October 2009

Travels to Champagne country Travels to Champagne country

Presenting a workshop at the annual meeting of the Intl Soc of Pharmacovigilance took me to Reims for five days, directly from Sweden. A busy programme and some horrible, wet weather prevented much in the way of sight-seeing. I did visit the astonishing cathedral briefly, but this is not my photograph of it(credit Sengupta/Wikispaces).
Regal reception Regal reception

The City's Mayor invited us to a welcome recption in the splendid Town Hall - almost entirely rebuilt after war-damage. Here I am with the Thai delegation to the meeting.
VIPs from Thailand VIPs from Thailand

These are some of the team from the Thai Food and Drug Administration for whom I occasionally do some work, whom I've known since my first official visit to Bangkok in 1995. On the left is a lecturer from Chiang Mai University who won a prize in the poster competition.
Old friends Old friends

I've been around on the drug safety scene for so long now (14 years) that I have good friends from all over the world. Kenneth, from the Philippines, is one of the oldest. We found time for dinner together one evening, when we had a bottle of champagne - and he ordered this huge pot of mussels. Our open-air meal was interrupted by an instantaneous and violent rain storm which sent us all scurrying inside - soaked after just a couple of seconds.
Underground treasures Underground treasures

The highlight of the social calendar was a visit to the Pommery champagne cellars and a spectacular champagne dinner. Here, another old friend, Ulrich from Germany, pauses by a small selection of the 20 plus million bottles stored in these vast, natural limestone caves, 70m under the City.
A fine vintage... A fine vintage...

Marie and I pause by another tantalising stack of ancient liquid gold.
Miles and miles of champagne... Miles and miles of champagne...

The passages in the enormous underground labyrinth are stacked with bottles.
Very old champagne Very old champagne

This was one of the secure vaults for some of the oldest bottles. If I remember rightly the oldest was a single bottle from the 1880s (it may have been older) in another holy spot.
Giant of the cooper's art Giant of the cooper's art

Marie and Alex make their dazzling way to the dancefloor Marie and Alex make their dazzling way to the dancefloor

Alex was elected President of ISoP, and Marie Vice-President. With Marie's recent appointment as Director of the Uppsala Monitoring Centre, and Alex's election as President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, they make pretty impressive pair at any time.
Overnight in Stockholm on the way home Overnight in Stockholm on the way home

Next to my hotel at Arlanda airport was this novel hostel. Worth a visit to satisfy one's curiosity, I think.
Back home to a small harvest Back home to a small harvest

Wonderful fruits of a lime tree I didn't actually realise I had planted on the farm.
An afternoon by the river An afternoon by the river

My friend Mr Katai's lovely little house on the bank of the River Gok. You may remember that's it's opposite the village where my farm is, though it's ten kilometres by road. The future of Mr Katai's land is in the hands of the court, like mine, though for very different reasons. He's loved and cared for this plot for 10 years, and is at some risk of losing it to slovenly bureaucratic processes at the time he bought it.