Archive for September, 2008

The sound of the drill….

September 26, 2008

It had been at least 15months since my last visit to the dentist. The delay wasn’t because of the pain I suffered in my mouth – but the pain I suffered in the back pocket.
I had taken myself off to the American Hospital, where I am told they speak English. Unfortunately the dentist didn’t speak much English at all and nor could I with my mouth wide open at the time.
My mouth was permanently wide open when I left with a 200 euro (AUD 350) account in my hand just for cleaning my teeth. Even though I have a medical insurance as part of my salary package, this amount far outweighed my entitled rebate.
So…..this time round, I asked around my colleagues and found a local dentist who is American.
I nervously made my way to the surgery which is located just down the street from the Arc de Triomphe. I arrived at the main street entrance and immediately thought ‘gee…bit different to the crappy dentist’s address I had in Australia!’
Making it through the first door I had to cross a marble floored entrance then through an opening displaying a beautiful quiet garden – finally to the next part of the building at the back. I rang the bell named ‘DENTIST’ and was instructed to come up to the first level. Red carpeted steps took me into a room like you see in period dramas with the women wearing heavy gowns and talking all posh.
I was sent to the waiting room and it was there I could rest and take in the beauty of the room. Open fireplaces – incredible high ceilings with intricate plaster work – large regal chairs placed around the neat display of magazines – honestly, the room was too beautiful to waste time flicking through a mag.
The dentist came in, introduced himself – and we hit it off immediately. I raved on about how nice his surgery was and I think I won a mate.
The dental room was large and slick and I felt immediately I was in good hands. Wondering all the time how much this is all going to cost me this time!
After doing x-rays (like they all do with a new client) – then hinting at further work in the future – he asked me to follow him into the next room so he can have his assistant see to cleaning my teeth. The assistant, speaking no English, positioned me into the next recliner dental bed and there I stayed until she finished scraping, sucking and polishing the daylights out of my mouth.
Feeling my super clean teeth with my tongue I went to pay the bill and was pleasantly surprised the total was 120 euros (AUD 210) – still expensive – but hey some fools gotta pay for the nice surroundings!


4 girls…4 days…and 4 firey temperments…

September 3, 2008

The Eurostar to London and accommodation was booked and we were all waiting for the weekend to arrive. Four girls not knowing each other too well – seemed like there could of been a chance for a few clashes of personalities.

My closest friend noted before we left that one of the girls was showing strange signs of a weird personality – so it seemed we were in for a rocky start. The other girl I encouraged to join us was a newie in town – as she is French Canadian and three of us being Australians it seemed she was a bit on the outer to begin with.

With a strong sense of ‘this could all turn ugly’ I arrived at the Eurostar train station and tried my best to ‘keep things light hearted’.

It was all smiles on the way – photos were taken with lots of smiles – and shopping lists were written up.

It was decided beforehand that I’d be sharing a room with my good mate …and I had mentioned to the Canadian that we had a slight problem with a personality clash so would she mind sharing with the other Australian girl just to keep the peace.  So after getting the bags into the right rooms everything seemed to go as planned.

First afternoon and evening came and went without much trouble…and foolishly I thought this will all go without a hitch. Although the aussie girl was definately beginning to aggravate me. 

Day two – started out bad – I awoke and tapped on the door of the Canadian and Aussie to find that the Canadian had not slept a wink due to passing traffic and was ready to kill. Change of room (to a larger room in fact) seemed like the answer.

After breakfast – we are all preparing to hit the Oxford street shops – when the Canadian pipes up and says she wouldn’t mind seeing the changing of the guards….hmmm…silence filled the that does not involve shopping! I pipped up that I don’t think I can make it as I have to hot foot it across town late morning to see my friend for lunch. My other mate said she’d be in Top Shop and its 4 stories! …and the other aussie said shes got to go to see a friend for lunch also…so the Canadian had a bad start to her weekend.

Once on Oxford Street after the tube ride – I could feel the tension and needed some space – so I decided to have a coffee and gather my thoughts. We all had mobiles so we could track each other if we needed to catch up together. At 11.30 the other aussie and I travelled across town to meet up with our friends and split up for the day. After a great lunch and meeting another nice girl from oz, I hightailed it to Sloane Square to check out some other shops.

Late in afternoon we were all meeting up at the hotel to change into glamour wear to go see a live show called Avenue Q.

The girls all got in at different intervals – bags bulging with shopping. I was jealous – only had a bit of shopping to show for myself! Turns out that the Canadian who was hell bent on visiting the tourist spots only got 10metres down Regent Street and found a shop she liked and spent 4 hours in there! The ambiance was buzzing…everyone happy with their purchases and more to come tomorrow.

Off we went to the theatre – the annoying aussie was becomming more and more annoying by the minute – raised eyes were thrown to one another as the night wore on. We all enjoyed a pub meal in Piccadilly Circus and throughly enjoyed the stage show – especially these chocolates!!!

As we walked through the streets in the night – all the party animals were out in the night – drunk as can be – girls in really really short minis and the highest shoes I’ve seen for a long time. I had new shoes on so couldn’t over do it…we decided to catch a red bus as the tolorance of putting up with the aussie was wearing thin. Home and in bed, my mate and I giggled and laughed till my sides were hurting until the early hours.

Up next day – I was excited – I had a hair appointment – and THIS time I will have my hair done exactly how I want it – no more trying to translate the style in french or accepting the way the hairdresser wants to do it. I was armed with notes and photos – god help the poor stylist I was due to see.

The Canadian and the Aussie had decided to hit a street market and my mate and I decided to go back to Sloane Square to buy some swede boots we couldn’t resist before my hair appointment at 11am. Admitingly, the timing was extremely tight, as after buying 4 pairs of boots we jumped into a black London taxi to Notting Hill with a minute to spare. 

The hairdresser was very sympathic to my needs – she treated me carefully and gently – and after four hours I was in tears – happy tears that was…happy it all turned out perfectly. Yes – she proved I haven’t been asking the impossible – its so wonderful to have the old me back.

A rushed three hour shopping bonanza followed with my mate and I being terribly late getting back to the hotel for a ‘group dinner’. As it turned out I get a text from my visiting Australian mate who asked to come over where they are staying for dinner and drinks…not what we had planned – but still it was an adventure over at another part of town.

As we flaked on the bed back at the hotel exhausted – everyone looked through the days shopping spree and we all decided within 30mins we would be all showered and ready to hit the town again. The Aussie decided shes meeting up with friends and the Canadian wasn’t happy that plans had changed from us all having dinner on our last night. Words were spoken – misunderstandings made – tempers rose. As I tried to smooth things over – as we only had one more sleep – I knew this was going to be difficult few hours ahead.

Somehow…don’t ask me how…but we managed to all have a drink and a small bite together fairly calmly before all going our separate ways. The Canadian trotted off back to the hotel – the Aussie jumped on a tube to party with some London boys (adding she might not be home tonight!) …and my mate and I took the tube to Angel Islington. Finding the apartment of my friend in Angel turned out to be difficult – tired and walking along dark streets we finally come to it – not before passing a nice cake shop and buying two glorious cakes that we would eat on the way home.

After a late start catching up with my friend we were having to head home around 1am on the night bus with all the riff raff on the streets. Waiting at the bus stop, a bunch of footy louts from Northern England walked by on the other side of the road and one of the guys decided to ditch his friends to come and get a closer view of us. We wanted nothing to do with him of course – we just wanted to eat our cakes. He caught sight of our cakes and spent the next half hour saying ‘ give me some cake you greedy girls’ and shoving his hand near the cakebox! We were screaching …’GET’! Finally another one of the pack came back to find his mate and they made tracks. So annoying!

On the bus finally home and we giggled all the way there. We decided we had totally had it with those two girls and I would leave a note under the door to say don’t wake us in the morning as we are skipping breakfast and see you at the departure time of 11am for the taxi to the train station.

Oh if only you could be in the room the next morning when we all gathered in the foyer of the hotel’s reception. No one could even look at each other let alone speak to one another.

Finally bording the train – there was a cold draft – but there was no window open – it was just the cold feelings from the others. No sooner had the train started to roll out of St Pancras Station as the Canadian found another seat to sit on her own. Separated from the group made it clear there was no love left.

The final scene once arriving in Paris was even worse – who would of thought in such a short time how 4 smiling faces could turn into 4 sour faces in just 4 days.

Piecing the story together might make it easier with these photos…

The humble radish

September 2, 2008

In Australia I always found radishes too hot to eat – but here in France – they are another taste altogether. Definately not too hot. They are a different shape too – small and long (like your little finger). The french like to eat them by dipping the ends in butter (real butter I might add – not margarine thank you very much! – in fact I don’t think it exists here!). Then they have the hide to sprinkle salt over it!
Uncalled for I say – as they look at me strange when I pop them into my mouth just as nature intended them to be eaten.

I did follow up on copying the way that JL’s dad serves them up – and that is with a plate of sliced tomatos – finely slice the radish – sprinkle some course sea salt and add a mix of 2 parts olive oil and 1 part white wine vinegar – you have yourself a burst of sunshine for your taste buds!