October 5: A few pictures per week

It’s been about 20 weeks since I last updated this blog. How can I restart after all this time, I say to Joel, who is sitting next to me on his computer, sniffling about the Chelsea-Arsenal result (2-0). He says, write about how you ran 10 miles last night training for a half-marathon; write about how you spent a whole day at a training course in French for volunteers, and understood everything; write about how far we can swim! He’s always so upbeat. When I shake my head, he shakes his, and says, write about Ted, then. But when I look, I don’t even have a recent photo of Ted, except this one:

Ted doesn't have to venture downstairs because he can watch it all from one of his chairs.

Ted doesn’t have to venture downstairs because he can watch the world from one of his chairs.

Joel and Ted are definitely my favorite subjects:

Joel on his bike on the Promenade on October 1, watching the warm-up for the Extreme Sailing Series.

Joel on his bike on the Promenade on October 1, watching the warm-up for the Extreme Sailing Series. Sunny here!

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…and next to his bike in Vieux Nice discussing the apparently endless purchase of the new rental apartment.

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…and on his bike during his beardy phase. He thought he looked too middle-aged and shaved it off, despite my protests.

What I should really be doing is writing about how, the longer we spend here, the larger it all becomes. I’ve spent a lot of time whinging about how small Nice is, but the Riviera is huge, and full of discoveries. Some, like the Irish designer Eileen Gray’s house, are hard to get at. I’ve been fascinated by this Art Deco building in Roquebrune Cap-Martin since we arrived. Gray designed it, but the architect Le Corbusier, who built a beach hut and some camping cabins nearby, painted murals all over the walls, which Gray hated. He also painted all over the tiny bar/restaurant next door. It’s a long story, but the house was abandoned, then squatted, and more recently was the subject of a bitter dispute between the organisations that were trying to restore it, so sat deserted for years. Things are moving forward now, but it’s still rarely open to the public, so when we lucked into a private tour a couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled. Sadly, the house feels cold, as though it was never loved, despite its fabulous setting, with an amazing view of Monaco. The bar next door was a completely different story, a shabby little place that couldn’t have felt more welcoming.

Eileen Gray's hammock at her house, named  E1027.

Eileen Gray’s hammock at her house, named E1027.

The  hammock seen from below.

The hammock seen from below.

Le Corbusier's camping cabins.

Le Corbusier’s camping cabins.

Joel in the bar painted by Le Corbusier, L'Etoile de Mer.

Joel in the bar painted by Le Corbusier, L’Etoile de Mer.

It’s funny, but you can feel if a house has been loved. There’s a huge place called Eilenroc in Cap d’Antibes, built in 1867. It’s surrounded by beautiful gardens, and has a sweeping view toward the strange rock formation called the Esterel, which is part of a familiar view from all along the coast. In theory, it’s amazing. Woody Allen has used it as a location in “Magic in the Moonlight”. But in reality, well, we decided not to buy that one either.

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Eilenroc on Cap d’Antibes, used in Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight.

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The view from the steps above.

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…and inside the house.

I think I have to say my favorite house is Santo Sospir on Cap Ferrat. The artist Jean Cocteau came to stay with the owner in the 1950s and asked if he could paint the hearth in the living room. Several years later he was still there, and had painted murals on almost every wall in the house. Joel loves this house too: we’ve visited it a couple of times. You could just phone up the man who lives there (he was the owner’s carer before she died), and ask him to show you around. I think now that the State has finally taken on the much-needed restoration, it will be a long time before you can get into it again. It’s so easy to imagine yourself there, on the terrace, watching the sun set behind Nice, sitting and chatting. It’s so easy to imagine Cocteau there too, and Picasso, and Matisse, having some pretty amazing evenings…

Dawn adn John in the living room of Santo Sospir.

Dawn and John in the living room of Santo Sospir.

Looking towards Nice from the now-ruined tiled plunge pool in the garden of Santo Sospir.

Looking towards Nice from the now-ruined plunge pool in the garden of Santo Sospir.

My favorite little bit of Cocteau's murals: sea urchins, a knife, and a fougasse (bread)

My favorite little bit of Cocteau’s murals: sea urchins, a knife, and a fougasse (bread)

Going up into the mountains behind us makes Nice feel pretty small. It can be 10 or 12 degrees C cooler up there too – very worth the hairpin-bends:

It's another era, another world up in the mountains.

It’s another era, another world up in the mountains.

Goats! Not wild, but still wandering wildly around...

Goats! Not wild, but still wandering wildly around…

Old goats in the mountains...

Old goats in the mountains…

Another development worth mentioning is Joel’s newfound interest in creating the perfect sausage roll. It’s great, but fattening.

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Perhaps my newfound interest in my Nike+ Running app will counterbalance my role as chief sausage-roll taster. Unfortunately the app crashed and didn’t record the aforementioned 10-mile run, but it did record my first-ever run in Central Park in September.

This isn't just any old running shoe - it's MY running shoe, on my hotel window looking out over 57th Street, at about 8.00am a few weeks ago. It was a work trip, but I got to see my sister Sarah, too - and to run in misty-early-morning Connecticut.

This isn’t just any old running shoe – it’s MY running shoe, on my hotel window looking out over 57th Street, at about 8am a few weeks ago. It was a work trip, but I got to see my sister Sarah, too – and to run in misty-early-morning Connecticut.

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Dog, Valbonne

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Liberation of Nice by the Allies commemoration.

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Volti statue, Villefranche

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Kids playing in the water mirror, Nice

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Tiny theatre in the Bellet vineyards, where we saw Pirandello’s Le Bonnet du Fou. What a lovely location!

VEGETARIANS LOOK AWAY! This was something a friend and I chanced upon last Sunday morning in Place Garibaldi in the centre of Nice. It was a a sort of cow-roast, a whole animal rotisserie’d overnight. They were giving away plates piled with rare meat, which was actually delicious, but what was left of the cow is not necessarily what you want to discover without any forewarning.

Free roast beast in Place Garibaldi. Apparently this took 12 hours to cook.

Free roast beast in Place Garibaldi. Apparently this took 12 hours to cook.

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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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One Response to October 5: A few pictures per week

  1. Harriet Salisbury says:

    Just got back from a week in Switzerland, and I was thinking of you there, while wandering around art galleries and looking at vertiginous views. I did wonder whether you had abandoned the blog – so glad you haven’t! Lovely pictures – it is clear that a diet of sausage rolls and running suits you both just fine. Love to Joel and Ted!

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