Tag Archives: BMW

Europe, 2006

When he was in high school, my husband-to-be (HTB) did a rotary exchange where he spent a year in Belgium. He lived with 3 host families over the course of the year, spending the majority of the time with the Renson family in the French speaking town of Dolembreux.

It was to this small town that we travelled next to visit the families and catch up with my HTB’s other friends while we were there. We stayed with the Renson family who lived in an old converted farmhouse. The children- Bill, Ben and Isabelle- had long since moved out and started their own families, but the dog (who only understood African dialect and French commands as she was an import from the Congo) remained.

We went to the closest city, Liege, where my HTB had attended school. The city monument was an unusual water fountain of sorts and the main square was awash with blooming flowers. I was introduced to the world of “real” chocolate at the Galler chocolate factory and the eating of much Cote’ D ‘Or, readily available in supermarkets here, but not in Australia.

One night, we went to a soccer game at Liege stadium. It was very cold, but the yummy thrice fried frites and waffles with added sugar lumps sure warmed us up!

Another night, we went to the pub where my HTB had spent many hours with other rotary exchange students and a restaurant owned by a well-known local friend of his, who took us to a night club where he had to knock on a door with a peephole for us to be let in.

I also discovered the convenience of Belgium, in that being such a small land locked country, it was close to many other European countries.

We went on a day trip to Luxembourg City and marvelled at the Grand Palace. The Grund (old city) was amazing and unlike anything I had ever seen before. From the top it looked like a little fairy tale village that you could walk down into and explore. We also had a nice lunch in a restaurant in the main square with the added company of Flo, one of my HTB’s friends who now worked in the city.

Another day trip took us to Aachen in Germany. We took in the gothic style cathedral, amusing fountains and quirky shops. We also had a nice lunch in a restaurant in the main square with added German steins.

We went on an overnight trip to The Netherlands to visit one of my HTB’s friends Jacqui and her husband. They picked us up in a BMW which had self-park and took us to Williamsted fishing village for dinner. The next day, we all went to Zeeland to see the dyke at Neeltje Jan (Waterland) where we enjoyed being kids for the day. There were seals, a fabulous water playground, sand sculptures and a windy hurricane tunnel.

Related posts: England, 2006

Snowdon- an adventure, Part 1

This week’s guest post is from my cousin’s TW and Sean Mendis.

The story will unfold in three parts.

Outward Bound

The day for the long awaited trip to Snowdonia finally arrived. The Three Twenty Eight was fueled and ready. The oil had been checked and the tyres pumped. The ECM had been stroked lovingly and the injectors had received their French kiss. All nipples were greased and the flaps were set to thirty degrees!

We left Ennerdale at around two pm into glorious spring sunshine, Sean and I settling in comfortably to ‘The Eagles’. Mira had met us earlier in the day and had eased into the less than generous rear seat. The car was fairly laden and the rear suspension groaned in acknowledgement! I was glad for the extra horses I had got as a result of tuning the engine, but still, the Beemer pulled well and we soon forgot the extra weight.

We met up with Laila, Felicia and Michaela en route on the A40. They were also in a BMW, also laden to the gunnels. It was a mixed group: young and old, slim and not so slim, from a variety of ethnic backgrounds – I think we covered the entire spectrum. For in those two BMW’s charging up the motorway was a microcosm of life itself. We pitted at Warwick services near junction twelve for a welcome break. A splash and dash – a skinny latte, samosa and some fuel.

Two or so hours later, and past Shrewsbury, the roads beckoned. Despite outward appearances of not really caring, there was a lot of not-so-hidden competitiveness between the two cars and their owners. The red mist slowly descended over Laila as she tried to assert her dominance over the driving, her car and impress Felicia. I could see her banging the gear lever into third, her eyes wild and fingers tingling on the wheel as she tried to keep up with my ageing but well maintained Three Two Eight. Her newer Three Two Five was quick, being supercharged by girl power.

Not being averse to childish pettiness, I too kept up the pressure, dropping the cogs and burying my right foot deep into the carpet. The motor obliged with only a slight pause before squatting purposefully onto its haunches and taking off like a wounded Cheetah. The Bavarian banshee was now emitting a deep guttural roar making the straight six sing and leaving the double Vanos chattering madly like a bunch of demented Welshman practicing close-harmony singing. I had no issues; I just wanted to win, plain and simple. I could imagine that Mira’s partly digested lunch was now in danger of re acquainting itself with her tonsils. The hard cornering, late braking and sudden acceleration that now was happening was taking its toll on her. Fearful of being either splattered, or an imminent and potentially very nasty brown moment on the Nappa leather seats, or possibly both I had to make a decision – fast. Given the options, we slowed to a more sedate pace giving Mira’s lunch and her frayed nerves a chance to calm. Although she said nothing she was grateful for the reprieve. The corners sighed “Araf” and the passengers sighed enough. Thence we ambled to our destination, Laila and I showing remarkable reserve in the face of inviting and beautifully tar macadam’d roads.

Evening Arrival

We finally arrived at our destination at dusk. Bryn Eglwys touts itself as a country hotel nestling in “one of the most enviable locations in the Snowdonia national park”. For the grandiose hyperbole you get a room at fifty quid a throw or more, and a mediocre breakfast – expensive for what is essentially a B&B.

The garrulous hostess, Lyn Lambert wasn’t there, perhaps fortunately. I had spoken to her some days before on the telephone, at some length, and after a few minutes of chat she “went into one” like I was an old friend. I had a dream of how the eventual meeting with her might have gone if we had met up………

“Hello, you must be the…”

“Yes I am Mrs. Lambert and I am the owner of the hotel. I hope your stay will be a pleasant one. I think we have the weather for it you know” she said cutting me off in mid sentence and with what I detected was a slight nod – the kind of nod that says “you’re going to get an extra herb sausage if you don’t watch out young man”. Or may be I was just reading too much into it.

I wasn’t averse to subtle innuendo myself, so I gave her one. “Will it be the full Monte breakfast tomorrow then Mrs. Jones…in bed…with some Welsh Rarebit…and the extra stuffed, herb crust sausage”?

“Oh anything you desire boys” she said in a wanton manner.

This was getting close to the bone and we had hardly passed the welcome mat. I decided I should not venture down this route of double entendre any further, so I whipped it out!

I snapped out of the dream and back to reality at hand. Her husband Kevin greeted us with pleasantries and answered all our requests patiently and with a dry sense of humor. He had the air of a military man, someone used to taking charge.

The Saracens Head

Having showered we met in the lobby and walked to the Saracens Head public House where we met Kevin and Sue who had both taken the day off and had made the trip up at a more leisurely pace.

We got a table quite late and we were all ravenous. The waiter was a young boy of no more than sixteen and appeared to have just started doing the job. Ordering the food was a protracted and drawn out affair, particularly for the vegetarians – Sean and Mira. They interrogated the waiter like a petty felon, although I hadn’t decided who was playing the good cop/bad cop part. “Was there garlic in the food, were the carrots organic and was the cabbage uprooted without suffering?” Dealing with a bunch of fussy Londoners was not what he was used to, particularly project managers. He had taken lessons from the Fawlty Towers school of waiting and was shaping up as a perfect Manuel.

Karen, the last of our party arrived in time for dessert and was very chatty. I guessed she was full of eagerness and possibly over-tiredness from the long, solitary trip up.

“Was their any Danish Blue?” she inquired,  expecting the answer “no”.

“Well we have some lovely Edam Miss” the waiter said, rather apologetically.

“No that’s fine, just some coffee please then” said Karen. ]

On the way back to the hotel we were accosted by an inebriated welsh choir on their way home and practicing their close harmony singing and sheep shagging techniques. “Men of Harlech tar tar tumpum…”, they roared. There was a booming baritone, a terrifying tenor and a squeaky ginger beer at the back who minced around with what I imagined was a nasty case of knob rot from a recent lost weekend.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2.