Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Viva La South Africa

Colour me not impressed but my first real experience of South Africans was not a particularly rosy one. An incredibly unpleasant South African chef grafted himself on to my girlfriend at the times sister and managed to export himself to New Zealand. He had a fierce temper and self assured cockiness which made for a poor ambassador.

Anton Rushinecko I just took your name and miss spelled it. I hope you are balding and an accident with some x-ray equipment has rendered you infertile. Up until seven years ago this was my sole South African experience until a particularly brilliant scholar of sorts hurtled through my rapidly expanding circle of friends.

Fast forward to now and the streets of Antibes are awash with South Africans. They have a reputation for scrupulous spending, working hard and questionable ethics. It was two South
Africans working for free I fear who cost me a days work on Octopus. Hence inhabitants of the dark continent have occupied a part of my brain which is reserved for criminals and horses; until now.

I am happy to say a South African acquaintance has helped me to get some more day work upon a yacht. He is also a wealth of gossip. Information is gold in this industry.

So South Africans. Let me toast a glass of wine which is far superior in your country. I still do
not know what a rand is worth but may you always quote everything in rand. May things remain kiff. I am sure your political system will be worth poking fun at one day and may your accents remain forever the same.

Please excuse my hasty editing. Ever used a French keyboard?

Friday, 22 May 2009

At least an Ankle in the Boot of Italy

First impressions of driving far into the boot of Italy is that the roading network was created by incredibly enthusiastic Dwarves. There are countless tunnels going through huge hills. There are tunnels inside tunnels.


I actually think we saw a close relative of a Dwarf at one point. He certainly could have passed for a Dwarf if he did not have an orange road worker jacket on.

The second thing after a couple of hours travelling at breakneck speeds along the A10 was that the engineers were showing off when they were building the bridges. Not content with building bridges all over the place they rarely travel in a straight line. Invariably they spiral through the air with luscious curves to meet tunnels. Show offs.

As often is the case with these trips our end destination was a port town. This particular one is called Viareggio. First impressions are good. Its full of yachts and friendly folk. Top marks to Alberto popping out of the woodwork to greet us and tell us some funny tales of Italy.



Alberto.

Speaking of crazy driving he told us of the rebellion against having to wear seat belts in Naples ten years ago. Enterprising locals started selling t-shirts with seatbelt graphics emblazoned across them. You could passenger or driver ones depending on your seat.

In what seems to be a reoccurring theme we spent a few hours searching for an elusive item. Small sized trousers for my Wife. There is probably a tenuous link between no gluten free food and no small sized trousers in Italy. What do you think?

I did find myself admiring the mannequin display in one shop. It was macabre in a good way. I often think of dismembered corpses when I stand zombie like waiting for my partner to resurface from a changing room.






Italy. I quite like the place.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Pre Grand Prix Wee?

After my last visit to Monaco I proudly promised my next visit would be on the back of a Super Yacht.

As a still practising and wholly impractical magician my spells clearly still need some work. On Sunday after an incredibly large drinking session worthy of a close friends wedding I suddenly found out I would be doing some day work pre Grand Prix on a Super Yacht.

I gracefully declined the offer of working the Sunday. I think my exact words were

"I could come now but I would not be operating at peak performance."

The fist mate obviously a man with some experience in matters of blood chemistry saw this as something character shaping and allowed me to start on Monday instead.

So I have been busily rinsing, soaping, washing, shammying, blading, buffing and scrubbing the bejewbus out of a Super Yacht

The Super Yacht is a generous 56 meters and whilst it is quite a bit smaller than Octopus there have been a few fringe benefits given the nature of our berth and slightly more relaxed conditions.

-They feed all of the day workers
-We are allowed inside
-We have helped out with docking manuevers.

Now bear with me as I lay on some superlatives.

Being in the pre eminent wealthy city right before the quintessential motor racing event is quite cool.

There are manufacturer trucks everywhere. Seas of seats and scaffolding. It is quite a spectacle and it is my office window for the week.

Sweet.

Getting to my work has not been with out it's challenges. On Tuesday glorious French rail workers timed an 8 hour strike to coincide with my commute. After reaching Nice we found we would have to bus the rest of the way. I commented on the irony of the French rail workers being on strike to some random Australians (why are they everywhere ?) this was met by a remark that everything is done by computer anyway. The tail end of this notable conversation was someone coming up with this motto. "France, where even the computers go on strike"

As far as random Australians go these guys were pretty good. I have noticed that an Australian with a hangover is about as graceful and low key as a kiwi is sober. We were having a good old laugh before a French lady with a curiously English accent admonished us for making to much noise and having too much fun.

One of the chaps had his foot on a chair. This particularly aggrieved her but I am certain of it had been a dog on the chair she would have said nothing.

The bus ride to Monaco was a riot, literally. It was a riot to get on and a riot inside. It is amazing where people will sit when a vehicle is dangerously overloaded. I got to know several passengers quite physically . I was glad I shaved my legs that morning.

Not a bad few days. Now wait till I tell you how I cameoed in a documentary and turned down a film role.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Cannes!


Cameras Ready Prepare.

DaFlash.

It was with expectant hearts and excited eye balls we ventured by train to sample the Cannes film festival on Saturday the 16th of May.

The train ride was full of similarly minded people and it was slightly odd to feel part of an Australian invasion of Cannes as we jumped off the train.

Aussie Aussie Aussie

Why are we chanting Aussie?

Whimper Whimper.......

The theme for the night was searching for the elusive essence of the Cannes film festival. Our bright and cheery squadron filed down Cannes many streets in a dizzying range of formations. I likened it to a once in a life time comet which gained, lost velocity, sense of purpose and significant members intermittently with some regularity.

I was quite happy on our first run to the Casino to spy the elusive paparazzi.

Check out these sad sacks of shit.




Feel better about your lot in life?

I do. Please excuse the quality of my photos. I was quite literally performing a pedestrian drive by.

The Casino was an impeccable place to water oneself with alcoholic beverages and indulge in the time honoured task of looking rich and famous.


The period directly following the Casino is best described with the following sentences.


Stagger.
Bar found.
Drink.
Lost.
Limousine ooo.
Lights.

At some point I found a shoe outside a car of some pedigree. I likened the shoe to Cinderella's slipper. Except the shoe was not a slipper. It was not glass. It was also broken.

This did not stop me from balancing the said shoe perfectly on my head and walking for a considerable amount of time.

I could have been a model.

We eventually ended back in the Casino. I took on the role of a lucky charm. Dishing out mad luck to everyone playing Black Jack. We befriended a very rich handsome writer/director who could be reading my blog right now. I gave your one man entourage my business card.

You were cool

I am sorry that the coin operated toilet did not work for you, which we escorted you to after the Casino closed. But if you are ever in New Zealand feel free to look me up or my parents.

And that ladies and gentlemen was the Cannes Film Festival 2009.

Rock and Roll.

Bitches.

Laa Laa Ooo Sexy France

If you spent enough time in France you could probably be forgiven for thinking the French invented sex. Sex certainly seems to be everywhere in the most uncommon of places.

Prepared to be titillated by some common place advertisements that are in our neighbourhood.

Who plays strip poker?

Who has strip poker tournaments?

Who has strip poker tournaments with large wads of prize money with large banner ads in bus stops?

The French.

Need IT services?

Need IT Services that are incredibly saucy?

Need IT Services that are incredibly distracting?

What was I talking about again?

Need a haircut?

Need a mans haircut?

Who said smoking was dead?

Need some gym supplementation?

Unsure what day it is?

In the gym toilette?

Jeebus

Got to love the French.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Dipping our Toes into the Boot of Italy

When you have spent most of your life in a place as isolated as New Zealand it is easy to forget how incredibly simple it is to get from country to country in mainland Europe. Up until today our only travels had been across France and the principality of Monte Carlo.

Therefore it was with some excitement we made the journey from France to Italy. One train swap was required and the port town of San Remo was to be our first real Italian stop. One of the obvious benefits of choosing yachting as a vocation is that it is always very easy to find the ports, just head for the water. There were plenty of nice yachts at the docks including the worlds largest single mast yacht.

After a generous two hours of dock walking or dock whoring as our Antipodean cousins like to call it we decided a coffee was in order. Italian coffee is mountain loads better than French coffee. It is also a third of the price. Customer service seems to be markedly better. The delightful cafe owner made a love heart and fern arrangement with froth for us both.

The rolling sing song nature of the Italian accent was a pleasure to hear from other pedistrians. Years of Nintendo playing makes me smile ear to ear when I hear the words Mario or Luigi uttered in conversation.

Sadly it appears gluten free is a capital offense in Italy and we spent a good hour meandering through the streets looking for the elusive salad or quiche. Things were looking really grim when waiting for McDonalds to open was floated as a plan.

Luckily a kebab establishment was found which actually sold shish kebabs. What a revelation. The food was incredibly good and for desert we bought ice cream.

Now that is ice cream flair.

Food packaging is something that probably deserves a post of its own but I did enjoy the long slender coke cans in Italy.

Coke the fashionable choice.

The only mar on our first visit to Italy was the ticket salesman at the train station who pocketed some of our ticket money for himself and made no attempt to hide his thievery. Perhaps he was short on his protection money

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Cannes before the Storm

The Cannes film festival starts tommorow. It was interesting walking around this morning. The yachts look radically different with sleeves attached so stars can enter hidden from prying eyes. There was a man lying on the road talking on a cell phone. I could have seen a Hollywood director going for a morning run who looked like Oliver Stone.

After a horrible last week it was nice to move into a new apartment yesterday. The white palace is incredibly pimp. Our star signs have improved for the better but we have lost free internet. So I am going on a blog update starvation protest until someone gives me an unsecured access point.

Serious!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Mo Pain and No Gain

Last year I wrote from the bowels of unemployment summing up a typical day. This purging let out some of angst I had been feeling at my lot in life. It seems fitting after a suitably momentous day that I return to this form of writing.

12:30 am Rude awakening by some drunk Australians who may be living in the same apartment. One of them may have had a shower. I dream of strangling Koalas.

4:30 am Rude awakening by my restless subconscious. I must have a lot to do today. I have awoken before my alarm.

4:55 am Alarm time. My foot hurts. Get a load of my foot.

6:13 am Leave apartment and get in car.

6:30 am Join the magnificent A8 super motorway on our way to Marseilles.

7:45 am First heated discussion over directions.

8:00 am The magnificent A8 has a price.18 Euros to be exact.

8:05 am What is this rush hour traffic I am experiencing?

8:15 am Arrive in Marseilles. It is over run with fishing boats. There might be one Super Yacht but it could be a navy frigate.

8:25 am Buy coffee so we can use a toilette.

8:30 am Wander the streets. Play at being dumb tourists. There are no Super Yachts.

9:45 am Hungry. We have no spoons for our tinned food. Buy more coffee so we can steal a spoon. We are now fugitives in a foreign land.

10:00 am. F**K Marseille lets go to the next port

10:30 am Oooo isn't it pretty. Still no Super Yachts

11:00 am Lets go to Cassis !

11:20 am Get tired. Decide to take a nap. Co pilot fidgets relentlessly. Nap abandoned. Continue journey.

12:00 pm Get terrified driving around in Cassis. Still no Super Yachts.

12:15 pm Second heated discussion over directions

12:30 pm Let us go to Toulon!

13:14 pm Toulon sucks. Sonny Bill you are retarde.

13:17 pm Random French man yells at us from a roof top building for walking the docks

13:22 pm There are still no Super Yachts.....

13:26 pm Let us go back to the port we may have seen from the A52. It could have been a mirage......

13:33 pm After nearly driving into a parked Citroen because I left the car in gear. I nearly back into an Aston Martin Vantage. Luckily the owner is on hand to put his kidneys in the way. I relinquish all driving duties.

14:22 pm Those are definitely super yachts...... but they are not in any water.

15:22 pm Absolutely terrifying but heartening experience walking a dry dock. Huge gantries that could lift an Imperial star destroyer.

16:00 pmLet us go home.

16:10 pm Sh*t we are back in bloody Toulon. Toulon proves almost impossible to leave.

16:25 pm Stop in a gas station to get some food. Very heated discussion on a wide range of highly charged subjects. Second attempt at nap. This time I fidget all through co pilots nap.

17:10 pm Start long drive home.

18:40 pm Miss Antibes off ramp. Drive to Nice. Sick of looking at ports by now.

19:00 pm Finally home.

What an incredible day!







Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Post 250!

It seems fitting that the inspiration for this entry came from a physical mishap. I was thinking about asking the gods of the internet for a sign or omen. My socks had become wet from a leaking water bottle. I leapt off the bed to invade the lounge and was assaulted violently by a wardrobe pillar. My right ankle turned inside out in its haste to dodge the pillar. This evasive action was for naught and I retired to the bed a whimpering shadow of my former self.

Luckily my wife was on hand to provide first aid. The remedial properties of frozen French chicken nuggets are to be admired. As are the various pharmaceuticals we imported from New Zealand. Minutes later I had struggled to the end of the bed to find the laptop and commenced writing this pain induced 250th post.

Tomorrow we are leaving Antibes at the incredibly early time of 4am to head towards Marseilles. We will be visiting St Tropez and Cannes on our way home. Before I arrived in France I thought St Tropez was a type of sun block.

There is probably a point in my writing today. I just can't for the life of me see it. I blame the blood rushing from my brain to my foot. That and the pain killers

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Vence in France

Today we took a day trip to Vence. Vence is an old town about 30 minutes drive in from the Riviera and is both steeped in history and hills. The drive to Vence got off to a slow start. My formidable French driving skills have diminished from my short time at sea. My only explanation is that my fresh sea legs were having problems manipulating the break and clutch pedals. Sound plausible? Good.

Once my partner in everything had taken the wheel we could smoothly make our way to Vence. After the briefest of stops to deposit our rented Citroen car we started to enjoy the scenery. Vence is quite high up in the hills. It is famous for its old wall and the stream of artists that have made it home.



View from old wall into the hills.

After the sandy bustle of the port towns Vence is a refreshing change. It is very old. Parts of it are from the Romans.










Refreshing also is good information in French and English. I learned that the forward thinking town council allowed residents to build houses up against the wall. This foresight is single biggest reason the wall exists today.

A fifteen minute stroll from the town centre is a chapel of some significance. The significance escaped me but the views back towards the town were fantastic.



Ice cream was in order and it was great to sit down and watch a wedding emerge from a chapel. A Kodak moment which was marred by a canine friend. A fluffy ginger dog proceeded to urinate on the table next to us and then try to mount another unsuspecting dog.

Truly a French day in Vence.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Appreciating Interests

I think I can safely say that Summer has arrived on the Riviera. We have had four very sunny days and the local wind Les Mistral has dropped away to a manageable breeze.

More people are turning up to sample the beaches. The distinctly European way of sun bathing is becoming familiar. After a few days of working in the sun I have started to gain new insights into things I had previously ignored.

Boat shoes

Back in the early 90's a terrifying craze reached my high school. The humble boat shoe became the sole of choice and many a misguided youth proudly wore them anywhere but on a boat. I dodged this fashion faux pas until now. But I can safely say that the modern day boat shoe has saved my posterior a lot of hurt. They grip incredibly well on wet surfaces and seem to be aptly named. Who would have thought?

Soap Suds

Have you ever washed a car for 8 hours? The humble soap sud begins to take on whole new dimensions after an extended period. Soap suds even taste ok when they fly into your mouth. I could have become dehydrated and delirious if it was not for the soap suds.

Staring

I now know the feeling of a captive ape. Staring people look ludicrous. I have mastered the art of not pulling faces back at them. It is easy to see why primates act they way they do.

Polo Shirts

File polo shirts in the same underused drawer with boat shoes. They dry really quickly and dirt seems to rebound off them. Mysterious technology indeed.

It is now the weekend. It is time to do some land based adventuring.