Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mumblers on tour

On Sunday evening I rolled home in the late afternoon from a long trip back from Brittany. Our band The Mumblers had a gig in a little village just outside Vannes. It was actually really fun to take a van with the band and drive out to do a gig. Two of the band don't drink, none of us smokes and there were no groupies. Apart from that it was totally rock and roll.

The place where we played was a tiny Breton village called Le Gorvello, where a charming American couple run a café with a bed and breakfast. We did our gig outside the café, with the accompaniment of a rather grouchy neighbour who complained about the noise during our sound check (a rather gentle Beatles number). With that brief glitch we started off a little tentatively, but went on to do quite a good show.

The lovely American guy took a hat round the audience and we managed to gather up a rather sizable collection of coins. Of course we don't do our gigs to make profits, it would be hard if we did, but it's always nice to have a bit of brass to line the pockets.

Back to work Monday and I'm already in the train-train of city life. Looking forward to a weekend in England on Friday.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back Down to Earth

After a hectic holiday, here I find myself back to Paris, alone in my flat waiting for Monday morning and my return to work.

G has been invited by a client from the wine business to the opera in Glynebourne. Apparently this opera is extremely famous, but despite being very much a classical music fan I've never heard of it. G's family's wine is on the list for the restaurant at the opera, so he's going in a professional capacity, but I'm sure the four course picnic will be well worth it, let alone the world-class singing.
He was more worried about having to wear black tie, but that's him!

Egypt was amazing. We dived everyday except the first and the last, and saw some amazing things. The Red Sea coral reef is incredible, stretching along miles of coastline and going deeper than any scuba diver can hope to go. We did a PADI Open Water certificate, and had to do all manner of exercises like taking off our masks and putting them on again, emptying them and continuing (my personal worst). A lot of practice with balance and breathing and how to float properly in the water.

The feeling you get from literally swim-flying over pink, orange and purple coral gardens surrounded by tiny and huge fish is just like nothing you can feel on the ground. The fish are so colourful and all such different shapes it is stunning how nature manages to create such differences. I didn't have an underwater camera, but you can find typical red sea fish here. We saw most if not all of the fish photographed on that site.

So, now I am totally addicted to scuba diving, and am on the look out for our next diving trip.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sharm El Sheikh

So, I'm off to Egypt today! In about an hour or so we're leaving for Roissy airport to fly to Sharm El Sheikh. I have to admit now to being a little nervous about the flight, since it's been several years since I've taken a charter flight. I suppose the budget airlines I regularly use between Paris and East Midlands are no better than a charter company, but it just feels more risky somehow.

We should arrive at our hotel at 11pm this evening, and currently the temperature in the resort is 40°C. I'm looking forward to escaping this cold weather - in Paris at the moment it's about 15°C.

Our diving course starts on Monday morning, so we have all day tomorrow to acclimatise, discover the surrounding area and perhaps go on a snorkelling trip. I think it's a good idea to get used to the idea of being underwater - I usually take half an hour or so to relax with the feeling of being underwater. If it's anything like Cuba I just can't wait to get going!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Brits at the Beach

Today I'm on Day Four of my family visit to Yorkshire. As it was lovely and sunny in the last few days my dad suggested a trip to the seaside. Great, I thought; a chance to re-sample mushy peas just to see if I can't stomach them without vomiting (I still can't, but the fish and chips were delicious). In fact it was quite nice to drive over to the seaside, it gave me a chance to catch up with Harry and his friends on the journey - the seventh book is proving just as exciting as the other six.

Seriously, the beach was lovely and wide with plenty of space for everyone, so the feeling of being squished in like sardines that so often prevails on Saturday beach visits was definitely absent. We didn't spend time sitting on the beach, fortunately, because there was a rather bracing wind blowing around hair, clothes and sand. Ensconced in my polo-neck sweater the temperature was quite manageable.

The thing which amused me the most about our day in Filey was the other people there. I have never seen so many mullets in such a small space of time; also bleached hair and fat hanging out of beige shorts. I'm trying not to judge, obviously, and there is nothing wrong with bleached hair when done tastefully, it's just when taste nips out the door for a while that you wonder if these people are not extras from Little Britain.

Another thing that I noticed today was that Brits at the beach are constantly surrounded by their entire collection of wind-breaks, picnic baskets, spades, buckets, plastic chairs... the list goes on. One set-up we saw would rival Everest base-camp for organisation and availability of provisions.

What intrigued me most was that it wasn't even warm enough to swim - so all the towels are useless, there are restaurants only 10m further up the beach and, well, all that stuff is just ridiculous.

On Monday we're taking Chloe (see my facebook page for a photographic update) swimming for the second time in her little life. I can't wait to see those smiles and hear her little giggles as she splashes around!