Friday, 4 September 2015

I know what I did this summer

One of the joys of childhood, teenagerdom, and even your early '20s is the neat delineations of time those years bring with them. School years, GCSE results (or O Levels in my case, being a Gentleman of Advancing years), A Levels and university years all mean that many of us can pinpoint what we were doing in - say - 1984, far more easily than we can in 2006 (change years to suit your actual age). At least, that's the case for me. I can normally just about work out what was going on in each of the last 10 years by either remembering which major cycling event I did, and/or where we went on holiday. But those years don't generally come snapping back to my mind like those of 30 years ago do.

This summer, I sense, is going to be different. It's been extraordinary one way and another, and will stick in my head for a long time, not so much for any single event, but more for what I/we have packed in. Since we took delivery of 11 Le Millet in April, adding it to 9 Le Millet, I have (and a good number of these have been shared or done with Mrs M; hopefully they're self-identifying):

- had 6 weeks off work in France, with the rest at work in Staines, Newbury and Trowbridge

- gone a long way to getting the new French place in order. I've documented much of what we've done in previous blogs, so I'll limit myself to saying that, though by no means finished, it's now quite a pleasant place to be - and we've got some heavy duty pumpkins and squashes in the veg patch that I'm very much looking forward to harvesting when I'm next back there in October

- had a huge variety of visitors, of both the friend and paying variety. They've been British, French, Italian, good, bad and indifferent, and not always in the combinations you might expect. We've both joined the sharing economy by sourcing some of our guests from Airbnb, and gone back to the barter economy by swapping our glut of blackcurrants for neighbours' salad and potato surpluses

- seen the Tour de France, if not literally in our back yard, then certainly within a couple of kilometres of it, and a good portion of that stage on the roads that are delightful and familiar riding territory to me, less so for the vast majority of other Brits

- commuted between the UK and France at weekends. Not every weekend, but since the end of June more weekends than not. The logistics have been very kind to me; on the way out, I've been within 60 miles of Portsmouth, been able to get down there for the 3pm ferry to Caen, drive past the fairytale castle that is the beautifully-lit Mont St. Michel at midnight, to arrive 'home' at 12.30am-ish. On the way back, I've taken the 11pm ferry from Caen on a Sunday night, and been driving into work in Trowbridge earlier on a Monday morning than if I was travelling down from Cheshire. There have been some squeaky-bum moments, like the Sunday night the French farmers chose to block the Caen Peripherique, but overall, it's worked well. And it's felt exotic, driving on to French soil and its invariably warm evening air after a week at work

- been to two music festivals, again as previously blogged. Even two months on, with the benefit of reflection, the FFS (Franz Ferdinand & Sparks) gig remains the most remarkable I've been to in many a year

- eaten a mountain of fantastic seafood at a lovely restaurant in a gorgeous coastal town on our wedding anniversary. Thank you again Mrs M; what a treat that was - you even managed to get the weather delivered to order..

- done work I've actually enjoyed! Praise be to Hitachi for not being as ridiculously political and bureaucratic as many of the other places I've had the misfortune to work in recent times

- managed to squeeze in the hillwalking weekend with my son that he and I do each year in Shropshire. Each year has a twist, this year's being that we did the course in a single day, rather then two. It was tough coming on the back of a much reduced training volume (we ran a very sweaty 10 of the 27 hilly miles), but we managed. And a combination of Indian meal and B&B sherry afterwards meant we slept the sweetest sleep that night...

- had the rare opportunity to get my kids all together for a trip to France, which occurred over last Bank Holiday weekend. The timing couldn't have been better either for a bit of celebration - since the start of the summer they have, respectively, become the youngest female project manager at her grade in Network Rail, graduated from Exeter with a 2:1 in Philosophy and got a 1st in an Accountancy summer school, and got straight A*s in her A Levels, and so be accepted into Magdalen College, Oxford to do Politics, Philosophy & Economics. Apologies for coming over all Nauseating Christmas Card-y, but I couldn't be prouder. The icing on the cake though? They're all funny, nice people who get on well together, and who it's a pleasure to be around.  Here we are on the Plymouth to Roscoff ferry 8 days ago, just before they got me tipsier than I should have been...

So that was my summer. It was a good 'un, and one I'll remember in another 30 years....
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