Monday, 23 August 2010

Les Vacances De Monsieur Bus Driver - 10. A Swim Makes You Horse

I find it amusing when the credit card reader at Swiss petrol stations instantly recognises which country you are from and issues instructions in what it perceives as the correct language. The person who wrote the software must have been German, I thought as the words; MOMENT PLEASE flashed across the screen.

This was day two of driving in Switzerland. How refreshing it was not to see so many drivers sticking their middle finger up or being annoyed when they saw that an English numberplate. It was relaxed.

Around the corner were two cars embedded into themselves and a lamposts, so I had to revise my opinions.

It was a beautiful day. Though Mont Blanc was still white, the snow had gone from the lower peaks. Lac Geneve glistened and gave off an inviting and warm turquoise colour. Lausanne looked at its best. The seafront parking was deserted as the tree surgeons were attending to some branches close to the Musee d'Olympique, where we were heading.

In my poorest French I asked one of the treemen if we could park.

"You have a disc?", he asked.


"Well, don't worry. You have an English numberplate. What can they do about it? They will do nothing. But we will watch."

The trip to the museum was therefore devoid of any nervous clockwatching.

Lunch at Vevey nearly ended in tears. The Hostellerie de Geneve is an excellent place to eat with a simple menu. The day's special was Steak a Cheval. Um, delicious, I thought, that's just what I'll order. I never got as far as even uttering the words to the waiter as there was an outburst at the other end of the table from my children:

"You can't, Daddy," they yelled. "If you order horse we will never speak to you again."

Oh well then. Shame. It was going to be the Steak Tartare.

After lunch I caused a stir in Vevey, outside the Musee de l'Alimentation, which is situated on the lakeside, where there is a huge metal fork sculpture embedded into the lake a few yards from the shore, which doubles as an advert for the museum and a piece of public art.

It was hot. So I stripped to my underpants and swam around this huge fork. The passing beautiful people of Vevey and the Nestle workers came walking past looking disbelieving. The water was clear and warm. It was a fine place to swim. When I turned around to swim back to shore, there were many people standing and watching me. A group of Japanese tourists were taking photos. An old man driving a yellow Ferrari stared as he drove past. They were fortunate that I had first thing decided to wear my tartan underpants.

"OOOOhhhhhh Daaadddddyyyyyy!" said one of my children who had just come out of the museum and had spotted me. "Not again."

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