Yes, after almost 4 months away from home, here I am back in the comfort and safety of my own four walls.
And what a nightmare it was in order for me to make it back here.
The day started well enough – or actually, badly enough as it happens because even though I was in bed “something like”, a couple of girls decided that they were going to have a party. What annoyed me was that I’d made a special effort to have an early night, even watched (the first five minutes of) a film just to make sure too.
But then they came in later and started to party, and woke me up.
From then on I was tossing and turning throughout the night, going on some amazing voyages but then eventually the alarm awoke me, as it always does.
For a change I was quickly out of bed, packed and then had a few things to attend to. It’s the birthday of someone very dear to the heart of Strawberry Moose and he wanted to send a card. I had to help him of course, so I hope that the person concerned received it. It goes with all of his greatest esteem and affection and with particular (but not exclusive) reference to one night and several evenings.
Food was next so I enquired of the night porter where I could buy a baguette. He took me a few doors down the road to a large wooden door, and after banging on it for a while, it opened.
It turns out that it’s the door of a commercial bakery that supplies bread to hotels and restaurants, and for a mere €1:00 they sold me a baguette big enough to have made lunch for the entire hotel – staff and residents combined.
What I did was to make my sandwiches for lunch (of course) and also a couple for breakfast – saves me buying my raisin buns. And with what was left I made some butties for tea too.
For the first hour of being back on the road, things were going on as normal. I left the hotel and, dragging my heavy load behind me, made it up to the Gare du Midi.
The train was already in the station so I was one of the first aboard and settled down in my comfy seat ready for the off.
We were about half an hour or so into the journey when the commotion started. The ticket collector came along to check the tickets, and it turned out that the young guy sitting on the seat across the aisle from me didn’t have a ticket. The ticket collector asked him to 3come along with” him, and that was when the violence started.
As I said, I am (unfortunately) a different person from when I set out on my voyage. The artist Samuel Gurney Cresswell remarked that a voyage into the High Arctic “ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”.
Well, I don’t know about “better” but it’s certainly made me a lot wiser, after everything that was thrown at me on that final voyage and it’s awoken a lot of things in me that had lain dormant for years. And so while I vowed that for as long as I lived I would never ever help anyone out about anything ever again after how I was repaid for it, I wasn’t going to stand by while some young thug was dishing it out to an elderly gentleman merely doing his job.
Sparing you all of the gory details, the net result was that when we arrived in Paris there were four policemen and a police dog waiting on the platform and he was carted off. The ticket collector (the complainant) went along and I was “invited” too, ostensibly to give evidence but possibly in case the assailant started to complain about his dislocated right arm and shoulder. He won’t be hitting anyone again for quite a while.
The drive through Paris was exciting – just like Louis de Funès in the old Renault Estafette – blue flashing lights and sirens and the full works.
Three hours I was there waiting my turn, and upsetting everyone by wandering off to look for a toilet. I ended up in someone senior’s private office and “there will be an enquiry” about that, apparently.
By the time that they had dealt with me, my bus had long-gone and that was that.
But not quite.
After a 10-minute walk I found my way to the ticket office at Gare Montparnasse (luckily the Police Station wasn’t far away) and joined the mile-long queue, everyone trying for revised travel arrangements due to a lightning strike by the TEC drivers.
And I was lucky. There was a TGV going to Brest in half an hour’s time and there was a seat vacant as far as Rennes. At Rennes there would be a 20-minute wait for the last train to Granville – if it’s running.
So I took a gamble and scrambled aboard the TGV. If the train to Granville isn’t running, I fancy my chances much more finding a hotel in Rennes than in Paris. And thinking on – my ride in a police van had meant that I hadn’t had to struggle around on the metro.
But my luck is in! And isn’t that a change from just recently? The Granville train is running, and it’s here, and I can climb aboard without any problems. So I do – and promptly fall asleep.
At Granville I decide to bite the bullet and for once, take a taxi. But there isn’t one. So I go round the corner to the café to ask the proprietor if he knows of anyone. He nods to someone at the bar who replies
“I’ll take you. 15 Euros”.
Like hell he will. I only wanted a ride, not to buy his cab from him.
The walk was difficult with my 30kgs of luggage, but once I’d organised everything it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. I took my time and had plenty of rest stops but I made it fine enough. I’m badgered if I’m going to pay €15:00 for a 3-km trip.
But the strap on my fitbit has now definitively parted company. I’m annoyed about that.
So here I am, safely back home in familiar surroundings at long last. But for how long? What’s next on the agenda? and how long will I be away for? I was disappointed that my nice little office chair was broken but it wasn’t made for heavyweights.
So I’m off to bed. I’ll check round the place tomorrow and see what else needs doing and then I’ll start to unpack. I’m not doing anything tonight. I did make a start on backing up but the spirit was weak.
It’s probably a good idea to go to bed – my first night in my warm comfy bed. And I’ve missed it, although I wouldn’t have missed for anything the experiences that I have had over the last four months. Good or bad experiences, they were all good really regardless of the outcome. Je ne regrette rien
But here’s a thing.
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve had a great deal of issues with the statistics recorder on this blog, convinced that I’m not having accurate readings.
As a result, a week ago, I spent some time uploading a new statistics reader to run alongside the existing one, and the difference is startling. The new one is much more accurate, much more up-to-date, updates quicker and tells me much more about my audience.
So why doesn’t my audience tell me more about themselves? You can see the “Leave a Reply” link just underneath the title up at the top. Use it to introduce yourselves.
And I shall add my best birthday wishes to those of Strawberry Moose. I hope that you enjoyed your day.