I am very content sitting on my small north-facing balcony watching the birds and feeding them. Ben the blackbird is very tame, and like many other older men his feathers are whitening around his beak. I hope he survives the winter.

However, there are times when I have to leave my calm retreat to do some work.

I am sent to witness an exhibition and sale of marine animal art at the Marriott in Cap d’Ail. I was told to arrive at 18:00, but when I get there there’s only the artist and a film cameraman. Slowly the place fills up, but the barman starts to move from foot to foot and he’s getting impatient.

My colleague, a young trainee, whispers “Is he going to open any of those bottles, or do we have to wait?” He will go a long way as a newsman.

Eventually, the bottles are opened and we opt for rose. I can’t recall much of what the lady artist said. Her art, inspired by her diving, is representational and each piece is recognisable as portraying its animal subject, with only a little artistic licence employed. No longer acceptable in the world of modern art. And then the snacks, barbajuans, salmon sandwiches, couscous, and more. She deserves a good write-up.

Next stop an exhibition of Russian artists back in Monaco. Here there’s champagne in paper cups and all the crisps have been eaten. The art, for the most part is pretentious nonsense of no artistic merit, offered for sale at horrendous prices. What seems like hordes of artists stand on the stairs, each one praising the work of the other, as women everywhere do on Facebook about facial make-overs. I do not linger.

Back at the balcony, where each evening in recent weeks four or five bees settle for the night on the same strand of dying ivy, I check for arrivals. Down to three now, as October evenings become decidedly more chilly.

The views expressed by Jeff Daniels do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers.