The story that follows may shock, it may inspire; Laughing and crying are both possibilities. It was one of the grandest adventures I’ve been on yet, and one of the many parts of my life that would make it into the book adapted to film of my life.
Waking up in Gatwick Airport from a groggy sleep interrupted by the “Americans freaking out about airport security” blaring news story we found our way through what would eventually be termed Easy “to get anything through security” Jet check in and after a 1.5 hour flight landed in Geneva Switzerland (which is eternally engrained in my mind as the spy capitol of the world for a reason I can’t place). Emile picked us up bearing bags of croissants, which Joelle and I devoured quietly with crazed eyes in the back seat and quickly fell back asleep. When our bodies drew our eye curtains back again, they revealed the main street of what looked like the children hating city in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but it ended up being the children loving twin of that city. It was a small village named Viques in the north of the country (it is pronounced Vic. A French friend was telling us that they add extra silent letters because it seems more intelligent to have long words). Emile’s house was above his parent’s Duvet and Game Shop which was currently closed for renovation. Jon, Joelle and I stayed three houses down the road with his Grandparents. I have never met such a helpful, talkative lady as Grandma. If she wasn’t offering us food, she was playing with Nathaniel, holding his hand walking around, and above all else, she was talking. Not only talking, but talking in French at a very rapid pace; and not only talking in French, but asking us questions repeatedly that we could not understand or even begin to answer. After settling in we went over to Emile’s house and was there offered more food by his mother. I’ve decided that a vacation not involving a mother or grandmother of some kind is severely crippled in it’s ability to be called relaxing.
Switzerland was the crown of our holiday. Emile created the perfect combination of go time and down time. Let me break down some of my favorite points for you:
1. Playing sports in the back yard with the other visiting Black Friar’s students.
2. Eating more cheese and chocolate than I thought humanly possible (the top three being Raclette, toasted bits of cheese served with cured meats and potatoes; Garlic and Gruyere fondu with wholemeal bread; and a melt in your mouth chocolate bar that was almost foamy inside and made little bubbles on your tongue as it melted.
3. Hiking to the top of a small mountain to find a giant farm/restaurant and drinking lemonade while looking at the gorgeous relaxed countryside.
4. Sitting with Jon, Joelle, and Emile in the boy scout fort all afternoon.
5. Talking with Emile’s parents one night when he was out using the iPad’s iTranslate app.
6. Playing Cluedo (Clue) in broken French late into the night followed by a fierce game of SlapJack (same as Blackjack but the loser gets slapped).
And lastly, something I didn’t know if I would ever get to do in my life
7. The 5 hour road trip through the Swiss Alps, including a car on train ride through the heart of a mountain and picnic by two ancient castles.