Monday, January 31, 2011

Le train c’est bon, oui? Non.

Hello folks.  The dust has settled after landing back in the UK and normal service (that is, a tendency to complain about trains) has resumed.  If you’re wanting another fix of “Live Slowly. Die Old” do stay tuned because I have some ‘reflections’ I’ll get around to posting at some point.

Proponents of a Nationalised Railway system in the UK often bleat about how good the French system is.  And I don’t doubt that their shiny TGVs are good if you have a desire to go from major city centre to major city centre.  But I have always been sceptical of the quality of their local and regional services, and if my experience just now is typical then I am right to question whether or not the French system is all it is cracked up to be.

I am looking at the options for travel between Hyeres and Marseille Airport.  These places are not that far apart, and as far as I can tell, we’re not talking the middle of nowhere.  But if I want to go by train, on a Friday, I have a choice of just three trains.  And the last one is at 13.06.  Is it that the French don’t do anything on a Friday afternoon?  Have I just picked an awkward example?  Or is it that they don’t really have anything they can call a train “service” after all?

Answers on a postcard…

Friday, January 07, 2011

Live Slowly. Die Old. Frizzle by name…

One of the stereotypes I like is that the Americans do generally dig the English accent (note my choice of words – I hate the term “British accent”).  It’s good, because it means that across the Atlantic, I’m not just a pretty face.

As we may have alluded to already, Chris liked to capitalise on this (the love of the accent, that is, not my face).  I mean, how long does it take to buy a candle…?

Longer than it takes me to buy a pair of jeans, it would seem.  And yes, he was interacting with a lady.

Anyway, when I left you last time, we were just about to head out in Downtown Boston for a meal.  It was a most enjoyable evening, and credit must be given to Chris for keeping a straight face as he asked for the reservation in the name of “Christopher Frizzle.”

I succeeded in my quest for some steak, which turned out to be a genuinely excellent choice for dinner:

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Chris, meanwhile, turned out to be a “full rack” sort of guy:

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At this point in the evening, it was Patrick who was sizzling:

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Things hotted up for Chris soon enough, however…

Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Live Slowly. Die Old. The British Invade Boston Again

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So here we are.  In Boston.  We arrived on the train – and as you can see, I was so excited about this that I couldn’t hold the camera still.  In the words of Bob Marley, the sun was shining and the weather was sweet (yeah) and after some good sightseeing on the Freedom Trail we enjoyed a well earned pint of Sam Adam’s finest.  Until this morning I though Mr Adams was a brewer by trade…so it’s been an interesting day.

I was going to say that I have no time to post a video today, because we have just booked a table for dinner – in the name of Chris Frizzle.  However, I can’t resist this…

And on that happy note, we’re off in pursuit of some meat and some ladies who appreciate Mr Frizzle’s Englishness

Live Slowly. Die Old. Shapes.

Patrick demonstrates just how relaxed driving in the US can be…

…whilst Chris notes that it’s too late to call Giles. 

What a legend. (Giles that is, not Chris).

Monday, January 03, 2011

Live Slowly. Die Old. Thrills & Spills

Here is the episode I know some of you have been waiting patiently for. The one with the sledding.

Sadly, my initial run – on an inflatable tube – was not caught on camera. I was too keen to launch myself down the hill to be faffing around with taking a video, which is a bit of a shame.  It was a blur of noise, of nearly running in to a group of kids and of ending up in the car park at the bottom to a shout of “You OK?!” Thankfully I was completely unharmed.

We do, however, have some video highlights from the afternoon.  Let’s start with one of my first runs on the plastic sled…

As you can see, I was possibly taking the “live slow” part a little too seriously at this point.  Nonetheless, I persevered. I was particularly keen to hit the jump after Chris had managed to (accidentally) clear it backwards…

Finally, I hit it! It may not look that dramatic from this angle, but I was quite surprised by how much I did actually leave the ground.  I was even more surprised that I stayed on my sled (a feeling you may share when you see one of the more seasoned sledders come down behind me).

There was also the opportunity for a bit of bromance…

The British sledding team demonstrated some prowess…

Even Patrick was caught on camera screaming like a girl.

Finally, sledding wouldn’t be sledding without some war wounds.  The big smash of the afternoon occurred after we tried to link some sleds together, and the Christmas trees placed at the bottom didn’t shield us well from the rocks.  This was not a good time for me to recall my biology teacher telling the class that if you hit your back in the right place you can rupture your spleen and die; I think my initial words were “I think I’ve pulverised my internal organs.”   The last word comes from Chris Hinde…

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Live Slowly. Die Old. Snow Angel Fun.

Although the snow was hard to walk through, it did provide ample opportunity for some fun and games.  And some more opportunities to gain man-points.  Here is one of the highlights of our trip down the mountain…

You may not be able to see my faceprint, but trust me – it looked good…

Live Slowly. Die Old. On being up a mountain…

Every video diary needs its fair share of in-jokes.  But whether a video diary needs an in-joke which is unrelated to the trip in question is another matter.  Especially when the people in question probably won’t even watch this anyway.  But as there is more to life than simply having what you need, I shall ignore any wisdom on the matter. 

Live Slowly. Die Old. Walk Related Banter

This next couple of videos show two things.  Firstly, that we didn’t just appear on top of the mountain at dawn, but did have quite a journey through the darkness to get there.  Secondly, that although most people who make a video diary have appropriate lighting for their camera, I don’t.

So, after the last post of pictures but no meaningful sound, I am proud to present meaningful sound but no pictures.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Live Slowly. Die Old. Good Morning America!

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is pretty much the first sighting of the sun in the US this year.  We climbed Cadillac Mountain to see this, and it was well worth it. 

I am learning that the Americans have a very different sense of distance to us.  The base of the mountain was sold as “a short drive” from where we are staying, which meant that we had to leave at 1.30am to complete the 3 hour journey.  I have also learned that walking in snow is not as easy as it might look, and it was a tough walk up the winding road to the top (so please don’t underestimate the effort I have gone to to bring this blog to you).  Still, we just about made it to a vantage point to see the sunrise. 

Chris demonstrated some manly qualities (for once) by steaming ahead, despite some blisters (which needed duck-tape surgery) – and he made it in time to see the beginning of the dawn.  Although I was some 20s late, this nonetheless faded in to a sense of appreciation, as I thanked God for the year past and the gap in the clouds which allowed us to see this new dawn.  It was quite a moment, and I had a good time of reflection as I sat and gazed across the Atlantic.  The awesomeness of it all has still not sunk in – Chris was pretty buzzing about “being on the edge of America” and it is certainly something to remember.

Of course, what you’ve really come here for is the video diary, and I won’t disappoint.  The wind-noise adds some authenticity to today’s episode, but it does drown out my proud addition of “standing on the edge of America” to my introductory “so here we are.”  Still, you can hopefully appreciate my excitement nonetheless, even if you do think you are watching a weather forecast.

The weather was dry and fine, by the way.  And if you are wondering why there is a gratuitous shot of me eating some beef jerky, I shall draw your attention to the packet which notes that “to be an Alpha, you have to eat like one.” After Chris got to the top first, I had to regain ‘man points’ somehow. 

I shall now leave you, because I have some lobster to eat.  Happy New Year!