Well, we made it back to Blighty by the skin of our teeth, not realising we were on one of the last Euro Shuttles out of Calais before a strike shut the entire town.
Just as well, as the kitten was due to be retrieved from the cattery by 4pm and The Teenager needed picking up from his flight to London in the wee early hours of Thursday.
Anyway, the trip to Austria with my boss/friend exceeded all expectations and amazingly, my tattered remnants of German held up – I was able to confidently order beers, ask how much a sausage with curry sauce was and change money for the endless loo breaks (they charge in European motorway stop offs, but well worth it just to watch the loo seat swivel round after flushing).
I tagged along, feigning interest in the Austrian Grand Prix, whilst secretly swotting up beforehand – what’s a few fast cars between friends? The boss magnanimously declined to attend the qualifiers, so we drove through Slovenia to Croatia on the Saturday instead, ending up in Zagreb for coffee and a wander round the old town.
Back in Austria, I initiated him into the joys of Wiener Schnintzel, small pale beers, bread with ham and cheese for breakfast and watching the F1 highlights in German, with me translating.
In retrospect, I learned a lot from our six-day trip:
- A car is a very small space. As such, my friend didn’t always appreciate my attempts to stick ‘Blob’ gummy sweets (sold at every good German petrol station) to the dashboard when he was nudging 110 miles an hour.
- A Grand Prix is kind of exciting. I bugged my friend with a lot of questions. He missed the crash at the beginning and started to reply through gritted teeth. I found the easiest way to calm him down was to pop another sausage and coffee in front of him.
- The Grand Prix merchandise is waaaaaaay overpriced. I scraped together the money for a tiny teddy-bear keyring and got my friend to swipe the flags from the seats in front of us – you know, the ones that were to be waved by the spectators to show the Austrian flag to the watching world? Yup, those missing gaps are my fault.
- I am much more confident with driving, helped no doubt by very fast cars behind me flashing their lights.
- Most importantly, I have expanded my horizons a little bit and discovered that life does indeed go on outside my own four walls.
Back home, I had a pit-stop then schlepped to London to get The Teenager. He had travelled as an unaccompanied minor and as such, was mortified to be led through customs by a flight attendant. There was a moment’s hesitation when I was asked to sign for him (lol), but The Teenager and his passport were handed over.
A perfect week was rounded off by finding out that my book has been short-listed for The International Rubery Book Award 2015. Wunderbar x 10.