Tuesday, 22 July 2014

HIGH SUMMER IN HENLEY

HENLEY IN HIGH SUMMER

Henley. 


Its prelude is Hurley downstream a couple of miles. We are again about the good ship MV Cantara of Dart, our third voyage. Waiting by the lock gates there is a small backwater. This is the home of Peter Freebody the boat builder. His craft are pontoon-moored under canvas faded by the weather. 

Caddice-like they sit quietly until their owners move the covers and parade these wonderful craft at the Regatta.
Peter Freebody the Boatbuilder Hurley


Mid morning near Henley still downstream from the Regatta’s start line, along the banks colourful burgee’s flutter. The MV Janthea (a Dunkirk Little Ship).

Caps, hats and flocks are starting to appear alongside the water’s edge.









At the top of the Regatta’s course, in the warm up area, crews wait patiently for their turn on the ‘race track’. On each boat much muscle and concentration. Crowds gather round the boats to gorge on the beefcake. More hats and caps strike upstream.
The MV Janthea (a Dunkirk Little Ship)

Just past noon, Henley. A mass of tents and grandstands, stalls, flags and bunting; marquees with tables set for luncheon, much wine is offered and much is graciously accepted, the effects of which are visible later in the day. Looking down from Cantara’s upper deck we don’t miss a thing. This is the view of views of the Henley Royal Regatta, a pleasure and a privilege. People line the banks as if on a Promenade. There is much to gawp at.
Admiring the beef cake preparing to race at Henley


We can include here the Royal Barge Glorianna, it fretwork and guilt giving it the semblance of a floating Tandoori restaurant.
In the thick of it in Henley

Sunday, 20 July 2014

A SWIM IN THE THAMES

Henley regatta without the Henley regatta,

We are passing under Henley Bridge upstream on the MV Cantara of Dart towards Wargrave. 

As if by magic the pageant is ended the circus is over and once through Marsh Lock thre is peace. The broad Thames stream without craft or people causes us to contemplate swimming.

Mrs Duck comes to look at my work
We come upon a small eyot that splits the river in two and put over to the left hand bank where a boat has a moment previously  pulled away as if to give this mooring spot to us.

The entire bank and channel is outs.

We take a swim before lunch, eye level with water lilies, ducks and May Flies of deep turquoise. 

Beneath the surface of the water it is milky green fading to a dark brown as we push out to the centre of the river.

Lunch and then another swim, and now the water is noticeably cooler. I sit by the river’s edge, not a soul about.




I draw the grasses and sedges that are so close. Mrs Duck comes to look at my work and I keep her attention with a piece of French bread.


I draw the grasses and sedges



Time and conversation drift for maybe four hours or more. 

We then turn back for Henley and the sun has swung round behind us from white to orange as we head down stream. 

We are back on the regatta course to see the final races of the day and then home through Hambledon and Hurley locks and so to Temple Marina to end a lovely day.



Tuesday, 8 July 2014

CANNES: OVEHEARD

EVERYONE GLITTERS A CANNES
On every street, in every bar and restaurant the jeunesse dorée shine. Supper in the Pastis Restaurant 
28-rue du commendant Andre.  I glance up from my drawing and see a couple, heads down and arguing. She looks so sad. They pay, rise from their and part.

I am not mistaken when ten minutes later Mlle is back with another party. We all smile in Cannes.
We all smile in the Pastis Resturant Cannes

CANNES THE TOWN OF OVERHEARD CONVERSATIONS

Unaccompanied, alone, and agreeably open to voices in the Grill and Wines 5, Rue de Notre Dame, service slow, entrecote excellent.
Conversations drift like parfum forte

"She flew me first class; it was one of the most memorable things
"You want red Sharon?
"I saw you on stage
"Do you want red meat?
"Yeah, definitely,
"Do you know that bloke?
"Oh fuck it, no!
"And in the plane, right, Matthew right, I got my photo took, on Facebook, ain’t that crazy!
"So what’s your karaoke song?


Cannes the town of loud conversations


FATIGUE SETS IN
Almost there, I only have tomorrow to inspire, entertain and guide my flock. I walk up the Croisette for a cocktail with Marc and Lou Lou. Too tired for supper I kiss goodbye I walk back down the sea front. Most are contemplating what to wear or where to go.

Hunger pounces and I enjoy a lovely lonely meal at the Café Restaurant In - Rue de 24 Aout. The TV is on, playing a World Cup game and sip my Côtes de Provence.


A week of noise, and brilliance and smiles and warmth. The sun warms us all and we have much of which to be thankful in this seaside town avec ils étaient des gens hautains.


The last supper in Cannes

Monday, 7 July 2014

CANNES CONFIDENTIAL


GETTING READY EACH DAY

Each morning a swim at 06:30, the water is warm; the beach is ploughed and rolled for my footprints. I walk back to the hotel washing my feet under a lawn sprinkler. Then breakfast each day nearly taken by a seagull.
on the way to The Palais

SO PRETTY

Each moment of each day people parade back to and from the great festival of creativity (advertising). Promotions and cabins call siren-like and girls on roller blades hand out leaflets. Sur le front de mer.


Bright young people at the Martinez


NIGHTLIFE

The Majestic, The Marriot, The Carlton and the Martinez. We all throng to our rendezvous, eager to kiss and hug and enjoy the evenings. “Oh you bright young people” http://bit.ly/1pBiFSv

In sixty minutes I have seen those I know and love in the Martinez.


Cannes-on-Beach

Sunday, 6 July 2014

CANNES: LOOKING BACK


ARRIVAL

It is always overcast in Cannes when I arrive.
I make the a short walk to the Palais de Congress to get my pass for the next six days. Cue thunderstorms. The red carpet is drenched and so are I.
Thunder on arrival in Cannes


Africans appearing from the side streets selling umbrellas. I am in the Best Western, two blocks from the Boulevard de la Croisette. No cats allowed in the hotel as there is no room to swing them. Across from the hotel Monoprix  >> http://www.monoprix.fr I buy one red, one white and some saucisson sec. All of this is packed into the fridge of my tiny room.
A sunset from the Radisson
The walk to work 










BIG BLUE


How many shades of blue? And red? And purple? Sunset in and across Cannes. 

All trees now are deepest blue. Only the beach is an pale ochre rim. The Radisson Hotel with its wonderful restaurant view and a lovely supper with Annie, Susan and Trish. 

We banter about the week ahead and gaze out over a billion euros worth of yachts.