….to all you smokers and non-smokers alike
….you’re supposed not to go
The evening before -and no, we are not superstitious and we don’t believe in Friday 13th nonsense- one of the staff at the hotel had told us it was the last dinner she’d be serving: she had been laid off the following day, along with hundreds other staff members.
In the morning there was no breakfast buffet. Sure, there was food. A tray with plastic-wrapped sandwiches, no choice and not to be touched with our own hands. There were yoghurts in small diposable bowls with disposable spoons. There was coffee and tea, but we were not allowed to pour it ourselves. Orange juice in a plastic cup was put on our table by blue-gloved hands and we were kindly requested to ask for anything if we needed more.
Compared to the day before, there were only a few guests in the breakfast room. The cook at the open kitchen counter looked pleadingly in our direction, hoping anybody would want some hot food, a fried egg or maybe some bacon or a sausage. The atmosphere of insecurity and uncertainty seemed to outweigh his wishful thinking .
When about to leave for a walk, we were offered an orange or a banana, just in case we wanted to bring it with us. We felt like declining, but politely took an orange because of the kind gesture and secondly because bananas not being favourite fruits.
We pottered about the Latin Quarter, strolled along the boardwalk, admired and listened to The Wave and walked around the Kastellet where the oranges were eaten on a bench in the sun.
Around lunchtime when trying to find a place for coffee, we experienced that something insidious and malicious had taken hold of the city…….
….for one out of ten
There’s a soft sound in the back of her head. She’s been hearing it since making breakfast under the awning while looking over the bay. It’s a tune from way back when, when holidays were simple and straightforward. When no new discoveries were to be made, when holiday-islands were small and could be ‘done by bike’ in a day.
A few words pop up, the melody is coming back. It’s a song that seems to fit so well there and then. It underlined the idea of at least staying one day at the bay. One day to give to the wet tent and the damp sleeping bags. Although there’s a light mist over the bay and no sign of sunshine, they will take that one day. Wondering if that would be enough to walk around, to hike, to paddle, to be amazed and to hopefully find a few souvenirs on the beach.
So, she’s humming while crouching in the wet sand….
….stones small and big, pebbles in all colours, rocks and boulders too….
The pebbles, when covered by the seawater are precious gems. They all want to be picked and brought home. No no, don’t wipe them clean, they’ll lose their brightness and radiance. When fully dry they seem less valuable. The smallest and shiniest ones will disappear in the pockets of jacket or jeans, to be put in a dedicated canvas bag in the back of the car. Later, at the end of the day.
The song remains. It has settled itself firmly in her head, the lyrics coming back with every pebble she decides to keep.
* 🎵 Turn, turn, turn 🎵 with thanks to The Byrds
After customs and other formalities him&her got on the way, the right way: on te left.
They had only be driving in Ireland for a few hours, when -of course- there was this typical ‘drive left !!’ experience. There had to be. One bend in the road and the car seemed to direct itself to the right lane. Not very clever. A gasp, a “hou links!!” and a jolt to the left corrected things just in time.
The driver of the babyblue Ford Escort who was met (almost) head on by a red Citroen GS must have cursed those bloody silly tourists for this.
Sure it’s a well known fact that people learn from their mistakes, especially when learned the hard way.
It did not happen again. Other drivers they met on the narrow roads and lanes greeted them in the most peculiar ways: some just lifted one finger off the wheel, others shortly jerked their head. The one finger greeting was strange but funny. The jerk with the head was puzzling: in the Netherlands it would mean something like “what do you want?” or “are you looking for trouble?” Him&her started using the one finger greeting, i.e. index finger, that other one-finger-gesture did not exist in 1979. The jerk of the head was never properly mastered, neiher by him, nor by her and also never used in the Netherlands again in later years
Somewhere in Waterford -for all different reasons- the Citroen lost its way. The map wasn’t clear, there were lots of “major road works ahead” where seldom any work was being done or road signs weren’t always legible. In one of the many places this-Bally or Bally-that they parked the car beside a newsagency annex foodmarket annex bar. When asking for directions at the counter one of the customers said he’d show them “in a minute” as he was “going dungarvan ways anyway”. Slowly he drove in front of them, very very slowly, probably thinking that lefthand driven cars must be slow by default. At some crossroads in the middle of nowhere he waved his arm out the open window and shouted: “Just go straight till you come to the bay. Good luck!”
Indeed, a Caravan Park, so different from all the campsites and campings they had ever been to. No tents to be seen, only caravans and mobile homes, yet plenty of space for one tent, one car and one quite content couple. Delighted with themselves that they had managed to get there on the right side of the road.