It turned into a lovely weekend this weekend, both weather-wise and socially, with the weather being just glorious, if a bit chilly. André was invited up to a friend's family chalet in La Clusaz with the mates in his band for a birthday celebration. He showed me pictures of the chalet and it was lovely - not modern at all but rather a rustic old chalet which has been in this friend's family for many years. It was actually located right on a ski slope, so I'm guessing it would be worth quite a bit if they ever wanted to sell, but that doesn't seem to be of any interest to them from what he was saying - they get too much fun out of the place. Because the ski lifts are still not running (to discourage crowds), they had a 90-minute hike up to the chalet carrying all their supplies with them - now that's dedication! I think he said there were eight of them in five bedrooms so they weren't crowded at all. While a few of the lads set up ski jumps, the others got the BBQ going on the terrace and started getting dinner ready. André was saying he now realizes exactly how unfit he is because he was the last one to make it to the top, but then he has to realize most of these kids have been doing this all their lives, and while he actually grew up in this region, he's spent the last 10 years living in Geneva "going soft" (as I so kindly put it). Still, it's motivated him to go to the sports shop to get kitted out with winter gear because - as he admitted himself - he was woefully ill-equipped for the weekend and trudging through 60 cm of snow! Ha, and to think I've got brand new snow shoes sitting downstairs and we never even gave them a thought? He did say though that there were loads of people in the resort snow-shoeing or doing cross country skiing - and even a few hardy souls lugging their skis to the top of the mountain in order to get just one run in! I'm pretty sure you wouldn't see me doing that - I couldn't imagine trying to hike up to the top of a mountain in heavy ski boots and carrying my skis! Those days are long behind me!
That being said I got a message from my friend on Wednesday asking if he could come over the following day and do the 8 km walk along the river I'd told him about!!!! I know!!! The daft thing is, I knew that once I'd got him out here just once on a local walk he'd want to do it again! He lives in France on the other side of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Jura mountains and they are also really beautiful, but I just don't think he's ever taken the time to get out there and explore. When we first came back from the U.S. in 1989 we lived in Switzerland for a year just below the Jura and there, again, we were out exploring every weekend with André as a little kid, so I know there are some lovely walks out there. This time we drove out to the lake at Thyez and then did a walk along the River Arve which had been measured out at 8 km. We managed to get a coffee in the town of Cluses (had to drink it outside and standing up of course) but it was a pleasant walk, totally on the flat, and we ended up walking for about two-and-a-half hours. I got in almost 14 km total that day, or over 17,000 steps, and was well pleased, but he kept banging on about how his phone mis-measured his km (most likely true, they say smart phones show an approximate 10% under-estimate in the distance walked), but I told him surely the only thing that mattered was that if you walked 7,000 steps a day last week then the aim should be to walk 8,000 steps a day this week. In the end I told him if he didn't shut up he'd get more steps in than he bargained for because I'd leave him there and it was 25 km back to my place! Still, we had a good time together and I sense he'll be more amenable to other walks once the snow starts melting. I also sent a quick message to one of the ladies from my sewing club asking if she wanted to go out walking sometime now that the weather has picked up. We had planned to do this last year (she knows loads of great hikes round here) but covid happened, then lockdown, then winter, so it's only now that we can really think about it. The end result is that I'm going over to her place for lunch on Tuesday and then we'll head off out for a walk near where she lives. She and two of her sisters get together every Thursday for lunch followed by a walk/hike, so she invited me to join them next time, which is really nice as I've known her one sister for several years through the sewing club and I really like her. So it seems like things are starting to fall into place again - or maybe that sense of optimism is just spring starting to break through!
Then yesterday I had a call from Carol, a lady I met when I went to Sicily for my 60th birthday. We clicked immediately and had plans to visit each other (she lives in London) before covid intervened. Still, it was nice to chat with her and make tentative plans to get together when it's safe to do so! She's already been vaccinated as the U.K. are way ahead of France in that respect (I'm still just a tiny speck on the covid vaccination list). That being said, my nephew was telling me that his partner had her first jab the other week and has been violently ill with it, almost to the point of needing hospitalization. That's not very reassuring as she's only in her early 50s but she already had covid at the start of the pandemic and was very ill with it for about four weeks. Thankfully she's getting better now, but it seems to bear out the theory that those that have already had covid are the ones having the strongest reactions to the vaccine!
In other news, yesterday I was out putting peelings in my neighbour's very swish new wooden compost bin (you know, after I melted the other one) and asked his wife how much they'd paid for it because I wanted to pay half. When she said €15 I thought I'd misheard, but it turns out that the local community of villages (they call them communes here) is offering rather nice wooden compost bins to local tax payers for €15, with the commune picking up the tab for the rest of the cost. Splendid initiative right, so I've gone ahead and ordered one of my own so that we can have two on the go at the same time. I'll have to make a concerted effort not to burn these two down!
I've also taken to watching various series on either Netflix or Amazon Prime for about an hour before I go to bed. At the moment I've watched the first few episodes of Grace and Frankie as I heard rave reviews about it, but as yet I'm not sure. It seems to be a bit "formulaic" (is that a word?) to me so far. You know, just take a standard formula, stick a few different actors in it and basically punch out another cookie-cutter comedy series. I hope I'm wrong but right now I'm not feeling it. You know, as much as I loved Friends, when you see something like The Big Bang Theory afterwards it just strikes me as "take six people - three men and three women - stick them in an apartment eating - unbothered by trivialities like having to go to work, write some smart-arsed script and voilà, you've got a new series on your hands". Anyway, I'll watch a few more episodes to see if it improves, otherwise I think I'll just move on!
Yesterday I was invited up to my former neighbour Valérie's place to spend a few hours playing board games. We haven't had a board game evening since last October, for obvious reasons, so seven of us got together at her place to play for a few hours. She's got a huge place overlooking the mountains so we were well spread out, but it was a nice way to spend a few hours, even if we did have to be back home by the new later curfew of 7 p.m. I stopped in at the supermarket on the way there as I had volunteered to bring the bread and cheese. Maybe I'm just becoming a crab but I have to admit it does annoy me when I see older kids sitting/standing in shopping trollies when they have no business being in them. Toddlers and babies, of course, but to see a kid of about eight standing in the cart with dad pushing him around kinda turns my stomach as I'm thinking "how much muck is on the bottom of his shoes and then someone's going to be putting their groceries in there afterwards"? There was nothing wrong with his legs either, as was proven when he pushed the trolley back through the mud to the trolley stand! I guess it's just one of my pet hates and there's not much I can do to change it so I'll just have to like it or lump it!
|The view from Valérie's living room!|
|Her back garden!|
So all in all it was a nice week, and an even nicer weekend. Last night I watched the programme Secret Eaters on TV, mainly because there was nothing else on. You know, all these people who can't for the life of them understand how they've put on so much weight because "they don't eat that much", and then the TV crew follow them around and secretly film them for them to see just how many calories they really were getting through. With that in mind I went on to the Myfitnesspal website to check out the calorie content of some of the stuff I've been picking at in the evenings these last couple of months - out of boredom really - and oohhh errr, I think it's a good job I've got some long walks lined up because man was I in denial!!!! So no more snacking for me I guess. André too from the looks of it. We'll see how long that lasts but so far (day 1) it's working a treat! Ha, just another how many days to go?