Monday, 9 June 2008

Travels In France - Part Three

Current mood:  hot

So we were going back to Grottsville on Sunday, June 1st, right?  Well, that's what we thought.  Mum was exhausted, our feet were really hurting after all the walking of the previous day - we did 18,000 steps or something! - and all of us were concerned about the safety of this house.
So we packed up the car, and got ready for the great escape...

June 9th 2008 ~ Bags Packed in Car

Then my parents decided that would be wasting too much money, especially with the train ticket we'd bought in advance for that day, so we set off for Paris once again.

I was not in the best mood, I must admit.  I had set off wearing my favourite MLP t-shirt, and used almost all of the remaining hairspray, which I'd wanted to do on our final day, when I might be having my picture taken with Alf's grave.  So that probably got us off to a bad start.  Mum's comments on the "ridiculous feather I was wearing in my hair" (a yellow ponytail band, with a feather attached to it.  It's the only yellow band I own, and I wanted something that would match my yellow MLP t-shirt) and how "stupid" I looked only made things worse.  And finally, having to sit on an even more graffiti-d (is that even a word?!) train was the icing on the cake.  If there's one thing I hate, it's makes my skin crawl to think what horrid person "woz ere" before.

June 9th 2008 - Graffiti on Metro

So we were all stressed, I guess, as we tried to find our way to the next train through all the millions of passageways on the metro.

And then, it happened.

David's mobile phone rang.  Who would ring David on a SUNDAY, when they knew he was away?   Surely, it couldn't be anything to do with work?

The reception was bad being underground, and David couldn't make out who was on the end of the phone, nor could the mystery person on the other end hear what David was saying.  He later told us it was a foreign man with a weird accent he couldn't understand either.

Of course, we could only listen to David's side of the conversation anyway, and this is what we heard...







My heart fluttered.  What was wrong?


Obviously something had happened to the house.  I started to wail, right there in the middle of the metro.


(David's stammer came into play now) METRO UNDERGROUND THING IN FRANCE.  (I'm sure "our neighbours" were really interested to hear that. CAN YOU WAIT AND LET ME CALL YOU BACK IN TWO MINUTES WHEN WE GET OUT OF HERE?!

"What's going on?"
 Mum asked.  "Something's happened to the house!" I wailed.  "It's the neighbours!"

"Ask them what's going on!"
Mum calmly said to David before he cut the caller off.

David yelled at her.  "IS IT AN EMERGENCY?"


"They said it wasn't."
David said, confused.  But I was too stressed to care by this point!  "What neighbours could possibly have our number?" Mum questioned.  Weird thoughts flashed through my head at that point; someone must have broken in, and the Polish neighbours must have come into the house (for their cut of the stuff, no doubt), found David's number in the phone book (without even knowing his name?!), and rung us to make it sound as though it was nothing to do with them, and they'd only come in here in order to help us.  Wow, now that's quite some imagination!

We ran up and down moving conveyer belts/escalators/stairs and goodness knows what else, before finally getting out into the open, where, CALAMITY!  David discovered the caller hadn't left his number! 

We waited about ten minutes, all of us yelling at each other about how it was one of the others who had wanted to come, and so it was their fault that the house had been broken into, and our stuff destroyed, despite the fact "the neighbours" had said it wasn't an emergency...

Then the phone rang again.   I waited impatiently, biting my nails.  Then David waved his hand in the air, as if to say don't worry.

"Who the Hell was it?!"
Mum asked.  She was wound up by this time too.  "What neighbours, for God's sake?!"

"Oh, he didn't say he was my one of my NEIGHBOURS."
David said, sheepishly.  "He said he was one of my NURSES."

It transpired the man on the end of the phone was something to do with the company who make the tablets David has been taking in order to lose weight.  He wanted him to answer a few questions about the results.

I was feeling so sick by this point, I didn't know what to do with myself.  We finally made it to the station for the Louvre, and Mum started on at ME that it was my fault David had mistaken the word nurse for neighbour, because I'd been "winding him up" about the house.  HUH?!  It was him who started on about this place getting broken into in the first place!
Anyways, the argument continued into the long queue at the Louvre, with her telling me that since "I'd spoiled France, she wasn't going to go to Iceland, and definitely wasn't booking California".  We had a huge row right in front of the armed security guards, and somehow it got round to my lack of bedroom and I started to cry about all the wasted years, and my unfulfilled dreams...and, oh, it was all a big mess.

She said she "wasn't going to move now".  As soon as the work was done, she was "selling the house, so that she can have the money to replace the cash she's lost in the stupid account David advised her to put her inheritance from Grandad in" or at least "sell it and move to a smaller house", at which point David said if she did that "they could go their seperate ways".  God, it was awful.  And all in front of this bloomin' armed security guard, who was looking more and more suspicious.  Finally, everyone calmed down a bit, and so we went into the Louvre, and had to pass our stuff through an x-ray machine, which I wasn't pleased about, since I was scared my ponies would somehow fall out of the bag.  Mum then embarassed me telling how the guards had been giving ME "funny looks, and it must be because of all the little faces in my bag!"  More likely because of the arguments MY PARENTS had caused.

Well, we battled through the Louvre, but there was no way we could look at everything.  We were really there to see the Mona Lisa, so that's where we headed.
Goodness, the crowds were horrendous...

June 9th 2008 ~ The Louvre

...But that must be it at the far end of this gallery, so we kept pushing, and eventually got close enough to take a picture.  They still make sure you keep about a million miles away from the painting by physically pushing you out of the way though - you know, like if we got any nearer, we might be able to sneak it out of the place.  How ridiculous, honestly.

June 9th 2008 ~ The Mona Lisa

(Especially when you consider how much thick glass it's under!  Anyone fancy unscrewing all of that from the wall before they steal the picture?! )

Still, good to have seen it, even if you couldn't really see it clearly...

We tried to find some food in the cafe there, but unless you fancy greasy chips and burgers for your breakfast on a totally empty stomach, there really wasn't much.

However, we did manage to find a stand selling some guessed it!...crusty rolls and croissants.  We felt sick of croissants by that point though.  I guess we shouldn't have taken those with us as our packed lunch when we had left on Friday.  We might have known France would be packed to the brim with croissants!
David bought us both apple strudels. (Which Mum had asked for).  But once she took a look at the things, she didn't fancy hers.  So we sat out in the sun - very painful without my sunglasses - and I ate mine.  Absolutely delicious, although not quite what I'd call apple strudel.  It was like a large cupcake with a dollop of sloppy cooked apple on top!

Then we set off to see Napoleon's resting place.  Again, everyone else was snapping photos of the place, but I didn't think that was very respectful.  Funny that it takes an English person (i.e. the enemy) to think that.

Very good to see and all that, but I think it was expensive to get in, especially considering Mum and I were too tired to drag round the accompanying museum full of tanks and uniforms.  So we walked through yet another cafe on the way out (finding only pre-cooked meals - left to get cold, and placed under cellophane.  Ugh.  Kind of like burned school dinners before Jamie Oliver came along, I guess!), then sat outside, rested our feet and I shared my second ( the one Mum's didn't want) apple strudel with some friendly sparrows while David walked around inside.

Then finally to the place I've been wanting to go since I was maybe four years old - the Eiffel Tower.

Mum didn't think she was going to get up to the top.  It was something like 2000 steps to the top, which obviously we couldn't climb by that point, even without Mum's fear of heights, and the only other option was a "rickety old lift that left you about three quarters of the way up, so that you could precariously climb out and get to the stairs from there".  I don't think health and safety regulators would allow that kind of thing in this day and age, Mum!  And what about equal opportunities?  Disabled people are hardly going to be able to climb precariously from the rickety old lift, are they?!

So reluctantly she agreed to ascend in the elevator, despite the warning signs flashing up as we queued for our tickets making her more and more nervous!

June 9th 2008 ~ Sign at Eiffel Tower

"Surely they have a limit on how many people can be at the top at one time?!" Mum gasped.

"It's just there for safety regulations, I'll bet."
I assured her.

Fortunately, I turned out to be right, and we got a beautiful view from the top.  I took tons of pictures, but again, I wouldn't want to waste your time posting all my holiday snaps here, so if you want to see, message me and I'll send you a few highlights of the best.

David took a photo of me at the top of the tower (Mum forced him into it, as I was "obviously dressed up to have my picture taken everywhere I went".  Grr, not true! ), but it's so horrendous, I'm refusing to look at it again myself, much less post it here.  I would delete it, if it weren't for the location.

Anyhow, here's a slightly better picture (only because it's further away, so you can't see what a mess I looked!) taken before we went up the tower.  (We were actually quite near to the thing, so I'm not sure why it looks like a studio backdrop a thousand miles behind me. )

June 9th 2008 ~ Me in front of Eiffel Tower

Morning Glory got a souveneir picture from the top, and even Truly and Lofty had their photos taken halfway up the Eiffel Tower though, so the ponies did far better than I.

June 9th 2008 ~ Morning Glory at Eiffel Tower

June 9th 2008 ~ Truly and Lofty at Eiffel Tower

(And yes, before you ask, I did make those rubbish clothes that Truly and Lofty are wearing. )
When we left the landmark behind, we were approached by about twenty weird crooked salesmen trying to flog us their illegal souveneir Eiffel Tower keyrings and some odd clockwork birds, which threatened to fly straight into my eye at any minute.

As we walked along the road towards the station, I began to feel sicker and sicker, and I really thought I wasn't going to make it back to the chalet without throwing up on the way...too much apple strudel, I guess!  Fortunately, I fell asleep on the train, and when I was awoken by more armed police and the friendliest "guard-dog" (Yeah, right, wagging it's tail like one of these pets the charities take round hospitals! ) you've ever seen, I felt OK again. 

We found a petrol station, and got some lovely creamy milk on the way back, which made me feel better still.  Perhaps I was dehydrated too...  In fact, by the time we reached the campsite, I was feeling well enough to eat some more of the dreaded "three servings in one bag" chips!  So Mum finally got to eat something as her reward for walking around all day!

And so we settled down for our final night, in our chalet, which had now become known as...(home away from home, all right!)...GREASEVILLE!

To Be Continued...

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