Never mind that the Antwerpener lives in Ursel (middle of nowhere) these days, and for the first time took the mulier with him, but heís gone before - and now heís back already. Beer-free, because the last few days have been beer-ridden enough. I kept to water today. Not that the weather wasnít beer-inviting enough (for you Americans, Europe is blistering under an antediluvian heatwave, scorching the earth, burning the woods, and melting train-tracks - it has been steadily above 30įC, and Saturday, Iíve been told it reached 100įF in London - whatever that might mean, you know - ah Shannon, when the British dug their tube-system, airconditioning meant a pipe to above, and maybe a fan...) but we had this strange idea that any beer might be good in this hell - which lead to strange results.
Thanks to the monopoly system of the Eurostar company for flight-shy travelers, one has to look sharp for bargains. I cannot say I made one, but what came up cheapest, meant we had to depart at a well-advanced hour of the day. Exactly at the moment people stood up as embarking time had come, some female company nitwit dryly announced the departure would be delayed for 50 minutes at once. As she repeated it in 3 languages, there was no doubt possible. This is aggravating enough - but at the other end of the subChanneal pipe, Mr and Mrs Gray were planning to leave the Heavenly Olympian Halls of Cerevisial Refreshments much before the all-British closing time, just to prevent the Pattyntjes falling into the criminal tarpits of Victorian London... and expecting us at 21.43 GMT sharp. No way - and as we had no idea how many times these kinds of highly unwelcome announcements were going to befall on us, it made no sense to worry them already. The company tried to save face, by issuing vouchers, worth 5£ or 7.5 Euro of eurostuff. Even a child could have predicted the outcome of that.
Once the blasted train on steroids left off, a queue formed at the desk of hearty snacks and dubious liquids, full of passengers grimly determined to get the last Eurocent or penny due out of the paper slips. Desk, manned, sorry, femaled by two smiling beauties whose ancestors had been riding the camels and elephants of Nubia - and their offspring had kept their leisurely pace. Result: yours truly spent the 40 euro paid seat-trip standing up from Brussels to about 5 mins before entering the Chunnel! And I was equally grimly determined to get a Rateable out of it. It was called Kronenbourg A.D. 1664, and it tasted as if it had been all those centuries dissolving the can it was in. As I said on Ratebeer, masochism for the good cause...
Just OUT of the tunnel, the amazing traveling beeping device of shewhomustbeobeyed went of, and the wise Graying words rolled out, enquiring about the Pattynial wellbeing. Which was blasted low.
The rescue party thus informed, the last part of the journey was attacked, whilst the company managed to add just that extra little delay that meant ending exactly two minutes below the ceiling where a refund would have been imposed. 59 minutes of delay, 61 would have meant paying up. I think Saddam Hussein runs this company. Blair!!!
Anyway, a hearty wellcome was awaiting, Theresa and Jeremy bravely withstanding the outpouring hordes of nightbirds, to pick out the bedraggled Belgians. Yours truly sweating under the weight of some yet-to-outpack beery oboles for crossing this Styx, and worrying about returning - as I invariable take more beer BACK, than bring. A train, filled with an tangible athmosphere of human perspiration and deteriorated deodorant, brought us to the homely and ancient borough of Wimbledon. With a short walk, which made me wonder about the sadist that has thought up traffic bumps to slow down luggage-laden travellers.
As it seems, crime is rife in these parts of the globe, and poor J&T donít even dare to let their windows open. The heat inside was, again, tangible. I was nearly open to suggestions about drinking H20; but Jeremy had left some hints hanging about contemporary Italian marvels of fruitfermenting, so there was hope still. Not that J&T hadnít thought about EVERY possible little comfort we might want. We had a duvet of the sort Dancercourt traveled the NorthPole over with, and our mattress was electrically heatable, as my allseeing other one remarked. I quietly suspect J&T having given us their own room, as theirs was below the zinc roof on the loft... that is like being crisp at breakfast. I gave Theresaís guardian bear an intellectual American novel as peace-offer, before descending some steps to the kitchen table, where Jeremy had displayed the Baladin-formed incarnation of Kriek (in the mean time showing me some more of his treasures, a dazzling amount of cupboards full of ratebeerwetdreamian stuff). Le Baladin Mama Kriek. Imagine Dany Prignon reinventing the gueuze, and youíre near. Full of UFOís (Unidentifyable Floating Obscenities), a colour of overyear paintstripper, and quite some gas. Well, it tasted of any farmyard product I can imagine - except of krieken. NB, a day later Lorenzo would swear on his heart, that the brewer guarantees that after six months of lagering, the beer will live up to its name. If that is true, everything Iíve ever known about taste-evolution is crap, and Iíll start drinking Jupiler on draught exclusively.
After a few sips, a well-aimed poke in my lower ribs, coming from my loving wife informed me of what every human person would have seen (thus not me), namely that our hosts were keeling over with the lack of sleep and a day full of alcohol (for Jeremy, that last), and that even a Hun would have known it was bed-time. So we retired; leaving nothing but the flimsiest of night-attire keep us from the open Wimbledonian air.