Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Why is there no plughole in my washbasin?

Staying at the Hotel La Marbrerie recently in Caunes Minervois, southern France, I was nonplussed in the bathroom to discover that the washbasin had no apparent or obvious means of discharging its load of water.

 Taps there were, to provide ingress for the water, but means of egress I could not discover.

Then I noticed that there was a hand hold fashioned in the porcelain bowl.

Taking my courage in one hand and the bowl in the other, I lifted.

And Hey Presto!

The washbowl swung on metal pivots to reveal a second basin and drain hole beneath.

One lives and learns.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Sleeping in two countries at once.

On my recent trip to the Continent, collecting material for a forthcoming book on frontiers, I spent a night in the Hotel Arbez at La Cure. The hotel was hurriedly built across the proposed new Franco-Swiss border in the delay between the signing of the treaty between Switzerland and France in 1862 and its ratification. With one door in Switzerland and the other in France, it fulfilled its owner's intended purpose of providing him with a route for his smuggling.

The customs agreements today have removed that advantage but not moved the frontier. This is the bed that I slept in. One side is in France, the other in Switzerland. On a restless night one could make several border crossings without awakening.