I LOVE THIS LAKE
Three things cannot be long hidden, the sun, the moon, the truth.
I helped him organised that year’s Oil Company conference in Montreux, Switzerland and it was just wonderful. From the moment we set off to the moment we got home it was perfect. If I ever have to visualise a place in my mind where I feel my very best, then it is always when I am standing on the shores of Lake Geneva looking across at Evian surrounded by spring flowers.
“I have on a beautiful white silk blouse and pink pearls in my ears and around my neck. I am standing tall in high heels and a beautiful black evening skirt. Looking out over Lake Geneva towards the Alps I can feel the sun on my head and the warm air dancing on my skin. I can hear desultory post prandial discussion all around me. Contented people are sharing snippets of conversation between them. I can feel a damp, chilled glass in my hand and have to tighten my grip slightly to stop the glass sliding away. I can smell coffee and the scent of new mown grass as the gardener chugs past me. In his wake I see beautiful spring flowers, tiny daffodils, hyacinths and muscari, blue as the Lake before me. I feel a hand on my arm and I am shaken out of my reverie…”
We had a perfect day on a glass train “The Alpine Express”. Vintage trains that run through Gstaad have huge glass windows affording panoramic glimpses of some of the most spectacular views in the world. Quaint, alpine chalets cling on to the hillside with a perfect backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Connecting Interlaken with Montreux they serve the drinks on these trains in tilted glasses so that you do not spill a drop.
Lunch that day was cheese and more cheese in a perfect Alpine restaurant. The venue looked like a picture book version of a Swiss hostelry with panelled walls, bench seating and myriad cuckoo clocks that were all going off different times. The menu was comprised of various versions of cheese and potato with a bit of bacon thrown in for good measure.
I mostly remember the sombre advice that the smiling, elderly waitress gave us that day as our food arrived. Her clear tones resonated around the room “Do not whatever you do eat hot melted cheese with cold beer. It will set like a stone in your stomach” Dozens of forks paused in mid-air as they were about to attack dishes of melted cheese in all its forms, Fondue, Raclette and my particular favourite, cheese and potatoes mixed together. The guests who did not have their folks poised to eat had long, cold glasses of beer to their lips ready to a quench major thirst.
Time stopped as we all looked at each other and an alarmingly loud “Cuckoo” ruptured the silence. First one person shrugged and then another and soon we were all eating molten cheese and drinking ice cold beer. The elderly lady was not seen again.
A member of our party suggested she may have been employed by the opposition to put the customers off this establishment and send them next door to theirs….
Extract from The Boomer Generation by Carole McCall due out in Spring 2015