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An Irishman, a Scot and an Italian go on a road trip....

Restrained and meticulous, as always, the Wine Club forerunners make a recce to Sicily to set up the Vintners....

“Did you remember to bring Hector?”

“Of course! I never travel without him.” said Mary [Collis], affectionately tapping the map on her iPhone.

“Hector? Who’s Hector? Obviously no one I went to school with - forget Hector, we’ll use my GPS system, I’ve just updated it.”

With remarkable speed, Patrick [McHugh] connected his advanced piece of technology, placed it on the dashboard and off we went.


So you said "Turn left"?  That way's Australia.  Let's go for it....

“Patrick, our meeting is in 5 minutes and we appear to be at least an hour and a half away”.  I had been secretly tracking Patrick’s progress on my iPad (a practice I picked up from London cabbies as they continuously complain about it).

“Gia, we’re in Sicily - we’re not expected to be on time!”

#%*?#%*#%%%*!?%#*~!# (Italian conversation with winery commiserating over the pathetic map reading, driving and timekeeping skills of the Brits). 

Finally: "Wonderful, amazing, they'll love this!" 

Much smacking of lips later:

"So you're heading for Monreale? Turn right at the crossroads and in 10 minutes you'll be on the motorway. Fastest way there.”

"Why are we turning left?"

"The GPS is giving us a short cut - look - we'll be there in no time. The views are stunning. I was here last summer. Of course, you can't see anything now because of the fog, but trust me, we really are on mount Etna…"

Two hours of swish backs later: "Let me know if you're going to be sick and I'll stop."

#%*#$¥*%#€$@!$%^ English female conversation commiserating over certain characteristics of the opposite sex.   

Some time later, "Well, we'll have to give that one a miss. Never mind;  there's this restaurant I walked past last night in Monreale…….Gia, would you mind rescheduling.....?

€#^%%#^*#*#+, etc.

The next day….

“We can't leave without seeing the Monreale cathedral. It opens at 8:30, but if we pretend to go to mass, we can get in at 8:00, then have breakfast, then go back to visit the cloister when it opens and then head for Marsala.” 

"But we need to leave at 8:30 to get there on time". 

"This is Sicily, they don't expect......."

€#$#%**#%#… ( opened a hastily developed App that commiserates in Italian with wineries over…..etc., etc.)

"Wow, how interesting, this is unusual, they'll love it” So much to do, so much to learn…. we overrun again.

"Would you mind rescheduling our next appointment?”

Handy, that App.

“Let's do some sightseeing in Marsala. Where's the GPS?”

"Are you sure you inserted the correct address?  We're in the pedestrian zone."

"GPS says we're doing fine. Keep going."

Many side-mirror-scraping-manoeuvres later and after having followed a group of local youths - who had no intention of seeing us  - around the piazza, a parking space!

"What funny parking meters they have in Italy! And attached to a wall? How weird. I have my coins ready, but what does this say? I left my glasses in the car.”

“It says, would you like your condom plain or textured?"

No need to pay for parking, after all.

The following day…

"Are you sure we're on the right road? It's barely surfaced and just about as wide as our small car."

"The GPS says we're doing fine. We'll get there.”

We did.

"Now that was really special. I can't wait to see their faces when they swirl this little gem!   Excuse me, do you think we could get a small minibus down this road?" 

"Do you mean to say you came here through the fields?" Howls of laughter......"There is a perfectly decent tarred road to our winery!”

“But our GPS….oh, never mind….”

Several Epicurean experiences later: "We're making excellent time, we'll have a leisurely lunch before we take Patrick to the airport. Who's driving?”

"Are you sure this is right, the road seems to end in a field?”

Three management consultant voices in unison:

" GO FOR IT! The GPS says we’re on the right road!”

Oops... Perhaps we should turn back.


Mary collis - in the spirit of EU cooperation - collecting
Siciilian mud on refined London City boots...

Too late! The wheels had consciously decoupled from the steering, and the only direction the car was going to go was down.

Find building rubble to put under the wheels - still no traction.

Search for Hertz contact number. “Here’s the number” “No, that’s the booking reference, they want the contract number.”

“Any landmarks that will help us find you?”

“Vineyards?”

“We need a tractor; a normal rescue truck will not make it to where we are.”

“I’ll put you in touch with the rescue people.”

“Yes, we understand you are in the middle of nowhere, but can you give us a landmark?”

@£$%^&*(@£$%

Well over an hour later….

“Look there’s a car in the far distance, crawling along! Must be the rescue people sending scouts to look for us!”

British under-one’s-breath comment, “Trust the locals, just look at the pathetic little car they’ve sent to rescue us.”

Local-knowledge-under-breath comment, “That can only be a farmer. Must make sure he sees us!”

Having put my enormous scarf to good use…..the farmer sees it and turns down the road!


Patrick McHugh convincing the locals of the seriousness of the situation

Difficult to say which was older, the car or the cheerful toothless farmer. Once he had stopped laughing, he agreed to ask his farmer friends for a tractor to pull us out.

OMG - I receive a message from Hertz saying that the rescue vehicle has been cancelled as it would not make it to where we are stuck. As the message appears on my phone, the rescue vehicle turns down our road.

“Yes, we were told not to come but you were so distressed - aka swearing like a trooper - that we decided, out of the goodness of our hearts and because we really care about our clients, to come anyway!” They could barely stop laughing… but were determined to profit from our predicament, so I was certain we would not be abandoned, no matter what Hertz was up to, until they got paid (knowledge of local culture is always useful).

Our knight in shining armour (toothless farmer with very old rusty Fiat) went to fetch his little tractor, that, on its first attempt, did not manage to pull the car out of the mud, but when no other tractor was found, a better planned, second attempt succeeded.

We even had time for a relaxing meal and more wine before Patrick’s flight, but missed out on our last wine tasting.

I am sure I could find a way of blaming the GPS for my flying over a railway crossing in the manner of a Hungarian prancing horse, with all four wheels off the ground, but haven't come up with anything – yet.

What I want to know is who put the gremlin in Patrick’s GPS - a teetotal Company member perhaps? I’ll be watching....

 

 

 

 

 

Liveryman Gia Campari

www.signalsofchange.com