THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Here’s what I was forbidden to photograph yesterday
Driving the corniche

To France via Monte Carlo

We returned from Maranello today without incident. We rose late and would have missed breakfast by five minutes were it not for a kindly Italian waitress who gave us an extension. Before we left I photographed my favourite artwork at our Ferrari themed hotel - a painting of a Ferrari California like Speranza in the same colour, together with the 60s California to which it was a tribute.


We covered over half the distance to Monaco before stopping at a motorway services for lunch and a rest. We then made our way to Monte Carlo and blagged entry to the Casino car park where Speranza was valet-parked in pride of place among her sisters. 


We had a drink at the Café de Paris before entering the casino for Mrs P II to see what the fuss is all about. I made her play the slots for a while to see if they did anything for her but she's no more a gambler than I am. We then wandered round to the back so that she could see the billions-worth of yachts at anchor before returning to the road and driving to Nice. We stuck to the coastal highway – avoiding the autoroute and arrived with a couple of hours to spare before our dinner engagement. 


I haven't mentioned the heat. It was 41℃ in Maranello today and 35-37℃ along our route. I would have liked to spend longer wandering around Nice but it was too damned hot. Having parked Speranza safely, we sauntered along the Promenade des Anglais for a few hundred yards to get to our rendezvous. We settled into a shady, cool spot in a cafe I knew from my photo workshop here last year. A couple of cold drinks later our friend — a French photographer I met at that workshop — joined us. We walked through the relative cool of the evening to an Indian restaurant he recommended – and wanted Mrs P II to evaluate. We spent an agreeable time in his company before retrieving Speranza and heading for "home" in Mougins.

Some young men of dubious aspect attempted some kind of a scam at an automated petrol station we stopped at to refuel. They claimed to have cash for petrol but no credit card to operate the unmanned machines. They wanted to give me €5 and "borrow" my credit card to put fuel in their "stranded" car. Thinking at first they wanted cash I was ready to give them €5 to be left alone, but they eventually made their request clear. I was not parting with my credit card to a stranger and they were miffed enough for Mrs P II to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t realise she had been alarmed until she told me as we drove away. I had evaluated them as an annoyance, not a threat. If French employment law was not so draconian, perhaps there could have been some workers there to shoo the rascals away?

Then we found ourselves on the autoroute in a queue that (two out of three lanes being closed for repairs) stretched for many kilometres and more than an hour. It was the least pleasant part of what had been a very agreeable day but eventually the traffic moved and we made our way safely home. We can now settle back into our lovely villa and perhaps cool off in the pool. 


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