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JENNY ECLAIR: HAPPINESS IS AN ELECTRIC BIKE IN ILE DE RE

Following a huge 48-date tour, Grumpy Camberwell resident Jenny Eclair headed out to Ile de Re to relax, and discovered the key to happiness…

I’ve been having a rest. The Grumpies finished a 48-date tour mid-July and I decided that I would slob for at least a month. Turns out once you get into slobbing mode, it’s pretty tricky to get out!

Part of my post-tour recovery time was spent in France. Have you been to Ile de Re? Chances are, if you speak French and are a tiny bit posh, you have. It’s an island connected to the mainland by a bridge that looks like a dinosaur’s back and, basically, once you get there, there is nothing to do. Except cycle!

Now, I’m not a cyclist. I live at the top of one of the steepest hills in London – I’d need oxygen half way up, I’m scared of big lorries and I’m a lazy cow. On Ile de Re you have no excuse, the island is entirely criss-crossed by bike lanes and the place is pancake flat, renowned for its salt plains and its pyjama wearing donkeys.

Ile de Re

Ile de Re – the land of bicycles and pyjama-wearing donkeys

Yes, pyjama wearing donkeys. Folklore has it that when the donkeys worked on the salt plains and got bitten by horseflies, their legs became so sore that the only solution was a pair of protective pyjamas. I love a donkey in a pair of blue and white pyjamas, but I was too big to hitch a ride on one of them, so we hired bikes.

Have you ever ridden an electric bike? It takes all the boring bits out of cycling – all that huffing and puffing

Only we hired electric bikes. Have you ever ridden an electric bike? It takes all the boring bits out of cycling – all that huffing and puffing. You just sit there and go. They’re rather discreet too, apart from being heavier than a normal bike, no-one can tell at a quick glance that you are, in fact, cheating.

I had a lovely time on Ile de Re, home of the hollyhock, but my favourite memory of the whole holiday is sitting atop my electric bike and watching the expressions of deadly serious 16-year-old boy cyclists grunting away on their racing bikes while being overtaken by fatty Eclair, still casually chatting over her shoulder to the old man who, despite being 106 with a smashed up knee, was doing around 90 miles an hour just behind me. Ha!

Jenny Eclair scopes out the new Tate Modern extension

Back in London, Jenny has been scoping out the new Tate Modern extension

Back in London I have been catching up on my galleries. OK, here’s the thing, the new Tate Modern extension, The Switch House, is a bit of a mess. On the one hand I quite like its urban underground slightly 80s car park feel, but the lifts are slow and small and make a terrible whining noise. (Or was the terrible whining noise coming from me when I realised that the only way up to the 10th floor was to use the central staircase?)

What a terrible shame to have spent all that money and forgotten the basic principle of ‘moving people around it’. Of course what we all really need is an electric bike that does stairs.

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