Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Defecto blondo

On doctors’ orders, Sapphire was given permission to get out of the house, see her friends and eat what she liked. “Until the tests all come back, you might as well have fun this weekend,” he said, noting her pale face and eyes brimming with tears. “If it gets worse, then we might even have more information to help us.”


Saturday morning was all systems go.

Love Chunks and his Dutch friend Franck were going to cycle all the way around Lac Leman. As their designated blonde back up support I was to meet them at Montreux where we were staying the night.

Milly the dog was already settled at Auntie Kaye and Uncle Jeff’s house with more essentials than the three Montreux-bound humans combined.  A padded bed, blankie, walking lead, dinner bowl, Tupperware container of breakfast crunchies and foil pack of moist moosh were presumably sufficient to see her through thirty six hours.

In the meantime, Sapphire and I were to take the train to Nyon - Knee-On, not Nigh-On - where Kate and Imi would be waiting on the platform, ready to whisk her off for a session of horse riding. In France.

Afterwards, she was to make her way to Kriti’s house for a birthday party and sleepover and be collected by me at lunch time on Sunday.

Excited to be doing something not wearing pyjamas, Sapphire jiggled on her train seat and  joked with me cheerily as we watched the bright blue of the lake flicker between the chalets and trees. 

“Approche arrêt Nyon,” said the French female voice over the loud speaker.  Sapph gathered her things as the train slowed.

No platform appeared, so we continued to wait by the door and chat, assuming that the train would pull in soon.

My phone rang. It was Kate. “Where are you?”
 “We’re here, just waiting for the train to pull in---- HANG ON, it’s starting to speed up and the door won’t open--------!”

Their faces were a blur as we sped on to Morges.  A few calls established that we’d get off at the next stop, cross platforms and make our way back to Nyon via the Geneva line. 

“I’ll stay on board, kick Sapphire off and continue to Montreux.”
“Er, no you won’t Kath. You’ll end up back home.”
“Ah, yes. My second blonde moment of the day and it’s not even lunchtime yet.”

Minutes later, we were back in Nyon, eyes alert to the very moment the train stopped.

I pressed the green ‘open’ button several times. No movement.  “Damn door!” 

It was after my tenth bash on the button that we noticed the small red sticker with ‘Defecto’ scrawled on it in black texta.  Spanish, when it’s the fifth most commonly-spoken language in the country...?

“Quick – run to the other end of the carriage!”

Whappita whappita whappita went our sandals as they frantically slapped the floor during our mad dash.

We got off just in the nick of time and Kate made me promise to SMS her to confirm my arrival in Montreux.  My actions thus far did not inspire any confidence in my ability to travel in the correct direction.

Luckily, I did make it to Montreux and even found the hotel room that LC had booked a few weeks earlier; a two-star job a street behind the fancy, lake-frontage five star fantasy who owned them.  The sign on the gate – in English – told me to check in at the five star place.

My tiny wheelie case clacked like thunder across the roadway, ratcheting up to a roar on the highly polished marble floor of the five star lobby.  The concierge was busy offering coffee and freshly baked pastries to the American tourists who had also arrived and bellboys were loading bag after bag of brand new Louis Vuitton onto brass luggage trolleys.

“Sorry Madame, you are too early to check in. Please come back at 3pm.”

Very reluctantly, they agreed to store my humble wheelie in their cramped stationery cupboard behind the lift well.  I ostentatiously reached for a peppermint from the jar next to the monogrammed pens on the check in counter – my own special guest freebie - before departing.

Under the bronzed eye of Freddie Mercury, I sat on a park bench overlooking the lake, eating a lunch of a carrot cake and coffee-flavoured yoghurt drink* purchased from a supermarket and noticed that that the chasm between the Five Stars and the Two Stars was evident everywhere.  Sun-yellow umbrellas over outdoor tables were heaving with the wealthy winers and diners paying more than fifty francs for filet au perche et frites, or fish and chips.

Wizened old orange ladies in leopard print promenaded between five star establishments and restaurants in pairs, tea cup poodles in one hand and cigarettes in the other.  The clanking sound that accompanied them was most likely a combination of heavy jewellery and monogrammed dog leads.

Old couples, backpackers and families joined me on warm rocks at the edge of the water or concrete garden edging to eat baguettes and apples, sharing the same view as the millionaires seated several metres behind us.

My phone rang.  Team Love Chunks and Franck had completed the first leg of their bike ride and were waiting back at Hotel Two Star.  Perhaps due to their athletic demeanour or the fact that the Five Star concierge wanted their lycra clad, sweaty, sun block-streaked pongy bodies out of the lobby, they were allowed to check in before the officially permitted time.

LC opened the door with a sneeze. “I’m allergic to something in this room,” he said, sniffling slightly.  “Remind me to put those flowers out in the hallway tonight.”

Several hours later, our walk through, around and in front of the town saw us back at the display board of the first restaurant hoping that the price had somehow dropped to half of what it showed us an hour earlier.  Sadly the answer was no and we realised that their advertised rate of forty two francs for fish and chips was still the cheapest in town. We ordered wine and beers without looking too closely at the menu otherwise we’d all have blanched and rushed to the edge of the lake to slurp directly from it.

Franck left us to use his free hotel bus pass on a ferry to Chateau Chillon and we decided to make the most of our two star room costing an eye-watering 250 francs.

“Kath, can you put those flowers out? They’re making me wheeze.”

Standing over them, I smiled.

“LC? Sweetie? They’re plastic.”  The dumb blonde baton had been passed on.

* Not recommended, unless a vomit after taste is the flavour you're hankering for.


Andrew said...

Has to be one of your best posts!

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

You and Mrs PM are definitely kindred spirits; she would have failed miserably too AND ended back in Geneva.

Mind you - I'm one to talk - being blonde and ALSO prone to similar moments; and as I get older, I get senior moments too.

Is there any hope?




drwife said...

Oh how I hate it when stuff like that happens on the train or the bus. I am always sure that everyone is watching and laughing at me. Does this mean Sapphire enjoyed her weekend away without incident? I hope so!

nuttynoton said...

Great post reminds me of one evening of drinking where my two mates got off at the wrong stops! Oh I read the other day about someone who said why do we pick on blondes!!

Hope Saph had a good time sounds like LC an Franck had a good cycle ride, scenery is stunning, but like you how the other half live!! 250F for a room aaaargh!

PS Bruce was absolutely brilliant other fans who have seen him sevral times said the best yet!

Windsmoke. said...

A very fun filled weekend indeed :-).

diane b said...

I have just giggled my way through your last three posts. I love your writing and how you can even find the funny side of worrying and sad events.
The train door incident would have freaked me out. Love Chunks and Frank must be extremely fit to cycle all the way around Lake Geneva. i hope Sapphire had a pain free weekend and you enjoyed your million dollar views. 42 F for fish and chips is a bit steep, even dearer than here in Sydney.

wilbo43 said...

I am surprised that the door of a Swiss Train didn't open. Must have been a French carriage.

Oh coffee yoghurt, how i miss it.

franzy said...

NOTHING beats the terror of looking at your platform, inches away, and having it start moving while you scrabble at the door like a full-bladdered kelpie.

Our train decided to turn around in Germany. That was awesome, because I got to save the day in high school German.

Cat J B said...

Hahaha, plastic, love it!

And what is Freddie Mercury doing there?

Hannah said...

Oh heavens, I've had my share of public transport mishaps due to my lack of understandingy of the languagey!

It was very kind of LC to put his dignity on the line to make you feel better. That's true love. ;)

drb said...

This reminded the first time I caught the Melb train, didn't realise you have to open the door manually and so missed my stop too.

I am not even blonde.

So, what caused the allergy?

Jayne said...

You know, that often happens on good old Melb trains at times *snort*, the universe making you feel at home :P
How's Sapphy and the tests?

Pandora Behr said...

Thank you for putting a smile on my face.

River said...

Ha Ha, plastic flower allergy!!
And now of course I'm fancying a serve of fish'n'chips, but it's 8.45pm, dark and freezing outside, so that will be the dinner plan for tomorrow.
How did Sapphire cope with her weekend?

Kath Lockett said...

Aw shucks, Andrew!

Not sure PlasMan - aged AND blonde?

Sapphire did enjoy her weekend away, drwife - still a few stomach pains but they seem to be reducing in intensity

Nuttynoton, Bruce Springsteen would have been awesome. He's playing in Zurich too but I might have to content myself with the memories of 1992.

Thanks Windsmoke. I think we all deserved a weekend away.

dianeb, LC and Frank are very fit and deserved a free meal for their efforts in my view.

wilbo43, I've tried coffee yoghurt and quite like it but not so much as a drink.

Franzy, no French for me. Just a mad dash, a few laughs and a fellow Aussie on the end of the phone.

CatJB, Freddie used to live half his time in Montreux, the other in London and was loved by pretty well all of the locals.

Hannah, if only LC did it deliberately!

We're not sure what was the cause of Sapphire's stomach problems again, drb. Blood tests show a higher than normal level of protein which indicated that she'd been fighting something, but gluten is OK and we're waiting on lactose.

Jayne, she seems to be getting better and better by the day. Doc thinks her stomach is still very sensitive, but hopefully each incident is reduced in frequency and intensity.

No worries, Pandora. I aim to please....

Sapphire coped fine, River. Absolutely exhausted by Sunday night but went to school on Monday. Had Tuesday off due to a headache but back at school again on Wednesday and today and on deck for the last day of the school year tomorrow.

drb said...

Hey, you didn't aswer my question.
What caused LC's allergy.

Rob was asking the same thing, amd also was he able to sleep that night?

Marshall Stacks said...

as Andrew said 'Best Posts'. Painful for me to read but ah ... the FishNchip Financial Index:
that food-Hoover Ann O'D reports from eating her way across Victoria that 23 EUROS =
Flinders Hotel's AU$29.00
Daylesford Boathouse $25,
Tyers Beach Hotel $22
Marlo Hotel $22,
Portsea Hotel $25

Kath Lockett said...

Oh, sorry drb - Love Chunks slept like a baby that night - too tired to care about sniffles that, we think, he probably breathed in during the ride past all the flowers on the gorgeously manicured garden beds around the edge of the lake.

Put it this way, Marshall. When we spent three days in London last year, we kept saying, "Oooh isn't this cheap" every single time we bought or ate something!

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Jackie K said...

Great post!
But you're not defecto - how is a non-working train door and inadequate signage your fault? Carry on!

Kath Lockett said...

That's very kind of you, JackieK!

Helen Balcony said...

Anonymous Queen of Hearts, I have exactly the same problem! Kath's the professional but here's my unprofessional solution - I start writing paragraphs for the body of what i'm going to write without bothering about an opening paragraph, or just put a really stupid "skeleton"opening paragraph there as a filler. Then I come back to it while editing.

Louise said...

I'm so jealous of you picnicking with the Freddie Mercury statue! How cool is that? Hope Sapphire is feeling better now.