The title might conjure up images of a swanky country-house hotel where I’m being pampered. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m at home, enjoying the peace, quiet and, more importantly solitude. My day isn’t dictated or driven by my beloved’s timetable and demands for three square meals a day.
I’ve been working away on Greig Leach’s and my next book: The Art of Cycling: UCI Road World Championships, Richmond2015, and various other tasks I need to get out of the way before year-end. I’ve been out riding most days, slowly re-building my kilometrage and strength. On my return, with no one clamouring to be fed, I’ve been able to relax in my spa bath.
After the deluge in early October, we’ve enjoyed an Indian summer with mild temperatures and hardly any rain. Typically, in mid-October, I make the move into 3/4 bib shorts, a long-sleeved jersey and my winter training bike. But here I am, in mid-November, in short-sleeved cycling shirt and shorts. I’m also still on my racing bike, largely because I don’t yet feel strong enough for the 53 x 39 chain ring on my winter bike.
I always enjoy a bit of me time, with no need to talk or interact with anyone else. It’s a detox of sorts. I have however acquired an uninvited house guest. Arthur, the lizard who normally resides on my fifth floor balcony, has taken refuge in the kitchen. On sunny days, he often pokes his head over the kitchen threshold but has never before, as far as I know, ventured inside. I found him the other evening, clinging to the kitchen wall, forced to become a clotted-cream colour to match the kitchen decor. It’s a colour which ill becomes him and makes his bulbous eyes look red.
I’m assuming Arthur’s taken refuge from the garrulous workmen currently, and noisily, repairing the building’s façade and re-painting it. They’ve spent most of this week on the scaffolding outside my flat from where they have serenaded me with songs in Arabic. Not one of the languages I understand so I’ve no way of knowing whether I should be pleased or offended. Though, it’s more probably the former, as I’ve assured the quality of their workmanship with a steady supply of my baked goods.
The extra freedom has allowed me to experiment with recipes that meet my regimen’s dictates and I now have a fridge full of vegetable-based dishes for the next week. I’ve also been able to finish planning and booking most of next year’s trips. I’ve ticked off numerous items on my vast “to do” list which has included ordering Christmas cards compiled from our vast array of photographs from this year’s trips.
I’ve been “threatening” to do this for years but never quite seem to have gotten round to it, largely because it’s so hard to pick six photographs which sum up our year. I have also ordered all of our Christmas presents, not that I buy very many, but it’s another chore off the list. I’ve also started on some tasks that have been on the list for so long that they’re looking to draw a pension.
Indeed, I have a number of pension-related tasks on my list, specifically forms to complete as I have decided to start drawing one of my many pensions in January. The provider gave me the option of an upfront lump sum and a smaller pension. The all-important question was whether I thought I would live beyond 78 years of age. My answer was an emphatic “YES”. I also qualify for a small French pension and the authorities have demanded a French translation of my birth certificate. No problem! I easily translated it and sent it off. But no, it needs to be translated by an “approved” translator. So I paid someone Euros 60,00 to do it. Word for word, it exactly matched mine, which gave me no end of satisfaction. Well worth the money.
My beloved returns briefly tomorrow afternoon before heading off to China as part of a British Trade Mission for ten deliciously long days, so I’ll be able to prolong my spa break!