THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

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Jaipur

I didn't make it to Rishikesh, alas. My friend in Dehradun didn't feel up to it, so I spent the day relaxing at my hotel. On Saturday morning, I took an early plane to Delhi and a connecting flight to Jaipur. It's off-season but this is part of the "Golden Triangle" of Indian tourism, along with Delhi and Agra, and is much more geared toward foreign visitors.

I had one of the ten best meals of my life in the hotel's signature restaurant on Saturday night. Once more I puzzled the waiting staff by abstaining from bread and rice, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of an elevated version of local cuisine.

On Sunday morning, I set out on a guided tour of the city. We began with "the Palace of the Winds", a place that was used for the entertainment of royal ladies living in purdah. When the various festivals in the city were going on, they could view them from their seclusion through its many windows. There are no stairs. The various levels are reached by ramps along which the ladies, in their heavy attire, would be carried to the various vantage points. It's now government-owned and is one of the city's signature attractions. It's hard to get a different picture of something so much photographed, but I was pleased with this one. I was helped by the overcast skies which made for good, diffused photographic light all day.

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From there we walked to the Jantar Mantar, not a palace but a set of enormous scientific instruments built three hundred years ago by Maharajah Sawai Jai Singh II, a man with a serious interest in astronomy and astrology. It's one of five astronomical observatories he built in North, West and Central India.

On the way there I took a tumble and measured my length on a funky Jaipur pavement. I had my camera around my neck and a backpack full of gear on my shoulder. As I fell in Peckinpah-time, I remember being mostly concerned about protecting my equipment. I fell on a telephoto zoom lens attached to the strap of my camera bag. Miraculously, it seems to be undamaged. Kind locals rushed over to help me up, but only my dignity was hurt. It reminded me of the endless prat falls in the comic strips of my Beano and Dandy-reading youth because it turned out I had – and what a cliché this is – slipped on a banana peel. Not only that but one discarded by the monkeys that raid the nearby fruit stalls!

At the Jantar Mantar (literally, "calculation instrument" but usually translated as "observatory") you can set your watch to Jaipur time by the huge sundials (adjusting by 32 minutes to get Indian Standard Time) or use huge globes set into the ground to determine the current position of the zodiac constellations. People have their photographs taken in front of the structure relating to their particular star sign. The object in the picture is the "giant equatorial sundial" which stands 90 feet high. This structure is used as the logo of the local council and features everywhere in the city. 

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Our driver then took us to the City Palace. This is still the home of the current Maharajah, a twenty-year old who went to boarding school in the U.K. but is currently studying for a degree on the East Coast of the USA. We toured the public spaces and some of the private rooms. Our guide was delighted to have an English car enthusiast to whom he could tell the story of a previous Maharajah who, when visiting London, was given the bum's rush from a Rolls-Royce showroom. He returned in full royal regalia and ordered six cars for delivery to Jaipur. When Rolls-Royce engineers arrived after six months for an after-sales servicing, they found he had given them to the city sanitation department to use for collecting rubbish! 

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Also prominently displayed are two enormous, elegant containers which accompanied another Maharajah to London for a coronation. He didn't trust the local water and so took then filled with Jaipur water for his consumption during his stay. One of the best parts of the visit was time spent with a local gentleman in the arts and crafts gallery of the palace. He demonstrated his skills with a "brush" with just one hair by executing a sketch and then showed us his work. I bought a splendid piece to add to my little art collection back home. Here he is, signing it with that "brush".

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Mindrolling in Dehradun

I spent today around Dehradun (known to the British in the days of the Raj as "Dehra" and often to the locals just as "Doon"). It's a lively city of more than half a million souls and the "interim capital" of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The official plan is to build a new capital in the mountains, but I am told that may never happen (though the plan will probably never be officially renounced) because the politicians, officials and their families don't want to move to some soulless new town.

It's not a typical tourist destination. I'm here to visit a friend. I clearly stand out a bit from the crowd, though the attention – in this very polite country – is not unfriendly. I am just the subject of mild curiosity. After looking around a bit to get a feel of the place, I lunched with my friend at a mildly hip cafe and got another taste of Indian Indian food as opposed to the British Indian food I've been enjoying all my life. As my diet precludes carbohydrates at present, my food choices have not been entirely typical; no chapatis or naan bread, no potatoes or rice. However I have enjoyed the greater delicacy of the spices and the lighter consistency of the dishes. My friend reckons the British versions have too much tomato, butter and/or cream. Presumably our first Indian restauranteurs checked out our traditional diet and decided modifications were in order. Given the more sedentary lives we lead these days and the greater care many of us take with our diets, I reckon it's time for a reboot of British Indian cuisine but I'm sure no-one will do anything so radical on the say-so of a first time visitor on only his second day! 

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In the afternoon we visited the local Mindrolling Buddhist Monastery. This was founded only quite recently – in 1965 – by monk refugees from Tibet. I know little about Buddhism but I have always found its monasteries and temples attractive, soothing places. This one was no exception, though in the heat and humidity I was not quite as soothed as I might have hoped. I enjoy a bit of sunshine as much as the next chap, but I am not constitutionally adapted to it on quite this exuberant scale. I don't think I could have coped with it at all last year when I weighed forty kilos more! Despite this, I enjoyed my wander around the extensive site. I then drank a litre of water in a shady place before grabbing a taxi back to base.

In the morning, continuing the spiritual theme, I'm visiting the Hindu holy city of Rishikesh before returning to dine with my friend's family in the evening.


A different kind of road trip

It has been a while since I visited a new country but here I am in India for the first time. Most English people think we have an idea of this place. It is writ large in our history, cinema, television and literature. We've all read "The Jewel in the Crown", right (or at least watched the TV adaptation)? We all have Indian colleagues at work or Indian friends or neighbours. We all eat "Indian food" (though mostly adapted to our tastes, apparently).

This is not a trip for Speranza. I dropped her off for her annual service before heading to the airport yesterday. I will collect her when I return to England in ten days time, fettled and fitted with an Apple CarPlay system to bring her up to date. I wanted to work in a road trip though, so arranged to transfer from Delhi airport to Dehradun by car. This was a six hour trip that allowed me to see Indian life at ground level in cities, villages and countryside. I was strongly advised not to drive here and, after my experiences today, I understand why. I am a libertarian, but Indian drivers tend more to outright anarchism. They drive on the left, mostly. If a junction is coming up on the right, they sometimes decide to get into position a mile or two early, however. If a motorcyclist in a town sets off from the right side of the road, he may just stay there. When emerging from a junction, the Indian driver's trust in fate is impressive.

Screen Shot 2018-07-18 at 18.48.10To be honest, I rather liked it. The further we traveled and the more I observed the local techniques, the more I wanted to have a go myself. It would have to be in a hire car though and preferably a four-wheel drive SUV – ideally of military specification. I would also like it to have a very loud horn, because that's a more important component here than the steering wheel. From my observations today, it seems that the person with the loudest horn has right of way. The driver we encountered with a Dukes of Hazzard "General Lee" type horn seemed to take even higher priority so, ideally, my hire car would have one of those.

The motorised road users were fun enough but when we left Delhi things got even more interesting. I am used to seeing cattle as I drive through the English countryside, but only out of side windows. Here you can see them from the others too. The composure of Indian drivers, who never seem to look angry or surprised no matter how fast or erratically you drive at them is only exceeded by the bovine pedestrians and their relatives pulling the bullock carts. My driver cut in on one so sharply that I thought we must spook him but Indian bullocks are made of stern stuff. I watched him in the mirror as we pulled away and he was completely unperturbed. We also encountered a goat herd and his flock. He was one of the few Indians not clutching a smartphone, though he may have had one about his person somewhere. Nothing about his dress or his demeanour contradicted the idea that he had time-travelled in from the Biblical era. In the next village another chap – in thoroughly modern dress and clutching a cellphone – was lounging in front of his home petting a goat which seemed to enjoy being stroked as much as any pet dog or cat. It was an oddly touching scene.

My favourite road users however were the serene and elegant Indian ladies riding pillion on motorcycles – sidesaddle. As the guy in charge of the machine (safety-helmeted as none of them were) dodged in and out of traffic, they sat upright and calm, one hand resting gently on the pillion. The voluminous fabric of their outfits swirled in the wind with such graceful abandon that the fate of Isadora Duncan seemed certain to be theirs. Yet they remained as poised and stable as the Spirit of Ecstasy on the front of a Rolls-Royce – even those with a child or three in hand.

The other thing that struck me on the journey was the high value Indians place on education. There were more advertisements for educational programmes than for consumer products and seats of learning (some more impressive than others) were dotted along the route. I am told that many of the students are being exploited by scoundrels whose diplomas are not worth the paper they're printed on, but I couldn't help liking Indians for their enthusiasm for learning, however naive.

As we passed over the hills on the final approach to Dehradun, the road become rougher and yet more dangerous.  A new tunnel is being built and our route seemed to be across the construction site. This did not deter my valiant driver. He tackled the unfriendly surfaces with such vigour that he managed to get all four wheels of his clunker of a Chevrolet "mommy van" off the ground at one point. If he has been driving it this way from new, it is a credit to its makers that it only looks as scruffy as it does. It had over 160,000 kilometres "on the clock" and he seemed determined to destroy it before it reaches 170,000.

We had already encountered a couple of monkeys in the villages down below but on the hill roads, they were legion. I am no naturalist, but watching their mutual familial care at the roadside was fascinating. 

India_06I didn't see much of Dehradun before we reached my hotel. The picture below is the view from my room's window. I shall take a tour with camera in hand tomorrow. For now, I have just enjoyed the view from the rooftop bar of the foothills of the Himalayas and my first taste (in the hotel restaurant) of Indian food without the "sneer quotes". It tasted good, but less creamy or buttery than the version for English palates. On my current diet, that suits me just fine.

India_20For the duration of this trip, I shall not be blogging about politics. Given the mess the Government is in over Brexit, I am sure that will be as much of a relief to you as it is to me!


A corset-maker by trade, a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination

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Five years ago today in New Jersey I stood outside the home of my hero Tom Paine, author of Common Sense, The American Crisis, Rights of Man and The Age of Reason.

In his day he was known as “the most dangerous man alive” though his only weapon was his pen. So mightily did he wield it that President John Adams said “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.

He helped shape the new republics of America and France; serving in the Revolutionary French National Convention representing Pas-de-Calais, bravely opposing on moral principle (anti-monarchist though he was) the execution of the deposed King and escaping the guillotine at the hands of Robespierre by pure luck. He was “a corset Maker by trade, a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

Washington had Paine's pamphlet The American Crisis read aloud to his troops to inspire them. It begins:

These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

He is the most important but least remembered of the Founding Fathers because — though profoundly religious himself — he offended the conventional (and in the case of the slave-owners, hypocritical) religiosity of the early Americans. Sadly his influence was also lost in France, where his fan Napoleon, who slept with Rights of Man under his pillow but whom Paine recognised shrewdly as “the completest charlatan that ever existed,” overthrew the Revolution.

When I stood before the images hewn into Mount Rushmore, I was probably the only person there thinking it sad that Paine’s was not among them.

I blog under his name not because I agree with all his ideas (he was as misguided in details as he was sound on principles) nor because I consider myself his equal (though he would have insisted upon that) but because he is a hero of the cause of Liberty. Also because if he were alive today the greatest of all pamphleteers (no publication has ever reached the same percentage of Americans as Common Sense) would blog and tweet to dangerous effect. I hoped my humble writings in defence of beleaguered Liberty might exert even a millionth part of the influence his had.

If only his ideas had been as successful in his native Britain as they were in his adopted America how much better the world might be today. I still hope one day we shall bring his revolution home.


Photo essays from the Cote d'Azur

Here is the video of the photo essays my classmates and I made at our Cote d'Azur workshop. At the end there are some bonus shots (a few of them mine). The bonus images were good, but didn't fit the stories we were trying to tell.

The title of my essay has gone slightly awry in the video. It was meant to be "Beaches, Boulevards & Bling: the style of the Cote d'Azur" – but I think you will get the idea.


Home again

There is little I like better than a well-maintained open road through pleasant countryside and a great car to drive on it. I had wisely decided not to venture out in search of food last night. I used "Uber Eats" to have a young Frenchman on a bicycle bring me soup and sashimi. Thus refreshed, I tried to relax by watching a movie but found myself so exhausted I couldn't stay awake. So I gave up and went early to bed. I woke very refreshed by a solid eleven hours of sleep. This may seem excessive, but the demands of my photo workshop led to my staying up several times to the early hours editing my shots. I had felt unsafely tired on yesterday's drive and it had taken many breaks and coffees to ensure my safe arrival in Dijon.

It's really not wise to drive a supercar in such a state. Or any car for that matter.

My sleep deficit eliminated, I sprang into enthusiastic action. As soon as I was showered and dressed, I loaded the car and returned to the hotel to grab a quick breakfast before hitting the autoroute. I use this modest hotel because it takes me only a couple of kilometres off the road. It's simple and clean and (when I am feeling more energetic) has a couple of modestly decent restaurants at hand. I've never uttered a word of English there because the lady d'un certain âge on reception really seems to appreciate a bit of effort to speak French – and speaks it herself so clearly and elegantly that it's not such a strain to cope with as it can be elsewhere. It's in a little development on the edge of town that no-one without business there has any reason to visit. The plentiful parking is therefore quite secure. I have never had a problem on this or my previous visits. Indeed I've never seen anyone but another hotel guest admiring Speranza – and she normally draws quite a crowd.

She has been thoroughly on song this trip. She handled delightfully as we headed north. I set off with her roof down but raised it on refuelling as it was quite cold for a while. The bright, clear conditions were perfect for driving though and it warmed up enough to lower it again for the final stretch. It took us four and a half hours to cover the 580 km to the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais. Add to that one brief stop to refuel and a couple of short breaks to stretch my legs and answer calls of nature and I was parked up at the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais by 2:00pm – a bit early for my 5.50 pm train!

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Speranza on the Flexiplus car park at Eurotunnel Calais

I had breezed through the well-automated check in. The UK border police had asked a couple of impertinent questions but hadn't delayed me unduly (as they never do in this direction though they always search the car on my outward journey for some reason). The advantage of the more expensive Flexiplus fare (apart from the rather nice lounges and "complimentary" food) is that you can travel on any Shuttle. So I gave myself a half-hour break to eat at the lounge (no food being permitted in Speranza's cockpit) before boarding the train scheduled to leave at three minutes to three. This got me back to Folkestone earlier than I left, thanks to the time difference. Soon I was refuelling on home soil before facing the nationally-degrading contrast between motoring in the North of France and South of England.

We used to console ourselves that our crappy infrastructure reflected the lower taxes in the U.K. Now that's no longer the case, it's clear our public servants are either less competent than French Énarques, or just less keen on doing honest work. Probably a bit of both. I suspect our politicians are also keener on creating non-jobs as "gender coordinators" or "diversity tsars" than hiring engineers. For the French, lip-service to such egregious nonsense is the very most that is required.

By 4.30 pm London time I was parked up at home and working out the logistics of my next trip – a more modest one than this 2,000 mile adventure. On Friday I am driving to North Wales to celebrate my father's 80th birthday. Mr Paine Senior came to fatherhood early, as witness the fact that I am 61 and often (to my irritation) mistaken for his younger brother!

I realise that my burblings about touring the Côte d'Azur in my beloved Ferrari are probably not helpful to the usual purposes of this blog. It must certainly irk those with any taint of identity politics and confirm the prejudices of any passing SJWs. In some ways it might be better to write about travel and politics on separate blogs, but since I think all opinions should be evaluated in the pure and indiscriminate fire of Reason, I am inclined not to worry. Those people who take the medieval approach – now fashionable again – of evaluating ideas according to the status of the person expounding them are already lost to Reason!

Normal political service will therefore resume as soon as I catch up with the news I have missed while artistically engaged. I understand President Trump, for example, has been busy trying to earn the Nobel Peace Prize that was handed to his predecessor gratis. Let me get back to you on that one!

In the meantime, if you care to read more about the workshop I attended, you can find my classmate Tammy's blog here. The completed record of my journey on Track my Tour is here.


Cutting the mustard

I set out apprehensively this morning to pick up Speranza from the parking garage where she has been stowed all week. Another British guest's Ferrari was broken into yesterday in the garage recommended by the hotel. I heard him on the telephone organising the replacement of his smashed window so that he could get underway to catch his Eurotunnel Shuttle home. I hope he made it. I needn't have worried however. She was in good shape. I had rejected the hotel's suggestion as to parking because, inspecting the garage on Google Maps, the entrance ramp looked too steep. I chose instead to park under the nearby Meridien Hotel in what was claimed to be the most secure parking in Nice.

I drove her back to the hotel and loaded up. With all my photographic and computer gear (for editing) I have a lot of stuff with me. I was on the road by 0930 and  – by studiously ignoring the satnav, which was unaware that the usual road to the autoroute is closed and using my own local knowledge based on my difficulties on arrival (and on visiting my friends in Mougins) – found my way West quite easily. It's an L-shaped journey home, following the A8 from Nice toward Marseilles and then joining the Autoroute du Soleil North towards Lyon.

The weather was perfect. Alternately sunny and overcast and with temperatures peaking at 35℃. I drove with the lid down until I stopped for lunch at 1230 and kept it up afterwards to avoid getting sunburned. By the time of my second refuelling stop of the day, it was mid afternoon and I was further North, so the roof came down again for my final run to Dijon, where I am staying overnight. I am a bit bushed to be honest. This week was great fun but hard work. I am not sure I can be bothered to go and and find food, but a couple of hours rest may change that.

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Here is the class photo from this week's workshop, with the great man himself second from the right at the front, flanked by Liza Politi who, with her partner Ari Espay (not pictured because he's taking the shot) organises the event and his able young assistant Cali. Your humble blogger is at the back beneath his Panama hat. The organisers are waiting for faster internet than the hotel in Nice can offer to upload the video of our collective efforts, but I will post a link when it has been published.

As usual, my route can be followed here. My classmate Tammy's blog can be found here. With a bit of luck, this time tomorrow, Speranza and I will be on the Chunnel Shuttle home.


Turning in my assignment

I was downstairs at 0730 for breakfast this morning so as to be in the classroom with Joe to go through my photos at 0800. I gave him twenty-five shots to whittle down – in the role of photo-editor – to eight final "selects". It was an interesting exercise. Jay Maisel says that for photographers "editing is next to godliness" and Joe had told us yesterday that a good edit involves cutting good pictures. It was quite something to watch a master apply his approach to editing to my work.

I had no complaints. He ruthlessly cut my favourite shot because it was just not sharp enough to survive. He could see why I liked it and agreed it would have been a perfect part of my story, but it just didn't make the cut. It's not what a photo means to the photographer who was there when it was made, but what it says to a viewer who wasn't.

My classmates went through the same exercise between 0800 and 1000, when Joe replayed the edits on the big screen for all our benefits. We had seen most of the pictures before during the critiques in this week's classes but it was different to see them together as part of a photographer's chosen story. It was also fascinating to see what a place I love and know well means to my classmates.

We then headed off to lunch at a beach restaurant. That was "my" South of France; the one I have known for decades. Sitting there with great food and a breeze off the Mediterranean it felt very different from the place I have been slogging around on on a photographic mission for a week!

We returned to class to view the video Ari Espay, one of our faculty, had made of our work. He stitched together all our "photo-essays" and threw in a "grab bag" of good photos that didn't serve our stories. When I receive my copy I will host it here and post a link.

We went on from there to a "farewell dinner" at a local restaurant. Most of us are heading out tomorrow bright and early so this really was goodbye to a group of people made friends by a fascinating shared experience.


Cannes and a deadline

After our class this morning, we set off to Cannes. This little French town is a second home to me. For decades, I attended the MIPIM real estate fair at the Palais des Festivals every year. Even since I retired from practising law, I have usually visited to stay in touch with my friends in the business. It seemed strange today to be there without them. Usually, when I walk along the famous Croisette, I bump into several chums. Today, the only people I could recognise were my fellow-photographers.

The pressure was on. This was the last opportunity to generate new images for our "photo-essays". I finalised the title of mine as Beaches, Boulevards & Bling: the style of the Cote dʼAzur so have given up on my original satirical intent. I wish I'd done so from the beginning. I could perhaps have approached subjects and won their cooperation if I'd been able to tell them it was their style that caught my eye!

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As it is, almost all of my shots are candid. If I have any gift as a photographer it is for directing models. This approach has denied me the use of that. And my size (I am 6' 7" tall) makes it hard to be an inconspicuous presence on the street. My candid subjects often wear nervous expressions that belie the relaxed atmosphere of this playground for the wealthy.

Having clarified my intent, I found today's shoot easier. I knew what I was looking for and, in Cannes where I feel very much at home, I knew precisely where to look. I strolled a lot along the Rue d'Antibes (Cannes' Bond Street or 5th Avenue) and the Croisette (Cannes' beach promenade). It was a shame that, as it was Sunday, most shops were closed but I still found stylish and well-accessorised people out and about. I found a couple of hunting hides where I could sit and wait for prey. I even found time to have a non-alcoholic cocktail or two at my favourite terrace bar, which brought back happy memories of time spent there with friends and family since I first visited in 1991.

I skipped breakfast today, had a hearty (but healthy) lunch and have dispensed with dinner. I needed the time to go through 600 photos (I took many more this week, but have culled them ruthlessly each day) in order to find 25 "selects" for the faculty to cull. We have been simulating the job of a photo-journalist on assignment in the good old days of Time/Life magazines. They will simulate the photo-editors of those days with each of us, one by one. They will then present both our selects and their final choices to the whole group; explaining why they chose as they did. Tomorrow morning should be interesting.


Friday and Saturday in Eze, Monte Carlo, Mougins and Tourrettes-sur-Loup

My best prospect for finding subjects for my photo essay project was Monte Carlo. Flâneurs congregate around the casino there like wildebeest at a water hole. I hoped hunting would be good. First though, our group met at 0730 for a pre-departure portrait shoot in Nice. The local photographer assisting our teachers, Manu, had agreed to pose for portraits in a café near our Nice hotel. Our lead instructor Joe McNally had scouted the location and cleared our shoot with the owners. A fellow-student had also recruited a personable young musician, Coco, whom she had seen perform the night before, to model for us.

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Joe is particularly known for his mastery of flash. On previous workshops I learned a lot from him and I now prefer to light my portraits. This workshop is about creating picture essays like those of the long-gone glory days of Life and Time magazines, however, so we were tasked to shoot with natural light. I had the most fun so far working with our two models and more of my final selects can be found here for Coco and here for Manu.

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On the way to Monaco, we visited the little medieval hill town of Eze. It was raining steadily and the steep pavements were slippery but the buildings are picturesque and one of them housed a shop where I was able to relieve my sodden misery (not having brought a coat) with the purchase of an umbrella. 

The weather cleared in Monte Carlo and we worked the scene thoroughly in our different ways. I came to the realisation that my original project was too nasty for me to pursue with any conviction. I am no fashion critic and as I searched for examples of OTT glamour, I decided to just look for "bling" instead. There's plenty of it to be seen in this part of the world and the people who wear it are not ashamed of it. With this in mind I shot over 500 images.

Manu, our model and guide, led us out to dinner at a remarkable French take on a burger joint. This was a problem for me on my diet, but I handled that well enough by ordering a chicken burger and throwing away everything but the chicken. There was an option to have a salad instead of fries so that (and two and a half litres of water) completed my meal.

I then paid the price of my intensive shooting by staying up until the early hours editing my images to find seven to present for critique. After too few hours of sleep I rose for breakfast and joined my fellow-students at our class, which (with presentations and critiques) took until midday. 

We then set of for a splendid lunch at one of my favourite restaurants in the world; the Place de Mougins. This was my second visit on this trip to my favourite French village and the food did not disappoint. It was as refined as last night's dinner had been hearty. Having opted for the vegetarian version, I was able to eat everything except the dessert (a soufflé that my friends told me tasted as good as it looked) and the highly-decorative petit fours.

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I have visited Mougins many times in the thirty years or more I have been coming to the South of France, so I am mainly interested to see how my fellow-students saw it with their fresh eyes. They are an observant bunch and never fail to photograph things I miss. Tomorrow's critique session should be interesting for me.

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We returned to Nice via another medieval hill town - Tourrette-sur-Loup, which was picturesque with its steep, winding streets and oddly-shaped houses. It is almost entirely dependent on tourism, but was far less crowded than Eze or Mougins.

Tomorrow we are going to the town I know best in these parts, Cannes.