It’s the second day and I feel fully institutionalised. Not that the stay has been free of problems as you will read.
Breakfast is a buffet of healthy options of cereals and fruit or hot dishes from the menu and maintained the high standard of cuisine. I continue to be amazed that working within the confines of low calories such tasty and varied food can be produced. Last Wednesday I had a delicious kosher dinner, most chefs produce a gluten free option, so I’m impressed by this inventiveness.
Meals are taken in the same restaurant and most guests wear a white robe which gives the disconcerting air of a lunatic asylum. I would guess 80% of guests are female but there is a group of lads that talk about rugby and Quins. I must contact Derek Williams as they might be players.
I had my first massage at 9. The masseuse might have made the East German Olympic team of the sixties as a shot putter. She was at least three stone overweight and favoured the pummelling style of massage. A swim in the large pool and read of the papers and it was soon lunch. This was another buffet although the chef prepares a hot dish from a station. Yesterday it was a wrap, today noodles, both delicious. Taking no wine, I feel less guilty about eating copiously especially as it’s all low calorie stuff.
One of Daffers mantras is that a hotel should take the time to show you how everything in your room works. Too true. At various times I had housekeeping up as the radiator ceased to generate heat; the cold water tap produced boiling hot water; I could not operate the dvd. I am sure they marked me down as some curmudgeonly Victor Meldrew, probably someone not coping with absence of alcohol. However I became frustrated that reception did not answer the phone, you had to leave a message with housekeeping and I had to present myself personally at the front office to complain. A 15 minute initial instructional tour would have resolved all.
Dinner was again excellent: carpaccio of beef, sea bass on a bed of saffron rice and a baked apple with raisins. Diners were out of their white robes but it was strange atmosphere. There was some noise but you did not feel you were in a conventional restaurant as there was little ambience. I had my first glass of alcohol, an Australian Chardonnay. It was as welcome for its taste as its rarity.
Neil Rosen had prepared a compilation of French DVDs for my evening entertainment. It started with Untouchable a moving comedy of a young street kid, a Senegalese (Omar Sy) from a sink estate who cares for a millionaire (Francois Clouset) paralysed from the neck down. They form a touching relationship. He liberates the millionaire not just from the constraints of his paralysis but also a formal life style that lacks laughter and exuberance. The kid becomes a more aware, responsible adult. It did remind me of the deep rapport my late father formed with his carer and the unlikely but rewarding relationships these can become.
I was notified by trainer Seamus O’Cahill that my dog was running at Hove. Poor little Jamie, whose name he will bear, was in the doghouse himself as he was was held responsible for the leaving of a suitcase on a crowded train as he distracted his mother. I know from bitter experience how easy it is to be absent-minded on a crowded train. He tends to take reproach as letting his beloved mum down which only saddens him – and me – all the the more. So I was delighted to impart the news that his dog won handsomely, his third successive victory. John Pargiter also texted that after a series of reverse forecasts, which I did not frankly understand, built around the dog winning, his household income was replenished. Much as I’m benefiting from this recharging of batteries I certainly would have enjoyed being present to witness the victory.