Trip Advisor Shock
It took less than 4 miles before we had the first torrent of abuse directed at French drivers. We were some 150 miles south-east of Calais to which point we had driven in complete peace and harmony. From that, the chaps reading this may have come to the unworthy, but completely accurate assumption, that I had been driving since we set off shortly after 8am yesterday, and That Nice Lady Decorator had taken the wheel for the first time. “And they are all driving on the wrong side of the road”.
I am happy to report that contrary to popular belief (mine) it was not dark at this ungodly hour, in fact Arundel was bathed in bright sunshine for at least 10 minutes before the customary and omnipresent greyness returned. What is the point of cloud without rain? Perhaps the Reverend Jeff has the answer?
We traversed the snowfields of northern France (ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but we did see evidence of recent heavy snowfall in terms of large drifts in the corners of fields) in remarkably good time, arriving at Beaune at around 5.30. I cannot tell you which time we left Calais as this may be incriminating in terms if the local traffic police. I was told later that I had slept through the fog, which makes a change to sleeping in a fog.
Talking of fog, I have brought with me on this trip (along with some very nice Currencies Direct brochures) a fine collection of Havana’s best export and duly intend, outside weather conditions permitting, to create a very decent cigar smelling fog of my own in the company of Slash and Burn Thornton Allan, a fellow connoisseur of one of Sir Walter Raleigh’s better discoveries, during this coming week. I do not believe there is any rule about not smoking whilst skiing and intend to find out just how satisfying that will be.
The town if Beaune is beautiful and historic and The Hotel Belle Époque is a splendid and wonderful hotel. It is just a pity that the idea of customer service is an undiscovered art. Arriving a little earlier than expected because of a tail wind (and here nothing should read into my rather unfortunate affliction over the past few days, now mercifully abating) we headed out for a drink on the way to dinner. It was when we returned later for a nightcap we were told we could not drink in the bar (why?) and could not have a drink in our room but the lady in charge told us we could buy a drink and sit outside. We declined. What a shame to have a good impression of the hotel so fatally undermined by insensitive service.
On the way into town earlier, the Sprogs had spotted a bar called The Publican selling draft Guinness and cider, and before I could say Gevrey Chambertin I was sat in the bar with a pint of overpriced Irish stout. It was over these aperitifs that Sprog 1 admitted to downloading the Trip Advisor app. It seems it was not quite the advice he was looking for. His defence, that their logo has an owl with what he considered to be drug-crazed eyes was met with the correct response, a torrent of scorn and mirth.
But even better was to come. As the second pint of Guinness settled inside that Nice Lady Decorator, and when the waiter failed on the first occasion to understand my perfect French (clearly I have developed a Côte d’Azur accent having lived there for so long until M Sarkozy invented a tax to drive me back to the UK), I learned that in order properly to communicate with the French one should speak French in an English accent. I was told that if one does then they can’t look at you and repeat it as if they can’t understand, because they cannot do the accent, thus better to speak French with an Oxford or even a Cockney accent. This is according to that expert on language skills, that Nice Lady Decorator, who the proceeded to demonstrate successfully.