Have you ever wanted to go on a Trip of a Lifetime? What has set you
back from that? For most people its cash flow. That is what has always
stopped me. So imagine one of your closest friends approaching you and
asking if you had a passport? Then she says,”You know my husband and I
are going on a 3 month trip around Europe!” “We need someone to go with
us whom is a little younger and can assist us if things get hairy while
overseas!” (Her husband had Congestive Heart failure and had an LVAD put in a few yearsbefore) “We want you to be that person!!” “We will pay for your trip and
give you a stipend each month that we are there for assisting us!” Merry
Christmas and Happy 40th Birthday to you!!” Mic Drop!
WWWWWWHHHHHHAAAAAATTTTTTT? I felt like I had won the
Lottery! Are You Kidding Me??
We were going to leave in March on the15th, arrive in Ireland on The 16th.
Ride in The Dublin St. Paddy’s Day Parade on the 17th (Bill’s Birthday).
Explore Ireland in a rental home for 3 1/2 weeks , travel to Scotland,France and spend time in London in Essex County!! I did not know at the time Essex was TOWIE town !! A Show thata lot of locals said I should be on!
My finances at the time were sparse to say the least. Some people would
have not gone, A lot of people questioned whether I should go. At the end of
the day I thought, I’ll just save some of my stipend and work smarter when
I return in May. I mean the trip is PAYED for. So of course……I went. It was
GLORIOUS! Thank You Dolly & Bill Allison.
We flew out of NY to Ireland where Dolly had rented a car, not one of us
had ever driven in the European way. Bill, who always rides in the front
,sheepishly stayed in the back seat and never offered to drive. I thought
Death would have come for us for sure that first day of driving. What
should of been a short ride to Gorey, Ireland took forever. In our defense we
were not used to handwritten signs, turn a bouts and one lane roads. We
had a GPS and Dolly had downloaded European software. We were never
able to get it to work. We arrived Early in the morning and met the owner of
the house. He was super jolly and had Red hair and reminded me of a SVU
Perp. But the house was charming and situated on rolling green hills near
the Irish sea. Do you remember in Alice and wonderland the roofs that are
thatched with Straw? They have those everywhere.parts of the EU literally
look like animated, painted towns. Simply, beautiful. Have you seen the
“Vicar of Dibley” or “Rosemary & Thyme” it’s exactly like that!
We unpacked and then decided to go into the local town of Gorey for
breakfast. Once in town we stumbled into a great little cafe. The Book Cafe
was just that , quaint inside and cozy. food and tea. and it was like sitting in
a cottage full of old books. light and airy and cozy. The Book Cafe actually
became our preferred sitting place in Gorey. Some days Dolly and I would
drop Bill off and go explore the town. When we were not in Gorey (I want to
move there) We were in Dublin or on the Wild and Wonderful Wicklow
Tour a Bus tour that takes you all around. We went to Waterford and visited
the Waterford Crystal Home. We ate in Pubs, we got to know the locals! We
made friends in local Businesses Like Chloe O’Conell and Lisa Hempstead
of SKYFALL. These two young ladies took our American currency and
exchanged it in their bank when we were running low, because the banks
would only exchange US Money if you had an account due to fraud reasons.
I don’t know anyone in America that would do that for a stranger. They
closed down SKYFALL to do it, like No big Whoop! I was really impressed
with how welcoming all Europeans were. I was raised to believe that they
hated us. (Not, by my Parents, but rather American Schools , media
etc.) FAKE NEWS….They Don’t ! I was blown away, by the humbleness of the Europeans. I
mean France is on its own. But The Irish!! LOVELY PEOPLE!! Lovely. Just
Lovely! To repay the generosity of the town, on a lazy afternoon drive , I
took off someone’s side mirror, and Dolly ran over an old man!! (he actually
was not paying attention and stepped off the curb, into our car.
He promptly got up and apologized to us! Dolly thought she hit him!
Funniest moment ever. (Sorry Doll!)
There are certain things you just don’t think of when you think of Ireland.
Most Americans probably think of Lucky Charms, They may be magically
delicious, but they do not have them over there. They do have some of the
same foods just packaged differently. Hellmann’s Mayonnaise here is
packaged as O’Hellmans Mayonnaise! I thought that was cute. I do have to
say though that one of the first things I noticed was. They Do Not sell
excess! What do I mean By that? Well, They sell what you need. everything
is packaged smaller. Milk here in America comes in Gallons and
In Europe it comes in Pints and smaller. The refrigerators are
smaller. everything is farm to table or fresh, so there is no need to have
massive refrigerators and freezers.
A lot of Europeans pick up eggs fresh, or live on farms.
Ireland , also has some of the best Seafood I have ever put in my mouth!
You just don’t think about that, but it makes sense. They are Coastal!
Gorey is located in Wessex Co. Ireland. We would do side trips everyday.
You must check out the local towns and seasides. We also took an amazing
tour on The potato famine. Went to the JFK Homestead and the Wild and
Wonderful Wicklow Tour. that tour took us to local sights like The
Guinness House and the bridge from P.S. I Love you. In true form I was
making comic bits to entertain myself , when I noticed the driver was
repeating them and making the bus laugh! I was like, Um, do not steal my
bits. Example: After we crossed the P.S. I love you bridge we went over a
rickety, dilapidated bridge about a mile down the road…I commented that
it was the P.S. I don’t Love you Bridge! We also learned that Magpies or
Silver crested crows peck out Lamb’s eyes when they are born so most
farms have moved birthing s inside. On this tour , we had been in Ireland for
about 2 weeks and my left foot developed a sore or ulcer on the toe next to
my big toe. I had done my best to keep it clean, had changed my sock often
and was putting a medicated foot powder , we purchased at a “Dunnes”
think Irish Target if you will. I didn’t have much pain and decided I would
just watch it, I was not worried. Back to the Tour! We also stopped at the
remains of the Oldest Christian Cross in existence. You could touch it! I
mean Mona Lisa is behind glass and you could walk up and touch this! I
also fell in Love with a dark haired beauty on this tour. but Kevin, is for
another chapter. Or Not. I FB stalked him and he never accepted my friend
request so….Don’t lie you all are guilty of Google or stalking potential
mates. There are some supposed Haunted tours in the area we did not have
time to do , But I would love to go back. We drove north one weekend and
stayed in an Irish Castle. Dromoland Castle. Breathtaking views, stately
rooms, an amazing Spa and a rose garden that heralds any you may have
seen before. It rained all weekend , but was majestic. it put the Biltmore to
After many weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland ( There is still So much
tension between the Catholics and The protestants in Northern Ireland.)
We transitioned to England and made our way to Essex, where we were
renting a converted farm house and stable. Up until this point, everyone I
met said I should be on a British show called “The Only Way Is Essex”.
little did I know that it was filmed in the very city I was staying. While I was
recuperating at my parents home later that summer I binged watched
TOWIE on Hulu. Along , with every other British show! We even went to a
Horse Racing event. I was not really feeling well that day. I had a slight
fever and my foot was not getting any better. It was at this time that I
excused myself from the races….They run in a straight line, not a track. And
made my way back to the car to lay down and change my wet socks. I also
sent my siblings a text to see if I should be concerned and not to tell my
parents , since they would only worry. Anyway, after a few day exploring
our surroundings we headed to Paris France for the weekend.
My first train ride across a European countryside! Beautiful. In hindsight as
we pulled into the city…there was a huge city fire with billowing ,black
smoke to the left of the train station….Maybe , that should have been a sign!
The plan was to tour Paris by bus and then the next day take a tour to
Versaille and then return to Paris and ride back to Essex. When we arrived
in Paris I was giddy! The City of Lights! We were staying in a hotel down
the street from the Eiffel Tower. I’m not kidding when you see it for the first
time it elicits tears. We went to dinner because Dolly wanted steak tar tar and I wanted Escargot and I really wanted REAL French Champagne to
celebrate the weekend.My foot was really hurting by this point and was
swollen, I searched for hydrogen peroxide so that i could deride my toe
that had been bitten by something in the past few weeks. While in a
Chemist in France I finally found some. This was a Friday, I rinsed it in the
peroxide solution and went to bed. The next morning my toe was BLACK
and spongy. At this point I went to the ER at George Pompidou Hospital.
Someone kept telling me this is where Princess Di was brought, That did
not make me feel so good.
I have waited the whole trip for Paris and Versaille. Little did I know that I
would spend it over night in the Hospital where no one spoke fluent
English. As scary as it was for me, Imagine if you will how scared my
parents were when they found out what I was encountering. When they
tried to call the Hospital, They could not communicate with anyone. For me
the hardest part was to be somewhere I absolutely had loved in literature
and art and magazines. Here I was not understanding anything about my
palliative care. They put me in a room, with an older french gentleman Who
i assume was pissed I was in his room. He complained in french all night ,
screaming on his cell phone. At least he went in the bathroom. While I
didn’t know much french, I could tell he was upset. The next day his Son
came over and apologized I assume he had been there a while, because he
they gave him pudding at night with his dinner. He was stockpiling pudding, NO JOKE he had a WALL of pudding like 3 deep and 11 rows high…
I was hoping I would see Madeline and her Nun walking down the
street to rescue me! Not being able to understand anyone makes me
wonder if this is what it feels like to be deaf? I felt as if I was on a
roller coaster in the dark , alone and stuck at the top of that first hill. The
only directions to get down safely are in a language you do not understand.
It also made me want to learn a second language. If you are reading this
and are in HS and or College pay attention in those electives that teach you
other languages. You will never know when it will come in handy.
Saturday morning we checked out. partly because I sat in that hospital all
night with no antibiotics and no one telling me what the plan was. At one
point they did come in and point at the toe and make a Sawing motion with
their hands and arm. A nurse with broken English said that the Doctor
wanted to wait for two weeks and see how the infection progressed and that
they did not give antibiotics out prior to surgery as they felt it could hinder
progress. UM EXCUSE ME? I could have lost my whole leg. I was already
upset that the ER attending Doctor was telling me I probably had AIDS. i
was like “No, I’m sure I do not have HIV!” he said but How do you know? I
said well, I get tested. He was Russian and I felt like he was dismissing me
because I was gay, Then I had visions of “No Go Zones” in Paris and Charlie
Hebdo bombings and Paris was turning into a real nightmare!! That one
night is costing me about 7,000.00 US. I have not payed it yet.
Dolly and I decided we would return to Essex and find a Hospital in
London. While trying to Leave the Russian Dr caught up with me and said “You’re Leaving? Your a Stupid American! Americans are Stupid!! Don’t you Know Princess Diana Came here??!!” I spun around and Said ‘Quit saying that!! I’m not sure if you got the memo! She DIED!! You DID NOT SAVE HER!!”
Our Cab driver told us on the way back to the hospital that 4th
year french medical students are required to take English to graduate. He
also said most do not practice though due to their extreme dislike of
English Speaking people. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I can say
I have never felt scared before, But that one night in that hospital I felt truly
alone and scared.
Our train was not leaving until that afternoon. So we
hopped on a bus tour of the city. I mean really at this point I knew it was
going to come off…I even named her “Marie AnnTOEnette” . We also could not get on the train and Well when in France!. I didn’t thinkat this point a city bus tour would be a big deal! I wanted to see some of thebeautiful sidewalks and architecture and have my Carrie Bradshaw moment!. The Color run was taking place and this beautiful city was
covered in shades of pink and pastel colored chalks. I would like to go back
I was in a lot of pain as we made our way back to the train station to head
back to England. When we arrived we made our way to customs and the
British side said I could not come back in. They were going to detain me. I
was not a British citizen and I had a serious infection. Great! I was detained
4 hours at the train station. Finally I was granted re entrance to England
but only if I would go to the nearest hospital to the Train station upon
arrival. We were directed to Colchester Hospital. It is part of the NHS or
National Healthcare System of Hospitals. It is a teaching hospital and I was
Right off the bat the differences between American hospitals and British
hospitals are different. I was taken to the Aldham Ward. Not a private
room, not even a room with two people. I was in a WARD. The D ward of
Aldham. Like Kathy Griffin on the “D LIST”! There were 6 beds and I was
all the way at the end. D3. Two floors up from maternity and around the
corner from the C ward “C” for Crazy, no really that is where they put the
Crazy Patients. My first Night it was raining and between the weather
outside, the stench from the man to my right who defecated in his bed, all
of the cockney and proper British voices and the intermittent screams of
labor and then all of the cries from the C ward, If you shut your eyes it was
if you were transported back to the Black Plaque! If only my bed would spin
in a slow circle, it might feel like I was in a community production of Les
I knew the next day I would have surgery at some point. It was Queen
Elizabeth’s birthday. April 22nd. In honor of where I was I decided to
change Marie AnTOEnettes name to Anne Toelyn. The Other Boleyn Girl.
and Anne Toelyn ( My Toe) both shared the same fate ….. Severed