Monthly Archives: July 2010

Only in France – they do it with style!

Too good to eat!

France has long been regarded as the home of style. Style is in the genes and as we found, is not restricted to clothing, design, architecture or lifestyle.

Can you imagine dairies or gourmet ice cream shops in New Zealand taking the time and care to prepare ice creams like these pictured in 30+ degree heat, with long queues at the counter, and to do so with a gracious smile?

These ‘petite cornetto’s’ were the the smallest size on order at 3.50 Euros.

“How many flavours would you like?”

“How many flavours can I have?”

“As many as you like!”

Then each petal was carefully layered into each cone. And yes, they tasted as good as they look.

Chocolate, coconut and mango - I'm told it was delicious!

Unexpected acts of kindness

Safely aboard the Paris-bound Chunnel train

Good news – age spots on my hands, wrinkles around my eyes and a look of experience have finally reaped a few rewards!

Let me explain. The first reward came when I hopped off the London Underground in Hammersmith I was greeted with a long flight of stairs. A huge inward groan. I’d barely started my three-week adventure and my half-empty suitcase was already at the upper end of the weight limit, plus I was carrying two items of hand luggage – precious camera equipment in one all other personal items in another.

Then joy of joys, a tweed-encased english gent offered to carry my suitcase up the stairs. Little did he realise the weight – but he was stoic and after my 27-hours flight, I was incredibly grateful!

My daughter and I were scheduled to travel by train from London to Paris the next day. We had bought our tickets separately, both opting for the less expensive non-transferable option and as it happened our times differed by an hour and a half. We arrived earlier than necessary at St Pancras, hoping to change the tickets so that we could travel together.

The answer from customer service reps was an unequivocable ‘no’. Ket was having a bit of difficulty printing out her e-ticket from a non-responsive terminal so after seeking help a lovely dark skinned and dreaded young man cranked it back into action.

We made our way to the check-in early after hearing on the loudspeakers that the trains were full and there were likely to be delays getting on.

As I waved goodbye saying “See you in Paris”, the same young man who’d helped us five minutes earlier came up to me.

“What train are you on?” he asked.

“I’m on the 12.29.”

“I’m not supposed to do this. Do you know what carriage your daughter is in?”

“No, but we don’t really need to be together.”

With a smile on his face, he bent the rules, changed my ticket and waved me goodbye as I went through the checkout.

What a fantastic service experience!

Getting back to my opening line, throughout our three weeks of shlepping bags on and off trains, up and down stairs, and along cobbled streets – I had many offers of assistance. Not so my daughter! Finally – age over beauty …

or …

do I really look that incapable? I’m not knocking it – really I’m not.

Glass half full

Full and delicious!

I’m about to embark on a short overseas adventure…short?  See that’s the thing…the weeks in preparation for my three week journey have told me something about myself.

Something I’m ashamed to admit.

I think that somewhere along the line I’ve developed a lean toward the ‘glass half-empty’ person. I’d prefer to be going in the other direction.

The thing is, whenever anyone has asked me how my plans are going, or whether I’m getting excited, my answer has been on the negative tack. Worried about getting lost, worried about losing things, worried about my undisputed gullibility, worried about how tired I’m going to feel – feeling how tired I’m going to feel.

How on earth did I get like this? My god – this is an amazing opportunity.

Three weeks is not short – three weeks is 21 days filled with fun and adventure, 21 days of great European food, 21 days with my treasured daughter, 21 days of sunshine (optimism here) and warmth – a very special capsule of time. So what if I get tired – I can always sleep. Plenty of time for nodding off when I’m sitting all day long in a pink dacron armchair (smelling of stale urine) in an old people’s home…(oops half-empty again!).

There’s a lesson here.

Here I come with my glass full to the brink! Bursting with energy and enthusiasm I’m taking the stride out to the world…bring it on.

So many pictures to take (thank you Fleur Wickes and Scott Schumann!) and so many stories to tell.