Friday, September 28, 2007
Hanging with the Gregster
Realising we hadn't had any shots together, we have a quick photocall at Hazebrouck train station, me in my best unironed blouse and Greg pulling a silly face as usual
"What are you doing now, Greg?"
A decent photo at last of me and Greg
Greg's surprise shot of me in the park at Calais
Me in front of the Calais Hotel de Ville - the only image of Calais that appears on shopfronts, souvenirs etc etc city-wide - pretty much 'cause it's the only nice building in Calais!
Oh là là, shirtless Greg in front of the town hall
Greg in front of the fortifications at Calais
I was lucky enough to have one of my old Prague friends, the inimitable Greg, come visit me for a few days last/this week. After an initial panic when a mystery caller rang the chateau only to be greeted with Mark 2's cheery "Barry Kebab Shop!" and hung up, we managed to track Greg down in Hazebrouck, some 8 hours after ETA but alive and well.
The next day, Sunday, we spent together in Calais, since Andy and Laura required dropping off there for a morning ferry, and the latest newbie Clare was to be picked up in the evening. This being Sunday in France, nothing was open of course, but luckily one can always make one's own fun where Greg's concerned. The precise form this 'fun' took happened to be a walking tour of Calais - namely, Greg decided we should walk to each and every tower visible on the horizon of Calais, which was some half a dozen far-flung spires. In the end, we walked for 3 1/2 hours solid, including walking to the Calais city limits, and every single fricking tower was a church that was shut - on a Sunday! What sort of godless nation do I live in? It wasn't quite as bad as it probably sounds - it was a lovely day and Greg's great company. In fact it was so sunny that he spent most of the time wandering around shirtless and shocking the natives. He also insisted that we converse only in French for the greater part of the day, especially whenever French speakers were in earshot - which actually wasn't all that often since we were mostly in the dying, boarded-up suburbs of scenic Calais. When we were finally done with the 'tour des tours' it was frites and a much-needed drink in a pleasant park, followed by an extended sunbathe during which I believe I nodded off a bit.
Nothing else of note occurred during Greg's sojourn in France, seeing that we were both combatting colds and I had to work on the Monday, but it was really lovely seeing him - we had some good chats, good laughs and I got to hear him play his guitar. In fact, not only did he play his guitar, but he took me outside and showed me how the wind could play his guitar for him - I even got to twiddle the tuning thingies to make different sounds.
In other news, I visited Albert yesterday, which has a lovely church (rebuilt after WWI), but more importantly, houses the first real live squat toilet I've seen in France (I opted to pay 1.50 for a drink and use a real loo) and a bread vending machine, check it out!
Today we went to Ypres, same old same old, but we stayed for the Last Post at 8 pm (mmm eating in a restaurant, sweet) and suprise, surprise, they sang the NZ national anthem and did the haka. It was so busy that I couldn't see a thing, so who did these things I don't know - rumour had it it was some of the All Blacks, but I can't confirm. Whoever it was sang badly and did it the wrong way round (Maori then English, should be English then Maori - not based on any notions of cultural superiority, it just flows better that way). Then I went and chatted away afterwards to a big Maori guy who was also supposed to be an ex-All Black, but on further investigation turned out to be a traditional Maori musician, who's playing for the big commemorative services early next month (I'm hoping I can go). I got his email address and a kiss on the cheek, score, ha!