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'Island of the Week' Honored

photo: group, heather, pedro, lina, mike, roy, steve, lauren

Today's group - Heather with Pedro and Lina, Mike,
Roy, Steve and Lauren.

No Matter Where It Is

Paris:- Thursday, 31. July 2003:- The last day of July and it sure feels like summer. It's a bit overcast at the Cadillac Ranch but muggy and warm enough that I opt to drive into Paris rather than simmer in the RER.

Good choice - 'pas un chat' on the autoroute and almost no traffic in Paris. Metal barricades are still in evidence all along the route I take from the Tour de France. Not a biker in sight, however.

I'm parked in the underground car park next to La Corona in 35 minutes after leaving Boullay. Surely a record driving time into Paris for me - and I didn't speed even once.

Fifteen minutes early for an appointment one hour before the Club meeting and I skip down to Samaritaine to get a new watch band. 'Soldes d'Eté' signs are still up. Maybe I'll get a bargain?

I do - only seven euros and I think that was cheaper than the watch bands in the 'on sale' bin!

Zip back to the Corona and have my own meeting. Just before 15:00 Heather Stimmlerphoto: roy trew arrives along with her two doggies - who are already club members, too. We chat briefly and at 15:02 in walks Roy Trew. He is from Brisbane in Australia.

Roy is already a member and he's in Paris again for a three-month stint. 'Just enjoying 'life' in Paris,' he obediently writes on the Club questionnaire forms I've brought along.

Roy Trew should get the 'Tan of the Week' award.

I've got an outline map of Australia on my notes, where I tried to locate Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Darwin, Melbourne and slightly south of the big island - oops, small continent! - Tasmania.

We don't do a map of France but Roy and his wife are doing a tour of France, going from Alsace to Languedoc Roussillon, then up to Normandy - all by car and staying in 'gîtes' along the way.

The 'Tip of the Week' from Roy is to lease a car - but in fact it is buying the car and reselling it back to the car company. It's all straight-forward, Roy assured me, and he said he'd saved several thousand Australian dollars by booking and paying for the car before getting to France.

He's tried Renault and Peugeot and both seem to work fine. Caveat! - you must not be an EC citizen. The minimum is 17 days and maximum is a six months period, and you must book and pay prior to arrival here.

Not a bad tip if you're staying for more than three weeks in France.

Pedro and Lina - Heather and Mike's minature pinchers - didn't take any notice of Willy - is that the name? - the honorary club bird member. No crumbs were in sight and he flew off when the 'Waiter of the Week' - whose name I don't know - quickly took our drinks order.

Mike Stimmler popped in while we were in the middle of talking about cold winters inphoto: heather, dogs, mike Brisbane - unusually cold at four degrees C - with mid-twenties during the day. I forgot to ask how hot it gets in summer if it is that warm in winter down under.

My notes at this point in the club meeting are silly scribbles as we are chatting a mile a minute, back and forth, shaking hands, ordering, exchanging stories.

Heather keeps canine members from drinking too much.

Sometime before 16:00 Stephen and Lauren Murray from Boston, Massachusettes stroll in. They're both members already and Stephen - also calls himself Steve I believe - my notes are vague i.e. non-existent - says he's been to club seven or eight times. Old hands.

But I push the club questionnaire under their noses anyway and forcefully ask them to at least fill in their names for the record. They are really kind and do so without opposition.

The drinks of the week are standard - a beer, a red wine, a white wine, coffee, and a tonic water. No food - it's too muggy to eat.

At 16:00 on the dot, I yank out my camera and take three snaps that hopefully will be useable.

They look alright on the tiny camera preview screen. But, there's a bit of a reflection from the mirror. I framed the shots looking out of the café, rather than being smart like Ric and putting my back to the window.

We shall see... I must figure out how to download these works of art on to the computer once I get home I cheerfully explain to everyone, making no promises for good pics.

Lauren and Roy get to discussing English-language accents. Lauren wonders which is the 'top' language in the world - that is, the most widely spoken language in the world.

I think the first guess was Cantonese and then English, but my notes peter out about here on this topic and turn to stories of seeing people you know when you are in foreign lands.

Roy tells us how he ran into his very best neighbors in Brisbane here in Paris this week and it was not a planned event. Serendipity at work! Heather mentions she was coming out nea where I live - to St Remy-les-Chevreuse "to do a hash" ... and Roy's eyes immediately light up, saying, "I've done that in Labaun."

Continued on page 2...
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