One of the reasons I went to the doctor last week is because I have developed some kind of allergy and the resultant itching is driving me even crazier than usual; ant-histamine isn’t helping. The French for ‘itch’ is demange and the anti biotics prescribed me are for ‘anti-parasitaires’ – more than a little disconcerting. One of the items on my expensive prescription wasn’t in stock which would mean a return visit – that one turned out to be vitamins; so she clearly believes I have scurvy and, probably, rickets too. In fact, if I was about to come and visit me, I think I might be more than a little worried ….. just saying. On the bright side, I’ve had it for weeks and G is, as yet, still asymptomatic.
Just up the road from us was a sad shanty town of huts – probably a refugee camp; the guys from the Calais camp have had to be re-located somewhere. Whilst they always appeared friendly and smiley when I was out and about, their living conditions were atrocious and they must have been really suffering in this cold snap. Right next door to their small community is a really posh dove cote which was way more solid than their makeshift huts.
In my last blog it was muted that the reason the gangway might have been removed from the mooring pontoon was to prevent vandalism; well I talked that up. Yesterday evening, somebody walking along the top of the embankment threw a load of eggs at the boat – no big deal; the dogs barked furiously (good boys) and G had the minor inconvenience of plugging in the deck pump and hosing it off. When G got up to do the Baxter ‘night shift’ we had no lights; the batteries had dropped to an unsafe level and the emergency invertor cut off stepped in to save them – ‘somebody’ had left the deck pump running. So we started the genny and sat in bed reading with a cup of tea before 5 am until the batteries came up enough to start the heating. Talking of heating; the reason we have been lurking in this area for so long, is because we are hoping to get an Old Dutch diesel boiler installed to provide heat independent of electricity – mind you, if it goes on for much longer, I’ll be needing to change the order to air conditioning.
The world indoor bowls was on the TV every afternoon and there was an unseemly scrabble around 2.50 as three of the crew fought over their favourite viewing positions.
On Sunday morning I trundled up into town to visit the market – this knocked the weekday market into a cocked hat and all the little high street shops were open. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in one place in France before – it was amazing, the queues wound around the boulangeries and across the street. Having filled my boots with fish and veg, I thought I’d indulge in a little retail therapy in one of my favourite department stores; but, once again, it was the witching hour of 12.30 and they wouldn’t let me in – the sacrifices I make to keep himself well fed.
In the afternoon I walked Muttley around ‘our side’ of the river – strictly speaking this is Thorigny-sur-Marne. Apart from someone’s valiant attempts to cheer it up with a bit of ‘art’, it was definitely the poorer quarter and quite dingy and scruffy. Although, having said that, they were pretty hot on guys driving around in a council truck and snatching litter off of the streets. Walking back from the shop with G, I put my carrier bag of groceries on the ground whilst I took some photos – in a flash, the truck was there and my shopping came dangerously close to ending up in the nearest landfill.
By Sunday lunchtime the temperature had risen dramatically and the thaw had set in. Whilst the rise in temperature was gratefully received, it came at a price. The concrete ledge we were moored against was deep in river silt from the extensive flooding earlier the previous year and had now de-frosted. Everytime we (and the animals) stepped off the boat we were struggling to keep our footing and treading slime through the boat, so we wanted to get out of there. Monday G walked up to the chemist to get the last of my prescription whilst I picked up milk and stuff from the supermarket so we could make an early get-away. I should have known better, of course, all that activity in town on the Sunday morning had completely exhausted them and the chemist didn’t recover sufficiently to open until 2.30; nicely restored, no doubt, by a long lie in followed by a leisurely lunch!
I walked back up to ensure that I was on their doorstep for 2.30 so that we could return to Vaire before dusk. I decided, whilst in the chemist’s, to invest in a new hot water bottle but hadn’t looked the word up in advance. How difficult could it be – I knew the words for ‘hot’, ‘water’ and ‘bottle’? It could, and was, extremely difficult as they don’t call them hot water bottles and I had to extend my description into sleeping and warm feet. I further extended this description into some RADA audition quality miming, by which time of course all the staff and other customers had joined in the guessing game. Should you ever find yourself in France and in need of a hot water bottle; it is called a bouillottes – meaning foot warmer or small kettle; no doubt emanating from the verb ‘to scald’. The guesser of the mime ran across the shop and returned triumphantly clutching the afore-mentioned bouillottes to gales of laughter and a smattering of applause. Amongst all this hilarity, I caught sight of the price tag on the bouillottes and nearly passed out; but I bit the bullet and handed over my credit card – I could hardly walk away without it, proclaiming it to be, ‘trop cher’ after all that. Despite the price, I was still giggling when I reached the boat.