On doctors’ orders, Sapphire was given permission to get out of the house, see her friends and eat what she liked. “Until the tests all come back, you might as well have fun this weekend,” he said, noting her pale face and eyes brimming with tears. “If it gets worse, then we might even have more information to help us.”
Saturday morning was all systems go.
Love Chunks and his Dutch friend Franck were going to cycle all the way around Lac Leman. As their designated blonde back up support I was to meet them at Montreux where we were staying the night.
Milly the dog was already settled at Auntie Kaye and Uncle Jeff’s house with more essentials than the three Montreux-bound humans combined. A padded bed, blankie, walking lead, dinner bowl, Tupperware container of breakfast crunchies and foil pack of moist moosh were presumably sufficient to see her through thirty six hours.
In the meantime, Sapphire and I were to take the train to Nyon - Knee-On, not Nigh-On - where Kate and Imi would be waiting on the platform, ready to whisk her off for a session of horse riding. In France.
Afterwards, she was to make her way to Kriti’s house for a birthday party and sleepover and be collected by me at lunch time on Sunday.
Excited to be doing something not wearing pyjamas, Sapphire jiggled on her train seat and joked with me cheerily as we watched the bright blue of the lake flicker between the chalets and trees.
“Approche arrêt Nyon,” said the French female voice over the loud speaker. Sapph gathered her things as the train slowed.
No platform appeared, so we continued to wait by the door and chat, assuming that the train would pull in soon.
My phone rang. It was Kate. “Where are you?”
“We’re here, just waiting for the train to pull in---- HANG ON, it’s starting to speed up and the door won’t open--------!”
Their faces were a blur as we sped on to Morges. A few calls established that we’d get off at the next stop, cross platforms and make our way back to Nyon via the Geneva line.
“I’ll stay on board, kick Sapphire off and continue to Montreux.”
“Er, no you won’t Kath. You’ll end up back home.”
“Ah, yes. My second blonde moment of the day and it’s not even lunchtime yet.”
Minutes later, we were back in Nyon, eyes alert to the very moment the train stopped.
I pressed the green ‘open’ button several times. No movement. “Damn door!”
It was after my tenth bash on the button that we noticed the small red sticker with ‘Defecto’ scrawled on it in black texta. Spanish, when it’s the fifth most commonly-spoken language in the country...?
“Quick – run to the other end of the carriage!”
Whappita whappita whappita went our sandals as they frantically slapped the floor during our mad dash.
We got off just in the nick of time and Kate made me promise to SMS her to confirm my arrival in Montreux. My actions thus far did not inspire any confidence in my ability to travel in the correct direction.
Luckily, I did make it to Montreux and even found the hotel room that LC had booked a few weeks earlier; a two-star job a street behind the fancy, lake-frontage five star fantasy who owned them. The sign on the gate – in English – told me to check in at the five star place.
My tiny wheelie case clacked like thunder across the roadway, ratcheting up to a roar on the highly polished marble floor of the five star lobby. The concierge was busy offering coffee and freshly baked pastries to the American tourists who had also arrived and bellboys were loading bag after bag of brand new Louis Vuitton onto brass luggage trolleys.
“Sorry Madame, you are too early to check in. Please come back at 3pm.”
Very reluctantly, they agreed to store my humble wheelie in their cramped stationery cupboard behind the lift well. I ostentatiously reached for a peppermint from the jar next to the monogrammed pens on the check in counter – my own special guest freebie - before departing.
Wizened old orange ladies in leopard print promenaded between five star establishments and restaurants in pairs, tea cup poodles in one hand and cigarettes in the other. The clanking sound that accompanied them was most likely a combination of heavy jewellery and monogrammed dog leads.
Old couples, backpackers and families joined me on warm rocks at the edge of the water or concrete garden edging to eat baguettes and apples, sharing the same view as the millionaires seated several metres behind us.
My phone rang. Team Love Chunks and Franck had completed the first leg of their bike ride and were waiting back at Hotel Two Star. Perhaps due to their athletic demeanour or the fact that the Five Star concierge wanted their lycra clad, sweaty, sun block-streaked pongy bodies out of the lobby, they were allowed to check in before the officially permitted time.
LC opened the door with a sneeze. “I’m allergic to something in this room,” he said, sniffling slightly. “Remind me to put those flowers out in the hallway tonight.”
Several hours later, our walk through, around and in front of the town saw us back at the display board of the first restaurant hoping that the price had somehow dropped to half of what it showed us an hour earlier. Sadly the answer was no and we realised that their advertised rate of forty two francs for fish and chips was still the cheapest in town. We ordered wine and beers without looking too closely at the menu otherwise we’d all have blanched and rushed to the edge of the lake to slurp directly from it.
Franck left us to use his free hotel bus pass on a ferry to Chateau Chillon and we decided to make the most of our two star room costing an eye-watering 250 francs.
“Kath, can you put those flowers out? They’re making me wheeze.”
Standing over them, I smiled.
“LC? Sweetie? They’re plastic.” The dumb blonde baton had been passed on.
* Not recommended, unless a vomit after taste is the flavour you're hankering for.