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A la Colthard: all aboard


The National Rust travelling quartet of Bob Tickler, Alice Mansfield, Nancy Bright Thompson and myself are Rome bound for a short tour of Michelangelo’s works in the Eternal City in which our very own Stefano is one of the lecturers. Because of an early flight from Heathrow today we decided to convene in Windsor.

For many years I have stayed at the Sir Christopher Wren on Eton Bridge. One of Daffers’ Dicta is never trust anywhere with a fine view.  The Wren has commanding views of the Thames. An old building it sank into disrepair till taken over by the Sarova chain. I was given a delightful room with a terrace over looking the river. However neither the toilet nor the heating seemed to function. Some 3 hours later a maintenance  man appeared. The wc had lime scale and the unlikely explanation given for the freezing room was the handset need to be set lower initially. In fact it needed to be directed at the heater.

For lunch we went to the ever reliable Cote situated at the other side of the bridge. I have long and rightfully praised the restaurant chain for excellent food at sensible prices. The menu is uniform and I always have the warm Roquefort salad and duck breast. This was without fault and with a glass of claret £32. For dinner we went to another favourite of mine Gilbeys in Eton High St. There I had a beetroot and Orange soup and Moroccan chicken, a type of couscous. This was from a £22 3 course menu and the final bill with drinks beforehand and carafe of Montagny was £50 per head. I was struck by a couple near our table at the bar. The man thin and balding I placed as a schoolteacher at nearby Eton. His Escort was a Bulgarian woman broad in the beam. Body language was such that I had them marked as still courting. It struck me how risky in a different way dating is these days. In my day I had to fend off many an unwelcome groper in the back of a taxi but it was part and parcel of the game. Today if such a gropee, or  the victim as they always are ,  has a few too many she might argue that its attempted rape. Needless to say Bob has strong views on this which I will let him express. For all I know the teacher and Bulgar might be an item but if not the wrong move if they are not might lead to a swift end to his professional aspirations. Is this for the better? I fear dating might become an extinct species. A girl I know texted her ex to collect her from a restaurant on her first date which led to an ugly scene between him and her date.

Anyway I am digressing as over the meals we were excited by our trip and studied a full itinerary of visiting churches where Michelangelo’s sculptures are to be found, the Pantheon and the highlight on Thursday the private tour of the Sistine Chapel which Stefano will be conducting in his Fiorentina scarf. As he says Michelangelo was a Florentine and if he was around he would want to watch Fiorentina play Tottenham. All aboard, La Dolce Vita here we come!!!

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About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts