Wednesday, February 03, 2016



Hi beasties!

Yes! I've managed to get away early this year... It's a bit of a long story - but I wanted to get travelling whilst I'm free of Hospital appointments for a few weeks!! There was also Toby's birthday that needed celebrating!

So, anyway... We returned to Nice. This was my third trip there - the last time I was there being in November 2013, just after my 40th birthday. Toby and I enjoyed that trip a great deal and there was still more we wanted to see - it also seemed a good location to go in January to find some slightly warmer weather and the sound of waves crashing on French shores... With my feet still all bandaged up I wanted to go somewhere that I already knew - so there weren't too many surprises in store as far as getting around was concerned. Nice ticks all those boxes.

I'm not going to do a proper holiday diary this time - more a series of questions and answers... I'm aiming on presenting a couple of short fictional pieces too, along with plenty of photos, of course... With a bit of luck there will be enough for two posts...

So... What happened whilst we were in Nice? Now, let me think...

Q. It wasn't your first time there, so what made you want to go back to Nice?

A. Well, I've enjoyed my previous trips there and it's nice to be able to sit by the sea and in the parks and just watch people potter by. The city has a number of good viewpoints to visit - one of these being the modern art gallery. Nice is also a good base for day trips by train, allowing you to visit neighbouring towns; on our last trip we did Antibes and Menton and this time we ventured to Monaco/Monte-Carlo and Cannes.

Q. What made you choose this time of year to return?

A. Partly because it suited my work - with some annual leave to use up and also because it was Toby's birthday... I also can't be sure when I'll be having hospital appointments in the next few months - which means that getting away around Easter is unlikely. At least if this is the only foreign holiday I get all year then I've done my very best to get my travel-shoes on... With a bit of luck this is only the first of my trips for 2016, but I'm glad that I started early!

Q. Do you have any favourite haunts in the city?

A. Other than the art gallery - where we spent the morning of Toby's birthday - I'm also fond of Castle Hill. I didn't make it to the top this time, as my bandages were beginning to irritate and I was growing a little weary by the end of the trip; however Toby got up there and reported that the view was definitely still worth seeing. Another favourite location is the park near the Old Town - which didn't even exist when I first visited back in 2009; there was a bus station and multi-storey car-park on the site. On the final full day of the holiday I took it easy and pretty much spent my time pottering between that park and along the promenade by the shoreline; the weather was just right for it.

Q. Earlier you spoke of day trips outside the city? We're these successful adventures?

A. One of them was particularly marvellous - taking the train to Monaco and Monte-Carlo and then hopping on the number 2 bus which wound its way through the streets to the Old Town. There will be photos to come next post - so you'll be able to see what Toby and I got up to - along with the delicious lunch that we had whilst we were there. This day-trip was probably the highlight of the holiday - forgetting the hiccups we had reading the train departure board on the way home! Our other trip was to Cannes - and that wasn't quite so much fun - it wasn't so easy to see any sights of note; although we saw some impressive boats and some film-star hand prints! Lunch was fast food - served very slow - and it was also revolting, which made matters all the less enjoyable. I don't mind fast food when it tastes good - it eases the conscience slightly - but this wasn't good in any way, shape or form! I won't name and shame the chain, but I feel like a clown for giving them my money! Better to stick to supermarkets and have bread and cheese than that gloop-filled muck, next time.

Q. You enjoy taking photos - how seriously do you take it?

A. Oh, not at all... That's not really the point of it when it's only your hobby - it's just that I like to use my favourite photos on the blog and in my writing projects, where possible.  It does bring me a lot of enjoyment. I'm an enthusiast, for sure... I'm most definitely self-trained - partly from having filmed 3000 plus episodes of SUTTON PARK back in the 90s - I learnt how I liked to frame things over the eight years that I was making that series, even though it was a video project, not a photographic one. This may not have lead to me being the best "technical" photographer, but I have gotten an idea of what I like and that's the main thing! I'm quite happy just coming up with what I come up with and then mucking about with jiggling the colours and filters about a bit. Sometimes it's difficult to find new things to take pictures of when you keep on going back to a city - like I do with Venice, for instance - although it does seem that there's always a new corner of that city to discover. Sometimes the weather helps or just a different way of taking an old view. I've reached the stage where I squirrel away photos for later use with my books; both the covers for HOT STUFF!! and KENSINGTON GORE feature photos that I took during Venice trips that suited the project; although I'll probably keep up-dating my book covers as I release revised editions. Returning to the original point - on this trip, of course I had Cannes - but more importantly Monte-Carlo to take pictures of, but those are the sorts of views which it would be hard to take a bad photos of; you really don't need to throw them a biscuit for being a good boy.

Q. Was there anything that particularly inspired you on this trip - for either photos or writing?

A. As already mentioned, Monaco was definitely impressive and gave me a few new ideas for writing projects - as you (hopefully) see next week!


Most of these photos were taken on our first full day in Nice on Sunday 24th January 2014, which was also Toby's birthday - not to mention Jo - Wifey #1's birthday too!

Next week I have photos to share with you from Monaco and Cannes and also a piece of prose that was inspired by my visit to Monte-Carlo. You can also see how well - or not - that my attempt to launch season 1 of HOT STUFF!! went whilst we were away!

Before we go I'd like to share with you something else that I began whilst we were away in Nice... It's something that fits into my script-book universe, although it can be read on its own without reference to any of that... More explanation coming up!!
Yeti hugs,

Paul xx

P.S. Links to photos from my Nice trips in 2009:
and again in 2013: 


What follows is the fictional letter of a lady called Ashley Helix - a character that I enjoy writing for who appears in THE BEAST OF FRIENDS, KENSINGTON GORE and later seasons of HOT STUFF!! I worked on it between the 23rd January (a day or so before I left) and the 2nd February 2016, once I'd returned.

Darling Warren! 

Hello, my lovely son! I'm writing you a quick letter to update you on my first week or so here in Nice - a postcard simply doesn't leave me enough space to unfurl my ego and tell you all that I've been up to... This is all about me-me-ME!

Saturday 23rd January 2016

Nice is as wonderful as ever - of course it's January so the vampires are here too... Not that sun bothers the little biters as much as it used to, but they do prefer to holiday in the winter when the days are shorter... They're an amusing bunch to observe - you'd think they'd just transform into bats and then fly across The Channel - but no, they were all there at Gatwick when I checked in... They all like to travel in first class like the rest of us! Even vampires like a glass or two of champers! Once we'd landed and gone our separate ways I didn't see them again that night - I thought I might have seen them out at one of the clubs, but no... No doubt we'll bump into them again at some stage! Did I mention that I'm here with your Auntie Magenta?? As you well know, she's always been a bit of a "one woman FANG club" for anything vampire - so I'm sure that she'll sniff them out eventually! Don't worry darling... They never try anything with me! I eat far too much garlic and that's one thing that they've never really evolved beyond!

Sunday 24th January 2016

You won't believe what I did today! I emerged from a birthday cake! How very Marilyn Monroe of me... I did volunteer, mind - I certainly wasn't shanghaied into it. As you can imagine it's something I've always longed to do. There's a man staying at our hotel named Tobias and he and your Auntie Magenta have gotten pretty close - now I know it sounds sudden, but apparently Tobias is a time-traveller and over night - in the time since they first met - she's spent six months with him in some luxury holiday paradise on Jupiter in the year 3473... Now either she popped something exceedingly strong last night or she's been two-timing me on this holiday of ours; not that I noticed! I'm not sure how I feel about it, really - only before I had time to even think about it Magenta was asking me to do her a favour because today was Tobias's birthday. So... Anyway! Emerging from a birthday cake has always been a dream of mine - and so I was very happy to help; the only negative thing being that soon after it happened Tobias had gone missing again. "He'll be back..." Magenta insisted. "He left his wallet in 3473..." I only hope she's right about that - only the doorman of the hotel saw him heading off in a limousine with about six vampire ladies, so I rather suspect we won't be seeing him again today - time machine or no time machine. I only hope that she kept her credit card away from him!

To keep her mind off things this afternoon, I dragged Magenta to the modern art gallery... One of our favourite things in places like this is to stand and pose as if we're actually exhibits ourselves... This time it didn't work out quite as well as it had in the past - we both fell asleep thanks to too much champers and birthday cake and the next thing we knew it was almost midnight and the gallery was locked up for the day. Thankfully, we're both pretty adept at level 6 tip-toeing, not to mention quite ambidextrous from our years in Girl Guides; we both earned badges in Cat Burglary. I don't think such an award even exists these days, but times were less intense back when I was a teenager. So, having both shimmied our way out of the gallery through the letter box, we made it back to the hotel. What a long day it has been! There's still been no sign of Tobias, mind... I think I'll take Magenta to Monte-Carlo tomorrow to keep her mind off the disappointment. Men, aye!? Tell me I'm wrong...

Monday 25th January 2016

As planned, today we went to Monaco - your Auntie M was still looking down and so I thought she could do with a little glamour. I'm not a gambler myself but I have a friend, Lucas, who works in a casino in Monte-Carlo who is gifted with the powers of premonition; he basically knows who will and who won't win - he can see what is meant to happen, but is able to influence it either way. For instance, if Lucas likes them he'll tip them a wink and guide them in the right direction - but on the other hand he enjoys just as much allowing those who don't deserve it to lose every last penny. When I'm passing through I always pop in to watch him in action, although this may be the last time I see him here in Europe as he's grown tired of the clientele here in Monaco and is about six weeks away from transferring to one of the big casinos in Las Vegas. He's looking forward to a new breed of customer - apparently the casino-goers in Monte-Carlo are all a bit too serious for him, whereas Las Vegas tends to encourage a slightly more wacky bunch of punters. I suppose I'll have to plan a trip over there and see how he's doing; although it won't be my first time. Your father and I spent one of our honeymoons there - I forget which; we were always renewing our vows back in the 70s and early 80s and I lose track... Still, these are stories for another day...

Back to my day in Monte-Carlo and I left Magenta watching Lucas at work and headed up to the old town - I simply insist on having lunch up there whenever I visit; the view from the old town is quite remarkable. Oh, how marvellous it must have looked when Princess Grace married the Prince Of Monaco back in '56 - I can't possibly confirm or deny whether I was invited or not - but I certainly never made it. I did, however, see a drag recreation of the event at The Vauxhall Tavern sometime in the early 90s. At any rate I probably got better seats than I would have done for the actual event, as I knew the manager and was allowed to watch from the side of the stage. Ah yes... Happy memories!

Tuesday 26th January 2016

I meant to mention it before, but I didn't see a single vampire the whole time I was in Monaco yesterday; but there they were in Cannes today! Apparently it's their film festival next weekend, which explains why there are so many of them around! Who knew that vampires even had their own little film industry!?! Magenta and I hung around to watch some of the red carpet antics - of course, we didn't recognise any of the actors... I have a nasty feeling that some of the red on that carpet wasn't from dye, but I shouldn't make such rash assumptions... Magenta and I did get in to see a sort of preview event where they played trailers from the films that were being celebrated during the festival. I have to say that I was surprised by just how many Rom-coms vampires make! I mean, there's no doubt they are a very passionate bunch - but I've never really considered them to be very humorous beings; even those of them who were funny before they died seem to take on a very self-centred sombre personality. The other - slightly surprising - thing that I discovered was that vampires simply can't make horror films - I suppose it's too much of a busman's holiday for them; well, not that they're meant to be as bloody as they all used to be. A typical "vampire" horror movie is all rather whiny and "woe is me" - lots of angry looking villagers with stakes and endless social commentary... That's the other thing - most vampire horror films are about five hours long without intermission. Thankfully we were spared having to sit through one of those... Goodness knows how long a Director's Cut of one of their films would be! The one thing I will say for them is that they may not make very good films, but they really do know how to put together a decent canape. Not bad considering that they can't actually eat, being dead - the poor darlings...

Wednesday 27th January 2016

Goodness... Today was a write off! We stayed at the film festival far later than I intended. I blame it on Magenta, myself... By the end of the evening she was suddenly the world's biggest expert on vampire films and didn't want to leave - not that we would have been able to get a train back at that time anyway; I certainly wasn't shelling out for a taxi. I've been to many parties over the years - and they don't get any easier, I can tell you! It's bad enough, at the best of times, being chased about by men who you're not interested in - but it's even worse when they keep on turning into bats and hanging off the side of your wine glass to impress you. Not only that but I was also trying to keep an eye on Magenta and that's tiring too; part of her is saying "protect me", whilst her more deviant side is giving random vampire gentlemen (and ladies, for that matter!) the come-hither. How happy I was to make it home; although the last I heard of Magenta she was contemplating a number of offers of marriage - several of them from a Portuguese vampire-only water-polo team. You might want to save up to buy yourself a hat for when she finally decides which one (if any) of them that she intends to marry! That woman! She's nothing to do with me... Does she belong to you, by any chance? (Deny it, honey!)

Thursday 28th January 2016

Honey! It's time for a change! I'm still staying based in Nice - we have the flat for at least a month, but t
oday I'm leaving your Auntie Magenta to enjoy her vampire friends and I'm heading to Turin for the weekend. Some of my witchy friends are there to celebrate the 100th birthday of a mutual pal; it sounds like fun - and it should be - as long as nobody gets too drunk and turns any tourists into frogs! Well, maybe one or two frogs will be fine - I mean, you don't turn 100 every day of the week! (It's toads that you need to watch out for - they're much harder to turn back, apparently!) Goodness, honey! A century sounds so long! But never mind, I'm still only 39... Yes! Okay! So I realise that this now means that you're now older than I am - but nobody needs know that we're related, now do they? You won't be offended, right? No - I thought not....

More soon, honeybee! Stay safe! Love, Mother xxx

P.S. I just got a text from your Auntie Magenta - that Tobias man of hers has shown up again, apparently he had the time machine version of a flat tyre and so it took him a few years to get back to her, not that it has been years in our time. According to M he's not aged well since she last saw him on Monday, but once she's finished with the vampires she's going to take a trip off with him somewhere anyway! Do you know what, honey, I really don't see this ending well! Do you? Oh, never mind, aye!?!

The post and all contents are Copyright Paul Chandler, 2016.