Only in Britain...  

Monday, 27 August 2007

I phoned the local gym and I asked if they could teach me how to do the splits.
He said, "How flexible are you?" I said, "I can't make Tuesdays or Thursdays."

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Back to earth  

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Today is officially the last day of holiday. Yui flies back to japan this afternoon. Everyone will miss her very much

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Monte Carlo or Bust  

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Yesterday's trip to Monaco and Monte Carlo was a success. There is some serious money there and it is a very beautiful place. We even managed to sneak into the casino for a look (they only let you get so far though!) But if I was rich, I'm not sure it would be my cup of tea. For a start, it's absolutely overrun with day-trippers and tourists which would make me feel a bit like a goldfish in a bowl. Not to mention, les touristes sticking their smudgy hands all over my Ferrari while their girlfriend takes their photo. Secondly, it's such a small place I'm sure you'd have no privacy at all. I think for my money, I'd buy one of the superb villas on the Cap d'Ail or in Eze overlooking the Med. Now that would be something worth having!

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No comment necessary  

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

'Nuff said

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Top of le monde, mate  

Monday, 20 August 2007

Today we explored the old town of Vieux Nice - a real rabbit warren of tiny side streets flanked by tall buildings that kind of echo the precipitous landscapes of the Provence hills that lie beyond the town. In former times, Vieux Nice had a reputation as a den of iniquity, but our experience was not in the least threatening. Mind you, I'm not sure I'd want to wander around there late at night!

On the other side of the old town we climbed the 100m high headland get a spectacular view of the Promenade des Anglais and the sweep of the coast. From that angle, the sea looked impossibly inviting and blue. I just wanted to dive straight in. Of course, that would have been rather ill-advised!

On the other side of the headland, you get a superb view of the harbour and all the yachts. One in particular was a real floating palace. It's not hard to see why this part of the world attracts the rich and famous.

Tomorrow we're off to Monaco, via the slightly less glamorous mode of transportation... the bus.

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Quality of life  

Sunday, 19 August 2007

It's very difficult for an Englishman to admit that the French are in any way superior. But equally I find it impossible not to tip my hat and acknowledge that in terms of standard of living, the French win hands down. We in England like to think of ourselves as being fairly European in our outlook,and reasonably civilised in the food and drink department. But spend some time in a place like Nice and the gap between our aspirations and reality becomes all too obvious. While we in England seem to have followed the American model of pre-packaged, sanitised and commoditised shit passing for food, the French have retained freshness, local produce and real variety. Take a look at the vegetables on display in the local supermarket. All fresh, all local and seasonal. This is repeated on the fish counter, the meat counter, the cheese section and the deli. It's an absolute delight. People still bring wheely baskets to the shops and there are still real bakeries and real butchers. Suddenly I realise what we in England have lost in the last 20 years. Can it be that our standard of living is actually travelling in reverse?

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Nice day out  

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Today was out first full day in Nice, and what a beautiful day it was too. It's not hard to see how the Cote d'Azur got its name - the sea was the most fantastic blue I think I've ever seen.

We had a pleasant morning wandering around the town, and a nearly as pleasant afternoon with the girls window shopping and buying a hair dryer, the lack of which is apparently a life-or-death emergency. The Moe Strop-O-Meter remained at a reasonably low reading for most of the day, so all in all, not a bad day in Nice.

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Dance of the suger prum fairly  

Friday, 17 August 2007

Moe's dance show went more or less according to plan. I thought it was very good. I know how hard they'd worked for it, and it was clear to see where all that hard work went. There were no less than 4 costume changes in the 20 minute set, each one accomplished absolutely seamlessly and with perfect professionalism. The only major problem was during a Chinese dance set when a couple of the girls got their ribbons entangled which was pretty much disasterous for them. But, these things happen in live shows and on stage, they handled it very professionally. From what I understand there were plenty of tears backstage, but that too is part of live performance.

Moe did well and was quite pleased I think. So much so, that she actually cheered up for nearly 30 minutes before sliding into another sulk. Sigh...

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Paris? No thanks  

I find it hard to understand why people get so worked up about Paris. Admittedly, I've only been here a few times, but each time I have been irritated, enraged or just disgusted. Anything but enchanted, in fact. I guess it's very much like London in that respect. But at least London doesn't pass itself off as anything other than what it is. Paris, on the other hand, likes to potray itself as the city of gastronomy, culture and l'amour. But I find these ideals hard to square with what I see as the reality of a city plagued by anti-social behaviour, high cost of living and an unjustifiable elitist attitude And the French are - of course - bewildering in the way they deal with these problems.

From our hotel window on Monday, I witnessed a full-on scrap between ther police armed with riot batons and the local yobs armed with scaffold poles. The boys in blue were clearly up for it, but when the yobs backed down, the police just let them walk away! They were back in the same place within 10 minutes, doing their deals. It's a funny old place.

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Les Anglais (et les Japonase) Sont Arrivee  

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Well, we've arrived safely in Paris on the first leg of our mini Grand Tour. True to form, things have gone entirely to plan, but not in the way that I was expecting. Following our family motto of "Hope for the best and expect the worse" I was fully anticipating the British weather, Network Rail, British Airways or the London Underground to throw a characteristic and predictable spanner in the works. But no: The sun shone, the man at the station was helpful and efficient; the train arrived on time and didn't fall off the rails at any point or catch fire. Everything went absolutely swimmingly in fact, until about 10 minutes before we arrived at Victoria when Yui was suddenly taken sick. In the space of 10 minutes, she went from happy to pasty-faced,commode-hugging tom and dick. She made the journey OK, but the poor love was really sick when we arrived at the hotel. It turns out she had had a dose of BBQ-food poisoning before she left Japan, so we are hoping it's just a 24 hr thing. I've told her she's first on the loop-the-loop rollercoaster at Eurodisney tomorrow, just to keep her spirits up. She seems a little better now, so I hope she'll be stronger tomorrow.

So, after that - Moe decides to throw a wobbly for some inexplicable reason. Well, not so inexplicable in that it's obviously my fault. Midori has tried very hard to keep the peace, but I feel that somebody could do with being a little bit more appreciative of the effort and expense that other people have gone to in making her Eurodisney dance show aspirations a reality. Sigh...feels like I'm wasting my time with that girl sometimes. Anyway, I maybe should remember the family motto....

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Anniversary treats!  

Monday, 6 August 2007

Today is our anniversary and to celebrate we visited the excellent Michael Caines restaurant in the new Abode Hotel in Canterbury. It was in this hotel (or rather a former incarnation of it)that we got married. At the end of the meal they brought us this. Wonderful!

The whole occasion has given us time to reflect on the trials and tribulations of the last two years. It has been hard - almost impossibly hard at times. But somehow we've made it this far. I am absolutely lost in admiration for my wife and daughter and how they have coped with their lives being turned utterly upside down. We are aleady talking about the next stage of our lives, in Japan. I just pray that I will be able to manage the difficulties of living in a foreign land as well as they have done.

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Thank the lord for technology  

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Welcome to my office!

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