leighreyes.com – that’s it. Okay? Okay. Cool.

And here we go, my first wordpress.com via Twitter API entry. 🙂

Redirect yourselves to my new home.

Je suis Nano.

Where the dickens am I?
Ah. Judging by the strap with the plastic doodad, I am in someone’s carry-on luggage, and will soon be hurtling through the atmosphere at an altitude of 35,000 feet, at the mercy of prosaic flight attendants.

It is quite hospitable of Cannes to provide me with the perfect vantage point from which I can reflect upon the sky, the sea, the vast potential of life, and Frenchwomen without bikini tops.

I am here for the Cannes Advertising Festival. It is not as salacious or perverted as they make it out to be. Or perhaps my assigned human is not visiting the right places. Instead of bringing me to the Gutter Bar, she totes me along to talks in the Grand Palais. What need have I for the latest trends in digital engagement? I require inspiration! Someone hand me a glass of rosé!

There is too much bread here.

Humans of all stripes keep stealing glances at me in the auditorium. This would not happen at the Gutter Bar.

After many such days, we are outdoors. The carousel near the Palais is a welcome sight for an inspiration-starved poet such as myself.

The muse comes in many forms. Here she is a horse with too much makeup.

But we must take what we are given.
“Forsooth! It is in the grace of sunlight
that we forsake our boots too tight.”
Yes, I know it needs more work.

It is our last day. My sister will surely appreciate the picturesque landscape behind me.

In fact, I do believe she will be positively bilious with envy when next we meet. I must savor these last moments of self-indulgence! Everything is mere material for my poetry, of course. Until the next journey, mes amis. Au’voir.

Droplets of stories.


Next door to Puyricard, purveyors of Provençal chocolate on Rue Belges, in between the Croisette and Rue d’Antibes, is Maison Franco, a well-stocked art supplies shop. Of interest to aspiring calligraphers would be an assortment of nibs, nib holders, notebooks with fine-grade paper (such as the Essential Notebook by L’Atelier du Papier), and Talens’ Ecoline liquid watercolors. I bought a Winsor & Newton traveling set with a built-in water container. Failing to produce anything that could remotely be called art, I can at least fill it with single-malt Scotch and behave like an artist.

A couple of minutes’ walk from Maison Franco is a French bookstore, with notebooks and pens on the upper floor. They have a selection of Moleskines, Habana, and Paperblanks, plus Rhodia and Clairefontaine pads and notebooks. There’s an itty-bitty Parker and Waterman booth. In the back of the same floor is art supplies (including calligraphy brushes), G. Lalo correspondence paper, and the last dregs of tester ink in three J. Herbin bottles.

Monoprix, my savior (they were open until 7:30!), had the Forever Forest line of recycled paper notebooks and pads, in addition to the Clairefontaine Triomphe line. I found a cute Pilot Pluminix, which is like a Pilot calligraphy pen made stubbier to appeal to a younger market.

Cannes is not a place to buy pens.

Unless you really really really want a Lamy or an Omas Briarwood. Then head to Graphein. It’s one of Les Boutiques de Gray Street, a row of indoor shops beside the Gray d’Albion hotel, where I spent two weeks of my life. It’s a good thing I only found it on my second to the last day in Cannes. Otherwise the salesperson and I would have been great friends. I bought three bottles of ink (branded Bethge, but manufactured by J. Herbin) and a leather-covered notebook.


Styl’Honoré is on Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré. They have a wide merchandise mix, from school ballpoints to Taccia. What I really wanted to buy was their Cocktail ink. I chose Noir diamant, Coucher de Soleil, Poudre d’Iris and Velours Blue. They come in 75 ml bottles, and can be diluted with water.

Mora Stylos is on Rue de Tournon, which is a short walk from the Odeon Metro stop. (For people with blisters, it’s closer to a death march.) When I went in, I almost stumbled on a huge vacuum cleaner in the middle of the shop. I was that early. The Oldwins were to my left, and I didn’t even bother to look at the other modern pens they had in stock. I spared long looks for the vintage pen selection. They had a delicious Waterman safety. And a pre-owned Sailor Susutake Ito Maki, which used to be my holy grail pen but has fallen from its pedestal because it is simply too huge for my hand. But self-discipline carried the day.

I tried several Oldwin models, picked the Classic in red ebonite, and paid for it with a gulp and a prayer.

On the way back to the Metro stop I passed by Duriez and came away with even more notebooks. So the night before I left Paris, I jettisoned two pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans and a lot of tops to stay under the 30 kg baggage allowance. Notebooks and ink are more important than silly old clothes.

Oh, and just in case you think I’m insane, there are other people like me in Manila. In fact, we’re having a pen meet this Saturday. Do email me for details if you want to come along.

Schtuck in Schiphol.

They didn’t book me straight through to Manila at CDG. I should have panicked right then and there. I figured it was just because I’d checked in early.

At the transfer counter in Schiphol, a helpful lady with teal eyeliner informed me there were no more seats left on the Amsterdam-Manila flight. Blink. Blink. What? Shu had checked in online the night before and had a sure seat, so she ran to board the flight. She was lucky. The lady told me 180 passengers had been bumped off, because the original aircraft had “technical problems” and it had been replaced with a smaller one. (I would like to think technical problems are easier to deal with than human problems, e.g. the chief steward in a deathmatch with the purser over who gets to draw the curtains closed between business and cattle class.)

So off I go to Beijing. Then Manila after a layover. Three airports in one day! I feel so temporary.