They are territorial and return religiously, year after year, to the same camp-sites - always those with the best view, which is odd given that they don't seem to enjoy it and in fact go to great lengths to avoid it, or to turn it into a rubbish tip. It has been known to happen that, during their absence, these have been taken over by the native campers: in such cases the Dutch become slyly passive-aggressive, and after a few days of petty sabotage and mean-spirited public drunkenness the presumptuous usurpers soon leave.
|Sharlotka - should you be wondering|
Agriculture is virtually unknown: in the place of fruit and vegetables they have developed technological marvels of tasteless plastic or cotton substitutes which are exported around Europe, as they have the advantage of never going rotten, no matter how long they lie at the bottom of the vegetable drawer. Their "tomatoes" are considered a particular success, having a bright cheery red colour but neither taste, scent, nor texture. They may safely be eaten, but with no great pleasure.
The Dutch are not considered comestible, mainly because of the disagreable taste which mixes tulips, pig-shit (the national industry), and the foetid water of the stagnant canals which constitute 90% of the country. This being said, there are those who affirm that the Dutch of Rotterdam are somewhat finer.
And while we're more or less on the subject, there's been some interesting cross-cultural fertilisation going on over the last 25 years. One of the staple "entertainments" around here is Guignol, the traditional and very lyonnais version of Punch & Judy. Like its British counterpart, it lets kids get all excited and bothered at the sight of small people hitting one another on the heads with big sticks whilst uttering falsetto shrieks: the parents sit glumly in a stuffy tent through all this and wonder why the only drinks option is warm beer.
Headed off to Sorhéa at Lyon to get a bit of work done, and as I was sitting there doing it my phone rang. Rather to my surprise, someone in the lab - on hearing the dulcet Dalek "exterminate!" tones - turned round and said "oh, you like Dr Who too? I've tried to explain it, but no-one seems to understand". So apart from apparently having a policy of hiring only left-handers (something you notice in meetings, when everyone"s taking notes) they also hire sad geeks.
Then, of course, there was all the fun of getting home. I hit the voie rapide and sneered at all the poor twits trapped in a 10-km backup to get onto the autoroute for points north, carried on barrelling along and of course, it's always after the last possible escape point that they stick the little vans with the helpful signs saying "bouchon". (Which is indeed a cork, or if you happen to be in Lyon a restaurant, but also means traffic jam)
My blood pressure was getting up when I finally made it back to the house, so it was probably a Good Thing that I'd bough some diots just before leaving the market: they fairly quickly got stuck in a frying pan with some sliced onion, carrots, herbs and white wine and left to simmer whilst I unpacked everything else from the car. They were just starting to get ripe when Margo turned up with Jeremy, who proceeded to hoover one up and stick it down the middle of a hunk of baguette (do not ask how he made the hole for it to go in, you really do not want to know and I can tell you it's not a pretty sight) for the Savoyard equivalent of a hot-dog.
Some days, one just should not get out of bed. I told myself that as I was heading in to Chambéry this morning: maybe next time I'll listen to my wiser self.
PS - for a more objective view of our Dutch friends, go look at this.