Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A slower form of transport


Barges, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

On the home stretch now, in the Thalys going very slowly through Belgium. Travelling in premier class, this time with food and drink but since last time, the food has changed from a meal into a snack. A pity because I told Fred that he would not have to prepare dinner for me as I would have eaten on the train. Eaten, yes, but only a couple of (tiny) filled rolls. In the meantime, I have a bottle of sour tasting lukewarm Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. No nonsense here about local organic food. One thing I still cannot understand is how my journey from London to Paris on Sunday could be carbon neutral, as surely we were using energy and I am sure that energy did not come from a wind turbine… and then what about all the administration involved with running Eurostar, heating the offices and paying for the company cars of the staff, all of which should be taken into account? Oh well, it was a truly great experience, unlike this current one.

Still, the carbon neutral and local/organic sales pitch is a good one as rail travelers are encouraged to feel smug about not using their cars or lumbering onto a plane, so are probably very sensitive to this marketing pitch.

Given that the Eurostar is consistently late (and it has every time I have taken it), should they not be required to change the advertised timetable? I just asked the charming waiter, Vince, why we are only getting snacks when last time we had two dinners, he told me they had changed the timetable so we are too late for lunch and too early for dinner. Given that we will not get into Amsterdam until at least 19.45 and it takes time to get home from there, it is getting on to be well past dinner time. Oh well…. More profit for the owners, I suppose.

Just so you know, I am now eating ‘Stickletti’ which is brought to us by a company called ‘Chio’. They contain lots of E’s, possibly some peanuts and wheat flour and are made in Egypt. Not organic or local!

I have also been told that when we pick up a delay in Belgium, as happens every time, we get behind a local train in Holland. This local train has priority, it seems, over a premium price international train, with the result that our delay becomes compounded. Must be something to do with someone’s bonus scheme, as it doesn’t really make sense for anyone else.

So… I survived Paris, but not without a soon-to-be-ex-colleague breaking down in tears in front of me. She rashly handed in her resignation recently, having been supposedly harassed by her boss, and now regrets it slightly. A pity I can’t do anything about it… although… maybe I can… I doubt it though.

I spent too long last night working to provide answers to some apparently urgent questions from America last night to enjoy a good meal, so ended up having a Lebanese Shish Tawouk – Chicken Kebab – simple and cheap – but delicious. And now, the very charming Vince has come round and offered me more rolls and wraps – even though I look anything but underfed!!! I have put my Stickletti in the bin… the best place for them, I think.

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