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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 14-Dec-07


Friday 14-December-07

Hat trick in Paris

The boys on the train have been good companions over the past few years of early commuting up to London and we started a tradition of going for Christmas lunch on the continent, starting with Brussels in 2005, then reprised with Brussels in 2006. Yesterday, we completed the hat-trick, but this time in Paris. (If you just want to see the photos, here they are).

It's a mark of the fun we've had that those who no longer commute came back for the trip. It's also a mark of the intensity of work that three had to drop out at the last minute (acquisitions seem to be the main calling this year). Still, there were seven who went, which was a happy quorum. We thought about those left behind and even sang for them.

The cast was as follows:

  • Cookie the flirting machine was in full flow, chatting up Cindy on the way there and Tia on the way back. It's a mark of his charm that he also handled the boyfriend sitting next to Tia. In spare moments, he solved philosophical conundrums.
  • Mac may seem like a dour Scot at times but he has a wicked sense of humour. He wore a beret, which confused the French. He also, as usual, sung on the way home.
  • aitcH-formerly-known-as-Terry (and now as 'H') knows everyone everywhere and took us to a splendid little bar. He became incoherent around 3:27pm and accompanied Mac at any opportunity in tuneful caterwauling.
  • El Tel was his usual laconic self, towering over everyone and regularly contributing to the hilarity with a sonorous guffaw.
  • The Dutch Dustbin (aka DD) ate and drank non-stop, pausing to add loud laughter, general warmth and make interesting propositions to passing strangers. He sort of sang too.
  • GB-Max ambled along with his usual wit, expansive humour and comprehensive footballing expertise. I now know both more and less about the offsite rule.
  • Hairball (me) who tried to take photographs of everything without getting lost (wait for meee!) and enjoyed the reprise and good company again.

Here's the story in brief:

The champagne and salmon sandwiches started a little after 6am on the train from Ascot to Waterloo and kept us going all the way there and back. Cookie plied Cindy with champagne, but to no avail. Out from the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras there was a lovely sunrise as we speeded to France and gay Paree.

Arriving at Gare du Nord, we wandered down Rue La Fayette, past random beautiful Parisian buildings, down past the Opera and Place Vendome to a bar where we tanked up and Cookie played music on an invisible piano.

We then headed to a lovely little bar known by 'H', called the 'Garde-Robe' (which strangely means 'toilet') with the hilarious and pregnant Robyn who fed us dried meats, cheese and wonderful wine.

From there to Les Halles where I abandoned the chaps in a restaurant to go photo hunting, snapping assorted pix, including the old ironwork, the lovely curved buildings, French lovers, the wonderful Eglise St. Eustache (plus views through the ironwork). Oh yes, and more ironwork. Steak and friends for lunch. And wine, of course. Delightful.

Then back to the Garde Robe - oh no, closed! So we went next door where there were interesting paintings on the wall until the Garde Robe opened (uh oh, humour alert). No Robyn for a while, but an equally friendly French guy was there.

Finally panics to find a taxi to the station (eventually gave up and got the Metro). Fun and fading on the way home, with the last of the champagne and food put away without any decorum. Then across London, serenaded by Mac and 'H', to the train home where the inestimable Eleri did a creditable impression of a taxi driver, and all for kisses.

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