Cell in Canal – Episode 1 – Assembling the Seven

Long before the event that gave name to this series of stories, the group of seven had to be grouped together in Paris. Two from Cape Town, two from Durban, two from Joburg and the last of the Magnificent Seven would join us after spending a week exploring Paris on her own.

Assembling the Seven

Wednesday September 20th 2018 was a day fraught with last minute duties, let alone problems! Our flight to Paris left Joburg at 7pm the next day, and the trip to Paris, a canal boat tour in the south of France, a quick overnight with Kami in London and a too few days with Alan and Davina at Monington, in Fir Toll Rd near Tunbridge Wells would be a duration of 14 days. No joke for a man who has a key man business and is ever concerned with happenings when absent from the workshop!


1 The Key Man!

The engineer had just delivered the cylinder head that Wednesday afternoon and knowing I had to hit the road early the next day, I started assembling the highly complex diesel engine, which had been disassembled three weeks earlier, and it proved a labour expensive evening as I slowly assembled and double checked my work, eventually having to down tools at 11pm when I started hallucinating!

I made it home, concerned that I hadn’t fired up the engine but satisfied that I had broken the back of the assembly work! Then it was an hour of banking, last minute lists and commitments and preparing to be away from home at month end, eventually blacking out at 01:00am.

Thursday morning, I managed, after packing my suitcase and backpack, to get to work at 07:15am where I delegated as necessary, carried out duties asked of me, and planned my escape for 12:30pm! We had to be at the airport at 16:00, to ensure everything went smoothly and to give us enough time for au revoirs, decisions that would seal the trip for the next two weeks and hopefully allow your’s truly to experience the adventure with a happy heart and an easy mind!

Cell in Canal peace of mind

2 No caption needed!

As it turned out, my escape happened at 13:30pm, leaving me enough time to only shower quickly, double check my suitcase, my cell phone chargers etc and forget my jacket on the bed! So what’s new, there have been many recipients of jackets worldwide, left by the errant one who seems to have a plentiful supply!

Danelle dropped us at the Gautrain and once aboard it was plain sailing to the departure gate, except for the hiccup moment when I realised my jacket was not accompanying me. I would pay later for that!

Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris must be the most visited Worldwide as France just seems to suck them visitors in, with an ancient and old world charm that the French nurture to their absolute advantage. Exiting arrivals at 06:00am, we connected to free Wifi and downloaded the apps we reckoned we’d need and looked for a shop from which to buy a holiday data package, so that we could send our pictures around the World and keep the various whattsapp groups informed of our progress. Too early for that shop to be open and anxious to get our day started, we purchased a Two day Metro pass for Paris which included the RER train to Gare du Nord. As the RER train left the airport proper it seemed as if we were still in the bowels of the Charles de Gaulle train station, so dark was the morning light! Had there been a Moon that night, it had most definitely waned, long time!

Our hotel in Rue de Charbrol was spitting distance from Gare de l’Est, but we had to wait out a rainstorm and our own orientation, before we could walk to our destination. There are modern buildings somewhere in Paris but we weren’t interested in them as we walked through streets, often cobbled in places past majestic buildings that exuded charm and drew the viewer onward and inward! The Dixième Arrondissement was slowly awakening as we eventually made our way, noting shops and uncountable restaurants that we would later check out, if only to compare prices and see if our budget allowed extravagant purchases.

Cell in Canal old world Paris

3 Paris, the City of Love, in all her glory!

With our baggage safely stored at Hotel Parisiana, off we went again for an exploratory walk, taking in a charming old world shopping centre that was preparing for the petit dejeuner / lunch rush. We timed our exit perfectly, coming across Ronnie and Elna, four suitcases between them, having  successfully negotiated the Metro and trains from CDG airport, but sweating it out through the Parisienne streets. Nothing beats travelling light! We boxed in to help them book in and fill the store room with their suitcases, we were still too early to occupy our rooms. The group of seven was slowly being assembled.

Simone, our niece and Frans and Telani’s daughter, had been a week in Paris, staying at student digs. She was to join us at our hotel, but had a sizable suitcase filled with those things that ladies find so necessary to pack! Simone had the Metro sussed but had many steps to unravel, and in lieu of taking an Uber or taxi, was sort of stranded close to Sacre Coeur, at Lamarck – Caulaincourt Metro Station! Linda and I used our metro pass to travel there so that Uncle Dan could assist in the lug work and in doing so, make more cash available for Macaroons, Vin et les Cadeaux!

The Metro in Paris is a slick operation, but one has to be focused on direction and to which ultimate destination is the Metro headed, and the carriage doors don’t take any prisoners! Having spent many a year travelling around London’s Underground, I am a natural when it comes to quick access and timing the carriage’s doors. But I didn’t allow for Linda not being as adept and as the Metro glided to a halt at Lamarck – Caulaincourt, I lifted the ouvrir lever, slipped out of the carriage, expecting Linda to be right behind me! As the Metro pulled off I immediately felt something was missing and noticed Linda was standing at the closed door, giving me that look of hers, as she disappeared toward the far North of Paris.

Cell in Canal metro door

4 Lift that lever and the doors speed open and just about take your back pack off as they race to close again! There’s no time to dilly dally!

Once Linda and the train had disappeared into the tunnel, I noticed Simone was seated on the South direction side of the track, so I made my way over there and was busy composing instructions in order to SMS to my recently lost superior half, advising her how to get back to us! On seeing me furiously typing my SMS, Simone gave me a look of disdain, saying: “Oom Dan, I hope you are not insulting my Aunty’s intelligence by sending her instructions!” “Who me, never!” I replied, quickly deleting my SMS! Minutes later the next southbound train arrived, with Linda onboard, would we have expected anything else, so we joined her and headed, via one change of Line, to Poissonnièrre Station, a stone’s throw from our Hotel.


Cell in Canal disdainful look2

5 Simone has shacked up at our house, so I now get that look from both of them!

Back at Hotel Parisiana our rooms were ready so we lugged our stuff into the tiny ascenseur and, two at a time, journeyed upward and back in time in the slow moving lift to our rooms on le deuxieme etage. A quick shower and the corner restaurant we had passed earlier on was calling! Ronnie and Elna were doing their own thing and Simone deferred late lunch so off we walked again to Le Brasserie. It was jam packed but le garcon made space for us at a tiny table, where we copied our neighbour’s order and were enticed to try the Sancerre Chardonnay by the same gent. After a scrumptious and well lubricated late lunch, we arrived back at Hotel  Parisiana to the arrival of Frans and Telani, the Magnificent Seven was assembled! If we thought we were going to have a lazy evening, we had another thing coming!

Cell in Canal - restaurant rue magenta

6 Eat your heart out picture of Paris on Rue Magenta.

Jacques Brel gives you a taste of Paris and France with Ne Me Quitte Pas:

Next up: Paris by Night the intrepid Seven are wowed by Paris by Boat and chilled by a freezing late night Bus Tour!

St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:


Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:


Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:


The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades: