Provence & St Tropez, 22 To 29 April 2008, placeholder and links

This was a bit of an unusual week away for us. Kim had been persistently asking us to join her and friends in St Tropez for her birthday for a few years. We’d insisted that we didn’t think that St Tropez would be “our thing”. She wondered how we could judge such a thing without giving it a try.

So, our cunning plan to please everyone including ourselves was to arrange a fly-drive week in the South of France, initially doing our own thing for a few days…


and then joining up with Kim, Micky and others in “San-trop”.


Auntie Janet at Ultimate Travel helped us to construct our itinerary but I cannot find any papers from her, only this quote from her e-mail/invoice:

French Expressions holidays including flights;

Automatic car hire throughout and three nights accommodation

in a Junior Suite at L’Auberge du Chateau de Berne on a bed

and breakfast basis

So, in brief, we flew to Nice and picked up a car for our week in France. We stayed three nights at the delightful Chateau de Berne Hotel and Spa.


We did a bit of touring…


…together with a lot of resting, wining and dining; three nights there. Lovely sun deck for reading; great to try their wines and we even played some ping pong (Daisy’s favourite, because she normally wins).

Then on to St Tropez for four nights at the Tahiti Beach Hotel


…where Kim and Micky regularly stay. We arrived the day before the others, so played tennis and then ate at a Vietnamese restaurant named Bahn Hoi, recommended by Anthea. Very nice but also very pricey. That’s St Tropez for you.

Next day we have an early morning snoop around the market…


…then finally meet up with Kim and Micky for lunch at Tahiti that day.


We worked off the lunch on the tennis court. Dinner that evening is at Villa Romana, with Robert, Fiza and their son/girlfriend too. A very fashionable place but it is heaving  and displeases me; food ordinary apart from the price:


Next day, we played tennis in the morning. Indeed, we played tennis at Tahiti on the tennis court there a few times. Not the best surface we have ever played on, but far from the worst. As our short stay went on, we found it harder and harder to play tennis for an hour; a cautionary tale for all of us.

Same gang as last night for lunch at Tahiti; then after siesta an evening at Stefano Forever.


I was dreading this one but actually it was more fun. As it was pre-season, the show was a tryout and we were the only guests, so we got to have a lot of fun as audience participation could only be us…

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…and we were the only possible invitees to the after show party…

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…Janie even tried her hand at pole dancing…of sorts.

The final day was Kim’s actual birthday. Despite the excesses of the night before, lunch between the four of us (the Robert Anthony family, perhaps knowing the score, made themselves scarce that lunchtime) was a boozy and celebratory affair:


Indeed, after siesta Janie swore that she couldn’t make it to the arranged dinner for six of us (son and girlfriend were gone by now) at L’Auberge de Maures, but then changed her mind.  In this photo, I look almost as rough as I felt.


In truth, our view that this sort of eating and drinking extravaganza is not really our thing was reinforced by this trip, but we made Kim happy for her birthday that year and at least we can now say we’ve tried it.

Lots more photos, including those above, in this Flickr album, but surely more for the cognoscenti (i.e. those who were there) than for general consumption. I probably can construct a few good tales from the trusty journal once I get around to it; for now here is the indecipherable scribblings: Provence and St Tropez April 2008 Journal Notes.

Harper Regan by Simon Stephens, Cottesloe Theatre, 19 April 2008

So there’s more to Uxbridge than the cricket ground.

Seriously, Janie and I both really liked this play. Simon Stephens is one of our favourite playwrights these days and this one worked really well in the Cottesloe for us.

The eponymous lead is a big part; Lesley Sharp is a correspondingly big part actress who was able to deliver big time on this play/production.

Very shocking in parts and also very moving.

Saddlers’ Scholars Dinner At Saddlers’ Hall, 17 April 2008

Photo lifted from the Edward Alleyn Club Website with thanks.

Some months before this event, I dined with the Worshipful Company of Weavers, courtesy of Mark Yeandle. There I met some of the grandees of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, who seemed delighted to meet me in my capacity as an Alleyn’s School Saddlers’ Scholar. I got the impression that they had never met a real live scholar of theirs before.

So when, a few months later, I received an invitation to dine with the Saddlers’ at a gathering of Saddlers’ Scholars from across the years, I thought that my chance encounter at the Weavers’ dinner might have kicked something off. In any case, it would have seemed churlish and even a little rude to say no; the Saddlers had paid all my Alleyn’s School fees for seven years.

Actually I was glad I went along. I met quite a few old friends from school, in particular several who had been with me in form 1S, where I believe in those days they had congregated that year’s scholars.

Seeing those people again after all that time years made me realise that, as the years go on, I have more in common with my old contemporaries than I have with most of my staff and work colleagues, most of whom are now quite a bit younger than me.

So in many ways it was this evening that spurred me into, subsequently, reconnecting with several people from the old school crowd. Rohan Candappa is one example who rapidly springs to mind, with whom I have kept in touch since – leading to stuff like:

Hats off to the Saddlers’ for their part in reuniting some of us and helping to make that sort of thing happen.

Saddlers’ Hall is a grand venue for a dinner, despite the inauspicious sounding address, Gutter Lane – click here for more on the Hall and the Company.

Naturally it was a fine meal with excellent wine. Naturally there were lots of speeches, although mercifully not interminably long ones.

There is a slide show with lots of photos from the event on the Edward Alleyn Club website – click here.

Naturally a few of us went for a quick decompress in a nearby bar before parting company that evening.

Middlesex County Cricket Club Pre Season Events Culminating With The Seaxe Club 40th Anniversary Dinner, Thomas Lord Suite, 15 April 2008

An unusual pre-season events itinerary for me in what turned out to be a most unusual season.

2 April 2008 – Seaxe Club AGM and Panel – Which I Missed For Once

I normally go to the Seaxe Club AGM, which I enjoy a great deal; not for the AGM bit, which is usually pretty dull, but for the always-excellent panel discussion after the AGM and for the delgihtful company of the Seaxe Club regulars.

But this year had a very full diary in early April and needed to find space to visit my mum, so was one event I had to miss. In any case, there was to be an anniversary dinner in a couple of weeks, which I had booked, so I felt that I was doing my Seaxe Club bit.

I was in Peckham on business that afternoon, so my diary infers that I drove straight from Peckham to Streatham to see mum. Quintessentially “Sarf London” and not at all Middlesex.

9 April 2008 – Middlesex CCC AGM

Middlesex’s AGM is an event shrouded in mystery for non-members. It is a private meeting for members’ only and the club takes the confidentiality of the meeting seriously. In those days I was still editing the Middlesex Till We Die (MTWD) website and I am delighted to see that we didn’t break any rules that year by reporting on the AGM.

I don’t recall anything much about the meeting; but I do recall that the minority members’ rebellion that kicked off a few weeks into the 2008 season came as a bit of a surprise to me, so I don’t think there was much, if any, wind of it at the AGM and panel that followed.

So the panel discussion (which in any case is technically after the AGM and therefore not embargoed) was probably the usual pre-season optimism from most, peppered with the odd whinge about over rates, fielding positions and names/numbers on jerseys. No doubt Fingers had the last word.

There will have been a members’ party afterwards which will have been jolly. In those days, I think those meetings were still being held in the Warner Restaurant (Warner Stand Mezzanine) and the parties were still being held in the Middlesex Room (Allen Stand).

15 April 2008 –  Seaxe Club 40th Anniversary Dinner

A special event indeed, held in the Thomas Lord Suite. I don’t much go for the grand evening dinners, but for the Seaxe Club I felt I wanted to lend my support.

I helped to promote the event thus – click here – on MTWD.

Mike Brearley was the guest of honour.

I remember that I found myself chatting for some time with the delightful Mrs Brearley – I’m not quite sure how or why that happened. I don’t think I realised that she was Mrs Brearley until we had been chatting for a few minutes.

I remember also having a brief conversation with Mike Brearley about the state of the Lord’s pitches, in which he disagreed with me when I said that they are getting so low and slow now, that they are no longer “good” in my view. Plus ca change; or perhaps now he would agree.

It was a good meal (although I would say that the quality of Lord’s catering has improved since then) but more importantly a wonderful occasion for the Seaxe Club and a great opportunity to see and chat with so many Middlesex mainstays just before the start of the season.

Wedding Day At The Cro-Magnons by Wajdi Mouawad, Soho Theatre, 14 April 2008

We rounded off our incredibly arty day – click here for the earlier events of the day – with a visit to the Soho Theatre.

From memory, I think we grabbed some delicious tea-time food in the afternoon a Yauatcha in Soho, unless I am confusing this occasion with another.

Anyway, we went to the Soho Theatre to see Wedding Day At The Cro-Magnons – see Dialogue Productions’ stub by clicking here.

It was a weird play/production, somewhat surreal, set in a sort-of war-torn Lebanon. I don’t think you could put this play on now, with the Syrian civil war so fresh and raw in people’s minds.

Lyn Gardner in The Guardian was not too sure about it, although agrees that it makes interesting points about war – click here.

Suman Bhuchar in the British tTheatre Guide found the piece compelling – click here.

I think it was a bit much for us after such a packed, arty day, but it was a short play which had caught our attention, so we were glad to have seen it.

An Utterly Arty Day Off, Several Exhibitions At Several Galleries, 14 April 2008

Janie and I only occasionally took days off to do arty things in those days. So when we did, we went a bit mad and did lots.

So this particular day, 14 April 2008, we went to see three exhibitions at three separate galleries (Ogblogged here) and then went on to the theatre (which I shall Ogblog separately).

First stop, the Royal Academy Of Arts to see From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925 at the Royal Academy – click here for an excellent preview fro the Guardian.

This piece from the Telegraph – click here – describes the hoo-ha that nearly prevented the Russia exhibition from going ahead.

It was a fabulous exhibition.

Then we shuttled across to the Tate Britain to see the Peter Doig exhibition, which we also enjoyed very much. Click here for the Tate’s informative stub on this exhibition.

Then on to The Hayward to see the Alexander Rodchenko exhibition of photography. Click here for the Southbank Centre’s stub on this excellent exhibition.

All three had been justifiably very well received by the press and we enjoyed a super arty day seeing all three.






Small Change by Peter Gill, Donmar Warehouse, 12 April 2008

I’m not too sure why we booked this. to be honest.

We had not enjoyed Cardiff East at the National 10+ years earlier, despite the presence of the wonderful (ex NewsRevue) Di Botcher in that play/production.

Small Change is a revival of one of Peter Gill’s earlier plays around similar subject matter. So why we thought we might like another of Peter Gill’s working class Welsh drab-fests I cannot imagine.

Anyway, we didn’t much like it, although it was a less bleak and more lyrical piece than the relentlessly miserable Cardiff East.

…you get the drift. Wonderfully well acted and produced. It was just one of those minimalist pieces that didn’t really float Janie’s or my boat.



Briefing by Doris Lessing, Camden People’s Theatre, 11 April 2008

Trying to work out how we ended up in a small theatre watching this production, I spotted the director’s name, Avye Leventis, which made me realise that this event occurred because one of Janie’s client’s daughters was making her directorial debut.

The Camden New Journal wrote highly of the play/production – click here.

The piece is an adaptation of Doris Lessing’s novel “Briefing for a Descent into Hell”. It wasn’t that bad, but we were neither comfy nor inspired by the work.

As Janie said when I raised the matter with her just now (2016), “we’re too old and ugly now to allow ourselves to be bullied into seeing stuff in such circumstances any more”.


By all accounts, Avye’s career has progressed from here. Which is good.


Dinner At John and Mandy’s House In Saffron Walden, 5 April 2008

All the diary says is…

6:00 John and Mandy

…with their Saffron Walden telephone number. Nothing on the e-mail about it.

So I think this must have been the occasion we went to their house in Saffron Walden for dinner, probably the first time, without arranging to stay anywhere.

I think Janie volunteered to drive home but afterwards said that she was through with night driving on unfamiliar country roads – don’t blame her – so we have always made an overnighter of it since.

On arrival, I seem to recall that we got a guided tour of the estate, several elements of which I seem to recall were still up for debate at that time – e.g. where would John locate his drum kit and where would Mandy locate her professional practice room.

This was a very enjoyable family meal with the girls there as well (perhaps Lydia only joined us later in the evening, or perhaps I am now confusing two such evenings). For sure John cooked a blinder (he always does), I suspect it was loosely based on Indian cuisine but not too hot and spicy as he knows that Janie only enjoys spices if the food is not too hot.

John might remember the exact details of the meal; if so, with a bit of luck, he might be persuaded to chime in with a comment to flesh out the delicious details.

Keeping Up Appearances: William Byrd: The Man, His Music and His Faith, The Cardinall’s Musick, Wigmore Hall, 4 April 2008

There is a good preview of this concert in The Cardinall’s Musick’s newsletter of February 2008 – click here. Apparently this concert was their first appearance at The Wig for quite a while. If I recall correctly, we had seen them before at St John’s Smith Square.

They really are a superb early music outfit. Andrew Carwood tries hard to explain the context of the work – perhaps he over-explains at times for our taste, but the music always sounds divine and the scholarship that underpins their work is evident for all to hear.

This type of concert is always a wonderful way to end the working week and I’m sure this occasion was  no exception.

This is exactly what we heard – lovely.


We bought three CDs of The Cardinall’s Musick delivering their wonderful stuff. While I’m not 100% sure that we bought them on this occasion, I have a strong hunch that I did:

Very beautiful recordings, I still (writing in 2016) listen to this music quite a lot.