Thursday, 30 April 2009

NDA Safe Update

One of the first things I did today was sign a non disclosure agreement. This is standard procedure for a Yacht like Octopus which contains many secrets. So I can't actually talk about anything that went down on board.....


But this is how my day started. Walking towards the beast.



And what a handsome beast he is.

I did crack some choice jokes today and I worked bloody hard. I am absolutely stuffed. The good news is that I have work until the end of the week.

SUCCESS !!

The really good news is that my lovely wife is going to have some work next week on the inside of Octopus

SUCCESS !!

Life is truly what you write about it.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

What good luck

A stroke of good luck brought Octopus to Antibes last night. Octopus is the worlds eighth largest Super Yacht and it dwarfs everything else here.



The really good luck is that my nephew is on board and how cool was it to rock up the gang plank, ask for him by name and the random crew member was expecting us. The last week has been pretty tough going. There are a lot of people looking for work and the season is starting a lot later than usual.


My nephew said they had received 50 job applications last night and over 30 this morning. He said it is incredibly hard for CV's to stand out from the others. Most of the time good luck and who you know matters more than anything else. He did have some good advice and I look forward to thoroughly socially lubricating him one night soon.

Obviously we are excessively lucky, beautiful and blessed creatures. I just don't think enough of the world has caught on yet.


Wish us luck!

Thanks for the good luck. I have got a days work on Octopus tomorrow :D :D :D.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Video Stars

After a lost weekend it was nice to find this movie on my phone.



Weather has been a bit abysmal. We are going to hire a micro car for a couple of days to help with dock walking. Stay tuned.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Answered Prayers

A strange set of circumstances have left me with free wireless internet in our apartment. As typed about earlier internet time does cost a fair whack in France. There is also a limit to how many visits one can make to the laundry in a week. All of the wireless access points in the immediate vicinity are locked down and the ones broadcasting web pages are in French.

So how did I end up with free WIFI?

To be honest I do not know. I am scared to turn off my laptop for fear that the access will vanish with my screen powering off.

Now if my genie can provide me with a suitable job I will be quite chuffed.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Excusie Mwa Legs

Last year I wrote of the various physical atrocities my feet endured while walking the sweat soaked ground of South East Asia.

I am glad to report my feet have got off lightly in France. My legs however have been ritually humiliated. It was during my last mounting of a bus seat that I thought I would share some of my recent indignities. This particular seat had an inconvenient and ill designed arm rest. Not only did it not rest arms it gouged hamstrings that wandered close to it.

The couch at our apartment took a large tract of skin from my shin on my very first day in France after perhaps more than healthy gin indulgence I think I was making haste to retrieve my wizards robe or another magical device.

The bunk bed I currently sleep in has two detachable roll out guards which deliver choice blows around the clock as I scale the ladder to rest my feet. The irony is not lost.

Perhaps I have frogs legs?

Monday, 20 April 2009

En Gym

If you want an accurate yardstick on another country and your ability to converse with its population. Join a gym. Today being Sunday we thought it would be a good idea to visit the local fitness establishment and enquire about getting a limited membership.

We preformed routine reconnaissance at approximately 8:30 am. The gym was spotted and appeared to have usable equipment. The opening hours were noted with some dismay. It appears nothing is open before 9:00 am in this part of the world.

At home base we consulted our phrase books and thought we had enough French to set up two memberships for a month. On visiting the gym at 11:15 am we were met by a very charming man who spoke about as much English as we speak French.

On discovering our and his plight he tried to flag down the nearest lady in a leotard. She sidestepped our rapidly deteriorating conversation quickly. Still with a lot of hand signals, body language and nodding we slowly moved our way through registration until we needed to pay. He was fresh out of change and I was set across the road to the super marche to find the purser.

The purser was working at an electronics counter. I waved a fifty euro note and said

"Bonjour!"

"Proform Le Change"

This was enough for him to explain that I would need to wait two minutes and I could watch him working on a broken plug. He fixed the plug with sellotape. If this Super Yacht thing does not work out I could probably begin an electronics engineer career here with some Success! I would have used duct tape.

I eventually received change, ran back to the gym and completed paying. Another lady said she could help if we spoke Dutch.

"Non. Nouveau Zealande"

"Anglais"

It was very satisfying to start our workout. Our triumphant membership process was duly noted by the many exercising members and I am sure we will be the toast of many tables tonight in Antibes.

Nemo is still with me

Found inside the palace grounds at Monaco.

Nemo still teases me. I must be close to finding him.

For this and other photos please feel free to look at the following link


Intripcredible

Monaco

The train ride from Antibes to Monaco is a beautiful one. The terracotta hillsides and turquoise ocean join to inspire just as they have for centuries.




How often is a place exactly as you have imagined? Monaco was for me. The steepness of the streets and delicately placed buildings are incredible to behold.


A lack of current vocation does mean trips like these are business trips Business means walking up, down and through the docks. There were some seriously serious super yachts.

I have been keeping a watchful eye on the names of boats. This one was the best I saw in Monaco.

After a good hour and a half of dock walking it was time to get down to the not so serious business of being a tourist and freelance writer. To the palace Batman! The palace is pretty good.

I could see myself living there with a few modifications. Namely the lack of chrome on the guards and statues of myself.

No bird would dare sit on my head.

After watching the quite regimented spectacle of the guards changing at 11:55 with about 500 other heavily bagged and camera’d people it was time to visit the Casino. A good travel tip for the budget conscious traveler who has donated heavily to my blog and wants to save a few dollars is to invest in a le tourist passe which allows unlimited bus travel in Monaco for the day for only €3.00.


The Casino is both elegant and puzzling. It was there I spotted my first defibrillator. I am thinking the careful placement of these is for travelers who have trouble scaling the steep hills of Monaco. They could of course be for people like me who openly do not like cars but feel pangs of car envy that are heart stopping. They could also be for people who’s hearts stop beating from the breath taking views. This would only explain this one I spotted.

Monaco is an incredibly clean city. Rubbish is attacked with glee and so are infringers. The city is full with over 6000 CCTV cameras and it pays to be mindful of hooliganism. While we waited for a bus we saw three separate people be pulled over by pedestrian police officers.

This last runt would have been struggling to be ten and was riding a scooter. I think he could have been royalty or otherwise important because he pulled out some papers which made the officers wave him on without a ticket.

The bus arrived and we departed for the Le Jardine Exotique. The garden sits perched upon some of the highest real estate Monaco has. Sadly the entrance price was quite high. May I indulge you with another traveling tip. Take photos of the photos outside the tourist attraction you are not visiting. Its just as good as being there.

I have to give mention to one of Monaco’s less obvious characteristics. The whole place smells incredible. Perhaps the 6000 CCTV cameras also dispense parfume? The only place that did not smell like a duty free counter was directly on top the sea.

Time was creeping on now so we decided to head back towards the train station. In our exuberance to leave behind the exorbitance we got off our bus 5 stops early. This allowed us to spy some unique architecture.


And another good reason Monaco is so incredibly clean.

Monaco train station is by far the most impressive I have waited in for an extended length of time. While it was sad to leave Monaco it is our hope that on our return we will be aboard a super yacht. I am writing it. It shall be so.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Gone to the Dogs

At 5AM in urban France a growling menace prowls the pavement. A mechanized menace but a brute all the same. Water trucks and cleaners hose the previous days refuse away before people rise.

The bulk of this refuse is the product of one of Frances obsessions. The humble dog enjoys a privileged existence here. Meticulously groomed dogs enjoy taking owners for walks. They also enjoy depositing doggy waste and generally lording it up.

Even the seemingly stray dogs are happy and well fed. I also have noticed it is common for the odd street beggar to have a nice looking dog alongside a modest looking bowl or cap.

Even the humble dog advertising placard has taken on new dimensions in France.

Exhibit A


Exhibit B


France has surely gone to the dogs. Where are ze cats?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

InterLaundromatNet

As you may have guessed internet access is a bit harder to source cheaply in this part of the world. Half an hour of internet at a cafe is about €2.50 which is a bit steep given the paralyzing affect the recession has had on the financial liquidity of my blog.

Luckily the local Laundromat has free WIFI! This encourages both domesticated behaviour and precious internet time. I literally can not wait to take things to be dried, washed etc.

Following our early morning amble this morning we decided to follow the coast around to the main port of Antibes.

It is probably best I dispense with some evidence of the amazing scenery which populates this section of the Riviera.

Shot looking back towards our home in Juan Les Pins.



The beautiful sea. Plane coming in to land just like ours did on Friday.

View towards Antibes town


When we first saw the top of this Super Yacht we thought it was a floating restaurant.

More big fellows.

Today was a day of two walks. One in the dark and one in the glorious sun.

Success and Success!

En Walkabout

With jet lag and/or the incessant indulging of food and alcoholic beverages still weighing heavily on our minds much of Antibes still remains a mystery.


We did take a long walk down the coast this morning. It takes about half an hour to get down to the next port. There are some incredibly large yachts and I would have openly salivated if it wasn’t so bitterly cold and dark. It was 5am and my hoodie is in desperate need of a clean as it has visually suffered from sustained impromptue bouts of drinking and eating. The weather is on the improve however and we are expecting 23 degrees today.

My only other observation from the walk this morning is that only other people up and about were impeccably well dressed ladies and gentlemen walking home from discotheques. They were even walking straight which is in itself remarkable. What a curious race the French are.

Some of you might remember the no horseplay signs which dotted the gymnasium we frequented in our trip to Australia last year. Imagine my excitement when I saw the sign for the pool which is a part of our apartment complex.

Clearly you should not dive, play with balls or engage in TARZAN acts, I look forward to diving from a rope swing whilst juggling.

I haven’t had time to document all of the eclectic malaise which is part of our habitat but I do have one more photo to share.

Check out the size of the light switches here.

Huge. My success campaign has been getting some traction as has my new catch cry.

I am going to blog the sh*t out of that.

Time to venture out and find some fresh quarry.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Eatster Sunday

Easter Sunday in Antibes began with a visit to the de toilette. A stealthy bunny had deposited a couple of eggs which were met with welcome hands and Anna and I devoured them before our usual breakfast.

Our extended whanau had celebrated long into the night so we decided to go for a walk and capture some fresh eggs as the apartment was full of chocolate bounty which could need replenishing. The local casino coughed up plenty of eggs, we visited a bakery and bought a couple of baguettes to complement the condiments.

I now have to describe the calorific collateral damage which comes with living with two chefs. On our return an egg tasting session started which to be honest has not finished yet. Chef Shafiq created a baguette cheese Vegemite branston pickle mayo ensemble which by all reports was very tasty.

Some of the later risers opted for a rapturous risotto which was was still packing a punch from Friday night. At some point before 11am I enlightenly decided to purchase some more Gin. I delegated the Gin purchasing to studious Sam who on return had managed to lose the Fifty Euro note I had given her. This slight has delivered quite a lot of comedic mileage and we all wait with baited breath for someone to provide more stupidity for us all to laugh at. Luckily my wife supported the second Gin purchasing mission as she had zip up pockets which are less prone to losing Fifty euro notes.

Chef Shafiq delivered again with a potato mash up with freshly raped parmeson, butter, mayonnaise and essential herbs and spices. Anna decided to lighten things up with a healthy salad which was heartily devoured until all semblance of healthy fibre had dissipated.

Remedial action had to be taken and our next course was to be crepes ala duck or nutella depending on your persuasion.



Naturally I am devastated at my Sunday thus far. We have run out of Gin and if I could move with out all of the food pulsating through my digestive system I would be venturing out to get some more.

Gin that is.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Viva La Success!

Our arrival into France was surprisingly painless. Customs waved ourselves and our bags through. We had time to admire the sun rising over the tarmac and made our way to the mysteriously named terminal two. After the briefest of stops to engage the foot operated toilet flushing mechanisms we checked into our connecting flight to Nice. It was here where things turned very continental.

Not content with perusing my laptop. French authorities made it quite clear in two different languages that they would like to handle my wedding ring, glasses, Nintendo DS and portable hard drive. The final indignity was having to remove my belt and walk through the security scanner hitching my jeans with my hands. Whilst I am not one for dropping my pants without good reason I almost felt obligated to lose them just because. You know? My suffering did not end here. I left my glasses behind and now am sunglassless in a foreign land.

The flight to Nice was delightful and the sweeping vista of the French Riviera as we landed was breathtaking. I do believe I was speechless and wordless for about 5 minutes. Thankfully I have recovered otherwise you might not be reading this right now,

Our incredible host Kira greeted us at the Airport and we made our our way to a bus terminal where we could find a bus going to Antibes. The bus was incredibly busy. Our booty laiden packs swollen with sarongs and wizard robes were far too large for the the ailse. Using dormant muscles I placed them both in over head luggage compartments. It was here that the Driver made it quite clear in incomprehensible French that my wifes pack could destroy someone if it fell. I stowed it carefully by the door and our bus ride began. After a few minutes of the bus journey I understood the drivers luggage stowing reservations. He appeared to have difficulty using his break pedal in a meaningful manner. He may have in fact had a illness which meant he used a toilet a lot because he seemed to be a vigourous break pumper.

Still it was a deligtful journey and I was offered seats by the bus patrons on many occasions, so out of sorts I must have looked. I was at pains to stress with my well versed sign language that I had to watch my pack and the driver in case I needed to use my freshly learned Sea Safety, Fire fighting and First aid abilities. The was an endearing fellow who stood by the door and ranted and raved for about fourty minutes. What he was discussing is still a mystery. I can only guess he is a distant relation of the last commuting comedian I met and he was perfecting his stand up (ho ho ho)

It was during our bus drive that I decided a large bottle of Gin would be the best cure for the out of sortness of 35 hours continuous travelling had rendered me. Our apartment is delightful. It was two balconies, three computers and two bathrooms. It is also adorned with the most eclectic mishmash of ornaments I have seen anywhere. I will discuss these at length when I have taken some suitable photos.

We eventually ventured out to find coffee and groceries (gin).We sat near the beach and I made sure I gave plenty of nice angles for the swelling throng of Papparrazi that watched my every move. A puzzling naming convention I have noticed is that the supermarkets are called Casinos. This may explain the lottery when it comes to be served. The check out attendant was cute so I will excuse her rudeness. I was just happy to be carrying a bottle of gin on our way home.

After plugging in my laptop I made a good attempt at drinking all of my bottle of gin and writing at the same time. Sadly my drinking was more enthusiastic than my writing and about 1 hour in I retired to my bunk bed to let my blood alcohol levels lower to more manageable levels.

Sadly when I arose four hours later my blood alcohol levels had dropped to dangerously low levels and I had the appearance of a ghost with a really bad hangover. The ad hoc family here were quick to administer more alcohol and we sat down to eat a fabulous meal. Did I mention I am living with two chefs now?

Tales were told. I warned the household I am restraining my wit until I have learned important facts. I now know we have three aquarians, two geminis and one Leo. This would explain the fact We get on like a house on Fire. Five air signs and one Fire sign will cause fire. I know this.

At 1am we retired to bed and I sit now writing my blog. Life is pretty fucking awesome. Don't you think?

Friday, 10 April 2009

@Last DanGo in Paris

First let me congratulate myself on such a clever headline. It actually came to be in a drowsy period before sleep on the 10th of March. So this entry has exactly one month in the making. If you have not picked up my cleverness please follow this link.(HI NICK!)

A small and notable problem is that we actually bypassed Paris on this very day opting to fly straight to Nice and onto Antibes. Time and money are of the essence and we will give Paris the attention it deserves when we have the resources to do so.

If you needed even more evidence of my brilliance. I actually completed this entry on the eve of our departure and set it to publish automatically. Look Mum no hands.

Stay tuned I am actually researching France as you read and will report back with my first findings as soon as I can.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Greater Expectations

Given that this is my second trip of a life time I think I can be excused for being mildly excited about what the future holds. Things have been quite busy up until about 20 minutes ago when some of my more mundane thought processes evaporated leaving me with an overwhelming sense of BRING IT.

I Look forward to sharing the A Rather Large Adventure Volume Two with you all.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

STCW95 Day Six and Seven

Monday and Tuesday have morphed into one long day of examples, theory, discussion and pratical exercises. Thankfully first aid remains a good portion of common sense and the trickier nuances of CPR are being streamlined to make it easy to remember and hopefully save lives.

Some of the funnier excerpts of the last day have been discussions revolving around poisoness sea creatures and the medical benefits of urine. Fascinating stuff. Our tutor recommended seeking consent before the liberal use of urine and to use vinegar in the first instance. This did not stop the conversation from coming back to urine. In fact I was waiting for the inevitable call for urine this morning when we were discussing hypothermia.

Let it be known that I am not averse to toilet humour as long as it does not involve me.

Two more sleep till we leave New Zealand. Yes we are excited but there still seems a heap of things to do before we leave. I am looking forward to getting on the plane. Things do seem a bit surreal the moment.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

My Personal Travel Tips

If you cast a finger and eye back through the sprawling wonderment that is my blog you will read all manner of up to the minute travel tips. Most of these travel tips are harmless and will put you in good stead wherever you go. Until now.

This particular tip is for combating jet lag and extended seated situations. It works incredibly well but it must be used in secret because the repercussions can form concussion. As the people around you fall asleep take stealthy photos of them with drool, sleepy eyes and mouths wide open. Now drift off to sleep to be invariably woken up by an attendant, bus hitting a cow or a child screaming. As you awake take a look at the photos you have taken you should feel much better.

Eight words of warning.

DO NOT LET YOUR SUBJECTS SEE THE PHOTOS!

Friday, 3 April 2009

STCW95 Day Five. Burn Kerosene Petrol Mix Burn Disco Smoke Inferno

Day five or Fireday was the most actioned packed course day yet. Before I lurch into describing it I have to say Firemen are freakishly good at setting things ablaze. If you ever have to make small talk with a fireman don't ask them to put out a BBQ that has got out of control. Ask them to set that ladies wig alight, far more entertaining.

Our day began with some instructional videos and then we escaped into sunlight to be routinely blind folded and search out one of our dummy companions. We also did a tandem hose drill in which we climbed down a ladder into our pseudo boat and hosed out a variety of conflagrations. My hose partner was a particularly good hose partner. As good as she was, sadly she could not stop me from leaving our hose behind. I put this down to Dragons not being naturally gifted at fire dampening.

Our last exercise involved our boat being full of disco smoke and teams of three entering to remove one of two dummies. We wore full equipment ensembles and could not see a thing. We found the dummy in record time but unfortunately we had a bit of difficulty getting back out. We had also managed to find the heavier of the two dummies who proved to be particularly unwieldy. My words of wisdom after our mission "Never send three dummies to rescue a dummy"

Thursday, 2 April 2009

STCW95 Day Four. Dire in a Fire

This morning we learned the different classes of fire and which chemical reactions deal to them best. The smoke and fumes from the practical exercises were at times over powering. It was during our lunch break we discovered we had a lot of soot up our noses. Having inadvertently insufflated a variety of things in my lifetime I can only say that soot is not very pleasant and makes for curious tissue marks.

This afternoon we got fully kitted up and explored on our mock boat in teams to find our lost dummy named Oscar. Having the benefit of being the third team we did get to witness the first team dragging poor Oscar up a stairwell feet first. Not a dignified egress and one that we were at pains not to replicate. Unfortunately after stumbling around in the dark and finally finding Oscar in a corner, giving him a fitting exit was quite tricky. I was dead keen to take him up on my shoulder on the ladder but wearing a pressurised air tank, helmet ,respirator and full safety gear all conspired against my plans.

We did get to take Oscar on a tour of the technical institute. We also got to place Oscar back where we found him. Poor Oscar. Clambering out a tunnel to the exit and end of the exercise was a very welcome finish.

Tomorrow we get to do the same thing with smoke and no jogging. I have it on good authority that the best smoking is done with out jogging so things should be ok.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

STCW95 Day Three. Tall Tales and Fire

We had a tutor change today. A more salty older dog if you will. Not as class focussed as our last tutor he stormed his way through the course material so he could tell stories and anecdotes like the time his ship had hit the Glasgow sewerage pump barge.

Sadly that is all of his stories that I can remember.

Note to self "old sea dogs can baffled the hell out of you with jargon from a bygone era if you let them"

The second half of the day was learning about fire safety. We got familiar with fire safety breathing apparatus's and learned some theory. Tomorrow we will don full fire safety equipment and run to the local food bar and learn other valuable things.

We are both absolutely shattered.

A War of Tugs

Consider me sea cultured. I now read skipper magazine on my lunch break and spy advertisements like this in between articles. One only reads skipper magazine for the articles. Obviously.



Excuse the blurriness. My phone has no sea legs.

Success

During the weekend I had a particularly strong revelation. I pondered on the meme fail and thought how could I make the world better.

The answer was clear.

Success!

To help me with my recession busting campaign -

The next time you do something particularly smart like doing up your tie or retrieving a newspaper from the dairy, yell Success! and pump your fist like Tiger Woods. Its best if you have some sort of audience but yelling Success! by myself has proven to be a powerful affirmation so far. Add an audience and you will literally and figuratively spread the word.



It is interesting to note that Tiger Woods won his first tournament after his come back on Monday. I am sure he could be seen yelling Success! in his head.