April 11: Squeals on wheels

IMG_0819 Look: this is the sort of totally ridiculous thing you see in Nice as you’re riding along on a bike. I think that the red ambulance must have been screaming down the  North/South Tramway, and the white car was trundling through an East/West green light. My friend Nadia sides with the white car: it had the right of way. I disagree: if you hear a siren, you are obliged to proceed with caution, a rule that was apparently ignored here by the white car, leading to this sad accident.

This happened a while ago now, when I was on my way to meet my friend Julie. It worked out just fine, thanks to the foolishness of either ambulance driver or white car driver. Julie, stuck on an accident-stopped tram, got off a few stops early. We met at a previously untried bar, which just happened to have, that early evening, a wannabe-Ibiza DJ practicing his sets. We were the only people on the what-passed-for-a-dancefloor at 6pm, but we danced for Britain, France, and Europe as if it were 1999.

My bike outside a student's apartment building

My bike outside a student’s apartment building

In London, I was probably shouted at three or four times over a period of years while on my bike. Here, it happens every day, several times. People beyond France talk about the Mediterranean temper as if it were something exotic and interesting, but let me tell you, it ain’t. It’s a result of being childish, undisciplined, selfish and lazy. It’s also due to the fact that the Municipal Police, who are responsible for parking and traffic, employ the most astounding cronyism. They only give out tickets when they’re a bit bored, and never to anyone they know, including their butchers, their children’s teachers, etc etc. It means that no one pays any attention to any rules of the road whatsoever, because they don’t have to. People park wherever they want, jump lights, speed, drive on the wrong side of the road, overtake recklessly… If someone is double-parked in a narrow street, particularly if it’s a young man, he’ll challenge other drivers to squeeze by. It never occurs to them that they are inconveniencing law-abiding drivers: the challenge is the thing. Why? I can’t figure it out. I just wish I still had my 16-year-old Seat Ibiza, the car I had in London, which had no working features other than brakes, steering wheel, and radio. I would smash right through those parked cars, and then, looking at the dents, say in my best, politest English accent, “Oh dearie me! Whoops!”

Toni, our landlady, has returned from overwintering in England, and Villa L’Aimée is buzzing. Her dog Fudge is also back, much to Ted’s dismay. There is a territorial thing going on, but Ted has the upper hand as he can sit on window sills and look down disdainfully. The back of the building is covered in scaffolding, around which Joel and I have to do acrobatics to wriggle out. It was supposed to be down a month ago, but Toni was let down (understatement!) by a painter, and there’s not much she can do about it, so we just have to put up with it.

Big sunny balcony for holiday rent!

Big sunny balcony for holiday rent!

Our rental apartment is looking fab, and is now booked for quite a few weeks. We had such non-South-of-France weather for a while that I actually had to wait weeks to take good blue-sky pictures to put on the internet. The bottle of rose and two glasses is a cliche but necessary shot for marketing purposes, apparently. Just what are you supposed to do with two glasses of rosé, however, once the pix are shot?

Joel and I in Golfe Juan

Joel and I in Golfe Juan

We're going through a quails' egg period...

We’re going through a quails’ egg period…

John and Dawn came to visit! Here they are in Santo Sospir, an amazing house decorated by Jean Cocteau.

John and Dawn came to visit! Here they are in Santo Sospir, an amazing house decorated by Jean Cocteau.

We are all doing our laundry.

We are all doing our laundry.

The quails' eggs appear in the Cobb Salad that has become a guest staple in our house - thanks to beloved Cat McLoone for the inspiration!

The quails’ eggs appear in the Cobb Salad that has become a guest staple in our house – thanks to beloved Cat McLoone for the inspiration!


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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