Friday, July 25, 2008

A wreck!

No, I'm not describing the most fantastic week that I've just spent in Anguilla, but the next kind of dive that I've been able to notch up on my (rather short) list of diving experience.

Anguilla was truly amazing. The whole experience. Sunshine everyday, fabulous food every night, amazing wine, interesting people, turquoise seas and azure skies. Truly, it was an experience I will never forget. On the photo I took (above) you can see the hotel's private beach, the main house and the Michel Rostang restaurant (circular) which overlooks the bay on both sides.

The only obligation we had during the week was to be present at dinner each night, to talk to the eight other people on our table about whatever they wished to know about the wine, the pairings with food and all the other things that rich people care to ask about. I discovered an enormous capacity for making up ludicrously inaccurate descriptions for wine and food and nodding sagely while people gave their own (also wildly creative) opinions on the pairings. By the end of the week our world had reduced to whatever would be on the table that night, and during the meal on the fourth night, the criticisms began to creep into the conversation (not ours, we were like kids at Christmas every night!)

One particularly pompous Englishman let it be known that "the food and wine pairing in the starter was a disaster" - please! Nothing about spending a relaxing seven days on a tropical island (short of a shark sampling the way your leg tastes when paired with salt water) could be described as a "disaster." Losing your house, falling ill, getting fired; these are disasters. We took the light view and just rolled our eyes and changed the subject when comments like these threatened to spoil the incredible efforts that the six chefs had made.

There really was no need for criticism. The six chefs were really incredible and the food was consistently wonderful. It was like eating at a high-class restaurant every night, without the hefty bill.

The highlight of the days in Anguilla was the diving. We did 8 dives in total, over four days, and we did several different diving spots:

The Sarah
The Oosterdiep
Frenchman's Reef
Frenchman's Reef (west)

Crystal Reef
Shoal Bay Reef
Blowing Rock

They were all fantastic experiences. We did our Open Water diver certification in Egypt last year, and I thought I would have forgotten everything, but apart from a few water-in-the-noses panicky moments, it came slowly back and we enjoyed every minute of the dives.

G was especially proud to have seen a nurse shark, the first shark he has seen while diving. Unfortunately I was in front and didn't see it, and no sooner did it appear than it had left. He has another witness though, so I have to believe him.

So on Monday morning last week it was extremely hard to get back into the swing of real life. I did overtime at work and translations were coming in thick and fast, plus the jetlag really didn't subside until Thursday.

I can't complain though, only two more working days and it's holiday time again, this time low-key, in England and at home in Chablis and Paris.

Right, time to get that ironing done!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lucky Girl

I have just had a wonderful two days, I went to a hammam to get my skin buffed up ready for the sunshine, had dinner with friends, went to the beauty salon for a pre-holiday manicure and basically enjoyed a relaxing couple of days, with a bit of translating here and there.

Tomorrow, G and I are going to a wedding, a friend of his from school is tying the knot in the rather beautiful Pavillon Dauphine, in the Bois de Boulogne. I have never been there before, but from the website it looks really stunning.

Then, on Sunday our dream holiday begins. We're flying to Anguilla, a small island off St Martin, for a week of gastronomy and relaxation. G's Chablis wine estate exports to the US, and his US importer has organised a week where master wine producers and master chefs come together to blend their talents, with a dinner each night created by a different chef, using wines from the producers. The Malliouhana, where we're staying and where the event is organised, is well-known for its food (apparently) and so it's a safe bet that we'll eat well.

I'm very excited about the whole event, not least because I'll get to spend a whole week with my lovely G, but also because this kind of opportunity does not come up very often and it's vital to enjoy it to the full.

Our friends from New York are also coming to the island at the same time as us, so we'll be able to catch up with them and perhaps go diving together, sip cocktails on the beach and leave our busy working lives behind us.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go and sit on my suitcase.