Chapter *11.15*

Shop ‘til You Drop

It took some effort but I did finally get my intent into Manda's bonce.

“Why didn't you just say?”



“Where've you guys been?” Sal queried when we found them a few minutes later.

“I needed to pick up some supplies.” Mand supplied showing them the box in her basket.

“Good idea, I bet they don't have Boots® in Italy.” Claire opined.

“Laura had a great idea , ” Sal told us.

“It's not that good,” Laura stated, “I thought that it'd be cool if we all did our nails and stuff the same when we race together.”

“We're in,” Manda enthused.

“Cool, we should get supplies while we're here,” Sal suggested.

“I'll just get some shampoo while you're doing that.” I told them.

“'Kay,” Laura allowed.

I made good my escape; there is no way I want to be involved with that enterprise. The shampoo was really just an excuse but it wouldn't hurt to get in some supplies, never know when we'll get the chance to hit a shop while we're in Italy or Switzerland.


Considering their desire to ‘do the shops' the visit to Boots® lasted an extraordinary time, I guess deciding on the exact shade of nail varnish is a big problem for four girls to agree on. Personally I just buy the colours that catch my eye – what am I saying? Look sometimes ‘Gaby' has to do the whole girly bit, it's not like I always wear nail varnish or makeup of any sort – well maybe a bit of lippy and mascara.

Anyway we're getting away from the point, we spent best part of an hour in the chemist so it was knocking on three when we emerged back onto Manchester's main shopping street.

“So where now?” I enquired.

“There a Waterstone's® anywhere?” Laura asked.

“Dunno what it is but when I came to the Con we went in a big book shop round near the town hall.”

“Whatcha want a book shop for?” Sal queried.

“Thought it might be useful to get a Swiss phrase book.”

“Great idea,“ Mand enthused, “we could get Italian and Danish too.”

“Which way Drew?” Claire prompted.

I wasn't entirely certain but I was pretty certain it was ‘downhill' from where we were.

“This way I think.”


By some stroke of luck I managed to take us pretty much directly to the building housing the bookshop cum coffee house.

“Ta da!”

“I'm glad it wasn't any further, my feet are killing,” Claire moaned as we headed inside.

“You put the things on,” Mand pointed out.

“I wasn't expecting to do so much walking.”

“We've hardly gone anywhere , ” I observed.

“Languages or travel?” Sal asked.

“Travel.” Laura stated with some conviction.

“Third floor, we can get the lift.”

“I don't think there'll be a Swiss phrase book.” I mentioned on the way up.

“Course there is, you can get like Welsh and Geordie,” Mand stated.

“Hey we could get one of those so we can understand Josh.” Sal gushed.

“Why won't there be a Swiss book then clever clogs?” Laura posed.

“If you go to say France everyone speaks French right?”

“I guess.”

“Well no one talks Swiss, well maybe a few but it's not called Swiss.”

“So what do they speak?” Mand enquired.

“French, German and Italian.”

“How's that work?“ Claire put in, “no one'd understand anyone else.”

“They only speak one language in each bit.”

“How'd you know all this?”

“Jograffee lessons and I went there on the way to the bike show in Friedrichshafen a couple of years ago*.”

“So what do they speak there?” Sal queried.

“German?” I suggested.

Ding! The lift finally juddered to a halt and we spewed out into the travel department.

“So where's this place we're going to in Italy?” Laura asked unfolding one of those orange Michelin maps.

“Lake Como Caroline said, hang on let me check, I've got the Hotel stuff here somewhere.” I fished in my wallet, “here we go, Hotel Como in some place called Lezzeno.”

“Ooo I hope its near Rome, I've always wanted to go there.” Sal offered wistfully.

Laura and I scanned the map for a couple of minutes before spotting Como.

“There it is.”


“North of Milan? It's almost in Switzerland by the looks of it.” I supplied.

“Let's see.” Claire demanded.

I relinquished my position to her.

“There's that Lezzo place, right next to the lake.” Laura pointed.

“We should get one of these to take.” I suggested.

“Good idea Drew,” Mand agreed.


The combined pile grew to include Michelin sheet 553 that is actually for Switzerland but covers Como, Berlitz Italian and Danish phrase books and one of those Eyewitness tourist books for Switzerland as my prediction about a Swiss phrase book was born out. We each put to them; we'd claim some off the others if they wanted to use them.

“We got time to go to the bike shop?” Claire asked when we finally returned to the er fresh air.

“It's back past Boots®.” I observed.

“We have to go that way for the bus anyway right?” Mand pointed out before Claire could moan about her shoes again.

“What do you need the bike shop for?” Laura asked.

“My mitts are falling apart.”

“Those Specialized ones?” Sal queried.

“Yeah there was like all the gel stuff leaking out this morning.”



It was getting towards four thirty by the time we reached Messr Hall's cycling emporium and entered the goody store.

“Alright girls,” a chap wearing a shop shirt smiled, looking for anything in particular?”

“Gel mitts?” Claire offered.

The chap looked a little surprised at such a specific request from a bunch of teenaged girls – plus me of course.

“Who're they for?”

“Me ! ” Claire replied slightly miffed, “We're off to Italy to race at the weekend.” she emphasised the ‘we' and ‘race' bits which caused the sales guy to wince a little.

“Mountain bikes?”

He really was getting things badly wrong!

“Junior Tour of Switzerland actually.” Sal supplied.

“I thought it was Italy.”

“We've a training camp in Italy first.” Mand put in.

“Excellent, some nice riding down there, gloves are over by the helmets, give us a shout if you need help.”

“Plonker.” Mand suggested when we were out of earshot.

“He's only doing his job.” I pointed out.

“They all do it,” Laura agreed, “and they hardly ever have much women's stuff.”

“Yeah.” Sal agreed.

“Or it's all pink, I mean, do I look like I want a pink helmet with flowers on?” Laura added.

“Never noticed.” I admitted. “I'm gonna look at the bikes.”


I left the girls muttering about flowers and pink to look at the much more interesting bike display. There were certainly some nice machines, stuff from Trek and Specialized rubbing wheels with fancy kit from Bianchi, Pinarello, Colnago and Cannondale.

“They do a women's version of that one.” The shop guy advised, having arrived a couple of bikes away.


“The Bianchi, they do their Dama with the same kit on.”

“Er right.”

Why's he telling me?

“They're the new eleven speed Power shift levers”

I can see that.

“What do you use?”

“I've got a team Pinarello with Veloce.”

“Team replica?”

“No, I ride for Apollinaris, it's my team bike.”


That seemed to have stumped him a little.

“So all you girls ride for this Apollinaris set up?”

I'm not a girl! And how can you not have heard of Apollinaris?

“No, only me, the girls are all in different clubs but we're riding for BC at the moment.”

I thought he might be impressed, instead I don't think he knew what BC was . He got a call to the phone which kind of let us both off the hook in regard to continuing the conversation.

* See Book 3 Part 19

to be continued....

© Maddy Bell 28.05.13

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