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Port Cogolin Holiday – Part Seven

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Friday 5th July 2013

I got up much earlier than Peanut had my bowl of fruit and fibre and updated the holiday blog. After this tea in bed was served to Lady P and another lazy hour was spent in bed because finally, I was on to a good holiday read. Dan Turgid Brown’s Inferno was well behind me now … Hang on a minute this was what I did on Thursday Morning is this the film Groundhog Day turned into reality and I am now in an unending loop of getting up and doing the same things each day?

No, your on holiday, taking it easy and not doing much of anything. Fair enough I thought so I carried on in the loop. We went to the pool and I checked out the totty count. It was still good. Then we got talking to some Danes who had an apartment here too and for some reason I began to think about Vikings and I realised I had forgot my schoolboy history, as I wasn’t sure where they came from exactly. Were they Norwegian? Were they Danes? I could not believe that I did not know. I asked Peanut – she would know, she did Latin and everything at school – but no she wasn’t sure either. I felt kind of disorientated talking to this family now, as I wasn’t sure if they might be descendants of Vikings or not. On balance, I decided that they must be because a silver Viking helmet with a few silver horns sticking out either side would definitely have looked right on the guy’s head. He went on to say he had another daughter in Manchester, not from this marriage, she was grown up now she was 28. That’s it I thought he was a Viking – as a young man he had invaded England raping and pillaging along the way – here was clear evidence to prove my case, in the form of a daughter with an English woman. Anyway, he seemed a friendly enough Viking and the daughters he had with him had upped the totty count by two!

Quite enough excitement for one morning, back to the apartment for a salad lunch, a circle of eggs and tomatoes with dressed green salad in the middle, laced with very thin rings of ham and tiny cubes of strong blue cheese. Very tasty, so I treated myself to a glass of rosé for good measure.

After lunch we headed to the beach at Gigaro. In terms of beaches we have four that we like to visit. L’Escalet and Canoubiers, which I have written about in this diary, our local beach which we walk to at Marines de Gassin and Gigaro. To get to Gigaro, you head out on the Gassin road from the La Foux roundabout where Geant lives. This is the D559 and you go to La Croix Valmer and take the third exit at the second roundabout, signposted Gigaro. This is a lovely beach and we always go to the far end, where it resembles a small cove rather than a long golden beach and it looks out onto the Porquerolles directly in front of you. It is all very picturesque and while a boat does not come in from the sea to sell you ice cream, there is a man who patrols the beach pulling a cart with big soft tyres to help it through the sand. Today the sea was as flat as the proverbial millpond when we arrived but three hours later there were a few waves kicking around to add to the fun.

Mrs P excelled again as she managed a small swim in the water, even in the choppy conditions. To be clear here, she always gets in the sea, she loves it, but usually with her trusty long polystyrene tube to keep her afloat, so when I say swimming, I mean proper unaided actual swimming, so I feel very proud of her. We should stay late on the beach really. We left at 5.30 and some people were only just arriving and it was still full of people. It must be lovely as the sting leaves the sun a little but the sea stays warm and I felt envious of the ones arriving as we left. But we had got into our routine so home it was with no traffic to worry about approaching the La Foux roundabout from the Gassin road.

We showered and read before dinner. Jack Reacher in The Enemy, is still good (thank you Dealmaker for lending us your copy) and so we had a late dinner of salmon steaks from the barbie with rice and ratatouille, some nice cakes and some cheese and crackers. Hmmm, Peanut said today by the pool that my scar on my tummy looks like it has stretched, I said it was because the operation was done twice but, oh dear perhaps it’s too much cheese!

Saturday is our last day before we drive home Saturday Night and Sunday, but we will end this holiday diary  with this blog. It’s been another great holiday!

Night night.

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Port CogolinHoliday – Part Six

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Thursday 4th July 2013

Yesterday retracing the steps of Biggles and Co was a very full day and we compensated today with a much more lazy day and stayed home all day.

I got up much earlier than Peanut had my bowl of fruit and fibre and updated the holiday blog. After this tea in bed was served to Lady P and another lazy hour was spent in bed because finally, I was on to a good holiday read. Dan Turgid Brown’s Inferno was well behind me now and I had finished my chick read novel, The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum (better than Inferno but still has overtones of a novel churned out from the all encompassing American School of Writing) so finally, I was into the World of Jack Reacher in The Enemy by Lee Child.

I love Lee Child’s style of writing. These are quick turn books that you can read in a day, or if like me you are a slow reader, a week. They don’t challenge you intellectually but they move along at a swift pace. You can believe in Reacher and identify with his harsh justice. He is a tough guy and his fights are believable, you don’t find him escaping through some secret passage that reveals itself at the last minute to some two dimensional Professor of Symbols, who plods through unbelievable plots, ultimately achieving absolutely nothing. Brown’s writing style is appalling too – oh shut up about Brown lad – they all know he is pants too! Now back to Lee Child. He even reminds me of Hemingway. The sentences are short, precise, to the point, to me very reminiscent of Hemingway. Here the brevity of language really suits the subject matter. Short clipped, matter of fact sentences, seem to reinforce the military backdrop to the storyline and help the story move along from one dead body to another at pace. So this morning once my head got stuck into the pages of a Jack Reacher there it stayed.

Breakfast had almost bumped into lunch, so we nipped to the Total Garage just up the road and got a baguette, which we fetched back and used to make a tasty lunch with bread, cheese, ham and pâté.

Then for no better reason than because we could, we shifted the location for our reading session and moved to the pool. Here there were a few more distractions and my reading was broken up with a few swims. I started to notice that the totty count around the pool was particularly high. In fact our pool persistently attracts rather lovely girls to its pool side and I have not really got to the bottom of this yet. I guess it’s just one of those little conundrums that you like to ponder over while on holiday. Whatever, the reason it is always scoring a much higher average than the beaches do. I was lying there in front of a lovely enticing blue pool, shading the sun out of my eyes with my Reacher novel, quenching my thirst with some ice cold crystal clear water and admiring the girls poolside. Life couldn’t get much better – and then, Oh my God she’s got a sister!

[Big Mistake – apologies I forgot to take the photo that needed to go here!]

Meanwhile, Lady Peanut was definitely benefitting from the R&R and her mind had begun to wander and the seed of a thought that had been kicking around in her great mind, began to be watered and it took root and flowered in the sunshine. With her iPad in hand she began to put her blossoming thoughts down in words and her new mini blog A Cat Named Enzo was born. I have to say it’s very amusing, so seek it out and give it a read.

So there you have a typical poolside scenario, of boy and girl. The Girl creates a blog about a cat named Enzo and I, the boy, ponder on exactly why we have such a high totty count by our pool. As good as the totty was though, I bet none of them could do a blog about Enzo the Cat as good as my own totty could! I lay there feeling smugger than ever!

There is only so much Heaven that a man can take, so encouraged by my sudden desire for an ice cold beer,we tore ourselves away from the pool and popped into Charlie’s to cool down. From there and armed with our trusty old tartan shopping trolley we pushed on to Geant and did a mini shop to see us to the end of our holiday.

Back home and dinner was paella for our main followed by cakes and then cheese. The paella really was delicious embellished as it was with mussels, king prawns and a large white fish steak and we made a mental note that next time they are cooking paella in those huge oversized pans at a local market we must pick some up.

So there you have it another super lazy day.

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Port Cogolin Holiday – Part Five

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Wednesday 3rd July 2013 – Biggles Fails To Return

Today was the day of our MINI road trip, which was a drive to Monaco to retrace some of the steps taken by Biggles and his comrades back in 1943 as they undertook a daring mission to rescue a Sicilian Princess from out of Axis occupied Monaco in the book “Biggles Fails To Return” by Capt. W.E. Johns. Biggles was my childhood hero and in truth remains my number one hero today and this is one of my favourite Biggles books. It is 70 years now since this action took place and we thought it would be fun to look at some of the places featured in the book.

The mission was top secret and Biggles had gone alone to accomplish the rescue but had got stuck there and was holed with the Princess up in Castillon a deserted perched village in the mountains behind Monaco, which had been destroyed by an earthquake some years earlier. His comrades, Algy, Ginger and Bertie knew nothing of this but became concerned after his prolonged absence. Air Commodore Raymond reluctantly put them in the picture and they quickly parachuted into Monaco to attempt a rescue. The French Pilot Ducoste, chosen for his familiarity with the area, crashed on the return leg, coming down between Peille and Baudon. He was captured but due to his injuries, he was first taken to the sanatorium at Peille for treatment. Ginger and Bertie got wind of this because they were hiding at the home of Ducoste’s Mother at No 6 Rue Mariniere on the rock in Monaco. Ginger went to Peille to attempt a rescue, while Bertie headed to Castillon. I won’t go further with the plot but action also took place in the harbour area, La Condomine and finally in the harbour itself, as the comrades made a daring escape by stealing an Italian Flying Boat moored there.

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Our mission then was to see if we could see any signs of the Sanatorium at Peille, see how the rebuilt Castillon now looked, work out where the Rue Mariniere would have been on the rock and assess where the flying boats would have been moored in the harbour. Oh and as if this wasn’t enough we also wanted to visit the car museum that houses the Prince’s personal collection of automobiles which is located on the Fontvielle port.

We set off at 8 in the morning, heading first for Peille in the mountains behind Monaco and our sat nav estimated arrival at 20 to ten. However, the Tour de France was setting off from Cannes and two motorway exits there had been closed and an accident had also occurred on the motorway. Traffic past Cannes was simply horrendous and it was almost eleven before we reached Peille. We came off the motorway at La Turbie, went through La Turbie then up through the mountains to Peille. This was the same route that Ginger took, though he did it on a donkey!

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As Ginger finally approached Peille W.E. Johns describes it as follows, “rounding a formidable buttress, he saw the village before him, a huddle of houses crouching on a lip of rock that hung like a shelf over the edge of the world.” We drove through a small rock lined tunnel hewn straight out of the side of the mountain to encounter the exact same view. Soon Ginger encountered a small boy on the outskirts of the village who confirmed to him that it was Peille and he asked him if he knew where the sanatorium was, the boy pointed to a building set back on the right on the outskirts of the village and sure enough there it was now named Maison La Retraite and clearly a more modern building. W.E. Johns’ description of Peille is as true today as it was then, it was a beautiful yet very real village and we enjoyed exploring it.

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We had driven into the village dropped down a narrow road and parked in the one space left, in front of a sleepy cafe in this sleepy village. Three young men were leisurely doing some building work and shifting some sand with spades. SilverBeast brightened their day as they all hovered round him admiring him and making approving sounds in broken English, though I have to admit that I thought “John Cooper Works” did sound good when spoken by a French man. After exploring the village we returned to the car and shared a huge pizza, which we ate on the terrasse in front of the cafe and enjoyed a prolonged chat with the cafe owner. We told home we were headed to Castillon next, he winked, smiled and said we would enjoy the drive, but enlightened no further. This amused me because in the Biggles book every time Castillon was mentioned, the comment was always, ” why would anyone want to go there?” This was because Johns refrained from revealing that it was a deserted village destroyed by an earthquake some years ago and now occupied solely by cats, until he had to. 70 years later of course the village lives, but here again was a little bit of intrigue at the mention of its name.

Peanut did the drive from Peille to Castillon and the narrow mountain road wound its way up into the clouds. The road had no barriers and the drop was vertical on the road edge in parts. The scenery was stunning and for me – full of pizza and a drop of rosé and captivated by Peille – the horrors of the long hour in standing traffic earlier was long forgotten. Peanut loved the scenery too but we had to stop the car a few times for her to enjoy it, as there were too many blind bends and vertical drops for her to take in much of the view.

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We passed St Agnes on our way to Castillon and that looked lovely too, though we didn’t stop, as there was still much to do. Castillon was disappointing on one level and yet not on another. It was a new village effectively. Small parts were built in the traditional style but most looked fairly new and as a result it was a bit characterless. It was tidy and pleasant enough but little of its history was obvious. This made it a tad disappointing after Peille. However, this pleased me on another level,in that I could reconcile this to the Biggles book, where 70 years ago it was all rubble and had been deserted with only cats as tenants and clearly everything I looked at was less than 70 years old! However, it was hard to picture Biggles hiding here in a cellar, when nothing of the new resembled what had gone before. Anyway, our mission was accomplished and it was time for the last part of the mission – Monaco.

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Whenever we go to Monaco we always head for the rock and park in the underground car park beneath the town of old Monaco. We dropped down to the rock from the Menton side, going through Monte Carlo, past the Casino and along much of the route of the F1 when it is in town, before skirting the rock to the car park. As with St Tropez, the Bentley Continental convertible seemed to be the popular car of the moment in Monte Carlo with a fair few outside of the Hotel de Paris. Mind you a prestige jeweller was putting on a sale at the hotel and we had heard it mentioned on Riviera Radio. Christiano Ronaldo was an ambassador for the jewellery maker and would be there, as would a number of other celebrities and in case I doubted the poshness of the event there would be violins too! There was, and I quote, “Something for everyone at the show, from 10,000 Euros to millions for rare unique prices”. We were going to pop in but we just could not find a place to park due to the high influx of Bentley Continentals!

With SilverBeast tucked away deep inside the rock, we set about exploring the rock. No 6 rue Mariniere did not exist. Either Johns had mis remembered the street name or it had been renamed in the last 70 years. From his description, rue Basse the first narrow street on the left as you look across the open area from the Palce entrance seems to be the most likely location and it was easy to picture this 70 years ago as Bertie and Ginger sought refuge at number six. There is a museum of old Monaco on the rock and I will try to visit it should I come back again and meanwhile I will try to find some old maps of Old Monaco on the Internet.

From here we walked down the long sloping steps that led up to the Palace from close to la Condamine. The injured Ginger had staggered up these steps to seek refuge at rue Mariniere 70 years ago. I came up these steps myself a few years ago on a very hot day and the first thing you see at the top is a defribulator on a stand. This is good because it’s also the first thing you need, once you have climbed the steps! This time though we were headed down the steps seeking the motor Museum on the Fontvielle side.

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The Prince had a fine collection of cars, but there was little information to be found about the cars. Also, when you do get information in French tourist attractions they are very reluctant to put it in anything other than French. Italy does not suffer this hang up we noticed on our recent adventure there. Also we had been spoiled by recently visiting the Mille Miglia Museum at Brescia, which in truth was a much more appealing car museum. Oh and finally, I am a bit worried about the Prince of Monaco, I’m thinking he is a bit stretched at the bank, he seems to prefer to deal in cash. Well I can’t think of any other reason why the car Museum does not accept cards of any kind, can you?

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After the Museum we had a drink at a cafe in front of the Museum before heading up la Condamine towards the Casino. Outside the cafe De Paris once more and still the place was made untidy by all these Bentley Continentals. A valet came out to park one that had been abandoned outside the front door, it’s engine still purring. I loved noting how, as he opened the door the steering wheel moved up out of his way and then dropped down again once he was sat in his seat. We gazed at the door of the hotel longing for a look at the jewellery, but I realised that the only way I would get in there in my shorts (in spite of them being Marks and Spencer’s finest) was if I was David Beckham.

Ho hum, we headed to the Galleries du Metropole where mortal people shop! We caught the bus back to the rock from here and returned to the square in front of the Palace and both pigged out on Nutella and chantilly cream crepes. They were lovely and at 5.50 euros each quite reasonable. Unfortunately our oranginas were also 5.50 each so when I handed the waitress a twenty euro note I was humbled to find I was two euros short! Flippin’ heck I can find watches that I like for 22 euros!

Leaving the cafe, we walked to the wall that edged the square in front of the palace. Piles of cannon balls and a few old cannon are placed here close to the wall, as they were when Biggles and Co were here 70 years ago. We looked down on the port with its lido that the F1 cars race past and across on the other side we could see the two jetties jutting out that the Italian flying boats were moored between, when Biggles daringly stole one to make good his escape from Monaco. It was time now for us to make our escape.

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It had been a long but fun day, our journey home was straight forward and traffic free. A white Ferrari flew past us just before a toll making an awesome noise and clearly doing at least 150 mph. He had to pause to pay at the toll and we were ahead of him once more. Again he zoomed up behind us and I pulled out of the fast lane sharpish into the middle doing 80mph. Again we were treated to a symphony of noise as he once more blasted past us at double our speed! Ok I know he was naughty, but we loved him for it, it was a magnificent sight. When we visited the Ferrari Museum at Maranello, it was Ferrari overload for me and they were all parked up, there was no Ferrari noise, no sense of occasion that the sight of a Ferrari brings and it left me a little cold. Seeing one out in the wild, playing its music through its exhaust and being driven as if it was the getaway car from a recent jewellery heist at the Hotel de Paris totally reaffirmed my love for Ferraris!

Home then, a cup of tea and bed where I dreamed of Biggles catching a jewellery thief in a fast car by intercepting him at a toll booth after climbing through a secret passage that led from the rock of Monaco to the toll booth. Oh no! It was all so plausible until that damned secret passage appeared. I curse you Dan Brown, Langdon is no Biggles and never will be!

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Holiday in Port Cogolin – Part Four

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Tuesday 2nd July 2013

We planned a quiet day today which started leisurely and included croissants for breakfast as the ants had ruined my Nut Flakes. 10.30 saw us poolside with the place to ourselves, but our peace was disturbed by some bickering Frenchman just the other side of the hedge, clearly having more than a passing conversation and although our French was by no means good enough to understand what they were saying, which was a real shame, we could decipher words such as “solicitor” and ” euros”, also it involved a lady who was not present. This went on for a quite surprising amount of time and only stopped on the arrival of more people to the poolside, when I think they realised they could be overheard! The conversation was so animated that if we just had a secret passage somewhere in Port Cogolin then put together, you would have had the makings of the next Dan Brown novel!

At lunchtime we packed up and headed to Port Grimaud for lunch, an omelette for Peanut as her holiday treat and ham and eggs for me. Then it was off to the beach – Canoubiers this time. This is always best done on a weekday as the parking is a bit sparse. However, we were lucky and were soon laid out in the shade as this beach has several trees on the beach itself, making it a very pleasant place to relax. It also has a sandy beach leading down to a very shallow sea and today it was millpond calm, so it was time for Peanut to test her swimming skills which don’t get much practice. In fact she didn’t swim at all last year, because for the first holiday I would not have been fit enough to save her if needed and the second one it was too cold in the water.

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She wasn’t too pleased about this as she is a proper baby even though she has swum in the past,albeit only a little. But she surprised herself – and me – by launching out and really quite enjoying herself in the sea. You have to understand that she is very scared of the water and this is no mean feat for her. She reckoned her new bikini helped as it has more frontal padding than the last one!

To avoid the coastal traffic, we went home by cutting through the back roads of St Tropez and going over the hills via Ramatuelle and Gassin. It’s a bit convoluted but you keep moving and as I have said before, it is one of our favourite drives through stunning scenery.

We went to Charlie’s Bar for dinner, but discovered that you needed to be there at five to get any, as really he just does food for the lads who work for him in his building business and we got there at 7.30, so we were too late. So plan B, we drank up and went to Baou Baou’s, the little restaurant on the port which we haven’t been to for ages, not for any reason, but we just tend to eat in the apartment when we are home.

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So we shared a pizza and had some wine and thought what a great place it is, with its very idiosyncratic furnishings (that’s the posh word for “eclectic mix of seafaring tat”) and it is really rather good food. The pizza we shared was a Pizza Royale with ham, cheese, chorizo and a fried egg on top, smothered with a pizza oil flavouring and it was without doubt the best pizza either of us has had in donkeys. After the pizza and the wine we then meandered back the 30 yards to our little home! A very lazy day but that’s what holidays are all about!

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Port Cogolin Holiday – Part Three

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Monday 1st July 2013

The days start early here, the sun rose over the apartments on the other side of the port and its beams burst through the half open shutters of our bedroom. Madame next door began to water the flowers on her terrasse, so I got up to be a part of this new day. It was about 6.30! Peanut lay in bed fast a zonko but I love this time over here and I like to use this time to update our holiday diary.

However my perfect world was spoilt as I discovered an ant invasion in the kitchen! They were in the top cupboard and were after my cereal, so it was a full cleaning operation as I took all the food out and sprayed everywhere with ant killer. Then I got out the sealant and sealed where I could see a few holes had appeared and then once satisfied put all the food back. Next time we are at Geant we will invest in some Tupperware, as its simple if there is no open food then you will not get ants. Anyway, I’m pleased to say that there have been no more since.

The Morning then had lost its leisurely pace,as I then had breakfast, then wrote our diary, then realised that having got the sealant out I might as well fix a few broken tiles on the roof below our terrasse. Peanut was disturbed in her beauty sleep and emerged grumpy and disorientated. Nothing I could do about that, so we got ready and began our day.

We left the apartment at ten and the plan was to look in a few shops then head to the beach at L’Escalet for lunch and an afternoon on the beach. We were looking for a coffee table for the terrasse as we use a small stool just now and we need something bigger for when biscuits are also served. I know, I know, it’s a hard life that we lead.

Anyway, Maison du Monde, GiFi and Leclerc all failed to reveal a coffee table and then I remembered that we had one in our attic at home that would do the trick, so August will see us fetching a coffee table from home to here!

We got to L’Escalet at just before twelve and had lunch at one of the two food vans on the beach front. I have mentioned this before but this is something of a ritual for us and we love our burger and chips in a baguette with a plastic cup full of rosé wine!

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The rich and famous head for the Plage de Pampelonne, which is a long sandy beach below Ramatuelle and in truth a five minute drive from St Tropez. I have put a map up, so that you can see where I am talking about. L’Escalet, is south from there and on the other side of Cap Camarat with its striking lighthouse on top. It has more to offer, the beaches are smaller and more intimate rocky coves and there are fantastic coastal walks from L’Escalet to the lighthouse or in the other direction to Cap Taillat. Cap Taillat is a large island connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of beach and is a large hill, almost a mountain really. We like to climb this in the cooler times we are here and the views are simply breath taking. It makes me think of Kirrin Island from the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton that I loved so much as a child.

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The drive here from our place in Port Cogolin at the head of the Golfe de Saint- Tropez is also one of our favourites. We head out on the D559 towards Gassin, take the D89 and wind our way up to the beautiful hill top village of Gassin (our favourite place for an evening meal) and then carry on to Ramatuelle, which is another chocolate box perched village which looks down on the Plage de Pampelonne and the lush vineyards that surround the area. From here we drop down to L’Escalet. This means we have had a beautiful drive through stunning scenery and completely avoided the heavy coastal traffic that can bedevil the road to and from St Tropez.

Today though was a beach day and our favourite beach is halfway between Cap Taillat and L’Escalet and is about a half mile walk from L’Escalet which puts enough people off to keep it relatively quiet. Our beach is a tiny rocky cove with a lovely strip of sand and turquoise shallow waters it is almost Heaven. It is a Greek God of a beach, almost epic in its beautiful ness. Swish speed boats anchor just afore the horizon to complete the picture. However, all Greek Gods have their Achilles Heel and this beach is no exception. There are a few too many willies on display for our liking! All bigger than mine of course which doesn’t help either and all attached to similarly middle aged men as me. It has to be some manifestation of a mid life crisis but trust me it’s not good. I will be sticking to fast cars and sexy watches it’s way more dignified.

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My lament on the excessive willy count though was cut short (I know a few other things on this beach I’d like to cut short) by the arrival of the ice cream boat! Now this is the mortal equivalent of being a God atop a cloud and being served grapes by beautiful topless virgins! Ok the ice cream lady wasn’t topless, but she was beautiful (one out of three ain’t bad) and her “grapes”were indeed divine. Nothing like a classic Mega Feast on a hot sunny beach, served from a mythical boat that appears out of nowhere, to complete your Heaven. Ok ok I’m waffling on. I liked my ice cream Ok?

Clearly by now, you think I’m waxing lyrical about this idyllic ice cream boat but I might add it also sells champagne at 30 euros a pop! We have got to give that a go one of the days when we are here!

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The swimming was lovely and the sunshine a delight, but you can have too much of a good thing so it was time to pop in to St Tropez for a beer and a mooch around the shops. Getting into St Tropez from L’Escalet is also a breeze and we hit no traffic whatsoever as we swooped into the car park in Place des Lices right in the centre of town and parked just opposite the Clemenceau Cafe where we had a beer.

Now, as you might have gathered, I am a bit of a watch enthusiast and I had spotted two watches at the Basel Watch Fair earlier this year that I knew I could finally see in the flesh in St Tropez. These were number one and two on my watch want list, so I was excited about the prospect of trying these on. Beer downed we headed for the jewellers that was in an arcade under the hotel Sube.

The first watch was a blue strapped, blue faced Frederique Constant Moonphase watch and in swift order I had it on my wrist and it fitted a treat. Slim watches suit my skinny wrists. However, the blue of the strap was very dark and the face while being blue was a very dark blue, almost black and not the vivid blue we had expected from the press pictures. We were both disappointed and I am afraid it was scratched off the want list.

The second watch was a military styled Alpina Big Date Pilot Chronograph which clearly aped a gorgeous IWC watch which is ten times the price of this one. They had a black one and a grey one but not the green one I was smitten with. Still, in the flesh I liked the style and I tried one on. The strap fastened fine, but immediately it was not comfortable. The watch was pulling all the time trying to twist around my wrist away from me. I remember a friend of mine RVW having this issue with a Hamilton strap which he ended up giving me because he just could not get on with it and this watch was doing the same thing. Sure, I could get another strap, but for me that is not the point. The military styled strap is part of the overall look and much as I like the watch it is just not comfortable on my wrist. Watch number two on my want list was just scratched off. That leaves a Breitling Chronospace Limited edition, which will have sold out by the time I have saved up for it in ten years time and a Longines Hydroconquest! Oh well it’s all part of the fun.

While exploring St Tropez a MINI Roadster went slowly past us looking darned good in this playground for the rich setting. A pompous Englishman oozing new money commented on it, as it went past, “I can’t see the point of that two seater when you can get the four door convertible.” I instantly thought, ” The two seats means I wouldn’t have to give lifts to knobs like you.” But I kept my mouth shut, he was bigger than me! I despair of people who let function win over design every time, it has strangled the car industry for years preventing beauty from teeming down from the super cars to the cars for the masses. Oh by the way the most common car in St Tropez this summer, without question is the Bentley Continental Convertible, we have counted 9 so far!

Home then and back to a bit of reality as we dined on the left over spag Bol from yesterday! Lol, I make it sound like I am hard done to! I’m not, it was gorgeous and dinner on our terrasse overlooking Port Cogolin is dinner in the finest restaurant there is!

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Port Cogolin Holiday Part Two

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Sunday 30th June 2013

We had a long night’s sleep, which is hardly surprising after driving through the night and the day began with tea in bed and I quickly wrote yesterday’s holiday diary.

Our first mission of the day after breakfast was to wander down to the pool and we accomplished this safely arriving at the pool – 50 yards from our apartment at 12 noon! Yes we had had a very lazy morning. We then spent a couple of hours poolside, swimming, sunbathing and reading before deciding that a spot of lunch was in order.

We decided to stroll around to Marines des Gassin, which is the next port along and a rather pleasant 20 minute stroll away. The weather was lovely and I had armed myself with our Fuji X-E1 camera for the stroll. I was enjoying shooting with the camera and was feeling rather pleased with myself because the evening before our holidays I had performed a software upgrade on the camera. This is not for the faint hearted, as the fear is that you will turn the camera into a useless empty box in the process. Anyway all went well and along my walk I played with the new second customisable button, using it to adjust the point of focus.

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We arrived at the restaurants at about 3 and as Marines des Gassin is a quiet port they had of course all just finished serving. Turning up 20 minutes too late appears to be a theme on this holiday which is odd for us, as anyone who knows me knows that I abhor poor timekeeping. If some one says they will be there at 4 then 4 it is. If someone says they will be there at about 4 then that means anytime between ten to four and ten past 4. Roll up at ten to five and one, you are rude beyond belief and clearly not an English Gentleman and two, you are very fortunate indeed, if I have actually waited for you. Perhaps it is my love of watches, I don’t know, but I really do consider poor timekeeping the height of bad manners. It is important to be punctual professionally (I never ever gave a job to a person who was late for their job interview) but with friends and acquaintances it is just as important. Trust me arriving “fashionably late” is a flawed concept. Fashion is different to style, you can have plenty of fashion and absolutely no style. Anyway I digress, but clearly I was enjoying my little rant on the importance of good timekeeping.

So, we were late for lunch and so we were punished. We got none. Tails between our legs we walked back home and stopped at the garage en route and picked up a baguette and some smoked ham. Lunch then at half past three was ham and cheese with the baguette and I opened a bottle of rosé to enjoy while I contemplated the need to eat lunch at lunch time!

Clearly this was a very lazy day and after lunch we had a walk around Port Cogolin, walking along the two riversides that edge the tiny port. With the sun shining and the day being very still it really was lovely and we played one of our favourite games, ” Which boat would you have if you were a millionaire?” We take this game very seriously and as with most things we think along the same lines – not too big but big enough to sleep on, sleek… – you get the idea. We used to play the same game looking at the fancy cars you see around here, but lately all I can get out of Lady P is ” I want a Porsche!” Well don’t we all dear.

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Walk done we spent the rest of the time before dinner reading. Peanut is ploughing her way through the drivel that is Dan Turgid Brown’s
Inferno. I insist she reads it just so that we can rant together about just how bad it is! Meanwhile I would feel guilty reading a book that I might enjoy too much while Peanut suffers at the words of Dan Turgid Brown, so I am reading a chick novel that someone left at the apartment called The Hour Glass Door by Lisa Mangum. It’s not a book to challenge you or make you think but its harmless enough and the idea that da Vinci invented a time machine that means an Italian born in 1484 has popped up in the present is infinitely more believable than Turgid Brown’s Inferno!

Dinner was a modest spag bol with some extra Peanut magic, which was delicious washed down with some suitably cheap local rosé wine.

Night night.

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Holiday in Port Cogolin – Part One

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Holiday in Port Cogolin June/July 2013

We have not long got back off our epic adventure holidaying in Port Cogolin and exploring Italy by following the route of the Millie Miglia, so we feel really spoiled being able to return to Port Cogolin so soon after. As a holiday diary this might be a tad dull after the excitement of the last one as this is definitely more of a beach and relaxation holiday. However, to pep it up a bit we have planned a day trip to Monaco on Wednesday where we hope to do a few slightly different things than the normal tourist with our day there.

Anyway this is our holiday as it unfolds.

Friday 28th June 2013

The routine for our holidays is almost always the same – Peanut has the Friday off work to do all the last minute packing and give a final briefing to her Mum who house and cat sits while we are way, while I go to work and wait for Peanut to collect me at half past four.

Work was busy but understandably still dragged a little for me as my excitement mounted. Finally, it was time to go and I was lucky and got away at quarter past so we were off to a good start! We had booked a Tunnel crossing at 8.20 which meant we had to get to the Tunnel at Dover at 7.50. This gave us 3 and a half hours to get there. On reflection this was perhaps a bit tight for Friday night travelling and getting around London and yes you guessed it we missed our Tunnel crossing! When we get back I am considering starting a Facebook campaign to have London moved to somewhere out of the way such as Lincolnshire! Seriously this is a great idea as 90% of the country cannot avoid London if they want to go to France via Dover. Paris by contrast is very easy to avoid!

The traffic on the M25 was shocking and really held things up. Peanut was driving and it meant she had to do the whole drive as we did not have time even to swap. Her efforts were valiant and courageous and SilverBeast our MINI JCW Coupe did his best too by using dynamic navigation to detect the jams and try to route around them. We arrived at 10 past 8, missed our slot and were informed that the next free one was 20 past midnight!

“Poo”, was not the word that was repeated often at this juncture so we tried to make the best of things and allowed ourselves to indulge in the Tunnel port hospitality system. This has three main features… First there is a Burger King with a 40 minute queue ( didn’t matter as we were here for 4 hours). Secondly, there is a WH Smiths which is open as you walk in but shuts 2 minutes before you escape from Burger King and thirdly there is a lookalike Duty free shop which of course isn’t, which sells perfume and drink at vastly inflated prices hoping you will buy it anyway as you are stuck here for 4 hours. Finally, to give the place a nice homely British feel, they also fill the place with raucous screaming children who have never been taught how to behave and like to play a game called “Can I scream loud enough to shatter the windows in this building before they collapse under the weight of the seagull poo?”

Finally we were rescued when a kind girl from behind the bar came up to us (by now we were almost the only ones left in the place) and said there are spaces on the next train if you are quick! We were quick, we got the train and were driving on French soil at Midnight British time, one pm French time!

Saturday 29th June 2013.

We had lost some time, which was frustrating but on the plus side we rarely have hold ups in France and this proved to be the case. We share the driving, and in the dark hours one of us slept while the other drove. It was raining and the skies were full of cloud. As daylight began to challenge night we saw just how moody these clouds were and still it rained. We had set cruise control to the motorway speed limit, we use an electronic tag to fly through the tolls and despite the rain we were making good time. Sometimes we stop for a little sleep in the car but this time we didn’t feel the need and like Biggles we pressed on. We reached Lyon just before 7 and got through the city with no issues. We were on the home run, so we stopped for some breakfast and then got back on the drive. A speck of blue poked through the grey sky, the rain stopped. A ray of sun broke through the cloud like a sword and began to fence with the cloud. It tore the cloud to shreds and we basked in sunshine and blue skies and reached Port Cogolin and our apartment at twelve.

The apartment was clean and tidy not just from our last visit but because some mates had been the week before so we were settled in and unpacked in about half an hour. One o’ clock saw me poolside and by three I had two swims and the beginnings of a tan under my belt.

Five saw us walk over to Geant the nearby hypermarket to stock up for the week and eight saw us eating salmon from the BBQ with rice and ratatouille.

Yep It’s official I’m on holiday.

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