. It was a one day challenge without prompts which I have continued to pursue. Feel free to join in and brighten everyone’s Monday.

The Penable awards I – III

A few months ago I was nominated for The Penable Award by some fantastic bloggers, as follows:-

Three Latvians, Aiva, Ericeira and Valters, currently living in Sligo on Ireland’s West Coast, together make up Our Crossings. The trio met many years ago and created the travel blog to log their outdoor adventures, failures and triumphs. They’ve visited over 30 countries and 90+ cities, many of them several times, and hence are veritable fountains of knowledge.

Writer Laleh Chini whose book Climbing Over Grit is a Canada Book Award Winner. Her blog A Voice from Iran is all about sharing stories from Iran and all around the world, Iranian history, culture, myths, and legends. She likes to share things that interest her, what it was like to grow up in Iran in the early 20th century, as well as what it’s like to live in Iran.

Lastly, Wild at Heart a slightly crazy 20 something year old who shares her navigation through this uncertain and mysterious world with us on her blog Wild Scared Crazy.

Now, please check out their blogs and give them some further encouragement.

The Penable Award and Nominees

Wild at Heart advises that this particular award is given to really special people with incredible writing skills such as authors, poets, story writers, inspiring people or those with just a great blog.

If you fall into one of the above categories, why not give this award a go. Tell us more about those writing skills and answer any three questions from the six below.

My writing talent

After spending years of writing reports, largely financial, it’s now with some relief that I can write about anything I like. What started as a blog about my cycling has morphed into one that covers all of my interests: sport, cookery, photography, travel, architecture, art and life with my beloved husband of over 40 years. I hope to inform and amuse!

Our Crossings sadly deleted their award posts before I had gotten around to responding! But here are the questions from the other two bloggers:-

Laleh’s Questions 

1. Where would your next travel destination be?

During the pandemic I’m much enjoying a staycation which is pretty easy given I live in a lovely part of God’s earth, the French Riviera. Next year, I’m hoping to go a bit further afield and satisfy a long held ambition to undertake a tour around Italy and Sicily. With any luck, I’ll also visit the Basque Country, but nothing further afield.

2. Which season is your favourite?

Summer’s my favourite although I love living here all year round.

3. What colour gives you peace?

I find green a very calming colour providing it’s not too vivid.

Wild at Heart’s questions

1. Where do you find freedom?

I’ve probably filed it under “F.” I jest. Freedom generally means the ability to act or change without constraint. I have that, I don’t need to go looking for it.

2. What’s your favourite genre of books?

TBH it depends on my mood. I love reading cookery books, about historical events, thrillers, biographies, books about sport, books about architecture, great stories, poetry………..

3. How do you feel when you sit down each day to write?

I don’t write every day – thank heavens for scheduling! However, when I do sit down, I enjoy the process of writing (and editing).

The Rules (if you receive this award)

1. Tag your post with the #penableaward

2. Display the Penable award logo (above) on your post and follow Penable if you haven’t already

3. Thank the person that nominated you

4. Tell us what your writing talent is

5. Answer three questions that you have been asked

6. Nominate three inspiring people for this award.

7. Let them know of their nomination by commenting on their most recent post with the news, including the logo in your comments

8. Give them three new questions to answer!

Song Lyric Sunday #6

This is my response to Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday Challenge, a man after my own heart as he posts the themes well in advance. This week’s prompt is Above/Below/Between and, after thinking about a suitable song from my own collection, my proposal is a track from rock band Bon Jovi’s 1992 album  Keep The Faith, their fifth studio album which was recorded after a hiatus. I think the line “6 feet under” from the track’s lyrics responds quite well to the prompt “below.”

This album represented the beginning of a new chapter, marking a change of both the band’s image and sound. Moving away from their early poodle-permed, glam-metal roots in previous albums, it introduced a more rock n roll driven groove, doing away with heavy drums and wild guitar solos, instead introducing a newer, softer sound.

The album peaked at number five on the US Billboard 200 chart, produced several hits for the band and was certified double-platinum. Tracks from the album still feature heavily in Bon Jovi’s concert setlists of which I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead and the title track have been live staples.

Confession time! I’ve probably seen Bon Jovi live more times than any other band, and in a number of different countries. The last time was nearly 10 years ago in San Sebastian.

Lyrics: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

Seven days of saturday
Is all that I need
Got no use for Sunday
‘Cause I don’t rest in peace
Don’t need no Mondays
Or the rest of the week
I spend a lot of time in bed
But baby I don’t like to sleep no

I won’t lie to you
I’m never gonna cry to you
I’ll probably drive you wild 8 days a week

Until I’m 6 feet under
Baby I don’t need a bed
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead

So you’re looking for some action
I got got everything you need
Better keep your motor running
’cause I was built for speed
This ain’t no slumber party
Got no time for catching z’s
If they say that that ain’t healthy
Well then living’s a disease

We’re never going to die baby
Come on let me drive you crazy
We’ll make every night another New Year’s Eve

Till I’m six feet under
I won’t need a bed
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead

Sleep when I’m dead, sleep when I’m dead
Gonna live while I’m alive,
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Seven days of Saturday
Is all that I need

Got no use for Sunday
‘Cause I don’t rest in peace
I was born to live
You know I wasn’t born to die
But if they party down in heaven
I’ll be sure to be on time

Until I’m six feet under
I don’t need a bed
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead

I feel like I’m exploding
Going out of my head
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead

Till I’m six feet under
And they lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead

Sleep when I’m dead, sleep when I’m dead
Gonna live while I’m alive, sleep when I’m dead

Songwriters: Richard Sambora / Desmond Child / Jon Bon Jovi
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., BMG Rights Management

Challenge Rules

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not. If it does not fit, then please explain why you chose this song.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to Jim’s post or place your link in his comments section.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Most of all, have fun and enjoy the music.

The Musette: salads galore

We were recently invited by friends to a BBQ and they wondered what they could cook me to eat. As usual, I advised I’d bring a couple of salads and some fresh fruit which everyone could enjoy. To be fair, they did grill some courgettes (zucchini) and bake some potates so I wouldn’t have gone completely hungry, plus my friend made the most divine “raw” vegan cake for dessert. Which reminds me, I must chase her up for the recipe.

Luckily for me the other guests were either not too enamoured of salad, or preferred to sink their teeth into the mound of cooked meats and sausages! This meant unusually I had some to bring home for the next few days – excellent news!

The first salad really doesn’t require a recipe. Thinly shave 1kg (2lbs) raw courgettes (zucchini) into a bowl, toss with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon then add a handful of chopped basil, 5 tbsp virgin olive oil, seasoning to taste and voilà you have a deliciously fresh salad. How easy was that?

Ingredients – Quinoa Salad (serves 8-12)

  • 350g (2 cups) uncooked quinoa
  • 750ml (3 cups) filtered water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 300g (8 cups) baby kale, stripped from stem and roughly chopped
  • 220g (1 cup) chopped pecans
  • 125g (1/2 cup) chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 medium apples peeled, cored, diced and tossed in freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lemon vinaigrette

  • 80ml (1/3 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 240ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) filtered water (optional)
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 fat clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Method

1. Soak and rinse the quinoa before cooking in a small saucepan, with water and salt. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook covered until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid – about 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then fluff up with a fork.

2. While the quinoa is soaking prepare and chop all the other ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well to combine.

3. Whisk or (preferable) wizz all the vinagrette ingredients together in a liquidiser. Check seasoning.

4. Once the quinoa is cooler add it to salad bowl along with vinagrette and toss together to combine. Check seasoning.

5. Allow the flavours of the salad to combine, the kale to soften and the vinagrette to be absorbed before serving (1-2 hours in the fridge).

6. This salad will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for 4-5 days.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. You can substitute the quinoa with something like bulgar wheat, couscous or even lentils.

2. Likewise the pecans can be swapped for walnuts and the cranberries with raisins. Work with what you have to hand.

3. Serve it with orange rather than lemon vinaigrette.

4. TBH, most salads don’t really require a recipe, just ingredients and imagination. Combine stuff that you have in the fridge, garden and cupboards for a refreshing side dish or main meal. What about juicy melon, salami, black olives, freshly ground black pepper and fresh herbs. Or that Italian classic, but with the volume turned up by using burrata rather than mozzarella, mixed chopped tomatoes, black olives, basil and a drizzle of virgin olive oil. Feta cheese with watermelon and mint. Tomato salad with croutons, tabouleh………the possibilities are endless. Try to have an array of colours and textures.

 

Sculpture Saturday #22

This is a rear view of the giant stone head with cupped hand Écoute which is a 1986 sculpture by French artist Henri de Miller. It stands in front of the Church of St-Eustache, near the Jardin des Halles, in Paris.

This challenge is kindly hosted by Sally Kelly over at Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition.

Share a photo of a statue or sculpture – go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

Friday Photo Challenge – markets

This week Sandy’s Challenge is markets. I’ll be honest, I love, love French, Spanishd Italian produce markets. There’s nothing nicer than buying direct from the catcher, grower, producer, maker or baker of the products.

 

I’m much enjoying these weekly challenges hosted on alternate weeks by either Amanda or Sandy because they force me to think about what’s in my photo archives and how I might re-purpose them.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not join in the fun?

Friendly Friday

One from the vaults: Maddening men

This week I’m heading back to August 2014 where I had a bit of a whinge about my beloved hubby. Of course, we’ve not had any smilar problems in recent months for the obvious reasons. I am always thankful for small mercies.

My beloved has always spent at least three nights a week away from home. Hence the longevity of our marriage. Just recently that time has been spent in the UK and he typically flies in and out of Gatwick with BA. During the summer months he tends to catch the last flight back on either a Thursday or Friday evening. A flight which is frequently always delayed. He can arrive at any time up to two hours after the due arrival time and well past my usual bedtime.

For the next two weeks, he’s catching an earlier flight back. But as he departed on Tuesday there was some confusion on his part about what time he was due to land back in Nice. I asked him to send me an email to confirm the time. A not unreasonable request as my beloved likes me to be waiting for him as he strides out of Arrivals. That way he wastes no time at all. Bollards have rendered the airport much less car friendly but the advantage of a Smart is that I can hover in places other cars can’t, though less so mid-afternoon.

It’s Friday, my beloved is due back shortly, and he’s failed to convey the required information. So I sent him a chaser asking confirmation of his arrival time. He sent back an email telling me the plane was delayed by 30 minutes. Yes, but which plane? I have an arrival time of 17:25 in my diary but there’s no flight from Gatwick arriving at that time, instead it gets in at 16:25. I’ll have to extrapolate and see if that sheds any light on his probable arrival time.

My beloved is fond of saying we live 10 minutes from Nice airport – as the crow flies. Even early in the morning and late at night, a round trip takes me at least 40  minutes. Mid-morning or afternoon, you can double that thanks to the traffic. In the absence of clear instructions, I shall have to wait until my beloved sends me a message telling me he’s landed before going to fetch him. This does mean that he’s going to have a  bit of a wait. He’ll grumble, of course, even though it’s his own fault because once home he’ll either want to go for a ride or a swim while I prepare his dinner. You may well wonder what his last slave died of!