The fact that I haven’t been blogging so much is probably because living in Nice now seems to feel like, well, living in Nice. Sights that merited a photograph earlier on no longer seem out of the ordinary, and experiences that were new and surreal have become familiar (though admittedly often remain surreal). I don’t seem to have so much time either – there are friends now, property-hunting, teaching, the gym, the odd writing job, the in-laws, visits to the kinésitherapeute for my still-troubled knee… Life flows around us the way it used to in London, but with more light and warmth.
That’s not to say I’m blasé about living here. Sometimes I’ll be zipping along on my bike and I’ll have a sudden moment of joy at the sight of a particularly graceful palm tree, or at the smell of baking bread as I pass a boulangerie, or because I can see yet another colourful reflection in Joel’s sunglasses. Even though things are more familiar now, every day remains an adventure.
The big adventure now is that we’ve bought a balcony! It has a studio flat attached to it, which is very sweet, but we feel it’s the balcony that makes it perfect for holiday lets. Locations saisonnières are big business in Nice – not surprising since around 4 million tourists come here every year. The very first visitor through our door was a Jack Russell called Frankie. The first day we owned the studio (last Wednesday!) we went to see what the hell we’d done and, in the street, bumped into an English girl we recognised from the gym.
It turned out she was taking over the dog-walking responsibilities for a friend on vacation, because Frankie was being cared for by an old lady who couldn’t go far enough to give him the exercise he needed. And it also turned out the old lady lives right next to our new Acquisition, where’s she’s lived for 44 years. I love coincidences like that!
Right now the only work we’re actually doing on The Acquisition is getting quotes for works, which is pretty time-consuming in itself. We think it will be ready to go by Christmas. April to October is high season here (we’re still having lunch in T-shirts), but we’re hoping the sunny balcony will be a pull at most other times too.
I didn’t notice Frankie at the Animal Blessing Ceremony I went to with Toni and her dog Fudge yesterday. I’m not quite sure why they do it, but why not? All creatures great and small, after all… I don’t know what I expected, really, but I definitely didn’t expect to see that horse come clattering into the church. We had to sit down sharpish as soon as we arrived, because it was absolutely packed. Bigger dogs got to lie in the aisles, but smaller dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters were forced to share seats with their owners. The goats and sheep stayed outside. The cats next to me seemed pretty unfazed by their surroundings, and I had a twinge of guilt about not having brought Ted. I’m sure he wouldn’t have liked the howling, yowling and general hullabaloo at all, and besides, I think he’s an atheist, or at least an agnosticat. Considering Toni’s initially reserved take on the event, I was a bit taken aback by how rapidly she jumped up and stuck Fudge out into the arc of the holy water when it was being sprinkled by the priest… Poor Fudge has an ongoing skin ailment, and divine intervention might be more successful than the vet.
Ted will have to get used to Fudge, because – more adventure – in a few weeks we’re moving into the ground floor apartment in her rather lovely house – Toni’s house, to be honest. We’ll miss our wonderful balcony here, and the sunsets, but Ted will have a garden and we’ll have two bathrooms! We were getting a bit fed up with the mad and capricious landlady here. When you live next door to mad for a while, it rapidly loses entertainment value…