Going Postal

Going PostalGold suits, golems and undelivered mail. On Friday night we went to see Monstrous Productions‘ latest play, Going Postal.

We read the book once we found out this would be the next play performed by the Cardiff-based theatre group. We never miss a play and each time it gets bigger and better and we wonder how the hell they’ll pull the next one off, as they get more ambitious every time. But they always do, with a brilliant cast and crew and a minimal set that really works. The Gate arts centre is the perfect venue for it.

Going PostalDirected by Amy Davies and Edward Thomas, Going Postal tells the story of Moist Von Lipwig – con artist extraordinaire. He’s due to be hanged for his crimes but Lord Vetinari, played brilliantly by Michael Dickinson-Smith decides to hire him as the new Postmaster. Well he has two choices – be the new Postmaster or walk out the door and into a pit. He decides being the Postmaster is a better option.

Going Postal

Asher as Moist Von Lipwig

About five previous postmasters have all died. Health and safety just isn’t up to scratch. The problem is, the post hasn’t been delivered in fifty years and the letters aren’t happy about this. Then there’s the Grand Trunk and their clacks towers to contend with and they’re not exactly pleased about the post office opening back up and stealing their business. The hanging scene was one of our favourites in the book and it still made us laugh. The gallows humour is exactly our type of humour so we were pleased it was performed so well.

Going Postal

Michael as Vetinari

Asher Townsend, who plays Moist, was fantastic. He captured his cheeky character perfectly, even down to his smile, which often made the audience laugh. And his gold suit stole the show. The golems were a particular favourite of ours and their costumes were amazing. It’s not easy to bring a thousands’ year old pottery creature to life! Moist’s scenes with Adora Bell Dearheart were always entertaining. Ellen Warren, who played Miss Dearheart was perfect for the role. She was exactly how Miss Dearheart should be. Josh Flynn, who played pin-obsessive Stanley and Neil Chappell who played Reacher Gilt’s assistant Igor, got the most laughs. Josh’s hyperactive portrayal of Stanley was hilarious. Pete Belsen did a great job as Junior Postmaster Groat. We liked that the tradition of Nick (who played Reacher Gilt) dying in every role was continued. Even if it was off stage! As usual, he was brilliant and we loved his costume.

Going Postal

Nick as Reacher Gilt

Michael’s deadpan performance of Vetinari was spot-on. He had the dry sense of humour down perfectly. We’re always astounded by the quality of acting in these productions, as well as the costumes and set props. It’s clear how much fun everyone has doing this. Not only that, but the money raised goes to charity and so far, Monstrous Productions have raised over £20,000 for Alzheimer charities. If you’ve never seen one of these plays, please go to the next one. Even if you’ve never read Pratchett, you’ll love it.

Thanks to Amy and Craig for letting us use your photos in our blog.

We think Sir Terry Pratchett would be proud to see his work performed so brilliantly by true Pratchett fans.

The next play will be The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents. We’re excited already!

Going Postal

Pete as Groat and Josh as Stanley

Cast

Moist Von Lipwig – Asher Townsend

Adora Bell Dearheart – Ellen Warren

Groat – Pete Belson

Stanley – Josh Flynn

Vetinari – Michael Dickinson-Smith

Mr Pump – Matthew Burnett

Reacher Gilt – Nick Dunn

Drumknott – Matthew Hitchman

Sacharissa – Sarah Roberts

Bill/Voice of the poet – Harry Spencer

Harry – Terrance Edwards

Mr Pony – Tony Beard

Stowley/Costume – Herm Holland

Mrs Greenyham/make-up – Zoe Azzopardi

Sane Al – Alex Butterworth

Mad Alex – Matt Edwards

Crispin/Ponder Stibbons – Loz Shanahan

Postman Aggy/Mr Slant – Scott Ericson

Trooper/Anghammarad – Edward Duke

Miss Maccalariat – Sarah Burrow

Mr Spools – Paul Woolley

Devious Collarbone/various – Sam Lewis

Mrs Parker/various – Davina Darmanin

Deaconess of Offler – Claire Taylor-Shepherd

Igor – Neil Chappell

Mr Wilkinson – Jamie Gibbs

Ridcully/various – Steve Durbin

Gryle – Jes Hynes

Nutmeg/various – Luke Belson

Big Dave/various – Katya Moskvina

Various – Howard Dickins

Pin customer/various – Richard McReynolds

Various – Jasmine Isaksson

Various – Isabelle Burman

Crew

Director/Producer – Amy Davies

Director – Edward Thomas

Stage Manager – Hannah Bennett

Technical Manager – David Rose

Costume Designer – Lizzie Mulhall

Graphic Design – Gemma Willians

Golem builder – Holly Raddy

Photography – Craig Harper

Sound – Joe Davey

Production Assistant – John B Dent

Lady in Red

Red Dress ManorBeing half naked in the back seat of a car while a man with a mallet threatens you sounds like the start of a teen slasher film. It was the end of our urban exploring adventure. It was going so well.

Red Dress Manor

living room

Over a year ago, Wales Online published an article about Calcott Hall, aka, Red Dress Manor. The once working farm was built in 1725 and was abandoned in the ’90s. Online articles say it was abandoned in the ’70s when owner Ellen Jones fell ill. Red Dress ManorHowever we found medicine bottles for a Francis Jones dated 1994 and a letter to Francis dated 1997. We had to go. This place was calling to us, whispering that it wanted us to explore inside it. And like sailors lured to their deaths by sirens, we obeyed. We kept our excitement in check by reminding ourselves that previous urb exing adventures never went well. We always got caught or failed to get in. Bit like the rest of our lives really – one adventurous failure after another, all packaged in hilarious stories to hide our misery. If we want to urb ex, we always check forums to see if anyone’s been there recently. They had. This was looking good.Red Dress Manor

We met our partners in crime, Laura, Jack and James, who join us on most adventures now and set off. We’d refreshed our rusty law knowledge and went satisfied that we weren’t breaking any laws. Trespassing is a civil offence and as long as you don’t damage the property or commit any crimes while there, you’re fine. If someone asks you to leave, just leave. We said to our mum “You didn’t try to stop us, tell us it was a bad idea or warn us to be careful.” Mum “I’ve given up now.” When we told our uncle about our adventure, he said “Hopefully one day you’ll get hit by the normality cloud.” Luckily we’re fast and have the motto “if you keep running, it can’t get you.”

Red Dress Manor

kitchen

It was all going so well. Except our SatNav, Helen, wanted us to take a left road. We were following James, who went straight ahead. Helen kept trying to make us do a U-Turn. When we disobeyed, she switched off data connection and sulked. She does this a lot when we ignore her. We should take her to meet our therapist, as she clearly has issues. Mid Wales is mostly mountains so internet signal isn’t great. Then Lynx (who has kidney issues) really needed a wee. There were no services. There hadn’t been any toilets for miles. She was desperate enough to go at the side of the road at this point but having recently had bad experiences at being semi naked in a public place, it was unadvised. Red Dress ManorWe eventually found a pub and pulled in, losing James and Jack. Toilets were for paying customers only. Cat had to pay £1.20 for a lemonade just so Lynx’s kidneys wouldn’t explode. We enjoyed our unnecessary drink slightly enraged. Though the cheerful barman seemed thrilled to have the three of us there. We were the only customers. Maybe everybody else was peeing in the bushes out the back. While we were there, Helen, realising we needed her help, switched data connection back on. We hit the road. To find services with toilets half a mile later. We met up with the guys in a petrol station further down the road and continued.Red Dress Manor

As we neared our destination, the road was closed. The only route around it meant going quite far out of our way to loop back around. Helen kept insisting we make a u-turn and drive through the road closure. Maybe she wanted to experience an action film lifestyle where we crash through barriers without scratching our paintwork.Red Dress Manor

We’d seen on a forum that tips for finding the house was ‘find the village, find the house.’ Kind of like ‘save the cheerleader, save the world’. We doubted this simplicity. Nothing in life is that easy. We were wrong.Red Dress Manor

Domgay in Llanymynech isn’t a village. It’s a long road with farms and a funeral director’s off it. We travelled the road. And found the house. It’s easily visible from the road. It’s stunning in its decay. We found a lane around the other side and pulled in. But there were gates and cows so we couldn’t park there. This was going to be a problem. Trying to hide an orange Mini Cooper convertible and a blue Ford Street Ka was not going to go well. We drove around then spotted a visitors’ car park. We parked there and went on foot to the house. One problem – we stick out. With a group of five people, including twin goths with orange hair and none of us dressed like country people, it was clear we didn’t belong here. Luckily there was no-one around.

Red Dress Manor

attic room

Cat found a gate blocked by stinging nettles that were nearly face high. No-one was keen on this. James then found a low fence topped with barbed wire. We’d pick barbed wire over stinging nettles any day. Cat ducked under the wire then held it up for James. He removed the loose top plank, making access easier. We crossed the field to the house. Red Dress ManorThe front door was boarded up but Cat spotted an open window. Six feet off the ground. We’re 5’1″. There was a ledge at our waist height, just wide enough for toes. At this point, she regretted her tight PVC trousers but luckily, our hyper mobility means we can get our feet to waist height. She climbed up, pulling herself up with the stable part of the window frame. We didn’t come dressed for climbing! James and Laura hate climbing so we were impressed they were willing to get in this way. Cat pulled them up then Lynx climbed up, followed by Jack. We’d actually made it inside.

Red Dress Manor

medicine bottle dated 1994

Normally, when things go well, we get suspicious. If we have a run of good luck, it usually means something horrible is about to happen. You can blame it on us being paranoid and having trust issues (both of which are true) but nothing ever goes well without being countered by something bad. Weirdly, it never happens the other way around.

We found ourselves in the living room. It was mostly intact, apart from papers and receipts scattered everywhere. This was a theme. Previous explorers have ransacked the place, tossing fifty years’ worth of paperwork (we’re not kidding – there was an exercise book from 1949) and clothing all over the floors.

Red Dress Manor

our entrance/exit

It was such a shame. The house would have had a far creepier atmosphere had everything been left as it was when the Jones family lived there. A photo from a girls’ grammar school sits on the fireplace. We ventured further inside, keen to keep away from the window so we wouldn’t be seen. There were two further living rooms. Both had massive holes in the floor and trees growing inside them. We didn’t enter them. The kitchen was safe. Here we found the letter to Francis and the medicine bottles. There was also a car insurance certificate dated 1973 for a Morris Marina. There are two in the garages. A green one and an orange one. We had three Marinas growing up so have a soft spot for them.Red Dress Manor

An old Aga cooker sits in the kitchen. The doorway leads down to an outhouse and a basement, which has several other rooms leading off it and stairs heading up to the bathroom. Up there was unused farm medicine and a bathtub that was in serious danger of falling through the floor. Do not stand on that floor. You will get hurt. There was an old record player with a record still on it: The World of Winnifred Attwell from 1969. We left the basement and headed upstairs, keeping to the sides of the stairs just in case. While we’re a skinny bunch, we’re still heavy enough to plummet through stairs and cause ourselves mischief. Weirdly, the house didn’t have a creepy atmosphere. It still felt like a home and we didn’t once feel uneasy or feel like we shouldn’t be there.Red Dress Manor

On the next level are five bedrooms. The one has the wardrobe where the famous red dress used to hang (hence the manor house’s nickname). Unfortunately, the dress is no longer there and neither is the photo of the woman wearing it (believed to be Ellen, though we found no evidence of an Ellen living there). Instead, there is a knitted replica of the dress and photos of some guy wearing it. It looks like photos taken from a horror film. Another bedroom leads off this one, with random shoes, clothes and more paperwork covering the floor. All the paperwork is addressed to Mr William Jones and Miss Francis Jones. Father and daughter probably. And there are trees growing up through the floor. Nature seems to be reclaiming the house. One of the other bedrooms has rotting suitcases on the beautiful bed and more paperwork over the floor. Tax bills mostly. The other bedroom had a Geography exercise book on the bed, with the name William Jones on it from 1949.

Red Dress Manor

bathroom

The next level up was the attic rooms. These really weren’t safe, with holes in the floor and ceilings. One of these seemed to be a children’s room, with an old dartboard, skipping rope and doll’s house furniture. And more tax bills. There were also old newspapers with Jack’s birthday on them but many years before he was born. One of the rooms had a hole right by the doorway and most of the way across so we didn’t venture in there. Wooden steps led up to another level but the bottom two had rotted off and the rest didn’t look that stable. Cat climbed onto the third step but it didn’t feel very secure so she didn’t risk venturing up.

Red Dress Manor

outhouse

We returned to explore the lower levels then left, after an hour in the house. James and Cat heard a car as we reached the window so ducked back. A Jeep drove past as Cat was half out the window. We headed around the house to look at the cars. However between us and the green Marina were cows. And they were eating, which meant the farmer couldn’t be that far away and if we walked past, they might start mooing and alert him to our presence. Being arrested because we were betrayed by cows would be a low point in lives that haven’t seen many highs. We reluctantly left the car unexplored then found the orange one in a locked garage. As we neared the hedge, another car approached so we ducked down like ninjas before climbing back out over the fence and replacing the plank we’d taken down.Red Dress Manor

Our first successful urban exploring adventure! We couldn’t believe our luck. Finally, after over a year, we got to explore it. We didn’t fall through floors, get Tetanus or get marched out in handcuffs. Things never go this well for us. There had to be something lurking around the corner…

We returned to the cars to find large notes on the windscreens – Please do not park here again. Fair enough, though it was a visitors’ car park and it said you park there at your own risk. It was now boiling so Cat decided to remove the lace jumper she was wearing under her vest top. She’d just stripped off her layers when a man approached with a mallet. He was the type of guy you would cross the road to avoid. Face of Crimewatch. Cursing, Cat ducked down just as he reached the car. Another incident of being half naked in public not ending well. Red Dress ManorHe knocked on the window with the handle of the mallet then said “if you park here again, I’ll phone the police.” Bit harsh, it’s a public car park. Lynx “Sorry, we didn’t realise.” Mallet Man “It’s not that, I know where you’ve been.” Umm…is that supposed to be a threat? You know where we’ve been? So do we. And it was awesome! We weren’t committing an offence. We noticed although he’d spoken to James and Jack, he didn’t threaten them with the police or say he knew where they’d been. Clearly he enjoyed threatening those of a female variety. Nice try. We don’t scare easily. A Mini Cooper trumps a mallet in the weapons stakes.

We had no SatNav now so drove around for ages looking for a pub. Every pub we found was closed. We eventually found one and logged on to the WiFi while pub dog Holly joined us at our table for the duration of our drinks. We now have a taste for urban exploring and already have our next location planned. Let’s just hope men with mallets aren’t lurking nearby.Red Dress Manor

In Seine

River SeineIt’s a sour end to the trip when you end up naked by the Seine in an area that stinks of piss.

The others went to get breakfast while we finished packing. We were supposed to check out by 12 so they left their bags with us in case they weren’t back in time. So we just hung about the apartment catching up on our blog posts ‘til 12. We then wandered around the main street until we got to a gluten free place in an arcade. The others wanted to wander different shops picking up food as we were going to picnic by the Seine like the locals do. We couldn’t be arsed to traipse from shop to shop dragging our heavy case and carrying the heavy rucksack, so we made our own way to the Seine. There was a metro stop near us but we weren’t prepared to lug our case down all the steps so we walked instead, using Google maps and sticking to the shaded side of the road. We got there no problem.River Seine

River Seine

Don’t leave Goths in hot places

We originally sat under the bridge but it stank of river and piss so we moved to another shaded part near a decent looking guy while we waited for the others. The view was lovely and the Seine’s pretty too. By the time they came, we’d already drunk both Red Bulls and eaten, so while they guarded our stuff, we went looking for drinks and sorbet. We wanted another birthday present for our mum and spied an artist selling oil paintings on Pont Neuf. They were stunning so we bought a small canvas of the Eiffel Tower in grey and red. He’d been sheltering under an umbrella when we stopped so shaded us with it while we looked at his paintings.River Seine

River Seine

Lynx is in Seine

Then the day turned to shit. Lynx has no idea how it happened but one minute Dragonstone (her new phone) and her wallet were on the bag, the next, they were sliding down the concrete bank into the Seine. Dragonstone sank but the wallet floated. And floated away. Lynx slithered down, tossed her boots up to Cat and hurried along the small ledge after her wallet. She managed to scoop it out and returned to Cat and Neen. She got Cat to pass her the walking stick and used it to test the depth of the water. Waist deep. She prodded the rocks and found a large stable one. Against Neen and Cat’s wishes, she passed up her jewellery and carefully waded into the Seine in her lovely dress because she didn’t want to strip in public. She couldn’t see her phone and soon attracted a small audience on Pont Neuf, who thought she was crazy going into the river where people used to dump dead bodies. Not sure how they knew to shout in English – probably because the Parisians know better than to go in the Seine. But she’d had Dragonstone for less than a month and even though he would probably never work again, she could at least reuse the case. If you remember our American adventures, she left Stormborn, our other smartphone on the plane. We knew we’d be coming home without Dragonstone.

River Seine

the Seine at twilight

There was no way she was putting her face in the water so she carefully felt around the area with one foot, keeping hold of the ledge. After several minutes, Neen and Cat persuaded her to give up, as they were convinced she’d catch a disease. She hopped out onto the ledge and they grabbed an arm each, hauling her onto the bank with such force, her feet didn’t touch the bank. She discarded her fishnets and socks and used the last of our shower gel to have a quick wash. Cat got her a change of clothes and she went to hide under Pont Neuf between a van and a car to change, after making sure nobody was in the vehicles. Being kidnapped whilst half naked would put a real damper on things. The area reeked of piss so she made sure not to put her clothes in anything remotely wet. Ending up naked by the Seine was not how she wanted the holiday to end.

Conciergerie

in the women’s prison yard at the Conciergerie

It was time to go home. Our suitcase was almost half our body weight and the rucksack weighed at least a quarter of our weight so while the others went on ahead, we limped after them, not bothering to try to keep up. We went to go down into one train station and a guy offered to carry the case down. The others asked if it was the right station. He said we wanted the one across the street. So the poor guy ended up lugging the case back up. We then went to another metro station. This time, Neen carried the case down. Only for it to be another wasted journey. They eventually found the right station and we waited for the train to take us to the airport. The ticket entrances don’t hold the doors open long enough for you to struggle through with your case, so it shut on Lynx’s rucksack, jamming her. The doors only opened when a guy put his ticket in and helpfully pushed her free.

Paris Metro

riding the metro

The train was hot, sweaty and smelled of hot, sweaty people. And it was the same price as a taxi. So we could have saved ourselves a lot of walking. Disheartened at Dragonstone’s untimely death, and in pain, we made it to the airport without trouble. This time, baggage allowance was 23kg and they didn’t even weigh our hand luggage, making the fiasco of flying out even more unnecessary.

EIffel Tower lift

in the lift of the Eiffel Tower

But Paris was beautiful and we’d love to go back and see the sights we didn’t see, plus return to the catacombs. People often say the French are rude, but every person we spoke to was lovely.

flying home

flying home

They didn’t mind our terrible French and were all very helpful. If a waiter didn’t speak English, they found one who did. Almost every person we spoke to complimented us on our outfits and if they didn’t speak English, they’d gesture to us, smile and give us the thumbs up. Two people asked what our style was. They’d never heard of Goth and were pleased to learn something new. Security guards, instead of being annoyed at all our metal setting off their bleepers at tourist attractions, laughed and told us we looked amazing, while shaking their heads in despair. Paris obviously didn’t have many twins, as we’d get a lot of people pointing and saying “the same?” People would openly stare at us but not in a rude way, they’d obviously not encountered Goths before. We didn’t see anyone even remotely gothic during our stay. Paris certainly wasn’t expecting us but it embraced us.Conciergerie

Dead Famous

Pere Lachaise cemeteryToday was to be the day of the dead. First on the agenda: Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Jules and Alex didn’t want to come so us and Neen headed out on the metro. There’s not many people we could convince that spending a hot, sunny day in a cemetery is the best thing ever. Give us a city of the dead over a beach any day. We can get a tan, see beautiful mausoleums and leave without getting sand in places where sand has no right to be.

Pere Lachaise cemeteryThe metro stopped right outside, so we walked across the road, bought a map of the cemetery (without one, we’d probably still be there until the council is forced to bury our well dressed skeletons) and marked off the people we wanted to see: Oscar Wilde was top of our list, along with Jim Morrison for our friend, Rodney, and some people who either haunted it, or their graves we’d seen in our book about haunted places in France. Neen wanted to see Gertrude Stein for Zoe. And then we spotted a name we had to visit – Sex Toy. No idea who this person is. And no, we’re not Googling it. We’ve fallen for that ploy many times.

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Raspail family tomb

Pere Lachaise is rumoured to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the world. Visitors report intense eerie feelings, a deep sense of unnatural calm, shivers down the spine, ghostly apparitions and orbs. Jim Morrison is apparently seen near his grave and Chopin likes photobombing people. Some say Oscar Wilde haunts it, as well as lovers Marcel Proust and Maurice Ravel, who apparently rise from their graves searching for each other. This will be us when we’re dead – rising from our graves, searching for Red Bull. Pere Lachaise opened in 1804 on Napoleon’s orders to cope with the overflow of bodies from the Revolution. There are over 300,000 people buried here. It’s the place to be seen dead in.
Pere Lachaise cemeteryWe wandered the graveyard, taking photos and getting ideas for our tomb. So far, it’s going to have steps, skeletal hand sconces, gargoyles and castle towers. And a plaque that reads: ‘this is the story of C L Raven (they die at the end).’ But unless we start selling more books, we’ll probably end up in a pauper’s grave. Or eaten by our cats.

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Etienne Gaspard Robertson’s grave

We made our way to the closest grave on our list: Etienne Gaspard Robertson – a magician who liked to terrify people. He invented the phantasmagoria, using lantern slides to create horror shows. His grave had featured in the book and had an incredible carving of the living on one side, the dead on the other and a flying skeleton between them, playing a trumpet. We stopped by a tree and consulted our map, certain we were in the right area. Then we turned around. It was right beside us. The carving was fantastic. He also had skulls on the top of his monument. A French couple asked us where Chopin’s grave was, so we directed them.

 

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Jim Morrison’s grave

Despite our poor map reading skills, we managed to navigate the cemetery easily. Neen said it was because it was something we’re interested in. This is true. If we’re not interested, we won’t put effort in. Hence constantly failing school exams. There were quite a few people around Jim Morrison’s grave, but we managed to squeeze in and take photos. There are railings up around the whole section where he is to stop people going to his grave.

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Marie Elizabeth Demidoff’s grave.

The next grave on our list belonged to Russian princess Marie Elizabeth Demidoff, who apparently stated in her will that she would leave part of her inheritance to anyone who spent a year beside her corpse. Her monument was impressive, with columns and wolves’ heads. We stood at the bottom, trying to figure out how to get up to the other side. We eventually walked all the way around and up. Only to discover that had we gone the other way, a flight of steps would’ve taken us right to it. We were not shining today.

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Sex Toy’s grave

Our next mission was to find Sex Toy. That grave was off the path, so we had to explore amongst other graves. After fifteen minutes of failing to find it, nearly falling over and being attacked by brambles, we realised we were in the wrong area. We crossed a path to another section and continued the hunt. Cat slipped and her hand landed on some brambles. We hunted for another fifteen minutes then Lynx stopped to change her camera battery. And happened to stop by Sex Toy’s grave. Neen had walked right past it. We were expecting something phallic shaped, or with chains. Maybe even something that vibrated. Nope. A simple slab with SEX TOY written in old English font. So like men who can’t find the g spot, we were poking around, trying to look like we knew what we were doing, only to find it rather anti climatic.

Pere Lachaise cemetery, Oscar Wilde's grave

Oscar Wilde’s grave

We stopped for a picnic on a bench before finding Oscar Wilde’s grave with no difficulty. He wrote our favourite poem, the Ballard of Reading Gaol, so we had to find him. We expected it to be crowded like Jim Morrison’s was, but there were only two guys there. Oscar’s grave had a glass case around it, because there was a tradition of people kissing it and leaving lipstick marks all over it, inspired by his quote ‘a kiss may ruin a human life.’ And graves, it seems. The oils in the lipstick were damaging the stone, so the family paid to have them cleaned off and put a glass barrier around it to protect it.

 

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Auschwitz memorial

We headed to the eastern wall where 140 communards were shot at dawn on 28th May 1871 after fighting their way across the cemetery. They were buried where they fell but apparently visitors have seen them. We didn’t see them. There were some incredible memorials to the victims of the holocaust and those that died in the resistance. They showed skeletal figures, reminding people of the horror they suffered. We much preferred them to regular plaques. We found Gertrude Stein’s grave easily. She was a lesbian American novelist, playwright, poet and art collector. We also saw Edith Piaf’s grave as it was near the exit. A French woman asked us where Oscar Wilde’s grave was, so we pointed it out to her then gave her our map.

Pere Lachaise cemetery

Auschwitz memorial

We stopped at a café across the road to rest our painful feet before limping our way to the metro stop to go to the Musee Fragonard. We got off and walked down the really long Avenue de General de Gaulle. We couldn’t find it so went into a shop to buy a drink and ask where it was. They didn’t have any squash so we bought a big bottle of lemon water. The cashier didn’t know of the museum. We kept going until Neen checked the number. It was back near the metro stop. We turned around and hobbled back the way we’d come, only to find a solicitor’s at number 7. Neen got out her map. We were at the wrong end of the street. We got back on the metro and went another couple of stops. We had not come this far and put up with this much pain to quit now. We were going to the museum and it had better be damn well impressive. It also closed in an hour.

Musee Fragonard

Musee Fragonard

The museum is inside a university and was well worth a visit and the pain. We did the audio guide but there was so much information, we didn’t have time to listen to it all. There weren’t as many flayed people as were hoping – it was mostly animal skeletons and organs, as it was a veterinary university, but it was still fascinating. And cows don’t have four stomachs – their stomach is divided into four, with each section doing a different job.
Eiffel TowerWe got back on the metro to meet Alex and Jules at the Eiffel Tower. For some reason, we expected it to be silver, not brown. We got pictures as we walked past it then had to walk a long way to find the café they were in. By now, Cat’s bad knee had given up too, but luckily she’d brought her walking stick and had bought ice patches on our first day in Paris. A helpful American translated to the waiter what we meant by vegan then we sat and had chips. Our boots came off the minute we sat down. One waiter said “cook fries in with the meat? Who would be crazy enough to do that?” We replied “The UK.” He was impressed with our French when we asked for the bill.

Seine

Seine at sunset

The queue for the tower was still long so we did a cruise along the river Seine at sunset. It was the best time to do it. The boat was quiet, whereas in the day, the boats are always packed. We’d seen the Seine plenty of times in the day. It was beautiful as the sun went down and the lights came on. There was this annoying couple by us at the back of the boat. All the woman was did was take constant selfies without smiling in a single one, but doing those partial smiles with closed lips, ‘cos heaven forbid your smile should crinkle your face. The typical ‘identical facial expression in every photo so I always look beautiful’. Us and Neen had posted many unflattering photos of ourselves. We were glad when they left the boat, otherwise we were going to push her in. Let’s see her look picture-perfect after a dunking in the Seine.

SeineWe gave each other dares during the evening. Lynx had to ask a guy where the River Seine was, as we cruised along it. She even asked in French but he couldn’t understand her. Jules and Cat had to twerk picnickers as we sailed past. Having never twerked before, Jules had to teach Cat. They did it and got cheered by the picnickers.

River Seine

twerking it

Neen’s dare had been to ask someone where the Eiffel Tower was, as we stood across the road from it. He helpfully pointed it out then a man stopped his car and got out to have his photo taken with us. Alex had to lick her ice cream bowl. Us and Neen claimed it wasn’t a dare, as we’d do it anyway, so Neen dared Alex and Jules to tie their plaits together and walk around. They did it on the boat, but told the captain it was a dare so it didn’t count.

SeineIt was getting dark by the time we got back so the Eiffel Tower was lit up red white and blue. It looked beautiful, so we video called our mum and sister by it so they could see it lit up. Sarah asked if we could ring her when we were up there. We didn’t have to queue long – advantage of going up at 11 p.m. Security check through your bags at every major tourist attraction and the woman confiscated our big bottle of lemon water we’d just bought. Neen tried arguing it was just water, but the woman binned it. Not just confiscated. Binned. We spent €1.65 on that! Luckily, Neen had instructed us to pour some into the bottles we’d used for our squash, so some was saved. That wasn’t taken off us. Either the woman didn’t believe it was water, or she thought Neen looked the type to lob it at unsuspecting tourists. The top of the tower was closed unfortunately. We got the lift to the second floor then video called our mum and sister.
Eiffel TowerIt was so beautiful up there. It didn’t matter that we didn’t make it to the top. To be honest, we would’ve been terrified up there. A man behind us proposed to his girlfriend and we’re guessing by the applause that she said yes. Neen did a fake proposal to Lynx and people thought it was real. We had to explain it was just for photos and Neen is married. Quite frankly, we’re surprised nobody thought the others were real. The Eiffel Tower is seen as a romantic place to propose, even though it’s a popular suicide spot. Over 400 people have plunged to their deaths from it and most of them were distraught lovers. A famous story is about a couple who met at the tower. At the top, he proposed. She said no so he pushed her off. Apparently, you can hear her laugh then scream. Not so romantic now.

Eiffel TowerWe decided to get the full Eiffel Tower experience and walked down to the next floor. Big mistake. There were so many steps that by the time we reached the first floor, our feet were in agony. So we queued to take the lift down but had to wait ages with our feet feeling as though we were standing in lava. It was gone midnight by the time we got down but there was a sorbet place open so us and Neen had sorbet as we ambled to the metro. We had strawberry and raspberry. It was the best sorbet we’ve ever had and was the perfect way to end our last night in Paris. Then on the Metro was a hot guy. He looked like Ed Skrein from Deadpool. The views in Paris were just getting better. And he kept looking at us. So we played it cool. By ‘played it cool’, we mean we avoided eye contact and turned around. Winning.Eiffel Tower

Empire of the Dead

Conciergerie

Conciergerie

Going to jail, hanging out with the dead and again exposing ourselves to Paris. Day three went well.

P1170459We got an “ooh la la” from a guy as we headed for the bike stop. An actual ooh la la. Neen told him to be more original. The guy was actually good looking but his cliched line put an immediate black mark against him. Be original or be gone with you, good sir! We hired bikes again and cycled our way down to the Conciergerie. We went the wrong way down one way streets, cycled on pavements, nearly mowed down pedestrians and got applause from a guy as we cycled past a cafe. Basically, we fitted in with other road users. When in Rome…Conciergerie

Conciergerie

inside the conciergerie

We figured this was the perfect time to use our action cam as it was intended. It was going well until Lynx went over a bump and the action cam sailed out of her bike’s basket. We have a chest strap for it but left it at home. We earned our second “ooh la la” from a Japanese tourist. Our plan to ride the bikes for free was foiled when there was police presence at the Notre Dame, so they sealed the roads and wouldn’t let us take our bikes to the stands. Then every other stand was full. We were following a French guy who had the same problem. Neen commented on the craziness of it. Man “It’s France.” We were 9 minutes over our time when we managed to park. Neen had a crepe then we went to the Conciergerie.

ConciergerieIt used to be palace for the Capetian dynasty but Charles V stopped using it as a palace in the 14th century and used it to house his law courts. At the end of the 18th century, it was the prison for the prisoners of the Revolution before they were tried and executed. Marie Antoinette was held there for two months. It was a lovely place and it was good to see somewhere historical that wasn’t on our list. Cells depicted how rich or poor prisoners were treated and there was loads of information. Marie Antoinette’s cell has a mannequin of her with guards as she tried to escape.

Conciergerie

Marie Antoinette’s cell

We cycled to the Place de la Bastille monument, where the fort was, then walked down to the ruins of the Bastille prison, where the Revolution started when they stormed it and freed the prisoners. Construction began in 1357 and it increased until the 1600s. It started as a battle fortress but then became a prison. Famous prisoners included the Man in the Iron Mask and the Marquis de Sade. The ruins are right beside a children’s playground. Both locations are rumoured to be haunted by strange smells and sightings. But we’re guessing this might be the kids.

Bastille

Place de la Bastille

As we passed a row of shops, there were huge air vents. Neen was disappointed Cat hadn’t been photographed with the vent from the Louvre so made her stand on them. Cat held most of her skirt down, managing to retain her dignity. The shop assistant applauded her. P1170461Then as she ran across the road to photograph a fountain, Neen said “you showed your arse again when you went down. And your boobs do jiggle when you run. You’ve made Paris very happy today.” It’s a good job we always wear our Ann Summers finest. Poor Paris. It needs therapy now.

Bastille

Bastille ruins

As we were close to Ile St Louis and hadn’t gone there the other day, we walked across and had sorbet before crossing back over the haunted Pont Marie. Two lovers used to meet there, but the man was a spy and one day, he never returned, so the woman wanders the bridge, still waiting for him. You never find male ghosts pining for their lost loves. We’d put off using the metro all holiday but it was time to be brave and we caught the metro to the catacombs. Except we got off at the wrong stop and had to hobble a mile to the catacombs. We suffer from callouses and heel spurs caused by plantar faciitis. Walking long distances is excruciating.

Paris Catacombs

Catacombs

It turned out that we’d paid for the audio tour. We weren’t given the option of not having it. The queue to get in was incredibly long. People can queue for about three hours. If you go, book in advance. We only had to wait fifteen minutes. The catacombs were fantastic. We could’ve spent hours in there. Hell, we could’ve lived there. We’ve wanted to visit the catacombs for years. It’s the whole reason we went to Paris. Unfortunately, once we were in the Empire of Bones, we didn’t get to listen to the audio tour because we didn’t have enough hands to hold it. Lynx was videoing and using one phone as a torch, the other as a camera while Cat was using the Panasonic camera and as flash photography and tripods were forbidden, the dim light made photography hard.

Paris CatacombsNeen said it was very interesting and well worth a listen. She said we could’ve taken photos then listened to it, but we were so conscious of keeping the others waiting, that we didn’t want to hang around too long. Though we did manage to have sections of the catacombs to ourselves for a lot of time, proving once again, our superpower is losing people on tours. Next time, we’re doing the audio tour, even if we have to stay there all night.

Paris CatacombsAnd this time Neen proposed to Cat in front of a heart from made skulls. Now we’re not romantic people but if guys should propose in that spot, we would likely say yes. There is nothing more romantic than a heart made from skulls. You can keep your love lock bridge and sunset meal proposals. Give us the dead any day.
Paris CatacombsAcross the road was a gift shop. In a repeat of the Alcatraz gift shop, we spent a lot of money in there. If we hadn’t been conscious of luggage weight limit, we would’ve bought the entire shop. Except it’s expensive and as we tell Neen – you don’t get rich by spending. Our feet hadn’t hurt the whole time we were in the catacombs, so either we were too distracted to notice, or the dead have healing powers.
Paris CatacombsWe wandered the streets for a while before getting back on the metro and heading to the main street near ours. We stopped in a bar for cocktails before deciding to find somewhere to eat. We walked all the way to one end of the street, but the places we stopped at weren’t gluten free, so we turned around and walked all the way back, only to go to the first place Neen spotted – right across the road from the bar we were in. The whole time it felt like walking on hot coals and knives. By this point, we’d decided that if the chips weren’t vegan, we were going to sit outside and eat shortbread. There was no way we were walking any further. We always feel sorry for the waiting staff when they say they can speak English, because not only do they have to contend with us trying to explain what makes chips vegan (cooked separately from the meat) but also with Jules being gluten free. Our poor waiter earned his tip. But we got to practise the French we’d learned. “L’addition si’l vous plait.” Bill please.
Paris CatacombsWe can only stay out drinking for so long before we get bored so we headed back to our apartment at 11 while the others stayed out. It was our first time of navigating Paris alone and our SatNav froze, only piping up when we reached the road by ours. Thanks, Helen, good to see you’re as helpful in France as you are in Britain. But at least we got to see streets we hadn’t seen before.

We were looking forward to the next day – it was going to be a day of the dead.sorbet

Culture Shock

LouvreDoing fake proposals in romantic spots, exposing ourselves to tourists and cycling while drunk. Day two in Paris was certainly memorable.

LouvreWe’d booked a ghost walk for the evening, which started at the Notre Dame, so we decided to spend the day in that area. After breakfast in a café, (not for us – we brought cereals) us and Neen headed to the Louvre while Alex and Jules went shopping. The Louvre apparently has a 13th century dungeon, which is haunted and some locals believe some paintings were made with ink harvested from people’s hearts. The beginning of the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre began at the Louvre. It was the worst religious massacre in history. There have been sightings of old guards and the Red Man of Tuileries – a 16th century murderer whose ghost wanders the museum.

LouvreThe Louvre is enormous! You could spend several days there. Before going to Paris, Neen came up with a plan: as Paris is the city of love, we should do mock proposal photos. Well, people do say you should marry your best friend. Cat and Neen did the first proposal photo at the pyramid in the Louvre, with Cat offering Neen a heart shaped shortbread biscuit. It was magical.

LouvreIt didn’t take that long to get in to the Louvre and was only 15 Euros, which, considering the size of the place, is very reasonable. We wandered for a bit before heading to the Venus di Milo first. We don’t know why she’s famous, only that she is. We then amused ourselves by posing as the statues did. LouvreThis is how we culture. We admired the perfectly peachy arse of a naked male statue then Cat walked over a grate in the floor. Which turned out to be air vent. Cue a Marilyn Monroe impression as she battled to save her dignity but it was too late. Her flowy pinstripe skirt and pinstripe stockings were a bad combination as the people of Paris were treated to a rare sight of her sparkly Ann Summers finest and stark white arse cheeks. Cat “Well if that statue can get his arse out and call it art, so can I.” This wasn’t the last time a vent exposed her posterior to Paris.

LouvreWe made our way through the Egyptian bit to see the sarcophagi, which were brilliant. You can guarantee in any museum, we will hunt out the death section. We then worked our way through the Louvre to find the Mona Lisa. She and the Venus di Milo are the only pieces we know so we just looked at the other stuff as we passed through. We noticed a trend – all the female statues and paintings had really high, small nipples and all the male statues had tiny penises and large testicles. They must have all used the same model and changed the faces.

Louvre

Venus di Milo

You couldn’t get to the Mona Lisa. There were so many people crowding it and taking photos, we had to wait then push our way through. And so you were under pressure to just take a photo and leave, rather than take the time to actually look at the painting. We couldn’t even see it until we were at the front – people in Paris are tall! Still can’t believe we’ve seen two of the most famous pieces of art.

LouvreWe met up with Alex and Jules in a café and had a very expensive vodka and lemonade – 12 Euros! For that price, we want our ice cubes carved into famous statues and served by a Wentworth Miller lookalike. But it was strong vodka, so we stumbled our way towards the Notre Dame, stopping to look in gift shops. We found the love lock bridge on Pont Neuf where Lynx did a proposal photo to Neen. Neen had only been engaged to Cat for a few hours and was already marrying someone else! We couldn’t help thinking that the majority of couples who’d put locks on the bridge had probably split. Cynical? Maybe. But you know we’re right. The city actually discourages putting locks on because the weight of them damaged the original bridge so they were moved.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Female ghosts have been seen among the Notre Dame’s gargoyles and powerful French figures have been spotted inside. Legend states the gargoyles come to life to chase away evil spirits. But none of them came for us. The Notre Dame took over two hundred years to build and is stunning, but the queue to get in was stupidly long and it was hot, so we went to look for somewhere to eat and drink. Ours and Neen’s feet were killing us so we didn’t want to stray too far from the Notre Dame because that’s where the ghost walk was meeting at 7 p.m. We got to the Notre Dame just in time. LouvreBut the ghost walk guide didn’t show. Concerned, Neen checked her email. It wasn’t at 7 at the Notre Dame, it was at 9 on Pont Neuf. Lynx had booked the wrong ghost walk. We shuffled our way over and spent time in a café/diner/bar. Lynx needed the toilet, but a woman who’d tried to go in earlier when it was used, was blocking the door on her phone. The toilet became free, but the woman didn’t go in. Lynx waited a while before going to the woman and saying excuse moi. The woman went into the toilet. Bitch.

Love Lock bridgeJules is a coeliac and the food she ate must’ve had had gluten in so it made her ill. She and Alex went back to the apartment so us and Neen found another bar. We didn’t feel like drinking, so Neen drank and we asked the barman about the city bikes we’d seen around. They’re free for the first half hour then you pay a Euro for the first hour. But if you get to a parking spot within the half hour and wait two minutes, you can take another bike for free. They’d save our feet. Even if our clothing wasn’t suitable for cycling.

the vampire of Paris's apartment

the vampire of Paris’s apartment

We made our way to Pont Neuf for the ghost walk, but again, didn’t see a guide. We spotted a guy with a clipboard but he was in a bright yellow t-shirt, not the usual black attire of ghost walk guides. But it turned out, he was part of the ghost walk. The guide was an American woman. It was less a ghost walk and more about French’s bloody history, which was interesting, because we don’t know a great deal about France’s past. So she pointed out where the gallows was, the church that was linked the St Bartholomew’s massacre, the spot where Henri IV was murdered, which is outside what is now the Heart and Crown cafe, and where the site of the public executions was. She also pointed out the Concierge building we passed on our way to the Notre Dame. It was where they held the prisoners of the Revolution before they were guillotined. We now had another place to add to our list. We stopped beneath the apartment of the vampire of Paris. He was in a documentary we watched on cannibals. He only killed one person, but had decorated his apartment with skin and body parts he’d stolen from the morgue he’d worked in. He’s now out of prison and apparently spends a lot of time in the catacombs.

love lock bridge

love lock bridge

We went to find somewhere for a drink and ended up in the gay district. We shared a sex on the beach because we wouldn’t manage one each. As our feet were hurting, it was gone midnight and we were tipsy, we decided it was the perfect time to try the city bikes. We found a bike spot and took a while reading the instructions, trying to figure it out. You needed 150 Euros in your bank to cover the deposit. We eventually figured out how to use the bikes and get them off their stands. You get a ticket with a subscriber number on and you have to enter a 4 digit passcode. You then put in the number of bike you want and have 60 seconds to get to it and get it off the stand.

city bikes

city bikes

We soon had our bikes and were on our wobbly way. We haven’t really ridden a bike since we were 17 and Lynx came off it, and cut her knee so badly, it’s still scarred. So we weren’t exactly confident on them. Neen rides regularly so she was fine. She also has a better sense of direction so was volunteered to be the leader. Lynx’s tight PVC skirt really wasn’t suitable for biking adventures and she’s pretty sure she flashed half of Paris. We made it back to our apartment and dropped our bikes off nearby. It was quicker and it saved our tortured feet. Though our shoulders did ache like bitches with the weight of our rucksacks. We’d tried putting them in the basket but that just unbalanced the bikes so we wore them. We accidentally rode on the left side of the road, but luckily there were no cars. Never mind the metro, we found a new mode of transport.Notre Dame

Bon Voyage!

planeYou know your first trip to Paris isn’t going to go well when two hours before you leave, you still haven’t got your Euros. (That stupid referendum weakening the pound is still a sore point). The panic stations were armed and ready for warfare. Cat had to make an emergency appointment to the doctors for her enormous tongue ulcers which sprung up on Wednesday, so Lynx and Neen walked Meg and Bandit. They returned to find Cat on the verge of a meltdown as our suitcase was too heavy. We were forced to switch our medium Red Bulls for smalls to save weight, and two cartons of soya milk were sacrificed. We’ll just have to eat chips instead and hope the Parisians don’t do what the Brits do and cook their chips in with the meat.

Cat and Neen went to the post office at midday. We’d gone the day before, but they didn’t have any Euros. We were promised them today. They hadn’t arrived. And the rate had dropped. They went to a different post office. They had the Euros, but Cat didn’t have her ID on her – it was already packed. After another near swearing meltdown in the post office, saved only by a note in a box saying “do you have a big one at home?” they returned, Cat fetched her ID and made another trip to the post office.

P1170146We made it to Cardiff airport on time, convinced after our mishaps, it could only go right from here on. How wrong we were. At home, our case weighed just under the 20KG limit. In the airport it was 20.9. We needed to get it down to 20.3. So we stuffed items in hand luggage. Then the lady uttered the fateful words: “you all need to weigh your hand luggage.” She’d obviously seen our clever ploy of moving stuff into our hand luggage and decided to stop it. We’ve never had to do this. Cat’s rucksack was under but Lynx, Neen, Alex and Jules’s hand luggage was over. We shifted a kilo from Lynx’s into Cat’s rucksack. But we couldn’t disperse anything else and there was no way we were leaving stuff behind. Lady “You could pay £40 and check one of the bags in.” Neen “Fuck that. I’m wearing everything.”

P1170148So we opened our cases and in the middle of check in, the three us started donning our heaviest clothes. Metal belt? That went on too. Hoodies went round the waist and jackets were donned. Neen stuffed her pockets with as much as she could. Neen’s hand luggage also contained a box of shortbread, so as we pulled skirts and tops over our dresses, we also shovelled the largest pieces of shortbread into our mouths to help reduce the weight. This is one of those comedy moments writers put in sitcoms. We personally don’t see the difference to our hand luggage being in the bags or us wearing it. We’ll be in the same place on the plane. And if anything, this was now dangerous, as should the plane land in the water, the extra weight on us would force us to drown. Is that what you want, Flybe? For us to drown by obeying your petty rules?

glasses 1Alex and Jules’s bags were weighed down by their makeup so Jules phoned her husband to come back and take some home. The bags then weighed 11 kilos and the lady allowed them through. Think she realised we were serious about wearing all our clothes and decided we’d made enough of a scene. And then Cat accidentally insulted the lady by saying as we’re only 7 and a half stone, we should be allowed two lots of hand luggage.  Us and our hand luggage combined weigh far less than an average man. Therefore, we should get away with heavier hand luggage. The lady uttered the words “so cos I’m fat, I don’t get hand luggage?” She wasn’t fat in the slightest and we’re pretty sure she was joking but Neen was silently willing Cat to stop talking. At this rate, we wouldn’t be getting on the plane.

glasses 2And from next month, Flybe are reducing the size of their hand luggage allowance, meaning our hand luggage will no longer be allowed. So this is the last time we’ll be flying with them. We’re not forking out buying on tiny bags just to abide by their rules. It’s probably to force people into paying for check-in luggage (which is more costly than other airlines’ check-in luggage). You have underestimated our stinginess, Flybe.

going to get our case

going to get our case

The moment we got upstairs, we whipped off our extra clothes and put them back in the bags before getting to security. We have enough trouble getting through there without the metal we were now wearing. The bags already had the approved label put on them. We could’ve loaded several bottles of duty free vodka in and no-one would’ve known. Our bags returned to being over the weight limit and guess what? The plane didn’t fall into the Channel with our cases bursting open and our clothes floating away on the waves. But at least now we’d stopped looking ridiculous. Well, until we all took selfies wearing comedy sunglasses. We weren’t sure which was funnier – the terrible styles or the prices. Some cost as much as our plane tickets!

P1170156But the flight went smoothly and Cat stopped accidentally insulting the staff. When we landed in Charles de Gaulle, we had to get on a train to be taken to baggage. This was the longest trip ever to get to baggage reclaim. We summoned a taxi and headed to our apartment. Except our street wasn’t coming up on the taxi driver’s SatNav. Uh oh. Neen found it on maps on her phone and had to direct our driver there. Paris seems to be a system of one way streets with a complete free for all on the roads and scooters riding on pavements. We got through the doorway of the building to find ourselves in some sort of narrow courtyard. We didn’t know which mailbox was ours for the key. Cat texted the apartment owner. He told us the number. None of the doors were numbered. We started trying random doors, until one guy appeared convinced we were trying to break in to his apartment. After assuring him we were tourists and not inept criminals, he relaxed a bit, though we were convinced he had the police on speed dial. Cat texted Allan again. The one with the brown door. We eventually got in.

P1170171We had about half an hour before we had to leave for food before the Moulin Rouge. We whipped off our flight clothes, yanked on our fancy dresses, touched up our makeup and were ready to go in ten minutes. Alex and Jules took a lot longer because of re-doing hair and makeup. We’re a bit lazy when it comes to makeup. If it takes longer than 15 minutes, it’s not worth our time. The Hard Rock Café was a ten minute walk from our apartment so we headed there for chips and Red Berry Press, dressed in our Moulin Rouge finery. We had half an hour to eat before we had to leave. After stuffing our faces as quickly as possible, we got a taxi to the Moulin Rouge. We had enough time to take two photos and to make a quick video call to Tom to taunt him that we were there and he wasn’t. The dress code for the Moulin Rouge was ‘elegant’, hence us forking out for new dresses, something we never do. As we queued, we scanned the crowds, expecting to see hundreds of beautifully dressed people. There were none. Everyone else was in jeans or shorts. Our corset dresses with the lace skirts really stood out. Since when has ‘elegant’ and ‘stonewash denim’ ever been used in the same sentence?

Moulin RougeWeirdly, there was a building beside the theatre for us to queue in, which kept the queue off the street. We eventually got in and were shown to our table. We were on a slight balcony so we had a great view. The show was phenomenal. The costumes were incredible, despite nothing being left to the imagination. First night in Paris and we were bombarded with perky naked boobs with high, tiny nipples. This would become a theme for our trip. As would one dance move that we repeatedly performed for the rest of our stay. Though whilst the women were all bare breasted and showing arses, the men remained fully clothed. Neen was very happy about this. There was one male dancer who was trying so hard to come across as manly and straight that he just ended up looking stiff and awkward. Dude, you’re in the Moulin Rouge in a pink outfit. Puffing your chest out like a toad isn’t going to help.

Moulin RougeOne dance involved a man and woman on rollerskates on a small platform. Theirs was by far the best dance. At one point, a strap attached her head to his neck and she corkscrewed while he spun. And then she landed smoothly and carried on dancing. Another time she held on simply with one skate hooked around his neck. When we went on the roundabout in the children’s park in Temple Newsam, the three of us couldn’t walk afterwards, yet she was able to dance. Another amazing dance had a man and woman dancing with a large hula hoop, at some points standing inside it and dancing. As people who have never master the art of hula hooping, we were mesmerised. Our least favourite bit were definitely the clowns. Nobody warned us there’d be clowns! There was also a strange part where a guy had puppets. Moulin RougeAlex and Jules later said he was from Britain’s Got Talent. It seemed odd to have that part in the middle but the crowd seemed to love him. We were just perplexed and not overly impressed. One thing we couldn’t understand was how the women’s boobs just did not jiggle. They were definitely real boobs. Yes, some were small, but we’re also small in the boob department and we still need sports bras for Zumba because of the shimmying and shaking your boobs like maracas. Yet theirs didn’t move. Witchcraft! We pondered the mystery of the anti-jiggle many times.

We’d had no idea what to expect from the Moulin Rouge. We hated the film but the show was absolutely incredible. But €17 for a vodka and lemonade? No thanks. We’d rather spend that on going up the Eiffel Tower. Afterwards, we headed for the eroticism museum. It was apparently open til 2 a.m but we got there at 1:30 and it was closed. So we went into a sex shop instead. Well the Pigalle is the red light district. They had really nice clothes in there! We were tempted, but not at that price. We returned to our apartment around 2 a.m and for the first time in a long while, actually had a good night’s sleep. Paris was definitely agreeing with us.Moulin Rouge

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