THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Legere et gourmande
Wednesday and Thursday in Nice and Mougins


I had another splendid day. I rose early and loaded the car before breakfasting and checking out. I was on the road by 0815. I fuelled and topped up washer fluid at the first petrol station on the autoroute and set about devouring miles. I encountered my first and only traffic jam on the approaches to Lyon. This may have been caused by the strike on French railways today, but it was nothing by London standards and I was soon heading South on the wonderfully named Autoroute du Soleil (Motorway of the Sun). I lunched modestly on a packaged salad and some mango at one of the aires and pressed on to my destination. The only excitement came when a sudden thunderstorm caught me out on the motorway with my roof down. At speed, the rain mostly passed me by and I only really got wet during the 14 seconds it takes Speranza to pull off her convertible to coupé trick during a quick pit stop in an aire. Half an hour later it was blazing sunshine again and 30ºC. So I boxed again to lower the roof and let the sun dry out the interior.

Having left the motorway and cruised slowly but uneventfully along the Promenade des Anglais, I left my bags with the hotel reception and headed off to my planned spot in a nearby underground car park. Road works in the centre made that more of an exercise than I would have liked but I was soon back at the hotel. In all the hassle I forget to note my stats for the day, but the journey was about 630 km and was achieved an hour more quickly than Google Maps had predicted this morning so can be accounted a success. I was flashed by a speed camera near Lyon. I hope it caught my smile, as the we don't have free movement of such tickets across European borders.

I showered and met up with my group for the initial briefing. This was quite the reunion as most of us know each other from previous such events. The briefing became a bit of a joke. Though we are a mature bunch on average, the atmosphere was very much first day back at school. Joe was heckled, in-jokes were exchanged and a lot of fun was had. I watched the two "newbies" with some concern. All this must have meant nothing to them. I remembered feeling rather awkward at my first such introduction to the group, but they seemed relaxed enough about it. No doubt will bond as the week progresses.

Nice Monument_01
Dinner was at a neighbourhood bistro across from the hotel and presented a few problems for me. I skipped the bread, pasta starter and dessert. I also asked them to replace the risotto in my fish dish with a salad. I drank water and green tea instead of wine. I enjoyed it far more than I would have imagined if you had predicted it to me a year ago. I have become accustomed to dealing with such situations and, to be honest, my food tastes far better now than it used to. Hunger is the best sauce, they say. Certainly food that you need (rather than food you are just stuffing down from bad habit) tastes great! It is odd to be in the home of wine without partaking though.

Class begins tomorrow at 0900, followed by a shoot on the beachfront. I don't know if our all-American faculty knows about privacy laws in France. In the country where Henri Cartier-Bresson pretty much invented street photography, the publication of most of his images would be illegal now. Privacy trumps art and even the architects of buildings in the background have a veto right on publication. I guess the simple solution is not to publish anything, but I will be interested to hear what our teachers have to say on the subject tomorrow.