Monday, 30 September 2013

France - 1 Trailer Park Boys - 0

 Dan (Mark’s brother) sailed in to St. Malo, France, first thing this morning for what has already proven to be a very eventful holiday.  The girls were excited to see their Uncle “Stink” and were looking forward to the silliness, teasing and shenanigans that their uncle was known for.  Mark was also looking forward to spending some time with a new sidekick and I could only imagine what was in store for us during the next few weeks.  Dan has only been here for 12 hours and so far the boys have checked us into a trailer park for 4 nights, upset a grocery store clerk, picked up a German board game for us to play and totally confused poor Garmin (our friendly GPS).  Now, what was I thinking sending these two off together in a foreign country?
Coming through customs!
Reading letters from home.
Just an example of the shenanigans!
Now, they actually look presentable in this picture taken on the wall of St. Malo
The trailer park actually turned out to be a brand new 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom motor home in a beautifully landscaped park with an indoor/outdoor pool and waterslides.  Not too shabby at all, but we certainly did get lots of mileage out of imagining us appearing on an episode of the Trailer Park Boys.  Did I mention all of this was occuring in France?  Now, you already know how overly romantic my ideas were about afternoon tea in England, well that doesn’t even compare to my thoughts about France.  I envisioned myself strolling hand in hand with Mark down cobblestone streets.  I would be dressed in a blue and white striped dress, accessorized with a beautiful scarf and sunglasses, looking fabulous as we popped into a café for a crepe. 
Us in the motorhome.
Instead, I am wrapped in a snuggie, eating mustard flavoured potato chips, frantically typing out this post, trying to capture everything the boys have just relayed to me, about their outing to the grocery store.  Dan thought the chips were malt vinegar – after all moutard and malt vinegar both start with ‘M’ – who wouldn’t make that mistake? – Right?  If I enjoyed a glass of wine, I would be indulging in what the boys thought was one of the best wines in France, at a bargain.  They couldn’t believe the deal they had come across; an award winning, $2.00 bottle of French wine.   It must be good since it had a snazzy gold and red sticker marked winner - 2012.  If only they knew the translation for the award was for the lowest priced wine lastyear!  They had heard alcohol was cheap here in France and figured they would have no problem checking out that theory. They polished off their 50 cent cans of beer with a belch and figured they better pick more of it up, tomorrow.  Are you sharing that vision of Trailer Park Boys with me now? Maybe the wine won’t be so bad after all! I can only imagine what else is in store for us as neither of the trailer park boys speaks a lick of French beyond, bonjour, merci, pardon, and aurevoir.
Lunch on the road.  Baguette and cheese - yummy!

This inability to communicate in the French language got them in a whole mess of trouble in the grocery store.  They were accused of stealing, sent away from the checkout with all of their fruits and vegetables with no clue what to do with them, and came home with flavoured potato chips that I can only imagine were on clearance because, who really eats mustard flavoured chips?  I have not yet had a look at the rest of the groceries to see what else has been lost in translation and what my meals will consist of for the next four days.  To be honest, I’m afraid! 

Little did the boys know they had headed to the checkout of the grocery store, very proud for securing most of the items on their list, five minutes before closing.  The clerk spoke as much English as the trailer park boys spoke French, so they were forced to revert to hand gestures to communicate.  Hands were flailing and words were flying as Mark started packing up the groceries before the clerk had finished putting through the order.  She had thought Mark was going to take the bag of groceries without paying. She said “ticket, ticket” in a high pitched voice.  Mark had no idea what he had done to upset the clerk, but she backed off when Mark stood there with his hands up as if being held at gun-point, repeating ‘pardon’ over and over again.

The clerk continued ringing through the groceries and placed all of the fruits and vegetables in a pile.  They were then plopped back into Dan’s arms.  He was waved away after another slew of French words, of which he had not understood one.  With his hands loaded down with the fruits and vegetables and his brother looking as if he was ready to be frisked, he was no longer able to communicate.  He didn’t have a clue what to do with the fruits and vegetables.  Was he being sent back as ransom for his brother’s thievery?  Did they only sell fruits and veggies at specific times of the day?  What was the coveted ‘ticket’ that the clerk kept repeating over and over again, and where the heck was he to get it?  He figured if he headed back to the produce isle, someone might be able to help him. 

Just as he turned down the isle, the grocery store plunged into complete darkness; they were closed.  The produce clerk looked at him and waved ‘no’, and all Dan could do was stand there in a sweat.  Pardon got him nowhere.  ‘Ticket, ticket”, he shouted in his best French accent.  He figured ‘ticket’ must have been a secret code word to get you anywhere in the French grocery store, as the produce clerk was happy to wave him over once he had shouted this elusive word at the top of his lungs.   The bananas were tagged then his bag of apples went rolling across the store floor, but at least he had the coveted ‘ticket’ required to get past the grocery store clerk and release his brother from bondage. Mark had been waiting at the cash with a sheepish look on his face as the cashier waved away the remaining customers, each of them rolling their eyes. He threw in the occasional ‘pardon’, then looked back at the floor. Finally Dan returned and she finished ringing through the groceries.  Thankfully, no charges were laid and the boys were anxious to get out of there and on their way.

After a long day of navigating around Normandy, poor Garmin was exhausted. On the way home she suggested a shortcut, which Mark and Dan were happy to accept. She indicated for the boys to take a ‘hard right’, which was an understatement, as they put the CRV up on two wheels trying to make the corner. They were now headed down a beautifully paved road, which turned into a narrow paved road, then a gravel road, to what looked like a footpath.  Garmin then literally instructed them to go ‘off road’.  The boys were shocked yet laughed wildly at the suggestion. Off roading in France – had Garmin lost her mind?   Dan figured at any moment the metal posts would appear indicating that only bicycles were allowed to proceed. With Mark’s experience in Iceland, he was not quite as concerned. I’m pretty sure there were signs indicating they were on the wrong road, but of course they don’t speak French, so who can blame them for driving down the bicycle path?  Finally the house which popped up right in front of them, helped them to realize that they were in fact, on someone’s driveway – not a footpath, bicycle path or the road back to the park.  They put the CRV in reverse and headed back to the main road.  Poor Garmin was totally confused and kept recalculating, spinning in circles, then finally just froze up.  Apparently the trailer park was in the French Twilight Zone.  I’m not sure how they made it home, because clearly, asking for directions was out of the question.

Once they got home, (8:25 pm) dinner had to be cooked and then possibly there would be time for a board game the girls had asked for. I suppose that since the boys  were so successful with the French language tonight, they thought they would get a head start on German, for our visit there later in the month.  They had picked up Woord Zoeker, a new German based, spelling, board game for us to play that evening.  You should have heard Meghan laugh out loud when she picked up the box to try to read the rules.  I can assure you, with the Mitchell spelling abilities, the game should be loads of fun!  Well that pretty much sums up day 1 in France with Dan, only 15 more to go!

Now we have another smiling face in our 'selfie' shots.  We sure wish 'our Michelle' had been here
to visit Mont St. Michele, France with us.


  1. love to hear the brothers are back to their old ways. Love mom and dad

  2. Oh my, what a great story!! Oh how I wish I was there...I do know a little French!! Brought Canadian version of 'Words with Friends' to the Lake House. I will re-package it 9for easy packing) and send it over with Papa and Grandma!! After my recent experiences here at the Lake House I don't think anyone is going to come and visit me choice or theirs!!


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