Thursday, 31 July 2008

Singapore and Supermarkets

We got a taxi from the airport to our hotel. I know that Singapore has a lot of critics and I was certainly one the first time I went there. But really the odds were stacked against a good holiday when my bags were lost, my clothes (winter ones) were funky and not in a good way, and I got food poisoning (dodgy fish ball). This time I liked Singapore though. Most of the other cities that we visited have not bothered about the road from the airport to the city they're just ugly, but in singapore there's bouganvillea and trees and flowers and it's tropical and quite pretty. It certainly helps distract you from all those apartment buildings and there are a lot.
So we arrived at our hotel which was very nice and situated on the main shopping area. We 'freshened up' and were amused to find that our bathroom had a big window looking into our bedroom so Jack and I could sit in the bath and wave at S. There was also a marble seat in the shower which Jack and S thought was okay. I found them both sitting there with the water pouring over them, looking very happy.
We decided to check out the shops. We found a supermarket and I had fun poking around. Now we know that I love a market, but I also love looking at supermarkets in other countries. The supermarkets in England are very good. Such an amazing amount of produce from all over the world (guess air miles are not a priority) and the take home meals are astounding. Not the muck that you get here which is usually crappy lasagna or fried rice. At places like Waitrose or M& S food and even the cheaper supermarkets, you can get roasted duck salad with rice noodles, or a selection of curries with accompaniments or wild Scottish salmon with kipfler get the idea. And the desserts. Lemon tarts, chocolate fondant, panna cotta. Astounding. I can't see why people would need to cook (and this from me, someone who enjoys cooking). I know the chef at the manor has certainly given up!
The Supermarkets in Scotland were much the same and with no veal (though lots of expensive NZ lamb). What is the story? Is it because veal (oh so yummy) is murder?
The french supermarche, well we really only went to the one in Jouy, was great. Such good wine for so little money. Ahhh. And great puddings. In France it was so easy to buy things for a dinner with good bread, cheese, tomatoes, ham and wine. And the butter. I bought this breton-paysan butter which had salt crystals in it. So delicious. My tastebuds were happy but I'm sure my heart was saying, "eeeeek!"
And so to Singapore supermarkets. They are fun. They usually have heaps of Japanese groceries which are always worth a look and usually a big area of fresh sashimi and sushi, which looked delicious. Then there's usually a little barbecue or two cooking up squid balls or red bean pancakes (in the shape of a fish!) so it always smells yummy. There's lots of products from all over the world and I could've spent hours checking stuff out but I don't think Jack and S would've been happy.
And everywhere we went people talked to Jack, smiled at him, stroked his hair and asked a million questions about him (and how old S was though not sure how that was relevant).
After perusing in a Singaporean department store I was in the mood for some Char Kway Teow (a kind of malaysian wok fried rice noodles which are so good). Actually I'd been wanting some since we were in Singapore on the way over. I had been given some vague directions from a fellow guest at the hotel but they turned out to be too vague. We ended up in a food hall full of locals and no tourists but there was no Char Kway Teow on offer so we ended up having wonton noodle soup and some not so crispy duck with noodles and fresh watermelon and papaya juice. It was okay but not Char Kway Teow. Maybe next time when I have more energy I'll go in search of them or the next time I'm in Sydney. There's a noodle bar in Campsie that does them well.
We ate a cinnamon chocolate gelato on the way back to the hotel and went to bed as we were off early the next day on our last flight back to Sydney. Nearly home.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

the trip home

Well, that would've been a strange note to end on...magic knickers! But the blog isn't ending just yet so everyone can keep up with Jumping Jack Flash and his growth spurts. I just won't be posting as often. Now that we're home there seem to be all sorts of things to occupy me (JACK!!!!) and a certain Christmas fair in Cootamundra in November to prepare for (more about that later).
The trip from Heathrow was the one we'd been dreading as it's a long one especially with Jack but we were flying at night so we thought that might work better (ie Jack would be asleep).
Heathrow was ugly and crowded as always. We had to go through security and had all sorts of fun with liquids (apparently baby food is classified as a liquid and I know the end results can be hazardous). They obviously employ the world's slowest people to supervise this part of the proceedings, hoping that people will get impatient and freak out. "HERE ARE MY EXPLOSIVES JUST HURRY UP!!!"
This guy certainly was s- l- o- w and I don't think he was deriving a lot of satisfaction from his job. So I tasted the foods, but not the bum cream (phew) and we were on our way. Well almost because S had to take off his boots and get them scanned. I think he only had to do this because some English security cougar wanted to see him bend over. Then she said she'd like to smack his bum. Actually she said it a couple of times. I though this was funny but I could tell under all that hair that S was blushing.
We hung out in the airport for awhile (meaning Jack flirted with all females in his immediate vicinity) then we boarded the plane. We were seated next to a lovely couple from Perth with their little boy. They were taking him to India for a head shaving ceremony which is what happens to hindu boys when they turn one. He and Jack shared toys and books for awhile (Jack took a real shine to his mum and went quite off me - harumph!). Jack started getting tired but all the lights were on and that big screen with the map was right above his head and very distracting. Like a baby discotheque. He was getting tetchy (so were we) but then when they finally switched off the screen at ten pm he fell asleep as if by magic.
I watched some movies as I found it hard to sleep. I was amazed at the people around us who just ate and ate continuously for most of the flight. It was like being at the movies in Wagga.
We arrived at Singapore feeling tired and frazzled but okay. As we were waiting for the stroller to reappear I saw a woman yelling at her son, "Stop hitting your brother on the head...I don't know where you learnt to do that!" as she smacked him on the head.
We headed to customs where it seemed to take forever to get anywhere in the queues. Possibly it wasn't actually too long but they were doing rehearsals for a big ceremony the next day to open terminal 3 and so we got to hear speeches and special presentations over and over with all of us jetlagged tourists clapping in a lacklustre fashion. It was quite bizarre.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Magic Knickers

When I came to Europe in 1995 I remember they had these special knickers in Italy and the slogan for them was "Culo basso bye-bye" which roughly translates as no more dropped arse. They were made of that special fabric that sucks you in but they also had 2 little padded bits at the top of your bum where I guess you cheeks would be if you had a pert bum.
It seems that women are still a sucker for the knicker quick fix. This time the undies are called magic knickers and the fabric is impregnated with all sorts of fat blasting substances that wick away the fat in just a few weeks. Meaning that you have to wear the knickers for that long I guess and if you washed them wouldn't all those special substances go away. Euuuugh!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


We all returned to the village today. Not to the manor, but the canteen. We had originally planned on visiting so we could pick up our extra bag but we arrived early yesterday (due to Sarkozy flying into Dublin) and so S decided he would get the bag yesterday afternoon. Excellent plan, though he did return at peak hour on the tube which was very crowded. Apparently he had some guy's elbows in his face which made him cranky. You know the type. Guys that spread their legs on public transport or take over the armrest.
So today we made the trek without the prospect of lugging a large bag back on two trains and a bus. Much easier with S, Jack, myself, the stroller, Jack's seat and a bag with all his stuff and some books I was posting home (they'd been hiding in the other bag). Today we travelled at a better time and I think it only took two hours (the marvels of British public transport). S headed up to the institute while I posted home ten kilos (yes that's 10 KGs) of books then did a spot of shopping and hurried up to the canteen for the reunion.
We saw some familiar faces from the manor including Enrique and Ambrose, but of course the face that Jack (and myself) were most keen to see was that of the lovely Rebeca. She and Jack had a little cuddle and after some lunch he joined their table for a chat and with quite a bit of encouragement performed his newish stompy dance.
Apparently the food is still very spud focused at the Manor (two kinds of potato with your meal) but as I was telling Rebeca and Enrique, with food prices going up in Britain there has been a big increase in the sales of potatoes and white bread. So the manor is really on trend, or even ahead of the trend. Both Rebeca and Enrique will be escaping the Manor soon and I'd like to congratulate them on surviving the carb overload that is the Manor. I am glad however that they were staying there as my father-in-law would say, "it's nice to meet nice people." though he normally says that with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.We also saw Brian and Jo and the lovely Sue (don't forget the asparagus recipe Sue). A lovely time was had by all and then we walked back to the station for our trip back to the very lovely Heathrow and that minibar.

Minibar menace

We're staying at a flash joint out at Heathrow, psyching ourselves up for the flights home. Everything is high tech, except for the doorman who wears a bowler hat. The phone is very whizz bang to Jack's delight. He had dialled the concierge within minutes of our arrival. So I unplugged the phone and an alarm went off. Apparently this is to stop people stealing the phones, not scare the crap out of guests. The other phone is hidden in a drawer.
The other joy is the minibar. It is interactive and here I was thinking that all minibars are interactive. After Jack had scattered the contents of the fridge across the floor I read a notice explaining how this works. The fridge has sensors so that if a bottle is moved you automatically get charged. In one foul swoop Jack had managed to rack up a whole minibar.
I spoke to a concierge who said it would all be okay as long as we got it checked before we left. Phew. Jack continued to open the fridge and scatter the contents. He likes to stagger around the room pretending to glug on a bottle of gin (I knew I shouldn't have taken him to that Tennessee Williams play).Then he noticed in the door of the fridge some wine glasses with little foil seals on them. Before I knew it he'd grabbed one of these and started to gnaw through the foil. I managed to grab it out of his hand before he pierced the foil and got a mouthful of cheap (though at six quid not so cheap) vino and the child protection agency stepped in. I can only imagine the next person to stay here who looks at the minibar sees teethmarks on the wine glass. Or opens the pringles to find they've been shaken into a thousand little pieces.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Mum sent me this great cartoon from home where the pilgrims (and the pope) have taken over Sydney. I'm not going to go into the extraordinary amount of money that it is costing or mention those red shoes but thought I'd share the cartoon. A law was passed saying that it was an offence to 'annoy' the pilgrims with fines of up to $5000. They obviously had the Chaser boys in mind who got in a spot of trouble for their apec stunt.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Punch and Judy in the Park

We went to the art gallery today so S could see that fantastic exhibition. We had a spot of lunch and then strolled back to St Stephens Green. Every weekend they have activities for kids and today they had face painting (no Jack didn't have his face painted - can you imagine him staying still for long enough?) and balloons and a Punch and Judy show which Jack seemed to think was quite amusing.


In the afternoon S and Brian and Jo turned up and we went out for a spot of lunch at Waterstones. Jack worked the room in his usual manner, flirting with all females in his immediate vicinity.
After lunch we decided to get some culture. I suggested the Bog Bodies at the National museum. We found the museum easily then S in a typically Aussie manner said to a guide, "Scuse me mate, where are the bog bodies?"
The guide didn't look confused or surprised, just pointed wearily to the far corner of the room.
It seems like all manner of good stuff gets pulled out of peat bogs in Ireland. Jewellery, cauldrons and of course the bodies. I had seen the rather excellent bog body in the British museum and was slightly disappointed that these bodies were not, shall we say, as complete as that one. The one attached to the hand in the photo (which were beautifully manicured) had no head or legs. there was another body of a man that was found to have hair product in his hair. Nice. What a happy little exhibit. We had a quick look but I can't say we lingered too long.
We popped into Trinity college so Jack could have a run around but all the grass had big 'keep off the grass' signs. I mean really if there's anywhere where grass will thrive it would be Ireland. So Brian and Jo headed off for a swim and we went to the park.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Another Gallery

This morning Jack and I crossed the river Liffey (yes, yes, we were Diffeys on the Liffey). We had only previously done this on the bus because the area we are staying in has all the good stuff, the National gallery, National museum, National Library, Trinity College (home of the Book of Kells and also where they filmed Educating Rita) as well as lots of shops and cafes. But I thought it would be worth it because the gallery had an interesting story attached to it.In the early twentieth century a man called Hugh Lane decided that Ireland needed its own museum of modern art and he set about acquiring the works for it. Unfortunately there wasn't a building to house them at that stage so he wrote a will and then added a codicil stating that when a suitable building should become available that that is where the artworks should go. Then he was killed when the ship he was on (the Lusitania) was torpedoed off the coast off Ireland. For years the paintings spent time in the National Gallery in London as the validity of the codicil was called into question. So this year is the first time that all of his paintings have been hung together in Ireland in the Hugh Lane Gallery. It's a lovely building and there were some very nice works. Again some Monet and Manet, Renoir, Degas and an Italian artist called Mancini whose works I had never seen. Man, he liked to lay the paint on nice and thick.
Ever since I'd read the the story about the gallery and Hugh Lane I had been keen to see it. Then the friendly guide at the gallery also mentioned that they had Francis Bacon's Studio there and I thought maybe some other time but I have to say it was a highlight. After his death the studio was bequeathed to this gallery and moved, even the stairs, to the gallery. I have no idea how they did it but I was very impressed. Apparently Francis found mess inspiring. He must've been VERY inspired.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

News from home

Jack's Uncle Andrew went to the footy last week. That's real footy, not the kind played with a round ball and you're allowed to touch the ball with your hands. The Swans lost due to some bad umpiring decisions (isn't that always the case?) and maybe the absence of Big Bad Bustlin' Barry Hall who's been a bit off his game lately.
Get better Barry, we miss you.
For those unfamiliar with Aussie rules, there's nothing better than having a pie and a beer at the footy. And if you are a Hunt Family member or a friend of the family you'll find that it's also very important to have a cherry ripe too.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Another National Gallery

The National gallery of Ireland is very large. Jack and I spent a while there looking at the permanent collection then we went back today to see the impressionist exhibition that is on at the moment. A guide yesterday had tipped me off that on Thursdays the exhibition is only six euros instead of the usual ten and it was very good. To say that S and I have seen a lot of impressionist paintings in the last ten weeks is an understatement but the ones today were very good. The exhibition is called 'Impressionist Interiors' and all the works are of people rather than landscapes and they were wonderful. Lots of the usual suspects (Degas, Manet, Bonnard, Renoir) as well as some works by the female artists Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassett.
The permanent collection also includes the portraits. interesting but can't say I'll be getting the postcard of the Bono portrait anytime soon. In the rest of the gallery were a bout one thousand paintings of Jaysus, Mary and Joseph, which is not really my thing (more suited for all those happy little pilgrims in Sydney at the moment) however there was an amazing Caravaggio painting of JC and Judas that was very good.
There was also a school excursion with all these teeny tiny kids wearing teeny tiny little boaters and all joined together at the wrist. One of the guides told me that the last time they had a group all joined together like that they went to catch the lift but only six got in leaving four still attached in the lobby and the doors closed...the mental image is alarming but apparently a teacher got the doors open in time.
I'm not sure what I expected of people in Dublin. I didn't expect people at the airport to say, 'Fiddle-di-dee welcome to Ireland,' as they handed me a pint of Guinness but I did expect a certain warmth. I guess maybe like people in Edinburgh. But then Dublin is very big and busy like London. I have met some nice people. The American ladies on the bus were very nice and I also met some lovely Greek ladies in the art gallery who got very excited when I told them I was from Australia. I haven't really found the locals very friendly.
The guide yesterday in the gallery was very nice though and told me some great things to see and do in Dublin. And the man working in the gallery cloakroom today was hilarious. I suggested to him that he must've kissed the blarney stone as he laid the irish charm on with a shovel. I think as Deb would say he's been kissed on the bum by a fairy. He even put on a fake nose while he was getting my bag to make Jack laugh but Jack just stared at him like he was nuts. Oh well. Fiddle-di-dee...

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


So now I've been here a couple of days I think I have a better idea of what Dublin is like. It's busy and crowded and really expensive. The only thing that is cheap is Guinness. It's cheaper to buy than milk. Jack and I went on another of those really touristy bus tours to get an idea of what to see and where to go.
Our apartment is in a very good spot (well done S) south of the Liffey and near Temple bar which has a lot of shops and restaurants. On our first day here we walked down Grafton street which was like Pitt Street in Sydney at Christmas or Oxford Street in London during the June sales. And because there are so many tourists here it doesn't matter what side of the footpath you walk on, it's always the wrong side. I've been trying to work that out for the whole trip. I think someone had said to me once that the side you walk on is the corresponds to what side of the street people drive on but in London, Paris and Dublin it seems it's everyman (or woman) for themselves. And if you have a buggy, well tough.
Jack and I met some right wags while we waited for the bus and then did our tour (or part thereof). We saw the Guinness breweries, all 64 acres of it, as well as some of the major sights of Dublin. We drove past a statue of Molly Malone (you know the one from the song) who is normally draped in tourists and who is called the 'tart with the cart', the 'dish with the fish' or the 'trollop with the scallops'. You get the idea. Apparently cockles and mussels weren't the only things she sold. She's quite a busty wench I must say.
Our bus driver, Eamon who was having a birthday, sang the whole song with other people on the bus joining in, much to Jack's delight as he grooved along. S and I are becoming concerned about his taste in music. First bagpipes, then he was grooving to the sound of a french ambulance in Paris, and on the way here from the airport he was getting down to some Irish fiddling. Hmmm....hope he doesn't become a folk musician.We got off the bus at Phoenix Park which is a huge green space and probably a very good place for Jack to run around but we went to the zoo instead. It was very popular and not a bad zoo. If I had to rate it I would say that it wasn't as good as Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney but is much better than Wagga Zoo. The last time we went to Wagga Zoo we heard that there were no more pigs on display because someone had jumped the fence and stolen one for a BBQ. Oh dear.We saw some tigers and monkeys that had been mulesed and some ducks (the therapy is working - Jack was very pleased to see them) and some giraffes and zebras and ostriches. The tiger walked right past Jack and I but I was a bit slow with the camera. We also saw a cage that had a sign saying Jaguar but there was only a goat.After the zoo we waited for the bus, but when it turned up I couldn't find my ticket so the man kindly offered to let me on. As I searched through my stuff Jack had found a roll of paper which he busily started shredding. When I finally found my ticket I panicked and thought I'd got on the wrong bus (as there are a few different companies) and wondered what to do. Jack started playing peekaboo with two lovely American women who were willing participants and thought he was 'just adorable'.

Jack's new ball

Well, I finally managed to get a ball for Jack and he seems pretty keen on it. It is a bit big, but he hasn't noticed.

Air Dingus

On Sunday morning, we closed the suitcases (and no one had to sit on them) and prepared to leave Jouy. S visited the boulangerie one last time to try out his french language skills. Apparently it was very busy so he had quite an audience.
We tidied up the apartment and walked to the station to catch our train. We'd left plenty of time so we started planning on all the things we could do at the airport (shopping and eating). When we got to CDG we caught a little shuttle train to our terminal and went to find our check in. There were huge queues but they seemed to be for an earlier flight to Cork so we debated what to do. We decided to join the queue so we could get rid of the bags. Over and hour and a half later we were nearing the head of the queue. We were hungry, Jack was grumpy. We couldn't understand why it would take so long. Then we watched the woman checking in the family in front of us. The maximum weight was 20kg and one of their bags was 700g over this weight. So while everyone waited she made them open their bags and take out 700g of stuff. We were understandably nervous. Jack's bag was below the twenty but ours were over so off they came while we swapped stuff between the bags and the people in the queue glared at us (their turn would come). We finally got checked in (we'd arrived around 1pm, our plane left at 3.50pm and it was now about 3.10!) and staggered off without our boarding passes. After getting those we tried to go through to the gate but a smart ass told us that we needed another boarding pass for Jack unless S wanted to stay behind so back we went to the desk. By this stage we didn't have long before the flight was due to leave and there were large groups of students travelling on our flight so we decided to get food at the gate and hotfooted it. We had the usual fun at security, removing belts, shoes and getting out the camera and DVD and laptop anf folding the stroller and carrying Jack and then putting it all back together. And of course we got to the gate and the flight was delayed for an hour so we sat and I ate a very expensive sandwich.
There was a guy sitting next to us who looked very unimpressed by Jack's capering, even when Jack flashed him the winning smile. When we finally got on the flight he was the one sitting next to us. You can imagine how happy he was!
Finally getting to Dublin we got a taxi to our apartment and had dinner and went to bed, all worn out. It's funny the flight was only for an hour but seemed to take the whole day. On the phone the next day Mum and Dad asked what Ireland was like and I had to say I wasn't sure.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Au revoir Paris

Today was our last full day in France and I have to say we are all a little sad. Jack is going to miss the pain au chocolat and S and I have only made a dent into what Paris has to offer.This morning after S bravely went to the boulangerie by himself to purchase croissants, we travelled into Paris. We decided to go on a different train to see if it would take any longer and it certainly did but we saw lots of good scenery on the way. We got off at Invalides, which was a small little building built by Napoleon, and then walk to the Champs as S calls it. He suggested that we should 'go to the Champs to see the gate' which apparently means walk along the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. We walked over one of the many bridges and along FDR avenue to the Champs and up to the Arc. S said it was quite touristy. hmmm..yes I think he may be onto something there but it is the Champs Elysees after all - home of famous french shops like Gap, Quicksilver and Toyota. It was pretty crowded and it started to rain so our promenade was fairly speedy. We clocked the Arc then crossed the road (which is taking your life into your own hands) and headed back down the champs. We did stop at McDonalds but only to use their loo (don't tell them) and managed to resist a 'royale with cheese'. It looked like not many others could. It was very, very crowded.
Back on the champs we also eschewed Quick (like a french Maccas) because I had some fond memories of a french hotdog (on a baguette) from many years ago. We purchased the hotdogs (did I mention they are on a baguette?) and sat in a small park along the Place de la Concorde which is all gussied up for Bastille Day next week. Jack released from his buggy decided he had to climb onto each and every seat in the park and then we found a children's area with a slide and sandpit and he was very happy. S was amazed that the novelty of the slide never wore off. Ah no, it doesn't, especially when he executes a double half pike with a twist halfway down and ends up back to front.
We had planned on walking to Notre Dame but changed our minds and decided to head in the other direction to the Musee de Arts Asiatiques because they had a Hokusai exhibition on. He did that very famous series of prints with Mount Fuji in the background. So again risking life and limb we crossed the Champs (which had only a zebra crossing where stopping for pedestrians was non compulsory) and headed down a quiet little cheap avenue with a few small shops. Gucci, Ralph Lauren, D & G, Prada, Jimmy Choo, MaxMara, you get the idea. And each glossy edifice had a doorman who would look us up and down and decide we probably weren't in the market for a Birkin bag anytime soon. The stores seemed very quiet but maybe they only need one Paris Hilton a day to make it all worthwhile. I didn't take to any of the shoes. All of them have platform soles this season and is it me or do they all look like porn star shoes? Dior did have some lovely hats that looked very 1950's like Audrey should have been wearing them. And then we saw the Baby Dior. I have to say that I'm sorry I didn't purchase anything from BD for Scarlett, Lily, Nina or the not long now soon to be born baby Magrath even though the toy puppy made from sable was very tempting.
As we passed another shop (maybe armani?) I think I leant too close to the fence (to keep the plebs out) and I swear an alarm went off. Alert! Peasant Alert!
Back down near the Seine we kept on spotting glimpses of the Eiffel tower which S kept on saying was ugly and he couldn't see what the big deal was. But it just kept popping up like a bad penny. We passed the Museum of modern art and Palais de Tokyo (very funky) and found the Museum of Asian Art. We also saw a market that had just finished (merde!).There was a big queue at the museum which we joined but after a short wait with a grizzly Jack we decide to quit it and go back to the museum of modern art.
The Museum of Modern Art was not very big but it had some nice works by Matisse, Dufy, Picasso, Vlaminck, Modigliani, Chagall and Bonnard. There was also some really funny stuff that Jack liked, S thought was silly and it made me giggle. What a cultured family. I'm sure that the painting by Bonnard is one that my mother particularly likes. Apparently Pierre always used his wife as a model and even though in her later years she became a bit let's say horizontally enhanced and was an absolute harridan, he always painted her looking slim and sweet natured.
I suggested that we catch the train from near the Eiffel tower and S agreed. As we got closer he said that there must be a concert or something on because it was so crowded but no that's just the Eiffel tower on a good day. Hundreds of people milling about with matching name tags getting to know all those friendly gypsies.
We managed to get to the station and find our train line but it wasn't as easy as I had thought. We changed trains again at Saint Michel Notre Dame and then once more at Massy Palaiseau and we were home. Jack bounced off the walls as we had dinner and (Quelle surprise!) another bottle of very reasonable french wine.

Versailles deux

S went into work briefly this morning while I went to see the good people at the Jouy post office to post home yet more clothing to lighten the load. Really the way that we're going you'd think we brought most of Imelda Marcos' shoe collection along with us instead of a couple of pairs of jeans and some sneakers. And t-shirts, I don't want people thinking that we're going topless.
The man at the post office was very nice and gave the usual response when asked if he spoke any english, a little, which of course means he speaks a lot of english. Anyway I tried to explain that I wanted the cheap option and to send the mail slowly like a snail, to which his response was, yes it is good weather for snails. It was overcast again.Then, flushed with success, I decided to try my luck at a shop to see if I could buy an inflatable ball for Jack. We played with one in the garden the other day and it was good fun and of course can be deflated for travel. We did have a soccer ball (football) but that must have rolled out of the pram basket somewhere in Edinburgh.
I pointed to a ball and asked "Quest que c'est?" which means what is that. The shop assistant looking puzzled told me it was a 'balon' like any idiot would know that. Then I told him that I would like to buy a balon and then mimed blowing up a ball. It probably didn't help that I was laughing. Looking pleased with himself he showed me the balloons and looked surprised when I emphatically pointed at the ball and mimed the blowing thing again. No luck.S returned from work at lunchtime and we caught the train to Versailles. Again no sign of the dangerous thugs that my mum had been warned about. We stopped at the boulangerie on the way to the chateau to buy lunch and then continued on our way.
On approaching the palace S was struck by the size of it and the number of tour buses parked out front. He was also impressed with the length of the queue. He asked me if there were some gardens to eat our lunch in and I told him I thought there was a small one. On seeing the size of the gardens he pronounced that they would make a very good golf course. I guess it's not to much of a stretch as the grass, water hazards and the golf carts are already in place. We sat and munched and did some serious people watching and saw a unit of french foreign legionnaires march pass (really). Then they started standing in formation and presenting arms and all that malarkey. Of course the tourists lapped it up taking lots of photos. Some of them seemed a bit long in the tooth and I wondered if they are the 'soon to retire crack tourist squad' who march out in front of the tourists, have the photos taken and march back to the barracks again.As we walked around the lake it started to pour so we took shelter under some trees and decided that we should head to Marie-Antoinette's place. I just can't get enough of that girly garden there. Obviously I'm not the only one because when we got there a bride and groom were having their photos taken, and looking rather fetchingly bored by the whole procedure. It's a lovely spot to have photos but imagine looking back on your special day and seeing a wild colonial boy with a pain au chocolat in hand running around in the background.And that's what Jack was doing (though when he had finished the pain he resorted to eating the crumbs out of his pram - poor starving child) because it seems he loves to run around on gravel. And it's such a child friendly surface, though luckily he didn't fall over today. He just made a beeline for every pond or set of stairs that he could see with a cheeky grin on his face.On the walk back S suggested going a different way which looked like it was, well, the wrong way, but I thought I'd go along with it. We ended up walking through a very nice part of Versailles, past the five star Grand Trianon Palace Westin Hotel (with a Gordon Ramsay Restaurant - 60 euro main course anyone?) and past all these chichi little shops. Very nice. I went into a beautiful kids shop called 'un jeu d'enfant' and repeated my mime and got offered balloons again. I did learn that I was after a ballon souffle but was not able to purchase one. Oh well. I'm surprised she didn't offer me a whoopee cushion because they certainly had those.
And so back to the station and the train back to Jouy for dinner and more french wine.It's a tough life but all to soon we'll be heading to Dublin. The man at the Post office thought a week wasn't long enough in France and I think I'd have to agree. And even S does too.
Note: At the time I thought how funny that the french word for ball was the same as spanish and that's because they aren't. The french word for ball is balle. How rude!