Sunday, 29 August 2010

Photographic Evidence

Careful time on Facebook has unearthed an actual photo of the aforementioned  wrestling match.

I am halfway through writing up London so far, but things keep getting in the way. Like the Phantom of the Opera, the inner workings of Tooting, SW4 today and tommorow the Notting Hill festival.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Inaugural Swedish Surfing Safari Review

Warning this could be a long one. I hope it was worth the wait.

Well what a week! I expected great things from this journey and it was an interesting peek into a sub culture, society, social experiment and a great laugh.

The expedition to Biarritz was an arduous one. A torrential down pour in the Cannes region last Saturday left the umbrella sales men very happy and travellers labouring to get anywhere. My train was stuck in Cannes for 1.5 hours on Sunday morning. I was left with my iPod and a copy of great expectations. Waiting and expecting I soon found the stomach to write up my Friday night experience and we were finally under way at 10:30 am. Two thirds of the train ride was very boring. The land directly after St Raphael to Toulouse is a flat very fertile farming region. Nothing that I have not seen before. In a theme that was to reoccur during my trip I reached a transcendental state fasting and waiting for a food salesman to appear. I was very happy when one did appear at 2pm.

I did feel a bit of anxiety when 3:30 pm passed and therefore my connecting train in Toulouse left the station. I made it into the Toulouse at 4:20 pm and was very lucky to get on a train to Biarritz straight away. The train was very full. It took me a couple of stops to get a seat and again I started to get very hungry. I did actually get off the train and attempted to use a vending machine during a stop but this proved fruitless as there was barely enough time to get money in the machine before the conductor blew his whistle and I leapt back onto the train. It was almost a teleport as I was very scared to lose my luggage.

Thankfully the scenery started to get a lot better and I took some high-speed iPhone photos that I know you have grown to love. The ones with light reflecting back from the window and motion blur.

I was nearing Biarritz. I was almost there!

Now late last year Uncle Phil left us to return to Sweden for Christmas. He left the boat in a snow storm. All of the trains were stopped. He was left stranded in a small Italian town and sent me a txt saying.

"hi Dan, trains and planes are grounded. I am in now stuck in bum fuck Italy. Prego"

I found this very funny and poetic justice was served to me when my train ran out of electricity in Bayonne one stop from Biarritz. At least I think it ran out of electricity, that is all I could understand from the very nice conductor lady. She was sure I would get robbed or murdered and actually walked me all the way out of the train station to the taxi stop. I think the taxis had run out of fuel. I waited for a long time, shared a phone call with Uncle Phil letting him laugh at my predicament and even had time to eat a kebab before a taxi turned up.

I eventually made it to the promised land. The Biarittz camping ground is situated on the south side of Biarittz, it is about a ten minute walk to the nearest beach. The camping ground has great facilities, catering to camping, motor homing. it even has cabins a large pool and ping pong tables.

I was to be staying in a Swedish fortification. The Swede who runs the surfing camp lives a charmed life. He spends three months in Biarritz three months in Hawaii and the rest of his time in Sweden. I was welcomed with open arms and was soon getting to know Filip's closest friends and soaking up a lot of Swedish ambience. With a lot of Swedish conversations bubbling away in the back ground I was soon learning new words and picking out old ones. I think if I lived among Swedes for a few months I would have some basic level of Swedish which could be useful in some far off future when Vikings rule the world again.

Swedish surfers on holiday are very peaceful. I soon found myself in a routine of sorts. I woke up, ate and showered and waited for Filip to wake up. Filip was battling a fearsome disease the entire length of our stay. I did my best to medicate him better but my attempts were only short lived. With Filip asleep I got to know the other camp people reasonably well. I certainly lead an interesting life. It is full of stories to tell and for that I am glad.The next section will introduce some of Filips closest friends and the profound impact they had on me and this review

Our first beach expedition was very exciting. Chris Pontius Party Boy aka Mr T aka Snus Man aka He Who would make love to a Midget aka Poodle really took it upon himself to live up to his reputation as a stand out person.

Chris is in the middle of growing the hair on his head for 1000 euros. A wager taken with another hair grower who was strangely absent in Sweden. The first person to cut his hair will pay the other 1000 euros.

Andreas is the Faceman of the A-Team. He has a reputation with the ladies. he is certainly very good at conversing with them. Someone did try to explain this for me during the week. Swedes have a reputation for being great lovers on account of Swedish Pornography, the thing is is that Swedish pornography is all produced in Denmark. Swedes on holiday are quite happy to further procreate this fallacy,

In fact, Andreas told me a very lewd Biarritz story about a successful outdoor romance that was almost foiled by some unsightly dog refuse. I will let your minds fill in the blanks.

Witness the beach wrestling session. Notice making the ring and Chris pulling up his pants took longer than the actual wrestling match. Hence I do not have any photos of the actual wrestling.

Shortly after the wrestling Chris made a small slip up which would haunt him for the rest of the holiday. He called a puddle a poodle. He told Andreas he was stepping on the poodles on the beach. Naturally his very curly hair, friendly nature and curious ways meant Chris was thereafter renamed the poodle.

We made a certain cafe with free Wifi our regular stop for free internet. they served a very passable mojito. It was here that we started planning the next leg of our journey. Andreas loves to plan things. These cafe sessions proved largely ineffectual on a part of the very good mojitos and the very good exposed breasts on display outside in the sun. Swedish men pride themselves on their breast finding radar and are literally incapacitated when it kicks in.

We had a very good impromptu party on the way back from the internet cafe at the base of some stairs. My JBL speaker system got a very good workout on the holiday. We went through three sets of batteries. It was here that Chris started chewing on straw. Something that suits him very well.

Chris needed some grooming before dinner. Andreas was only too happy to indulge him with some on the spot trimming.

The weather was good the next day but the surf was bad. We went back to the cafe and then went shopping in the town. Our grand plan was to visit the Casino. Chris was not wearing any shoes or a tshirt so he had to have a shopping session to clothe him appropriately.

We had a nice very late lunch and discovered that only Andreas and I had any ID. The Casino expedition would have to wait until night time. We would go to the Casino and go clubbing with our winnings!

A tent of Austrian girls had sprouted up near Swedeland. Chris was only too happy to invite them out with us. They were extreme Austrians setting up a tightrope in between two trees.

One of the Austrians wore a very fetching top. Hi Chris Peel!

The Casino expedition went very well. I did quite well turning my 50 euro investment into 95 euros. We stopped for a kebab on our way to a bar and a very odd thing happened. We had been talking about going to Vegas and Vegas weddings and.......

Chris proposed to Andreas!

At this point I started to wonder what more could possibly happen?

More happened. We drank in some bars and then went to a nightclub. The nightclub had passably bad music, but we made the best of the bad situation by getting really Viking on everything. I met my first person from Finland. He was a disappointment, he overly enjoyed talking about fighting and stabbing people. In a strangely lucid moment the DJ played cotton eyed Joe, it was time to leave.

The 12 hours directly after we left the night club are a very hazy memory best left for the subscription only version of my blog. That means donate!

The strangest thing occurred on the following day. I was slumbering in my tent in the after party haze that always follows parties. A small poodle ran up to the front of our tent. It popped its head in as if to say hello and ran off. Weird? Definitely.

Let us leave Filips very entertaining friends alone for now, I am sure they will pop up again in some shape or form.

Sidestepping the inexorable march of capitalism, Biarritz remains a top notch surf town. The bay of Bisque dishes up nice waves. Biarritz close proximity to Spain gives the French town a slightly less French atmosphere. This is not to say the French are happy to see Swedish frog dances in the middle of the day on the side of the road.

I really enjoyed camping in Biarritz. Everything was very easy. Sadly Chris and I did not have towels but everything else was provided by the camp organiser. We even had mains power. Something that my overladen donkey worth of gadgets did appreciate.

Since leaving Biarritz I have spent a night in Paris and am now in London. It seems another world away, and I suppose it is. It has taken some grit to realise I am not camping any more. Somehow Chris and I have kept travelling together, but he is off to Amsterdam tomorrow. Whimsically enough camping in Biarritz reminded me of home. My fondness for all things Sweden is probably kindled by an unconscious longing for home. In a pinch Swedes make for pretty good copies of New Zealanders. They are good natured, fun to have around and have an inner child not far away which I feel very at home with.

Good bye Swedish Surfing Safari. May we meet again.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Phantom Teleport

On Friday night I discovered I had a new super power. The phantom teleport. It was my last night with my crew and we decided early on we were going to party like it was my last night with them.

I had one thing in my mind. I would not phantom on them, I would stay till to the bitter end. It is fair to say I have been a very diligent crew member and have not really let loose for a while

Writers are well known for lascious dispositions to alcohol. I can say with some knowledge that I have a very polararising relationship with alcohol, it certainly let's me experience another strangely forgettable Jekyll side to myself. In fact one of alcohols amazing quandaries is the beautiful sledge hammer of inspiration it wields

Things be began almost harmlessly at an Irish bar. My early poison was vodka cranberry juice. Cranberry juice is full of antioxidants, well the Berries are. This juice had a lot of sugar. Still, I  was quite lucid, chatty and almost charming.

We soon moved to another bar at about 11pm. It was here that I made my first mistake. Tequilla. I would gladly have myself hypnotised so that at the mere mention of tequila I bark like a dog. Maybe I already have.

Beside the bar was a club playing music. There was a DJ. Well he looked like a DJ. He put his head phones on once during the hour. The coup de grace was when he played cotton eyed joe. This caused me to get very angry and I cajoled everybody to egress.

It was here that things got very blurry. We ended up at the Palm Beach night club. The bouncer took issue to my shoes. I must have looked incredibly drunk. He did not take issue to my 100 euro note. I remember proudly telling  everybody how I had bribed the bouncer.

It was here that I started dancing like a crazed lunatic. I can safely say I was the most interpretive performance dancer for at least 1000 miles. Michael Pattison would have been proud.

It is here where my memory leaves me. I have carefully pieced together what happened with evidence and crime scene investigation.

At some point i ended up on a revolving dance floor. Having not spent much time on these i had a devil of a time getting off it.  I was on it for approximately 3 hours. At six am Stu rounded everyone to leave. We then all got split up.

Fast forward to 7:30. I awake, I am asleep on a sail boat. There was a five minute period where I did not know who I was. Where I was and if in fact I was still alive. I had done the first ever phantom teleport  !!

The sail boat was very small. It was also out of the water on a trailer.  I know I teleported there because it was an eight foot climb on board. Did you know I had never been on a sail boat before ? Luckily my memory started to come back when I saw the Palm Beach sign. I was very close to the night club and very far away from my boat.

I then made to make the long trudge home. I left my wallet on the sail boat. It is fair to say that I was still very drunk when I got back home. Trying to find my Wallet was very distressing and sobering. On my second trip back to approximately where I had slept on a sailboat I did find my wallet. I am still looking for my dignity.

As always when I am privy to my own stupidity I try to rationalise with written words. I have spent two lonely days debating with myself and all I can say is/

Clearly teleporting is not an exact science and phantom teleporting is clearly art.

Friday, 13 August 2010

The Inaugural Swedish Surfing Safari Espionage Impossible Mission

You may have read I am going to Biarittz soon for a week of relaxation with Uncle Phil before I see my wife. Biarittz is on the Atlantic coast of France. I have it on good authority that it is like Cannes but with surf. I am very fond of surf. A long time ago when I was at high school me and 5 other surfers went to a surfing competition north of Whangarei. I think we got time off school to attend and we went with the physical education teachers blessing. There was one slight problem....

A storm out to sea had rendered the surf so good it seemed a waste to spend it on a crappy competition. So we spent the whole weekend surfing our little hearts out. We returned to school very happy, it was a shame our teacher did not share our enthusiasm.

You may have thought I was simply invited on this surfing safari by Uncle Phil. I was, but the real reason was this heart felt letter from Uncle Phil's mum.

Dear Dan,

I miss reading about my son on your blog. I know you are a free lance writer. Can you please infiltrate his surfing camp and write me detailed intelligence on what the little tyke is up too. I will pay you handsomely.

Love Uncle Phil's Mum

Naturally I could not turn her down. If I look back over the past couple of years some of my happiest periods have been when I have been writing about new things. Who else would be the ideal person to ingratiate himself in a Swedish Surfing Safari and report back?

I have numerous questions

What goes on, on a Swedish Surfing Safari?

Will we eat meat balls on a stick?

Who are Uncle Phil's friends?

Does Swedish surfing involve posing with a surf board for long periods of the time?

What does Uncle Phil look like crawling out of a tent at 7 in the morning?

Sound like fun? I am sure it will be.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Sneaky Lion Escapes the Gilded cage

One of the benefits of working with an English crew has been engaging in banter and learning phrases in my mother tongue. A couple of stand outs from the last six weeks are cleverly dappled across the title of this very posting.

Sneaky lion

-The sneaky lion is the lion in a pride who hangs back watching the other lions do stupid things. By letting them fight and beat chests in the pursuit of Lionliness (new word)  The sneaky lion reaps all of the rewards.

Gilded Cage

-A beautiful work environment where it is very easy to become trapped. You have all the opportunity in the world but no time or energy to use it.

And without further preamble,

The Sneaky Lion Escapes the Gilded cage

The sneaky lion was sad. He spent his days pacing his gilded cage doing his jobs with the other lions. He felt very unsatisfied and  his lioness was trapped in another gilded cage. He did not know why he was sad and he did not know what to do.

One night he had a dream about his lioness. She sat him down and told him he needed to escape his cage and have some quality personal time. The sneaky lion did not agree at first, he may have been a sneaky lion but he was also a proud Lion and did not think he needed to rest. He was very good at resting and thought he had had plenty of rest being the Phantom lion as well.

The lioness would not take no for an answer, she knew the Sneaky lion better than he knew himself. So the very next day the Sneaky Lion planned his escape. Gilded cages are not very easy to escape but the sneaky lion was ever so sneaky. He cleverly wrote a letter explaining he had pressing business. He then went and spoke with the albino alpha lion. The albino alpha lion understood the sneaky lions predicament. He gave the sneaky lion his blessing and said the sneaky lion could leave in two weeks and he would help him to escape.

The rest of the pride was very sad. Stu lion would miss the sneaky lion telling stories all day and always smiling. Fran lion would miss the sneaky lion annoying her and being so annoyable himself. Carla lion would miss the sneaky lion's calming influence. Manu Lion would miss the sneaky Lion's extensive Swedish vocabulary. Quite a cool lion this sneaky lion eh?

And so on the 14th of August the Sneaky lion escapes his gilded cage.

To be continued.......

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Hello Again

If you are wondering where I have been the last week, I have been on charter. The charter experience is not something that is very easy to explain but I will do my best. We had up to eight real guests and up to thirteen supplementary ladies of the evening on board.

A typical day for me was.

7:00 am Wake up. dress and shave.
7:05 am Wolf down breakfast.
7:10 am Start uncovering all of the outdoor furniture.
7:20 am Shammie. rinse, sweep, polish, clean windows and anything else that needed doing.
9:30 am Move the boat to an anchorage.
11:30 am  Rinse the stern of the boat launch the jet skis.
1:00 pm Wolf down lunch.
1:30 pm - 5:00 pm Make sure no one drowns, help people get on and off jet skis, hand people towels after they have a shower on the swim platform, try to shower and rest at some point.
5:30 pm Start packing everything up and move the boat to a port or anchorage.
7:00 pm till 1:00am Eat some dinner, cover up some of the furniture, wait for the guests to leave for clubbing
1:00am go to sleep.
4:00am Wake up to greet the guests returning.
5:00am Cover up everything and go back to bed.
7:00 am Wake and repeat.

After 8 days of this I am completely exhausted. Everybody was run off their feet especially our Stewardess's. I tried to help where I could. I can now fold towels with some skill and can clean cutlery with vinegar and water.

Our guests were nice enough but the added entertainment of rotating prostitutes made for challenges. One of our jet skis broke down with one on it. I was sent to rescue her. Note to self. The hydrodynamics of jet skis is hindered when you tow them backwards. They can go upside down. Righting a jetski from an upside down position precariously perched on a moving ocean is challenging.

Our ladies of the evening were quite fond of dancing in dangerous places with scant regard to safety or clothing. Following a boat full of swaying dancing ladies with loud music playing to St Tropez in a tender was a watershed moment.

On a slightly more serious note. The yacht my wife has been working on had a deckhand seriously injured launching a jetski. He passed away a couple of weeks ago. Working on boats is dangerous. We are encouraged to.

Do things perfectly
Do things as fast as possible
Do things safely

Naturally doing all three of these things is nigh on impossible. One must always suffer. I have sustained a lot of small injuries over the last two weeks. My mind has been elsewhere. Needless to say, I will be finishing here on the weekend. I am going to be seeing Uncle Phil in Biarittz for a week of Surfing, Swedish lessons and reminiscing. It will be good to see a great friend and say Fy Fan a lot.     

After Biarittz it will be off to London and a reunion with my wife. A few weeks of mind & body recharging then Spain and the unknown.

Keep reading.



Monday, 2 August 2010

Dear Uncle Phil and El Fuerte


I like the facebook tag name feature. Now I can not simply tell Uncle Phil and El Fuerte to read my blog. A tag is the best I can do. Doing this rescinds my previous claim that I was sick of Facebook butchering my RSS. I am on the verge of paying for a new blog PR plan. PR savy people are welcome to schmooze me with a pitch.

This letter will have a lot of in jokes. These jokes are self indulgent. Self indulging is very important. Omnipresent entity knows I am in need of some self indulging

Dear Uncle Phil(Filip) and El Fuerte(David),

I really miss you guys. Things have just not been the same working without you. I have hidden behind Lamborghinis and hard to read English books. But the sadness and emptiness is self evident. Let me list the things I miss.

-Manically laughing about aids
-Words of the day
-Our many work placed RSI prevention mini break spots conveniently out of CCTV coverage
-Listening to Filip rage about everything 
-She'll be right
-Keep your shirt on
-Mitch Mitch
-Almost dying on the way to the Gulf of Aden, shame you were asleep Phil
-That time David almost kicked a fender to China
-The breakfast of champions incident
-The many and varied shit talking sessions that seemed to last for days(they did)
-The endless explanations of what irony really is 
-Watching football
-Kaitaia Fire
-Hose Hero
-Uncle Phil always finding time to pose, with a pole somewhere. Sometimes at least five times a day. Witness.

-Talking up David's violent, crazy tendencies which were not there but were worth going on about (for days on end)
-Getting shit for wearing shoes on deck always
-That time Uncle Phil lost my torch
-Frog dancing!

I could go on for months but you get the idea. So many cool memories and I miss making them with you.

I hope to see you David in Vigo. I hope to see you Filip in Sweden or Spain. Same difference really.


You bastards better miss me!

Grande Amore Dan


David, when are you going to be Captain on a boat that needs a couple of good looking Deckhands and a blonde kiwi girl to get us beers at lunchtime on Fridays because Spanish boats pretty much don't work on Fridays ?


The past year has been really fucking hard.
I have had to live months without my Wife. I have been for the most part 12000 thousand miles away from my best long term friends and Family. I have made some really amazing new friends that have all sailed away. I have struggled with the very real actual physicality of holding a chamois, window squeegee, ropes and leatherman for at least eight hours a day.

On Friday night, I decided with Anna a new course of action for the next couple of months. It should be a reinvigorating skin shedding metamorphosis worth of a Dragon.
I think it is well deserved.