On the overnight coach travelling to London the time passed pleasantly enough as we reminisced, like an old married couple about the wedding and the guests. It was bliss to think of three whole weeks in the mountains – and foreign ones at that, Nowadays everybody goes abroad but then it was really special. On arrival we felt tired and travel stained. Fortunately William was a member of the Victory Club so we left our luggage there and had a wash and brush up.
After breakfast we ambled up Petticoat Lane and William bought me some nylons. The boat to France didn’t leave till 5pm so we spent the day visiting museums, walking round parks and seeing as much of the sights of London as possible. At last we were on the boat and ready to sail for France. We were standing on deck in a crowd. There was a vague smell of petrol and a man was violently sick. We were just out of range, fortunately. He picked up a cloth that was lying on the deck and wiped himself down with it. We stared, unbelievingly as a matelot rushed up, pulled energetically on a rope and hoisted the besmirched flag.
By the time we got ourselves on the train that would take us through France and Switzerland to Austria, we were exhausted. We squeezed ourselves into a carriage full of travellers. Sometime, in the early hours of Monday morning I wriggled from under Williams head, which weighed a ton, looked down at the smelly-socked feet of the man sitting opposite me, which were resting beside me, and thought ‘This is my wedding night. It’s not meant to be like this!’
At last we arrived in Brand. The hotel Scesaplana, named after the local mountain, looked charming with geranium-decked balconies, but the mountain was shrouded in thick cloud and we could see nothing beyond the remains of an avalanche which had struck the village that week. It was now Monday afternoon and as we were shown into our twin bedded room we reflected that a shorter honeymoon and an easier journey would have made life easier. We were too exhausted to do anything but sleep and I would have sold my soul for a cup of tea.
Over the next two days we recovered from the journey, I unpacked my trousseau and we did the deed. Rome wasn’t built in a day but when the clouds lifted and the magnificent mountain was revealed our spirits lifted and we started to enjoy our honeymoon. It was exciting being surrounded by foreigners; in the bar an enormous Dutchman introduced us to Grand Marnier which he said was ‘liquid velvet fire’ and it became our digestif each evening.
One day a coach full of young men arrived and, incredibly, turned out to be from Metro Vickers where William worked. Even that didn’t dampen our spirits. We got friendly with two older ladies from Edinburgh who were seasoned travellers. They had a very good relationship with the rather dour head waiter who, following their example we called Rudolph. Gently they explained that, as they were older and had known Rudolph for some time it was permissible for them to address him as Rudolph but we should address him as Herr Ober. We learnt a valuable lesson and relations with Herr Ober improved.
Although some people left in disgust during the three days of thick cloud, it
was a very popular hotel and a favourite with the Dutch Royal family. The 2,985 metres mountain was saying ‘Climb me!’ and when I heard the Metro Vickers lads were planning a climb I persuaded William that we should do it first rather than go up in a crowd. So that’s what we planned to do.