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I am feeling anxious. I have sooo many photos and stories to relate but my brain and typing fingers are not wired for today’s instantaneous messaging. So I’m going to clear out whatever memories of France I have into “blog-form” before I forget. Paris will be a blur when I leave next month…It’s like leaving a friend (in a love-hate relationship).

May is holiday month. So we took a quick trip to England for the May 1st (la Fête du Travail) Labour Day holiday. Unfortunately, gypsies were working hard the night before during rush hour in the Metro. We got nabbed by a young woman in OUR Metro station as we tried to board the commuter-filled car with our shiny luggage and carry-ons. Chris was holding Clarisse in one arm and the stroller in the other hand, plus his briefcase. I had William and the suitcase, plus a backpack. We must have looked like this to the gypsy:

Gary Larson cartoon copied from http://www.familygreenberg.com/index2.php/2009/01/far-side-classics-quiz/

Needless to say, this is my THIRD pickpocket attack by Les Romas since my arrival last July. As I boarded the train, still bent over my heavy “valise,” a hand went under my purse and into my coat pocket. HOW GUTSY! I pushed her hand away and yelled, “Regarde!” pointing at my assailant who then pulled out her cell phone and looked at me like I was a kook. Here we go again… Everyone just stared at her and me and backed away from us. In a surprise move, Chris growled, “I-hate-you-gypseeez—“ and shoved her HARD with his elbow! “Attention!” groaned a man when the gypsy collided into his standing party. Figuring that she was caught, the urchin nonchalantly left the train (yes, the doors never closed all this time—the driver must have heard us from his booth) and purposefully dropped Chris’ portefeuille of credit cards in front of him. We were taken by surprise and had no idea she had nicked Chris’ wallet at any time. I must have looked like this:

Image taken from http://pop-ed.celebedge.ca/2011/10/bart-with-ten-thousand-dollars.html

Once the train started moving, I was on the alert because no one does anything to help and there were these women behind me mumbling “Vache!” but how do I know they are honest people too?! This gypsy dressed like everyone else; I could not discern her from the crowd. Then the questions from the kids came: “What happened, mummy?”… “Why did she do that?…”

As we rode the Eurostar to England, I asked my man, “Why is it that France has a whole bunch of gypsies and England doesn’t?! Is it because if they were in England, they’d get the CRAP kicked out of them?!! I THINK THAT’S THE REASON!! Why don’t the French do something?!”

What I really mean is, why don’t the French ever get physical? Aggressive?! Or intervene?! Sure, they are great at arguing, giving evil glares, ignoring your existence. But I have never seen anyone physically threaten another, or get into someone’s face. No brawls. No road rage. And this is one thing I’m going to miss about France. I think the French generally take the high road and don’t get into physical brawls, just verbal ones, which they take great pride in — the repartee. Or maybe I’m not hanging out in those areas that are predisposed to that type of behaviour. In Toronto, you will see young men on public transit looking for a showdown, heated drivers confronting others in a traffic jam, and the usual, stupid (drunken) behaviour outside of nightclubs in the downtown area. I respect taking the high road. The French are very civilized that way.

But their high road is loitered with gypsies.

Anyway, the kids and I had an English break (while Chris worked) so we could be shamelessly loud and eat at all times of the day without the disapproving French stares. We visited the “Pound Store” (equivalent to the “Dollar Store” in North America) and gleefully ate cheap Aero chocolate mint bars, which cannot be found in our quartier of Paris. I ordered food at the pub without second-guessing what the menu read. And we visited Kew Gardens in the greater London area.

A massive fish with interesting mottling, found in the aquarium at the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

Kew Gardens is the Royal Botanic Gardens that has the largest collection of living plants in the world. Kew is VAST. We only had time to check out one conservatory (of greenhouses and aquarium) and one large play area for the kids. It did not disappoint.

Keeping occupied at “The Orangery” restaurant where my kids didn’t eat much. (The kid-friendly resto was across the way.) But there were a couple of good-looking men in suits to compensate plus “giant pineapple” trees to entertain my kiddos.

Just outside “The Orangery” restaurant, were the Olympic rings made out of flowery plants to acknowledge London’s upcoming event.

There was this indoor area called, Climbers and Creepers. It is Britain’s first interactive botanical play zone and quite a lot of fun. (You mean there are other botanical play zones in the world?!)

The kids had a ball in this strange indoor playground. These poo droppings (containing seeds eaten by an animal) made obscene noises when stepped on. We are definitely not in Paris!

This giant carnivorous plant is actually a slide that makes that squishy and whistling sound you hear in cartoons when you go down the slide. So funny!

Kids can operate the Venus flytrap plants: Clarisse lowers a fly into a plant while William presses his weight onto a pump which triggers the plant to close its mouth. Clever!

Kew Gardens is not cheap to enter but free for the kids. It has a lot to offer.

An outdoor playground right beside the indoor botanical play zone. Life is good…

Before you know it, we had to get back to Paris to resume normal daily French life. For me, that could mean another gypsy encounter without French interference…