07:30Am: A later wake-up than my planned 5:45AM. I pick up my Blackberry hooked up to its lifeline, and I summarily check the hotel Duty Manager log before heading out of the hotel to walk Maurice – nothing major to report. I am one of the remaining few hotel managers in 5 star city hotels to still live in the hotel with my family, and that includes Maurice the dog.
A cup of Lemon Ginger Manuka honey infusion and a couple of whole grain toasts with German Brunswick ham with French butter lightly salted from Waitrose (not from room service) quickly downed and I head toward the lift in my running gear with Maurice in tow.
The tea room I am crossing is not yet fully lit and the early riser coffee is still set on its trolley. The night shift is ending, a few sleepy eyes a few not-yet-totally-awake eyes greet me with a smile.
Maurice does not like running, not a practical dog for an avid runner. Princes Gardens just opened its grills. Not a soul to remind me to keep the dog in leash. I start to jog, warming up. Maurice wanders. I finish the loop, Maurice is lost. I whistle, he runs (yes!) toward me as if he had not seen me for days. We hobble back together to the hotel.
The Sunday Times is delivered by the apartment door; I give Maurice his special healthy teeth better breath fake bone and go through the Times.
08.30: time to finish gearing up for my run. Off we go; another long run, training for another marathon. It’s windy, from the West, not yet wet but could be, would be soon. Stockbridge, Water of Leith, Portobello, Musselburgh, Cycle pathway back to Arthur’s Seat – what a scenic route. Back to the Royal Mile, North Bridge and right to The Balmoral, majestic as always. A fast sprint to finish off and I arrive at the main door, drenched and breathing hard. The doorman offers me a towel. Our regular guest Mr W. is checking out. He waves at me. I can’t avoid him despite my condition and look. Big smile, relaxed posture, he enjoyed his stay, good. “How was the run Franck” he asks. “Cold and wet but enjoyable thank you, what about your stay?” I know the answer. Time to quietly disappear from the lobby frenzy to the gym for some stretching. The spa is busy.
Band back to the apartment, the bedroom door of my 15 year old Arthur is still closed. It is 11am. A good time for him to start the day...no? My 13 year old Cesar is in his room playing so is my 6 year old Celeste drawing in front of the TV. At least one is still happy to see me in the morning.
Before the shower, cool down and cooking. Starting with a banana shake, that’s the cooling part. Baby back ribs are marinating since last night. For the ratatouille: aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes, onions, bell pepper, garlic all need to be washed, diced and sautéed separately in olive oil before simmering happily together with Provencal herbs.
The ribs walk happily in the oven at 12:00. Just enough time for a shower before the next rib basting protocol. The smell of Mediterranean cuisine lights up the menacing Scottish sky. Time to stream my favourite car programme whilst I prep the “jump potatoes” (a happy kid’s translation from the French “Pommes Sautées”). My goodness is that car for real? One day maybe...Basting again, look at this beautiful lacquer forming.
“Cesar, La Table!” I shout through the corridor. French is de rigueur at home. I hear a displeased: “Why me? Why don’t you ask Arthur”...so much for authority, for education, and so much for French. Time to open a Cote de Provence Rosé... A few layers of marinade later, the kitchen smells like any kitchen ought to smell for Sunday lunch. “A table!”
Relished by a little excess of running, food and probably wine, I disappear in the living room on my Le Corbusier recliner. It’s shut-eye time. My second night only lasts 20mn as Maurice reminds me by tapping my arm and licking my fingers that my hand has a purpose, petting him... You’ve got to love dogs.
I promised Celeste we would go to the park to ride her bicycle, sans les training wheels...and to my wife Salima that we would hit the golf practice. We all agree on the programme: golf practices first, ride after... You need to keep some leverage with the little one.
Here comes the sun, tadadada... Isn’t Scotland gorgeous under the sun? Only a few shots are needed to kindly remind me that I am a better runner than golfer. No worries, it’ll get better, this country is the cradle of golf, and practice apparently makes perfect.
Celeste is bored and eager to migrate toward the park. After a few paternal pushes (and sans training wheels s’il vous plait!) Céleste pedals for freedom. Yes! A very proud Papa.
Time to head home, the lobby has calmed down, the staff are more relaxed, waiting for the last Sunday arrivals and giving the final touches before dinner service. In the apartment, I check on the boys, their preps. “Oui papa, it’s all done”, yeah right...
6:00pm: time to cook dinner...or for once, maybe call room service.