Wednesday, September 14, 2005

14/09/05 Life's too short ...


Hello to all of you, and as you may have noticed we passed briefly across the radar screen in August. To all of you that we managed to see - thanks for putting up with us. To those that we missed - sorry, we'll try to do better next time. You can always come over here, you know. It's not as bad as it's painted, and we do have the room now.

The return trip was relatively simple. Left Hamilton at 17:00, flew out at 22:00 and arrived at Incheon (Korea) after 12 hours, spent 3 hours waiting before boarding an Air France flight for another 12 hour flight to Roissy where we hung around for 3 hours until our TGV arrived to take us down to Chambery 3 hours later. I admit it was a bit tiring. I also have to admit that I preferred Air France to Korean Air. The service was fine on both, it's just that - let's face it - kimchi (the Korean national dish, spicy pickled cabbage) does nothing for me. It's an acquired taste, and I've not acquired it. And even if I had acquired it, I'm not sure that I'd appreciate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner - especially breakfast, where it's served with a sort of rice porridge. My advice is to give it a miss.

On top of it, Jacques fell into conversation with the crew (as is his wont - godnose how he does it) and discovered that one of the stewardesses was the neighbour of one of his nephews (also an Air France steward) in Chamonix. From which point on we got a couple of bottles of champagne (nicked from 1st class, I assume) tucked into our hand baggage, and were royally served in wine and whisky.

All things considered, the plane was the easy part. At least, once you've checked in (the Korean Air guy was very kind, and weighed us in at exactly 120 kg - rather generous, I think, and of course completely ignored the 40kg or so of "carry-on" baggage) your suitcases follow you around without your having to concern yourself with them (except in a statistically insignificant number of cases, where they eventually turn up on Easter Island). Trains aren't like that - at least not any more. We had the TGV from Roissy to Lyon, then the slow train from Lyon to Chambery, with ten minutes to connect at Lyon. With our 160 kg of baggage. The TGV was full, as were the baggage racks, so we piled our suitcases on the floor by one of the doors and sat down, to watch all the latecomers arrive and pile their suitcases atop ours. Not good - or at least, not too helpful in the "speedy change of train" department. Then we got to Lyon to find that the door now hidden behind the Pile of baggage was the one opening onto the platform. A few very busy minutes followed - clambered over the Pile to open the door, pulled all the baggage onto the platform, grabbed ours and legged it. We made it - just.

The next day - Monday - I drove Jeremy down to La Grande Motte, on the Mediterranean near Montpellier, where he was supposed to be spending the week with Sophie and her two, Lucas and Rémi. The I drove back - a nice little 8-hour round trip. It's Friday as I write this, and everyone seems to be more or less back to normal.


Time has passed, hasn't it? As far as I can make out we're still all alive and kicking - albeit feebly - and we seem to have survived the annual ceremony of the "rentrée scolaire". The only real glitch we had was with Malyon, whose request to be put up at the boarding establishment at Grenoble somehow didn't make it into the system. Which we discovered about two days before she was supposed to turn up there. She only had a couple of days commuting until - as always happens in the first week or so - someone either dropped out or never even turned up, so she's now comfortably ensconced. She does have school on a Saturday morning this year, which is a bit of a sod, as she really needs to sleep over in Grenoble the Friday night and she can't do that at the boarding school - luckily we've found someone who'll put her up.

Jeremy's gone into 6eme at collège - the equivalent of Form 1, or whatever it is now - and has discovered the delights of having homework. It does not impress him. I can understand that. Doesn't help that he really misses Malyon - rather more than we thought he would. I really don't know what we can do about that. He's asked to see the school shrink again, to talk about things - I suppose that's a good sign.

Anyway, the grape harvest has kicked off and so for the next month the departmentales will be clogged by tractors with enormous trailers either laden with grapes on their way to the winery, or empty and banging their way across the road at the slightest hint of a bump as they head back to get filled up with grapes again. I'm back on the nationales and autoroutes until further notice.

In the weather department it's fine enough, still up in the twenties during the day but in the mornings you can tell it's autumn. Apparently it wasn't that much better when we were with you. Let's just hope it stays fine for the next month or so - keep the fuel bills down.

Love to you all
Trevor & Margo