Cannes

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Sorry for the vanishing act, and extra apologies for the terrible French puns in the title but I avoided temptation to do any the entire week I was away, and so my self restraint is threadbare. As I mentioned I spent last week in Cannes, working at the Cannes Craft Festival which involved attending the amazing seminars (and sharing oxygen/a room with Vivienne Westwood AND Lou Reed), my first ever TED talk, workshops around the future of advertising; including making a time capsule with predictions of what the world and industry will look like in 2033 (and yes, people are STILL obsessed with flying cars. 2033 will be like the Jetsons apparently. I do really like Judy Jetson’s dress sense though…) and then there were the parties. As so much of my work is public facing, I had a very different Cannes to the rose-swilling, champagne popping week of hedonism perhaps some experience, which meant I could actually take a little time to explore when I got the odd ten minute break to shovel a sandy crepe into my mouth on the beach!

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I’m embarrassed to admit I was SO busy and health-distracted in the lead-up to leaving that when we landed in Nice airport (from which you drive or… helicopter! into Cannes) I actually had a creeping realisation that I had no idea where in France Cannes actually was. It felt quite disorientating not to even be able to imagine myself on a map or a globe. I didn’t even know if I was in North or South; probably a very accurate demonstration of why it was a good thing I quit Geography AS Level after 3 weeks. It wasn’t until I was back in England that I took a look and was shocked how close to Italy I had been. I’ve never been to Italy and it’s one of those places I feel I really should have visited by now and have even had vague plans to on various occasions that have fallen through. One day!

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I don’t know what exactly I expected from Cannes. It isn’t somewhere I’d have ever visited by choice; a real perk of having an international job is you get to lucky dip on travelling to places you haven’t pondered over and selected yourself. I thought it would be a bit Dubai-ish, vibrant colours and oozing with wealth. This may be true on La Croisette; the main “strip”. The road run right through Cannes along the seafront, and is packed with hotels, designer clothes boutiques and every beach is privately owned by hotels and inaccessible to the general public. If you want to get sandy, only the beaches at the far end each side of La Croisette are a free for all. Then there’s the yachts… I’ve never been on a yacht. I’ve never even really given yachts much thought, but when faced with rows of these immaculate creations bobbing around in the big blue, they looked so appealing and I developed a week long case of raging yacht-envy. I warmed to La Croisette, it has a kitsch feeling of a town that has slightly passed its glory days. In Las Vegas, I was far more drawn towards seedy Old Town, than spangly New Town, and Cannes had the same appeal. Everything is decadent, but feels ever so slightly dated. Ghosts of times gone by where Cannes was the ultimate in high-life still lurk  in the air. It’s a strange town as it exists so much for these international conferences, festivals and events; it would be interesting to visit at an off-season time and compare.

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There is no denying that Cannes is a ticklist of beautiful; blue sky, pristine beaches, sunshine, a horizon of mountains, palm trees and piers. Even though I spent most of it running around in a fretful sweat or deep inside a cavernous conference centre, it was lovely to take a moment each morning just to drink in the views. Mid-week I worked hosting a villa party, in the actual villa that Brad Pitt had his stag do/bachelor party. Which if you blur the lines, basically means I partied at Brad Pitt’s house. Right? I had another first here as I’ve never stepped foot in a villa before, and like with yachts am now curiously obsessed with them. I’m not sure the definition between villa and… mansion, but I think it’s the pool and the sea view. Either way, I can imagine that piling a bunch of your friends and an inflatable crocodile into one for a weekend away would be the best fun.

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No dips in the pool for me, as I’m too much of a mother hen and was clucking around ensuring there was no broken glass / bare feet scenarios and topping up my exotic “sunglasses tree”! I know I can hardly get all woe-is-me but I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder than my week in Cannes. My alarm twittered away at 6am and I staggered into bed at 4am for two nights running. On the most gruelling 20 hour day, I hadn’t eaten a single meal until 11pm and when myself and my colleagues found somewhere still serving food; the food came with a side of man playing I Will Always Love You on the electric violin at 1000 decibels! It was the sort of scenario that when you are exhausted, delirious and starving, makes or breaks you. Luckily, as we waited an excruciating 90 minutes for our COLD starters, we found the funny side and the sound levels kept us from falling asleep into our plates. I also tried my first snail! Although it had no garlic butter so tasted very gravelly and well, of dirt, to my very unrefined taste buds. I liked the special plucking tool though.

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In all honesty I don’t think I’d go to central Cannes on holiday. It’s very expensive, nigh on impossible to get around without a car (taxis are a rare beast, and very expensive, and very unpredictable about if they’ll even take you if you flag one down!) but the hills and outskirts of Cannes might be worth a re-visit. On my last night, I pottered out as far as my lead-legs would take me and found some quaint back streets of locals drinking campari, and an old lonely lighthouse flickering out at sea.

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I have to confess that on my last night in Cannes, I snuck out early from the party I was guest-listed for and after my quick neighbourhood exploration… I darted back to my hotel room, pulled on my PJs and ordered the most obscene amount of room service (YOLO!) and proceeded to watch the entire series of The Fall on my ipad before falling asleep stuffed full of Croque Madame and Tart aux Pommes. This was actually one of my highlights of the week, as I knew my work was so nearly done and that the week had been a success. I also LOVED having Gillian Anderson back in my life, with her quaint Brit accent!

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And now I am back in England, with my feet firmly on the floor. In the past 6 months I have been on an aeroplane in all but one of them. I don’t plan to jet anywhere until August now, and that’s just a nip over the sea to Belfast for a wedding.  So life should be a bit more London-normal now that I’ve stopped my gallivanting. I just want to say THANK YOU to every lovely text, comment, tweet and gesture after my last bad news post. I was really moved by just how many thoughtful folk said generous things and I’m in a much better brain-space because of it. Also, I was just catching up with season 6 of Mad Men (no spoilers, I’m 2 away from the finale) and JOAN HOLLOWAY has a cyst on her ovary! And basically I would do/have anything if it means being vaguely closer to her holyness, so that cheered me up no end. We are officially cysters.

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I’ve alluded to a tough week, and this is never a blog where I shy away from being honest about my personal life, so I feel like I should just share this before I go back to talking about cheeseburgers and nail varnish. Those of you who were readers through the woes of Rubbishtober 2012 will know that life as I knew it took a nose dive lat year, as I was diagnosed with a whopping ovarian cyst, which proceeded to rupture and I needed emergency surgery to remove. As far as I was concerned, and to be honest the doctors led me to believe, that would be that. Surgery, cyst removed, life as normal. Sadly thought it hasn’t quite worked out like that. I have never been quite right since my operation and haven’t been able to shake a niggly feeling that something still wasn’t 100%. After various checks, tests and me sulking until they sent me for another scan (which is so unpleasant I wouldn’t be begging for it if I wasn’t really worried) and last week I found out that I have not one, but two cysts, on the same place they removed the last one. Well, my mum always said I wasn’t one to do things by halves.

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Anyway, it turns out the surgeons didn’t remove all the endometriosis in my last operation. This is a decision apparently they may have made to try and protect my healthy ovary by not getting too close to it with the surgical tools… However this wasn’t something I’d been told at any point in the 6 months since my surgery, so safe to say, it was pretty devastating. I’d been led to believe everything had been well and truly removed. In a way it was a relief to have some answers to my ongoing wishywashy health vibes, but in another I feel really let down and out of control of my own body. The good news is that the cysts aren’t currently big enough to need surgery again, so I get a break from operations for  little longer. In fact there is a chance it might not grow and I can just live with it (like a really unwanted body-pet). However in a year I go back for a scan and if it’s even grown by a cm, I’ll be back under the knife. So for now, I’m focussing on the positives and all the amazing things I need to fill my life with in the next year just in case I do have another bad patch. I’ve not been able to wear mascara since this happened because it’s made me turn into a weeping willow and has been a real brain battle to get my head around. But so that’s the crummy bit…

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The good bit is how INCREDIBLE my friends and family and of course, Nick the wonder boy, have been. They rode every roller-coaster bump of last October with me and so instantly felt the shock and disappointment of this news too. I’ve been so touched by how supportive and wonderful everyone I’ve confided in so far has been, when I haven’t really been much fun to be around. Craig was immediately on hand with an M&S picnic in Regents Park, as some situations only pink gin & tonic in a can can fix. We sat gritting out teeth and “enjoying the sun” (it was about 15 degrees!) for as long as we could muster before skulking to the nearest Starbucks for a hot chocolate to thaw out. Typical British summer antics! My beautiful Kate literally landed from her holiday in Mallorca and slept for approximately one hour, before rushing to London still in her holiday clothes, to whisk me for a stealthy brunch and much needed vent. My mum was an absolutely champ, taking a dash across London from Paddington to Kings Cross to spend a couple of hours watching the new Kings Cross development being built before taking a train back to Yorkshire. & I can’t even begin to list the millions of thoughtful things Nick has done, precious glimmery sparkly moments to make it impossible to be glum; one of them might have included an AMAZING dance to the entire 3 minutes of Aretha Franklins RESPECT (shhh!). That and chocolate moustaches. Safe to say I have had a much needed word with myself and remembered how lucky I am, whatever happens with my health in the future.

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The BIGGEST thing Nick did for me to put a crocodile grin back on my misery guts face was… he has successfully broken my The National curse! Out of the blue a few weeks ago, they added a random July London date in. From the second I heard the news, I knew I just HAD to be there. Intimate venue, walking distance from my house, super SOON! We embarked on an early morning stroll to work where we sat at our respective office computers frantically pressing f5 f5 f5 on the Roundhouse website. Tickets went live at 9am and predictably with The National, the internet broke! The Roundhouse website wasn’t structured to cope with such a vast quantity of hits and before long the site was down, the phoneline was cutting us off and breaking the curse was looking more and more unlikely as I was cheerily informed I was number 3947 in the queue for tickets… Just as we were cursing ourself for not showing up in person to the box office (the old school method is always the best way!) Nick said those glorious words “I’ve got them”! With some serious hacking prowess he managed to avoid any queues and glide through the crumbling website, to bag us a pair of level one tickets so I can scamper to the front and gaze up at The National. I am welling up just listening to them and imagining seeing them live, so imagine what kind of hysterical creature I’ll be on the night? That’s if I get there though… I’m still imagining a piano will fall our of the sky on me as I walk to the gig doors! Lets hope there really s nothing stopping me this time.

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Anyway sunny sparkly service as usual resumes, but now you know why I had a fortnight of sad facing about the place. Like a Skeleton Key will be a little quiet this week, as I fly to Cannes later today and am work work working all week, my schedule barely leaves time for a pan au chocolat or napping, let alone blogging sadly! I’m really curious to experience Cannes and will definitely be back with a vengeance next week to let you know how it was.

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