Cannes, land of luvvies and beautiful people and, for today only, His Podgeness and The Duchess. Their presence however would not be until after they had breakfasted and planned both today and the next day. For Podge was still struggling and the planned 10-hour trip around Florence & Pisa the next day was going to be too much. They had to re-plan their strategy. Fortunately however, Podge does dabble a little in the dark scary world of Contingency Planning and room for re-scoping had been built into their whole cruising schedule. Podge is wise & clever. Podge still can’t breath though. Poor Podge.

Visits to Florence and Pisa are from the boat park in Livorno (It’s about as near as the Oceana could get). Podge had spotted that as they were doing two back-to-back cruises, they would visit Livorno, sail on to Genoa for cruise end, start new cruise, sail back to Livorno. ‘Bingo” remarked Podge, “We could do the Easy Pisa Tour tomorrow and Easy Florence on the next visit”. Podge really is so, very clever and having exerted all his thinking energy both Podge and Tubbs went for a rest then Breakfast to plan the day’s adventure in Cannes.

Getting to Cannes was going to be different from any of the previous towns. It wasn’t possible to walk into town, nor was is possible to get the bus. The Oceana was way to big to park alongside anything in Cannes so had to anchor offshore (that’s a nautical term not money laundering, I mean management) and as such it would be necessary to take a trip in one of the ships tenders (these are the lifeboats or survival craft) of about 15-minutes right into Cannes herself.

Podge hates tenders

Back in 2004, Boxing Day to be precise, Podge & Tubbs were basking on the shore of a little Caribbean Island called Mayreau having taken the tenor across from the Aurora anchored some 20-minutes away. They noticed that the waters were somewhat more boisterous than usual, so boisterous in fact that one lady was dragged down under the waves and was being dragged out to see before a number of people raced into drag her, literally, back ashore. “I’ve never seen the Caribbean like this before” said Podge. ‘Most unusual’ he thought. As the waters continued with their bad behaviour, Podge & Tubbs decided to get the tender back to the boat. What followed was 30-minutes of extreme discomfort and yes, even fear. The bouncing about on the waves is fine, tenders are designed to do this: it was when the tender tried to tie up next to the Aurora to let every body off and back onto the ship. The tender was going up then down, rolling left then right, and banging against the ship with such force that on one occasion, there was a loud thwack after which there was a definite crack on the upper wall of the tender, not dangerous but most disconcerting. Eventually, we pulled away from the ship and bobbed about for what seemed an eternity while the captain turned the ship to shelter us so that we could all board the Aurora and the safety of the cabin then the bar. Ever since then, Podge has hated tenders. 

The next day, on board the Aurora, the Captain broadcast the news of the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami that had happened on Boxing day.  

Today’s tender trip was a good trip

Podge needn’t have worried about the crossing. Climbing aboard the tender was a breeze, the crossing was millpond like and getting off the other side even easier. Podge is such a Wimp. ‘Just man-up’ thinks Tubbs. She doesn’t actually say it but Podge is sure that what she’s thinking.

Once ashore, it was like entering a different world. There was, what Podge thought, some sort of premier film event event as there were security guards and limos all over the place and red carpet outside the theatre entrances. Given the total absence of paparazzi however they both concluded that it must be some of film expo / conference. There was certainly no shortage of luvvies however and there were plenty of nice young, and some not so young, ladies each wearing the equivalent, cost wise, to an average 3-bed semi in the UK. Podge and Tubbs just sat on a wall by the sea watching them all meander backwards and forwards remarking to each other how stylish they al looked. “just look at that Italian man on the bicycle” said Tubbs, ‘He looks so stylish even with his cloths on” continued Tubbs. ‘Cripes’ thought Podge, ‘What on earth is going through her head when she’s looking at all these men” he mused. Podge decided he didn’t want to know but couldn’t help asking what she meant. She said that she actually meant compared to being in Lycra. Podge dropped the thoughts.

Having spent more then enough time people watching, Podge & Tubbs, ok, let’s be honest, Tubbs decided that they should cross over the main street and view the shops. This is where The Duchess comes into her own and His Podgeness feels his heart start to race and bounce even more than it was already. The shops in Cannes aren’t the average Ted Baker, DryStuff, Clarks, etc. Oh noooo, these were Prada, Gucci, Rolex, And other names so unique to Italy that His Podgeness just knew that they couldn’t even afford to even look in the windows let along go in, although going in isn’t that easy: you have be spotted, approved and buzzed in through the locked security doors. Then she spotted diamonds. “Oooooh look” she says, ’sparkly things, these are nice’. “If you loved me” she said looking at His Podgeness who has by now gone quite blue, through a sudden reduction in oxygen and coming out in a cold sweat. Podge does love Tubbs: His Podgeness does love The Duchess but when he took a look at the earrings being pointed out, ‘F*%k Me” exclaimed Podge, ‘They cost more than a World Cruise”. This was a good ploy, Podge had played a blinder. All jewellery now equated to another cruise and cruises won every time, presumably because Tubbs reckons on getting more sparkly thinks on future cruises anyway. Eventually, she tired and hunger set in. So they started to look around for somewhere to eat, preferably somewhere close to a tourist shop so that they could get the obligatory fridge magnet.

Throughout the whole cruise, Podge had been craving an omelette and when he saw one rather swanky but not too swanky eatery full of luvvies but still with a couple of tables spare, he was in there. No questions, no debate, no why’s or wherefore’s. Podge was in. Tubbs followed, scanning the horizon for fridge magnet shops and maybe another restaurant. Her first quest was fruitful. A suitable shop straight opposite. Her second quest was pointless. Podge wasn’t moving. “There might be somewhere nicer down there” she said, pointing randomly. “There might be” said Podge, ‘There might not be” continued Podge. “But this is nice and I’m staying here. Tubbs knew when to stop and sat down and perused the menu. Guess what, she had omelette and chips as well. They also had a large carafe of Pinot for good measure and they sat, relaxed, ate, relaxed, drank, relaxed, drank, relaxed and then they drunk some more.

The Tender back to the ship

All too soon, it was time to return to the ship and so they made their way back to the tender point for the journey back. Unfortunately, just about every passenger on the ship seemed to have the same thoughts and the number of tenders seemed to have reduced though why was never identified. Each tender can take about 100 people. Podge reckoned they were in a queue of 800+. To load and unload a tender plus the journey time there and back was well over 30 minutes. With two tenders, this was going to take a long, long time. But the clever captan was also good at contingency planning and acted in the same way that Podge had already decided he should. The Captain organised one of the local large capacity sight seeing boats to collect as many of us as possible and bring them over to the ship. ‘Wow’ thought Podge. “We’ve been upgraded, we’re going in a big boat” said Podge to Tubbs. This pleased Podge as they were much nicer than a tender.

Once back on board, Podge and Tubbs deposited their purchases and made their way to the bar for well earned fivesies and for Podge to rest his weary limbs and lungs.

Poor Podge.

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