From Romance to Tragedy

We set off, a tiny bit later than planned,mid Sunday morning and made it to Le Mans with just enough time to utilise the coffee machine before jumping on an unusually crowded Paris bound train. By the time we reached Chartres it was standing room only and Moo and I had to pack our normally spacious picnic into a regular 2 seat space. As the train was a little late getting in we decided, much to Moo’s dismay, to get a cab in favour of the metro. For some reason she loves the overcrowded smelly bustle of the underground rather than the beautiful scenic ride across the centre of the city in the hands of slightly crazed Parisian driver, but then I do believe it is a compulsory requirement to be slightly off balance to actually want to drive through that particular city.
I blanched when I saw the size of the queue, another irregularity on a Sunday lunchtime, and for a moment considered backtracking to the metro, but time had ticked a little too far for that to make any kind of sense. Fortunately the cabs were swift and we were soon at the front of the line and in the hands of the wild eyed Benoit. We lurched from Montparnasse and were almost immediately snarled up in traffic. Benoit cursed under his breath and gesticulated as only a Frenchman can, and proceeded to bob and weave through the traffic as if his 4×4 had morphed into a mini, and given the gaps he was fitting through, I think it may have. As the rant about ‘stupid jay-walking tourists’ continued from the front I wondered at the mass of humanity filling the streets, the volume of which I had only before witnessed in mid-summer, not mid February. And then the penny finally dropped, ( I never said I was bright), of course, It was Valentines day, and here we were crossing the city of romance, full to the brim with week-ending couples searching for a romantic spot amongst the twice the price latte’s and roses madness. I chuckled as I made my observations known to Benoit, and with a backward glance he asked me if I was headed for the arms of a lover (not for the prim or faint hearted is a chat with a French cabbie), I told him that Hubs was in Belgium and there was now only 20 minutes left to get to the train, with a smile and a wink, he stepped on the gas. I’m not entirely sure how we made it without inflicting mass civilian casualties, but 10 minutes later I was delivered with a flourish and a ‘bon weekend’ right next to my platform. I LOVE this city, but in equal measure I love that I do not actually live there. Safely deposited in our seats we relaxed for the last 2 hours of our trip and enjoyed a wander to the cafe car and marvelled at the beautiful snowfall as we crossed into Belgium and ever closer to my man. In what was nothing short of a miracle we arrived on time and there was hubs looking lovely, and only a little broken form his ‘last Saturday night out in Antwerp’ the previous evening. We stumbled through the snow towards the hotel and settled in for a wonderful family evening. A lovely meal and a movie, a strangely placid bedtime, and I will spare you the details of the rest of the night. Now much as I don’t buy into the commercialism of Valentines day, it is nice to be able to spend it with my loved one. That’s 2 years in a row now, something of a record.
The next day served as something of a sobering up as we received news of a terrible train crash in the very spot where Moo and I had been giggling and admiring the snow just a few hours earlier. Over 150 people injured and a death toll of 18, which is expected to rise over the course of the next few days. Most people knew I was travelling with Moo on Sunday, but you know what it’s like when you kind of know when and where someone is going but not exactly, and then you hear of an accident and you haven’t heard from the person who was around about there around about then. I was very happy to reassure people that we were all OK, but I weep for those who are unable to do the same. My heart goes out to the the injured and the families of the deceased. And disregarding the commercial slush of the previous day, I took my husband and daughter firmly in my arms.
A bientôt.


Author: hillywillyworld

Living as an 'ex-pat' in Thailand with my daughter Moo and sometimes my Hubby too (when he is not bringing home the bacon from Macau). Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes it's tough. Sometimes it's confusing. Most of the time it's just...random. Join me as I struggle and giggle my way through this thing called life.

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