In which we gratefully find the concluding part of this five day ramble about a time I once went to Turin and stayed at a campsite. We’re driven down from northern Europe and found ourselves booked into a portacabin, in a graveyard, on top of a hill, in Turin, in the drizzle, and are now arriving for our ‘tourist dinner.’ The story continues…
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Classic Symi view[/caption]
Seven twenty five came and we emerged from our tent dressed casually, as you tend to do when camping: Jeans, a shirt that, though clean, had not seen an iron since London, a crumpled jacket each in case it rained, trainers. And we headed across the graveyard-cum-campsite towards the portacabin fearing the worst.
We rounded the corner and stopped dead in our tracks. The carpark was glittering with highly polished Maserati sports models, shiny new Lamborghini, special edition Ferraris and several other things that wouldn’t look out of place in a Park Lane car dealership window.
A bit of a pause.
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‘Good job we booked,’ I said, inching my way between something costing over half a million pounds and what I suspected was a Bentley.
But the car park was only the start of it.
Inside, the site hut-cum-canteen had been transformed. The plastic chairs were still there, but the tables were covered and the lighting seemed softer, there was music playing and the room was humming. Just about every table was taken, and those that were not were ‘reserved.’ Through some kind of Cinderella-the-Panto magic quick-change, the canteen had become a restaurant, complete with atmosphere. The diners, to a man (and lady) were dripping with jewels, their outfits were top-range designer, they all looked like models, young and stunning, or older and suave; they were, as far as we could see, the Turin jet, jade and diamond, set.
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Village in the morning light[/caption]
We, feeling rather underdressed, stood and wondered what to do. No one stared, the room didn’t fall silent, there was no piano to stop playing and the doors didn’t creak as they swung shut behind us, but we did feel very out of place.
Until the lady from before waved us cheerily up to the counter, explaining in Italian that we had booked. The counter seemed a very long way off but, as we approached, the cast of ‘Italy’s Next Top Model’ nodded and smiled as we passed, some said good evening, and we were being welcomed. Our lady sat us at a ‘reserved’ table, smiling and chatty. There was already the bottle of wine, and a bottle of mineral water and within seconds our Tourist Dinner had arrived.
‘Excuse me,’ I ventured, ‘but is there something special happening tonight?’
‘No,’ she replied, ‘why do you ask?’
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A Symi standard[/caption]
There is no big bang ending to this story, except to say that the meal was perfect, the canteen completely filled up and there was music and dancing carrying on long into the night.
In the morning I took an early walk through the grounds. There was a mist, the day promised to be warmer. Jewelled spiders webs were thrown casually across dew-damp gravestones as though the Duchess had grown weary of her Boucheron necklace and discarded it on her way back to the Bugatti. A dove cooed in a pine tree, and the world below was still; the city was yet asleep. But the car park was empty, the canteen closed. It was as if the previous night had been some kind of mysterious time slip.
Maybe it had.
If you happen across this campsite be sure to check it out and make sure you book.