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Hats off for fashion

May 15, 2015

That Nice Lady Decorator told me that, as I am now back in the embrace of the most lovely village in Provence, Valbonne, for the next two months, I should resurrect my blog occasionally. As I am nothing if not obedient when receiving orders, I am afraid you will have to put up with another missive from my good self from time to time.

Since we arrived the Friday before last we have had a full and hard week of preparing the house for a terrible onslaught of visitors this summer, but I managed to persuade That Nice Lady Decorator that we should pop down into Valbonne Square for a spot of lunch as it was a Sunday, a day of rest (the Reverend Jeff has at least adopted one sensible religious idea). What I had not expected was that there was a fashion show being staged in the Square, and that some people were determined to make their own fashion statement whilst watching the various models, often in a state of undress, strut their stuff to the, frankly, dribbling masses. At my age, dribbling is about all I can manage (and nowadays I find that quite rewarding), but even I, an often daring pioneer when it comes to sartorial matters, would never resort to making a fashion statement as extreme as that which I captured on my phone during proceedings.

I wonder if he cut out some eye holes?

I wonder if he cut out some eye holes?

For me as a dedicated salesman for the services of Currencies Direct, when planing to attend a fashion show, even I, with what some might say is my distinct record of failure in the fashion stakes, would think twice about using a cardboard box for protection from the sun, but it seems from the picture I took that there are people even more daring than I . My message today is that there are still people out there who are able to express themselves sartorially in ways that I will never understand.

One might be expected to think that if one was expecting to be present at such an open air fashion show in the sunshine with temperatures in the mid 20’s Celsius, one might consider some sort of cranial protection. A hat perhaps?, a parasol?, even a cap? Where on earth came the inspiration to a cardboard box as a sunshade?

So yes, I am once again in the bosom of France, enjoying that sunshine and temperatures in the mid 20’s centigrade whilst my old pal Peachy Butterfield is enjoying temperatures in the mid 20’s Fahrenheit. (He is marooned in Cheshire for a week examining the gradual softening of the tundra.).

Now I am here for the next two months, and will be celebrating not only my return to France, but later in the summer, a significant birthday for That Nice Lady Decorator. I have never been a fan of Dr Who but the concept of time travel does appeal to me. It seems that the Decorating Operative has somehow entered a time warp because when we were first married, there was a merely a few short years between us, but now it seems that the Nice Lady Decorator has remained at the age of 37 whilst I have accelerated into my seventh decade, which in some circumstances might suggest that I may be a candidate for the Child Protection Register. Anyway, said milestone, (37 for the 23rd time) is going to coincide with a big influx of pale, grateful and rather thirsty chaps from England and other sun tan avoidance countries into the south of France, and yours truly has been handed the organisation of celebrations for the travelling rabble. If I told you that I already have two spreadsheets for the events, you may understand the burgeoning logistics of such an undertaking. However, it is all supposed to be a surprise, so mums the word.

Chris France


Golden Oldies in Cape Town

April 3, 2015

Leader of the Nidderdale Taverners, Sir Thomas “Tommo” Ingilby has commanded me to construct a new blog surrounding the recent Golden Oldies cricket tour to Cape Town. It was at breakfast at the team hotel when the steely eyed knight of the realm fixed me with “that” stare. He had asked if I was still writing my daily commentary on life in general and when I answered in the negative, I had the feeling that the stocks at his home, Ripley Castle, might soon be reopened in order for the writer of this column, an indolent former music business supremo, and representative of the excellent  services of Currencies Direct, to be suitably admonished. Thus I have retired from retirement in order to report on the tour, and avoid beheading or whatever fate awaits the working class if they deny the wishes of the gentry.

The Nidderdale Taverners group at Newlands, Cape Town

The Nidderdale Taverners group at Newlands, Cape Town

But who am I kidding? If one gets the call, one hardens to action, (can I say that?) much in the way that I was recently called to play cricket for England Over 60’s in Barbados but that is another matter. And so it was that the Nidderdale Taverners, who had last gathered in Adelaide two years ago, met, this time in Cape Town, to do cricket battle once again.

Any cricket team in any country of the world will boast a number of diverse characters amongst their number. Indeed I have played in many teams where the diversity of backgrounds is very marked, but in the Nidderdale Taverners new depths of diversity have been plumbed.  Chippy Northerners, more used to tundra than sunshine, mix uneasily with the aristocracy, judges, solicitors, lecturers and barristers, a music business Svengali, and even a few personalities, some even emanating from the the world of business in the favoured South of England, but as soon as the first beers are poured and the banter begins, the shared love of the greatest game in the world takes hold and all prejudices are put aside, unless, of course, a bantering point can be made.

It is a tradition that misdemeanors on the field of play are subject to a fine and in Adelaide two years ago, Judge John, The Hanging Judge, was appointed (without his consent) to the position of fines master. But so fanatical he became about his new appointment that he acquired a judges wardrobe and held, aptly as we were at that time in Australia, a kangaroo court at which to deal with the litany of indictments. As he was not playing in the first game, it fell to me to become chief snitch and relay details of the various crimes to the judge in readiness for sentence at a hearing before the end of tour dinner.

Judge John, the Hanging Judge

Judge John, the Hanging Judge, with his beautiful assistant clutching a glass of something. Water?

Steve “Chippy” Jackson was the first offender, for running backwards and forward before luckily clinging on to a simple catch one handed. It was a close run thing as to who was most surprised when he saw he had caught the ball, Chippy or the rest of the team. Had he stood still and waited, the ball would have come to him at an easy catching height.

John “Cutter And Slasher” Surtees, so called not just because he was once chief cutter and slasher of the workforce at Yorkshire TV, but also because it describes his batting to a tee, is a wicketkeeper. These are a breed apart as no proper cricketers ever understand why anyone would want to do the job of mopping up after the bowlers. They are curiously touchy about byes, which, those with a knowledge of the game will know are runs scored by the opposing side when the keeper and batsman have both missed the ball. I deemed it a reportable offence when, having fluffed another easy one at a cost of 4 byes, he questioned and ultimately forced the umpire to change his decision to leg byes (which are not considered a black mark against the wicket keeper), and to check the score book afterwards, although it makes absolutely no difference to the team total.

Seals jumping out of the water for fishy titbits in Houts Bay

Seals jumping out of the water for fishy titbits in Houts Bay

It is true that I dropped the only catch of the innings, an edge to first slip of a ball that was going at about 90 miles per hour, a little slower than the straight one I left when batting (it was so quick it broke the stump!) and somehow the Judge was alerted. Other fineable offences included Graham “Scaly” Fish for slide fielding, showing up the rest of us. Mark “Duck Hat” Claydon for not wearing the duck hat (held by the last person on tour to record a nought, and to be worn on all formal occasions) for the team photos. His unseemly celebrations when he was able to hand this over to John “J-Lo” Lodge for coming 9000 miles for a golden duck (out first ball) should not have been overlooked by the court. Then there was John “Ganga” Bradd, so called due to his constant lack of contact with reality. His crimes are extensive; for missing the bus to the organised vineyard day out, going out to bat with two right handed gloves, and being in a permanent state of apparently suspended animation, and Steve “The Absent Leader” Wilson for turning a certain victory into a nail biting finish.  “Ganga” again for claiming in the bar that taking 35 overs to get 35 in a limited overs game was “a measured response” and then there was that Nice Lady Decorator for not noticing her husband had bowled and had got the final wicket. Also Malcolm “The Spinner” Faddy for claiming to be a spinner and not turning a single ball.

Now I must turn to the visit by the team to a party day out at the Groot Constantia vineyard. I wish to draw a discreet veil over proceedings in general but a member of the aristocracy whom I cannot name (but the stunningly beautiful Lady Emma Ingilby will know of whom I speak), was entirely responsible for leading a group of Wags in a serious bout of table dancing. As you can see, I have the photos to prove it and the address of Tatler…

The WAGS get table dancing at Groot Constantia Vineyard day out.

The WAGS get table dancing at Groot Constantia Vineyard day out.

At the team dinner on Wednesday evening news reached me of more transgressions which will have been noted by the Hanging Judge. Disappointed by the lack of catering, our team female aristocracy, as befits her status, sent one of her surfs down to pick up a Macdonalds for herself and the Wags. This lapse in culinary standards will undoubtedly have registered with our resident legislator. Now it is a widely suspected reality of life in South Africa that the police have a reputation for being on the make, and so it was that said surf, team follower Steve “Jaywalker” Gill, was the man charged with this mercy mission, and which resulted in his nickname.  “Jaywalker” was stopped by police and relieved of 50 rand for jaywalking. It was pointed out to him at the dinner that there is no such offence in South Africa, so at the time of writing I am sure the duly appointed legislature will be considering imposing upon him a fine for paying a non existent fine. I think he should also be fined for suggesting that it was unfair that he be fined for a fine, however, fairness is seldom an attribute exhibited by old Hanging.

A huge school of dolphins off the coast of Cape Town

A huge school of dolphins off the coast of Cape Town

Other incidents which will have troubled the Judge included blonde bombshell, Helen “Kiss Me” Hardy,  wife of the considerably less attractive Steve (batting well above his average there) was seen going for a drive with a dishy young member (well comparatively to Steve) of the opposition in a smart Mercedes convertible. Then there was the Judge mentioning that the other team in the bus were a bit reluctant to get off, not realising there was a door in the middle and they were all sitting at the back and the Judge himself again for aiming a kick at a waste paper bin when failing to score in the final game.

However, the most notable crime of the week went unpunished and was committed by a baboon. Sir Thomas, Lady Emma, That Nice Lady Decorator and myself hired a taxi to go to The Cape Of Good Hope, and to see some wildlife such as seals, dolphins, penguins and baboons along the way.

That baboon with baby attached

That baboon with baby attached

The first three of these were witnessed in spectacular fashion but without personal loss, however when it came to the baboon, things changed. Anxious to get a close up shot of the mother and baby clinging to its back, Sir Thomas asked the driver to stop, got out of the car and was taking photographs when the baboon noticed the back window was open. It was in the car in a flash and everyone but my good self bailed out immediately.  I was marooned in the back with with two baboons and, as Sir Thomas remarked later, she took one look at my luxuriant moustache, decided I was a kindred spirit and made off with his aristocratic man bag containing a valuable camera lens.

I am afraid to say that despite the fantastic seals , the school of dolphin and the penguins at Boulder Beach, my abiding memory of the day will be the sight of a Baronet running in the undergrowth after the baboon trying to retrieve his bag.

Sir Thomas eventually imposes himself on the treasonous baboon

Sir Thomas eventually imposes himself on the treasonous baboon

Eventually, having opened the bag and eaten the hand cream (?), and generally making a monkey of everyone, she dropped the bag and order was restored. If there were baboons on the Ripley Estate, I think a vicious cull would now be taking place. Feeling that he might need to understand baboons a little better, I found this one on a market nearby.

A Baronet with a baboon...

A Baronet with a slightly less dangerous baboon…

So next stop for the Nidderdale Taverners will be Barbados in 2017…

Chris France

Culture and yoghurt

October 14, 2014

The appreciation of culture has never being my strong suit. I would normally prefer to be assaulted by the culture in a slightly mouldy yoghurt than to visit an art gallery, and although I can appreciate proper painting by the likes of Rembrandt, most art leaves me cold. All so-called examples of modern art are also examples of the artists fooling most of the people most of the time. In recent times charlatans like Banksy, Hirst and Emin have done a brilliant job of fooling the majority, but there is a long and cluttered history of “artists” who have fooled their contemporaries and the generations that  have followed them into thinking they are talented. One of my favourite examples of this mass illusionment are most of the paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, almost entirely embarrassing daubs, to which I would not give house room, even in the smallest room in my house.

So it was with some surprise and with a good deal of unease, that I accepted an invitation to go on a walking and culture weekend in St Remy De Provence, the place where Van Gogh did a lot of his painting and was (understandably in my opinion) detained in a lunatic asylum before he shot himself at a mercifully young age. It is a club run by Distressed Aristocracy (his words, not mine), Conde Naste Provence expert, and impossible smoothie Anthony “Dock Of The” Bay. It was my suspicion that the invitation had been extended to me by mistake, a slip of the metaphorical email as it were. On that basis, I decided that, if for devilment only, I would accept. After all, the chance to employ my council-house sense of artistic integrity, ranged against a host of public schoolboys all happily fooled by the emperors new clothes, and in the seat of where many of these crappy canvases were created was too enticing to refuse.

About 20 people met up at a bull farm last Friday for dinner which consisted of bull stew. I expected this to be followed by a load of bullshit about Mr Van Gogh and other dreadful daubers who had spent time in this beautiful part of Provence, but little of note surfaced, except for another Currencies Direct prospect, one that will allow me to submit a rather hopeful claim to my accountant to set the costs of the whole weekend against expenses. I could not conjure the proverbial red rag to commence a discussion, due mainly I think to the arrival of the grappa.

walking in Provence

The Appiles in Provence

A spectacular walk on the Saturday of about 8km through the Alpilles, a picture of which I show today, was worth the whole trip. Temperatures in the mid 20’s, warm for the time of year, enhanced the magical beauty of the trek. Before that we had visited (me with much trepidation – they had no bar for me to idle away time whilst others took in the art) Carriers du Lumieres, literally quarry in light at Les Baux des Provence and I have to say it was a magnificent spectacle. A light show of formidably proportions in a covered stone quarry some 200 feet high and projected onto dozens of walls. It is the kind of place Pink Floyd might have used to promote a new album. The subject was the art of Klimt and Vennes, but and here I must register some disappointment, I saw not one reference to Dirty Harry. There was the Cocteau Cafe, but not one underwater experience to enjoy. When I mentioned this to our leader, I was told I was a Philistine, but I have never been interested in collecting stamps. I don’t think I shall ever fully understand the art world

Chris France


Ruff crossing

September 16, 2014

Upon reflection, it was stupidly optimistic.  I had delayed our departure to France in order to play cricket in the Sussex Seniors annual New Forest tour. Naively, I had come to expect that the almost 6 weeks of decent weather that we had enjoyed in Arundel up until that decision was made – in the middle of last month – would last through to the end of August. The ferry departure was rearranged and hotel and logistical arrangements were made, to enable me to play a last few games of cricket before our return to Valbonne.

As I sat down, having made the changes to our late summer itinerary,  I caught sight on the TV of Holly Green, the daughter of the Reverend Jeff, who is now a BBC TV weather girl. His surname is not Green, and, not myself having, to my knowledge, children out of wedlock, this fact has always confused me, but I am sure he will tell you the The Lord works in mysterious ways… She was warning her viewers about the tail end of Hurricane Bertha, which was due to hit the UK that weekend.

Wind and rain duly arrived and the shorts were packed away, replaced by normal UK summer wet weather gear, and sweaters. Surely, I thought, it will pass and the cricket tour would be unaffected? That is where misplaced optimism ran rife. Booking in to the Burley Manor Hotel, aware that the first two games of 4 had been cancelled due to rain, there were still 2 matches left. Again, hopeless optimism was dashed and for the first time in 20 years the whole tour was cancelled due to the weather.

As I began writing this, I was aboard the Normandy Express, the fast ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, which was whisking us south to France, and frankly, it could not go fast enough to satisfy me. There is a double edge to this. The weather was still foul with a gale blowing and rain sheeting in sideways, and the crossing was very bumpy, which means that Banjo, that dangerously awful canine, who survives under the Protectorate that is That Nice Lady Decorator, should be, well, sick as a dog (did you see what I did there?). I swear that when we got back to the car and I asked him how was his trip, he said “ruff ruff”.

Jude "where's my Baileys" O Sullivan in customary pose

Jude “where’s my Baileys” O Sullivan in customary pose

The 10 day Arundel Festival had passed in the usual haze of beer, music and culture, well, not that much culture if I am honest. We did manage to see some theatre from the Drip Action team and went to see Privates On Parade at the wonderful Priory Theatre in Arundel, had a look at the Gallery Trail, but mostly it was spent at the Jubilee Gardens stage bar, the Red Lion, the White Hart and the Kings Arms. I think we must have gone home from time to time but not that I recall clearly. I do remember that before we left, Simon “who ate all the pies” Barrett came to stay, and that we had to stage the annual reopening of the double doors between our kitchen and living room, one of which remains resolutely closed when he is not in residence.  He is a touch too wide to squeeze through just the one like normal people. He did however arrive with a good stock of Montechristo no 2’s, the finest cigar known to man, and a couple of bottles of  St Emilion Grand Cru, so he is always welcome.

So now, the late summer beauty and warmth of Provence lies ahead, but my determination to have a quiet, reflective period of relaxation and temperance before continuing my work promoting the services of Currencies Direct was immediately undermined by the acceptance of an invitation to go to Roly Buftons afternoon curry party less than an hour after we expected to arrive back in Valbonne. I need to lay in some liver salts (I won’t be laying in them stupid, I will be swallowing them…).

And so, the Provençal summer party is in full effect. As I finalise this polemic (note to self; is that a collective noun for a rake of Irishmen?) prose, and with That Nice Lady Decorator insisting on giving the guardian next door an eyeful by sunbathing naked, I made the mistake of suggesting in jest that her very pert white arse could be seen from outer space. With the benefit of hindsight, whilst I sit in the casualty department, this was a quip to far.

Chris France

Test match cricket?

August 17, 2014

I have made it into the England Over 60’s cricket squad. Although now it has become distinctly autumnal, and my thoughts are turning to returning to France at the end of the month, one of the real joys of a very decent English summer has been the opportunity to play cricket again. I have had a few games for Sussex Over 60’s and although I have not made a 50 (49 is my best), I have on occasions been allowed to bowl my loopy leg breaks, and have two wickets to my name already. Who knows, by the end of the season I may have as many a 5! We all know that if it is sunny and warm in England during the summer there is no place like it, until the wasp invasion starts, and I have just seen a few in the last couple of days, but not for the first time, I digress.

In February next year there is an Over 60’s cricket tour to Barbados, and from the squad of players on the tour will be selected two “Test” teams to play for England against Barbados Over 60’s. I have to yell you now that I am in that squad. The fact that the criteria for being on the tour is limited to those over 60 and able to pay their way matters not one jot. I am on the tour and available for selection for England if required. Yes, it is an accredited tour and yes, if selected for one of the two international matches, I shall indeed be wearing three lions on my shirt and play at the Kensington Oval, where only last year I saw the those young upstarts, The English Cricket Team, get thrashed by the West Indies.

There are other joys that hove into view when one enters ones 7th decade. Prescriptions are free but more importantly I have applied for and received my Seniors Railcard, entitling me to a 33% discount on my rail fares. Next I expect pregnant women will be giving up their seat for me. the card worked a treat yesterday when we took a trip down to LA (aka Littlehampton) on The Belle of Arun, a pleasure cruiser that goes from Arundel to this mobility scooter capital of the south coast. There are so many of th infernal machines because the average age of the towns inhabitants is just over 100. I discovered that I was entitled to a £4 discount with my card on the trip, much to the chagrin of That Nice Lady Decorator who is, of course still only 37, which she has been for some years and will be for some more to come.

Yesterday I saw one of the youngsters in the town (she would have been no more than 85) taking her dogs for a walk by tying them to her mobility scooter. The problem was that one of her dogs was very small with very short legs, and was shaped a bit like a pork pie, and it was not so much walking as being scraped around the harbour side at around 15 miles an hour. Now this seems a tad fast to me. In my opinion the redevelopment of the Arun riverside needs to be adapted to incorporate mobility scooter crash barriers. She was utterly oblivious to lamp posts, drain covers, other pedestrians (very few – they are all on scooters) or the smell of smouldering dog and I was glad that there was a substantial wall between myself and my pint of London Pride outside the Empress pub/restaurant on the quayside as she sped by doing a Dinsdale Piranha impersonation on her canine companion.

sleeping dog

A dog avoiding being taken for a quick scrape

It did however give me some ideas about exercising the disaster dog, Banjo, much-loved by the Decorating Operative, and disliked by me. Perhaps I could tie him to the Merc and go for a dash up the A 27? It was a nice idea but the though did not reach my lips as I do not like a slap.

The final fling of summer has started. The Arundel Festival is a splendid event and it started yesterday. 10 days of entertaining mayhem have commenced just as the weather has turned to something more recognisable to people stuck here all year. Today we may trot up to Arundel Castle to witness some of the cricket match between Tim Rice’s XI and the Sussex Martlets, before sloping back to the town for some culture, or more likely more beer to add to those we shall doubtless consume at the cricket and/or at lunch at the George at Burpham. With the festival preceding a Sussex Seniors New Forest cricket tour before heading back to my beloved Valbonne to recommence my efforts for Currencies Direct, I expect to be a broken man by the time I arrive.

Chris France

Strictly Come Cricket

July 24, 2014

As Gary Glitter once sang “I’m Back, I’m Back, Its Good To Be Back”, however this is just for a day, to catch up on events over the past month, but don’t get too excited, this column will remain the sporadic musings of an old git, just a bit more sporadic that was once the case.

The inspiration to write again came last week when That Nice Lady Decorator said “I cut my foot today”. I asked how she had managed to do that and it seems that the Stanley Knife she had employed to cut her toe nails had not been quite as accommodating as she had hoped. Now call me old-fashioned but who else would be using Stanley Knife to aid a pedicure? I dared to venture this opinion out loud, but luckily the bruises had gone down before my visit to Lords, the home of cricket last Thursday, Friday and Saturday to witness the death throes of a tired old guard being kept in the game by a load of youngsters.

Yes, the fact that I am back in the UK for summer has allowed me to indulge my love for the finest game known to man. I am not talking about the stupid limited overs (and of limited interest to those of us who understand this great game, belittled still further by the predilection for the players to wear pyjamas when playing), I am sure there is not one Currencies Direct customer in the country who will admit to liking T20 cricket ahead of the real thing, 5 day test cricket.

Lords Test

Harry Judd with Penfold, aka Mr Clipboard, at Lords

Lords was a triumph of conspicuous consumption over cricket. It has such a lovely atmosphere, almost like an enormous gentleman’s  club, that  the cricket can sometimes become  a side-show, especially when England is playing so poorly. The highlight was Saturday, when myself and That Nice Lady Decorator were guests of Adidas in their executive corporate hospitality box. It is an intimate affair with just 20 people and I was able to give someone called Harry Judd from a group  called something like Macvities (?) some much-needed sartorial advice, and to congratulate him on having achieved sufficient stature to be invited to Lords. An Uppingham Public Schoolboy, who apparently won Strictly Come Dancing recently, he has clearly benefited from the experience and perhaps some of the peculiar err…experiences that one is rumoured to find in schools of this kind. I jest. He was a thoroughly charming and grounded individual.

Two of the British Rugby team, Mike a Brown and Marland Yarde were also in attendance and I was able to give then some sound advice about how to play their games next season. I think they were impressed but it was hard to tell. I think the heady mixture of Pimms and champagne (no, not in the same glass, well at least not in my glass) might have been responsible for some rather garrulous loose talk.

Returning to Arundel on Sunday, it was time to bail out that delinquent hound Banjo from prison kennels . I argued that he not served sufficient time to pay for all the indignities he has visited upon me.  He has gobbed over most of my trousers, snapped at people including children and grown into do something about the same size as a woolly mammoth. So what does That Nice Lady Decorator do in response to his continually expanding girth? She has sent him for a haircut at Muttley Makeovers. When I was experiencing a little excess in the stomach department, was I sent for a haircut? No, I was sentenced to two miserable 5:2 diet days each week and to cycle everyday. Who has the dog’s life? Me or Muttley’s friend?


Chris France

From the Grand Prix to camping

May 28, 2014

When one spends part of ones life in the Côte D’Azur, one has to come to terms with the inevitability that you will be invited to certain festivals and events, and one must involve oneself in them whatever the cost. It is the law. Last week, we had dutifully to endure lunches on the beach during The Cannes Film Festival, and last weekend it was the Monaco Grand Prix. These are the kind of irksome duties that befall an ex pat living in the area.

Personally I am not enamoured with the boy racers and their nasty loud little cars, but no one can deny that it is an event, and so, when the invitation came to go to Monte Carlo aboard a private yacht, I felt compelled to accept, If only out of that sense of duty.

Roly and Poly Bufton had invited the upper echelons of Valbonnaise society (plus Old Harrovian, Loudmouth Largy) to join them on a trip around to Monte Carlo to witness the Monaco Grand Prix. By “witness” I mean get within a few hundred yards of the port, listen to the cars whilst anchored in the bay, catch a fleeting glimpse of them as they turned into the tunnel and watch the event aboard the boat on Sky TV. Initially I had thought that, with the race due to commence in mid afternoon, that an eleven o clock start would be quite acceptable. Put in the earplugs, ignore all the Formula one nonsense, consume vast quantities of rosé and then back in time for tea. However, it was not quite like that. Having accepted the invitation, it became obvious that an early start was required in order to secure a good position, and with nowhere to turn, one had to accept that leaving Valbonne at 6.30 am was a good thing, however, awaking at 6 am with the infernal alarm shrieking at me, had me thinking of throwing a “sickie”.

camper van

Bluebell the camper

Yes, it is a fact, I was awake about an hour after I had gone to sleep, ready to board a yacht, ready to be seasick and ready to “enjoy” what is arguably the most famous Formula One event in the world. After the event people were asking me about the result, and I could only say that the result was getting home without being sick or deaf. Of course I am being a little disingenuous. It was a treat to be asked aboard a sumptuous yacht, and to be offered the chance of a unique view of one of the worlds most prestigious sporting events, courtesy of some pals who happen to have a nice yacht.

Between races was by far the most convivial experience. During the races which were staged before the Grand Prix, which were even louder than the big event, speaking was not an option, but it did have the beneficial effect of drowning out Loudmouth Largy. Actually drowning and Largy seem to fit together so well, but I digress. The atmosphere of the cars, the scores of other fabulous yachts moored nearby and the sense of occasion plus the great company aboard the boat, not to mention great food and an abundance of wine was living life as a millionaire.

So after the high life of Sunday, we decided to see how the other half live by taking Bluebell the camper out for a trip to Agay, and then on to Port Grimaud near St Tropez. I needed a few days of going back to nature after the rigours of the promotion of the fine foreign exchange services of Currencies Direct.

Chris France

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