Living in the South of France always sounds quite glamorous and I think some of my friends in the UK fondly imagine that I spend my days lying by a crystal clear swimming pool sipping cocktails in the sunshine, or shopping for chic outfits in the designer boutiques in town. I have just caught sight of my reflection in the patio window and felt it was time to put the record straight! (My arms aren’t long enough to take a ‘selfie’ of the full glory of what I am wearing and also the more I stretched my arms out, the more wrinkles appeared in strange places, hence just the headgear). Today is a typical example of my ‘unglamorous’ life – I am wearing walking boots, old jeans rolled up to the knees, a strappy top (it is 25°), and finally, a woolly hat (very hot but due to vanity as I had my hair done this morning and it is very windy!)
I’m sure when the hairdresser asked if I wanted hair-spray applying that she assumed I’d be going out somewhere nice, but the reality was that I was having to attend to a flood in the pool-house. (And when I say ‘pool-house’, it is actually a small cave-type area down some steps where the machines that work the pool live) (and also frogs). Sadly the flood was entirely my fault – I had done nothing about the vast amounts of leaves that had collected on the steps so after 2 days of wind and then a tropical monsoon-like downpour last Wednesday, I should not have been surprised to find that the drain was blocked and there was water all the way up to the second step. I spent most of the afternoon playing ‘hook a duck’ with all the pool cleaning products that were floating on the surface and then digging out leaves with a rake. I actually got a bit scared when I suddenly heard a mechanical noise start up (it was only later when I finally gave in and called the plumber that I found out there was a pump down there).
The ‘uniform’ of jeans and walking boots is quite normal for everyday life now as most days involve a walk round the vineyards or to the village for bread or just playing ball in the garden with the Loulou the dog. On the days that I go to work she looks depressed the minute she hears the sound of heels clattering across the tiled floor as she knows that ‘noisy shoes’ mean I will be leaving her! And when I say ‘heels’ I don’t mean stillettos – many of the streets here are cobbled and taking clients to view houses often involves walking around gardens and up slopes so the ‘sensible heels’ that my daughter used to laugh at me for wearing are now the norm – as are trousers (all of us in the agency have learned the hard way that you don’t wear short skirts on viewings as many properties have strange staircases, if not ladders...)
Actually on reflection I admit that life here can be glamorous – just the other day I had a lovely lunch next to the beach at a sea-food restaurant in Collioure and there are many occasions where you will find me lying on a lounger by the pool – but just remember that before I have poured the cocktails I will have cleaned the pool (of frogs and dogs), balanced the chemicals, cleared the poolhouse of leaves (HaHa) – and I bet nobody feels sorry for me!