Chapter 5

lacTuesday 5th August

I was roused by some commotion both in and outside my bedroom. I opened one eye to perceive Jack walking out bearing an armful of washing, which he had been drying over our balcony. I rose in a surly mood and discovered that the water was missing. Hardly had Scotty gone left the room in search of the wherewithal to wash, when to door was shoved surreptitiously open and a large jug of water shoved in. I naturally washed first.

We were becoming nicely accustomed to the continental idea of breakfast and managed to rise afterwards feeling comparatively satisfied. Peter ordained that we should visit the Lac d’Engolasters, so we packed an outsize in lunches  at the Hotel Palacin and climbed up out of the town to the north. A trying climb, it turned out to be and with Bristol suffering Hell from a hacking cough, it was no joke. Scotty, Jeff and I insisted upon hanging back with her until Jack became annoyed and was rather short with us. Eventually passing the old church on the hill, the pipeline and some derelict workings, we came to the lake, where lunch was being served.

The subject of bathing was brought up after lunch and at first I pooh poohed the idea but, when I saw Joan and Marjorie obviously enjoying themselves, I had to join them. Being high in the mountains, it wasn’t what one might call balmy, although that was one of the words that came to mind, as in “I must be…” However, after the first shock wore off, it was refreshing, not to say invigorating and I had a lively half hour with the water nymphs.  In the end, most of us ended up in the water and an energetic interlude was enjoyed by all.

Carlos, our Swiss friend, came up and we all dried off, Carlos offering his camera for souvenir shots and giving us a remarkably good turn on his mouth organ into the bargain as we dried off and packed our bags again. At first, he had been a little shy and said we might want to spend the afternoon just our group together. The girls in particular, refuted this most indignantly, whereat Carlos settled in for the afternoon.

Returning to our base under the trees, we found Peter preparing for the journey home. A blast on his whistle and the stragglers fell in. Then away down the hill to Escaldes. Discussion was the order of the day  and literature, drama, industry and trade unions all came under the hammer. We paused at the hotel steps to thrash out a knotty point, much to the amusement of several children who were congregated around the door.

Having cleaned up, I walked Scotty out with me to buy a pair of shoes for my nephew Andrew. We managed to get a pair for 15 pesetas, which I considered to be a bargain, although I’m not entirely familiar with the price of children’s shoes back home, I was sure these would be well received.

We strolled back to the hotel for an excellent dinner, although the toughness of the meat gave our jaws even more exercise than the political discussions of the afternoon. Later, Scotty and I went back down into Andorra for a drink. In the town centre there was a glorious Spanish girl whose beauty so inflamed our passions whilst we were in the cafe, that is was only by the exercise of considerable self control that we managed to maintain the dignity usually associated with the general deportment expected of the travelling Englishman. Proud of our iron will and savoir faire, we returned to the hotel to sleep the sleep of the innocent.

At about 2.00 a.m., Peter burst into our room to enquire about Joan. It appeared that she had not yet turned in. Sensation!


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