A Travellerspoint blog

Villejuif and Jack the dog...

...could be anywhere, really...

semi-overcast

...here I am in Villejuif, slightly disreputable suburb (banlieu) of Paris, looking after Jack - a boxer x staffie - whilst his owner is away preaching the gospel in Hungary...don't ask!...it's a reasonable sort of place but it could be in any city in the western world...I have walked a fair bit but not yet ventured into the city...this evening there is a couchsurfer picnic on the quai to which I shall go and meet a few other travelers on life's highway...could be interesting...I can't believe how fast this year is going, in no time I shall be struggling with the culture shock of the Indian sub-continent, can't wait!...

...well, I've been here for over two weeks already and done very little considering that I'm so close to the city of lights!...however, last night I went and indulged myself in what can only be described as sybaritic luxury - I spent the evening at the hammam in La Grande Mosquee de Paris in the 5th arrondissement...three hot rooms, each one hotter than the previous one; a lady with a rough mitt and black soap to slough away the top layer of grime (it's there whether you see it or not!); back in the hottest room then a cool shower followed by an incredible - way too short - body massage eucalyptus scented oil...total bliss...it cost 38 euros which is a far cry from the 40 centimes it cost me in Morocco, but worth every cent for the feeling of well-being which lasted through to this morning - I still feel relaxed but my shoulders have stiffened up again...ah me, I shall have to find myself a masseur to follow me around wherever I go...a wander around the Latin Quarter after a snack supper at a Lebanese traiteur (cheaper than eating in a restaurant and every bit as good) followed, then home to bed perchance to dream........!

...the couchsurfing picnic actually took place in the Jardin du Luxembourg which was my front garden on the two occasions I lived in Paris way back in the '80s...it was good to be back in my old stamping ground, it wouldn't be possible to do what I did back then now as the semi-circle where I parked my VW van is now pedestrianised and just everywhere is either no parking or metered...not that I would want to do the camping in winter thing again!...toooooo cold...

Posted by nantic 06:50 Comments (0)

...a word about jersey...

...up-to-date or what!...

...I am currently visiting the island of Jersey and what a pleasant place it is, to be sure...since I've been here (arrived on the 10th June) I have witnessed the fascinating process (known as the hustings) of a by-election, brought about by one of the candidates removing himself from the island until such time as a by-election was called because of his absence...he was protesting about corruption within the States (the Jersey parliament) and is hoping to be re-elected but may well find himself out in the cold...it would appear that he is mentally unwell and defeat could push him over the edge, which beggars the question of why he bothered to protest in the first place...all very fascinating, I must say...

...today I went for a bike ride to visit a couple of cemeteries in search of ancestors - I found two graves, frabjous day!...then got hopelessly lost in the maze of tiny lanes that criss-cross this island...for once I was equipped with a map and managed to find my way back to where I'm staying, exhausted but happy...then, this evening I was treated to a musical feast - Jersey Bob and guests playing in Reg's Garden...only in Jersey, folks!!!...Reg has a beautiful garden in which he has built a small amphitheatre and stage for people to come and play whilst others come and watch, there are also other attractions such as an ornamental pond with bridges and islands; exotic birds and plants; a fairyland for the little children, to mention just a few...and all for free...touch of the aging hippy about many of the ladies present but a good number of young were there too...made me feel hopeful that such people as Reg exist in today's self-serving world...

...I have a few more cemeteries to visit and a few more green lanes to get lost in so I may well record further adventures from Jersey...

...sad to say, the names I found in that first cemetery weren't part of my family at all...so the search goes on although I have found out some fascinating things about my ancestors...I found the grave of Walter de la Mare - except that it wasn't the famous one!...who would have thought there would be more than one WdlM!...

Posted by nantic 14:27 Archived in Jersey Comments (0)

...the rendezvous...

...how exotic is this!!!...

...before leaving England I had arranged to meet up with three mates on the steps of St. Peter's in Rome...I was positively bouncing up and down in my seat when we drove off the ferry in Dieppe to start the 1600 + km journey to Rome...twenty four years later I'm hard put to remember much about the journey down, apart from the theft of my camera, although I do remember how quaint Italy appeared to me at that time...we arrived in Rome at 4 a.m. in the morning (I think it was the 26th of September but I'm not altogether sure now) and, for some unknown reason, it felt like coming home!...there I was parked outside the legendary coliseum, not a soul to be seen anywhere apart from the obligatory Roman cats, a far cry from my beloved Brighton...much as I love the Georgian architecture and the ridiculous Taj Mahal pup, a.k.a. Brighton Pavilion, the antiquity I found myself surrounded by eclipsed my home town as the Eternal City claimed my soul...sounds like romantic drivel now but at the time it was totally gripping...I loved Rome then and I still love it despite the fact that I have only been back there a couple of times since that initial visit...too many people for my taste!...I met up with my friends on the steps of St. Peter's, saw all the sights, rescued a kitten, listened to the music of the Italian language and headed south to Sicily...

...what can I say about the Amalfi coast that hasn't already been said?...no superlatives can do it justice and anyone who's ever been down that road knows what I'm talking about...I have to say that whoever said: 'vedi Napoli e poi muori' had to have been talking about the driving!!!...we saw Pompeii, quite surprising really, not quite what I thought it would be like, surrounded by a bustling 20th century town as it is...somehow managed to miss Herculaneum, not quite sure how but I will go back and soon...can't say as I even remember seeing Vesuvius but I suppose I must have done...ah well, I didn't have my camera so I can be excused, can't I!...it was a good journey with good company, six of us in the van, lots of laughs and food and drink...I drove a lot at night with my boy (then aged 11) keeping me company whilst the others kipped in the back...we saw some strange shapes sloping off into the shadows which made us cross fingers and pray that the van didn't break down - we had just left squeaky clean England after all, not used to the sights, the sounds, the heat, the exoticness of it all...it was an ADVENTURE!...and then came Sicily..........

Posted by nantic 11:11 Comments (0)

In the beginning...

...how it all began...

...way back in 1970 I read an article in a Sunday supplement about how the Brits were migrating to south-west France and buying old ruins which they then proceeded to turn into beautiful oak-beamed, white-walled houses of great charm...I was impressed at the time but only 17 years old and not ready for that kind of 'adventure'...then, a few years later, one thing led to another and I quit the shores of ye olde England for those of la Belle France where, after a bit of trekking about the place in an old VW transporter, the love of my life and I rented an ancient house in an ancient village just outside Grasse and close to Cannes, Nice and the blue, blue Mediterranean...the situation was ideal with the mountains behind us and the sea in front we could go and play in the snow in the morning then swim in the sea in the afternoon...once again tho', one thing led to another and I found myself back in Blighty where I remained for the next eleven years until that fateful day when, boy and books packed into yet another ancient VW, a Combi this time, I lit out for another 'adventure'...we travelled first down the east side of the hexagon and into Italy where some light-fingered lout (in Genova) lifted my beloved Pentax having first cut the seal around one of the long back windows in the Combi...this led to our linking our lives to the lovely Romy whom we found in a dogpound in Rome...she was so filthy that we couldn't tell what colour she was until a bath revealed her to be a glossy black dog with a beige and white muzzle and socks and a blazing white chest and stomach!...she was into her last hours as they only kept strays for three days and then....goodnight, Irene!...so, we said: we'll take her! and the Man said: 20,000 lira plus your address in Roma' (he was Italian, obviously)...'but we don't have an address in Rome' said I...'then no dog' said he...apparently they needed an address to send the bill for the taxes due on adopting a stray dog...feeling despondent we turned away whereupon we were accosted by one of those indomitable English women of a certain age (like I am now, 24 years down the road!!) who can be found in all four corners of the world fighting the good fight in defence of our four-legged friends and she told us to indicate to the guard which dog it was that we wanted...he would then take it and put it in our van at which point we would hand over the cash...this was duly done and Romy joined the T-dubs on their trek...but I get ahead of myself because, before the dog-napping incident, we had a rendezvous to keep!...(to be continued.........)

Posted by nantic 22:55 Comments (0)

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