February 6: Lost for words (but not picture captions)

I used to think, working in London, that the day when I simply couldn’t fill the white space in front of me with words would eventually come. It would be like putting my hands up or waving a white flag, giving in; relief and liberation. It never happened, of course. I never wanted to let anyone down, and, more importantly, I wanted to get paid. Now, however, I’m indulging myself, feeling a bit lazy. I’d rather fill this particular space with pictures.

My mother did this little watercolour, and it was thumbtacked up in our kitchen in Rockland County while I was growing up. After my mother died I had it framed, and it was one of the very few things that came in the car with Joel, Ted and me on our original journey from London to Nice.

When we drove down again after Christmas, we had these cushions in the back of the car, along with lots of other little favourite things from home. Seeing them all squished up on what was first our bed and is now our sofa makes me happy.

Place de la Catastrophe in Biot. In 1898, three buildings suddenly fell down during a special dinner celebrating some poor kid's communion. Scores of people were killed. Now the spot is a pretty square, but it makes me shiver. If three houses could fall down just like that, so could ours in London, especially as the neighbours are doing a big extension which involves removing the whole roof!

Our house in London next to... no roof - sent by our neighbour Jane, even more surprised than us.

Andy's film club: eight blokes who came to Nice for the rainiest weekend for years, and STILL had a great time. Andy pointed out that Nice has a good number of cinemas showing a wide range of movies - must be true, as Joel and I go to the cinema at least once a week now, an old habit we'd let slip in London.

The view from the Archet hospital parking lot - my sister in law Daniele has been in there for three weeks, and they STILL can't figure out why she has a dangerously high temperature and difficulty walking. A big concern and preoccupation for all of us.

This woman was responsible for handing out the mimosa at the Mimosa Festival in Biot. I love mimosa and its vanilla scent, so when she told me she was sick of handing it out and I should just help myself, I went overboard grabbing branches.

So now we have mimosa all over the flat.

At the market in Ventimiglia in Italy, Joel and I chanced upon a new food we'd never had before: punterelle. They're big on this in Rome, the woman selling it told us - it's the little tips of a chicory/endive kind of thing. It's very crunchy. We ate it with - as the seller suggested - a dressing made with olive oil and anchovies.

Crunch crunch crunch

Parked near the market where we bought the punterelle: an original Fiat 500. My favourite teacher of all time, Jerry Leonardi, drove a car like this in Spring Valley NY in about 1974. How cool was that?

The trunk of a palm at the Nice Botanic Garden.

The Gare du Sud, the old train station just by the restaurant. An enormous project to turn it into a sort of Covent Garden/Faneuil Hall affair was due to start this week, but ... maybe it was too cold? In any case, the mayor himself came to have lunch at the restaurant, which did not go unnoticed by the rest of the quartier. My sister in law Michele got the whole kissy-kissy when he arrived, so it was worth waiting outside for him and his team with her in the cold... I acted like I always sat there reading Nice Matin while freezing...


About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
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