Archive for April, 2007

After a very long day of planes, trains and automobiles, we finally made it from Canterbury to Washington (via London and Dallas) and fell straight into bed. Sunday morning, however, we were up early and set off to visit the Chesapeake Bay. Purists will cringe and complain that it’s too early in the season for crabs, that they’re too light and full of water, and that the best crabs come later in the summer – but Aude had never had proper blue crabs before, and beggars can’t be choosers. We headed to a crab place on Kent Narrows and ordered a dozen large crabs, a plate of fried clams, several beers, and set to work.

After lunch, we drove around the coast for a while, eventually making our way to Terrapin Park, where we walked nearly to the base of the Bay Bridge. The weather was beautiful and we both came home with rather embarrassing farmers’ tans – Aude with white shoulders, me with one arm darker than the other because it had been in the sun.

Aude with crab

Aude holds up the unlucky victim…

Aude and Matt with a pile of crabs

Matt and Aude with a dozen of Maryland’s finest crabs…

Matt with crab

Matt is poised and ready to go with his mallet…

Not much left

Not much left after we were through — just a pile of empty shells!

Chesapeake Bay coastline

The Chesapeake Bay coastline

Captain Aude

Captain Aude

It has been a busy old week. One of the partners from another part of the business decided he needed an analytical heavyweight to help him do some serious number crunching. I obviously haven’t hidden my data analysis and Access skills deeply enough on my CV, because he approached me as the right man for the job. Even when I pointed out the impact of my day rate for doing a job like this, he remained convinced that I was ‘value for money’.

The job seemed reasonably straight-forward – take an Excel spreadsheet that was relying on loads of clunky lookups and a number of data tables (think ‘actuarial tables’ if you need an idea of size and scale) and create a more elegant solution in Access. I took all the input materials and created the model. So far ,so good.

The devil, of course, is in the detail. Because it’s only once it’s been built and you’ve pushed some data through that you realise that 1) the data quality is poor and 2) the client hasn’t defined their requirements clearly enough. For every business rule they have outlined, they’ve conveniently neglected to mention that there are exceptions to the business rules. No two groups in the company follow the same business rules, and there are 160 groups. And suddenly what seemed like a very straight-forward job assumes a life of its own.

Never mind. All I can think about is my upcoming holiday – my thoughts are squarely on our trip to New Orleans. All of our upgrades have cleared (thank goodness – 16 hours in economy is more than I can bear to think about). After a minor cock-up with dates (hotel booked for one week, flights for another) we have managed to secure hotel reservations for the entire period, even during the busy season of Jazzfest – although we will have to move hotels halfway through unless I can sweet-talk the GM into releasing a room for us. The concierge has a list of my favourite New Orleans restaurants and is busy making reservations. I’ve emailed all my friends and invited them to get together. Short of packing, I think we’re all ready to go!

Weather is predicted to be in the 90s all week – hot, but I can’t imagine New Orleans any other way. It’s my first visit post-Katrina. I just hope that this city for which I have such a fondness hasn’t changed too much.

Proof, if any were needed, that putting myself in an embarrassing position in the name of photography cleary runs in my genes.

Easter bunny

My parents wish all of my blog readers a very happy Easter.
Jerome and his girlfriend

Jerome and his girlfriend

Easter bunnies!

Who said Easter is for kids? Someone’s obviously very pleased about her Easter bunnies!


There are some things that the French do really well. Dessert is one of them.

Easter eggs

When Matthew was promised he could pose next to a bunny, he had the ‘Playboy’ variety in mind…

Family holidays and boredom are uneasy bedfellows. Which is why practical jokes were invented. Against the pleading of his girlfriend, and with the full encouragement of his mother and sister, the sleeping Jerome proved too tempting a target to resist. Sleeping Jerome + iced water = ???

The attack!

The moment of the attack!

The aftermath!

The aftermath!

Oh how we laughed. It’s worth every moment of the (almost certain) repercussions of the best man’s speech.

Now that I’ve had time to go through my photographs, I thought I would include a few of the Abbaye de la Celle in Brignoles, where we will stay after our wedding in September.

Posh cars

Our rather tired looking Renault Clio with missing door trim looked right at home next to the Ferrari in the parking lot. I had to point out to the porter that the Ferrari wasn’t ours…

Aude at hotel

Aude clearly approves of her surroundings!

Pissing statue

Frankly, he looks as shocked at his own behaviour as we were… After a few drinks, I was tempted to challenge him to a duel — until Aude suggested that we might not be welcomed back afterwards.

Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle

Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle


Aude poses in front of the fountain

Matt in front of fountain

Photo opportunities abound. Matt in front of the same fountain.

Reception room

The reception room inside the old abbey.

Matt & Aude in the gardens

Matt & Aude in the gardens

Matt on the lawn

Matt on the lawn outside the hotel room

Aude on the lawn

Aude on the lawn outside the hotel room

Old post box

The hotel comes complete with old world charm. Or should that be olde worlde charme?


More old world charm. Or someone’s spent too much time at Pottery Barn…

I’ve decided not to travel with Aude any more – she seems to be cursed. We caught our train out of St Raphael this morning right on time and made an effortless journey to Paris. Arriving in Paris with plenty of time to spare, we went down to catch the RER D back to Gare du Nord, only to be met by a group of police pointing us in the other direction. Someone had apparently left a suspect package on the train and they were closing the station.

Plan B involved a connecting service across a couple of other RER lines, and we eventually made it to Gare du Nord with plenty of time to spare.

It’s back to work tomorrow, another holiday over. Only a few weeks until New Orleans, thankfully.