Once upon a time, not long after Captain James Cook arrived at Botany Bay and made the locals really cross by pinching their country my staff went on a "Romantic Short Break" to Tasmania. "Including champagne, chocolates and a romantic picnic basket for two." Actually, the locals can think themselves lucky that the French didn't get there first, which they very nearly did or they'd all be eating strange things like duck legs in a creamy lard sauce and speaking a kind of mangled French/Aussie hybrid language.
"Bonjour mon cobber votre corks on votre hat are looking tres bon ce matin"
"Merci mate. Les mouches are bad today but.
"Mais oui. Oolala! J'ai never seen les petits bâtards so thick since old Henri fell into la septic tank et a dû walk all the way home because le chauffeur de bus wouldn't let him get on."
"Ha ha ha! Sacre Bleau Sport! que c'était une bonne day wasn't it?"
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. My staff's "Romantic Short Break". They'd booked themselves into a bed and breakfast place, high on a hill overlooking the run down city of Launceston which didn't seem to have had any running repairs made since about nineteen thirty seven. The accommodation looked quite promising from the outside at least as they pulled up in their rental car. It was a large, probably late Victorian pile and it did indeed look moderately romantic if you ignored the large plastic garbage bins standing by the gate.
Once inside, my staff were greeted by a flustered looking middle aged woman and a man, presumably her husband who sported two days growth of whiskers on his face and an unidentifiable yellow stain on his shirt. At least he wasn't just wearing his vest, things could been worse. This pair led my staff into the breakfast room to fill out a registration forms. Cats were shooed off chairs and a tatty bit of paper was placed in front of my staff. Looking around the room my staff were surrounded by huge pieces of Victorian furniture. The dark wood loomed threateningly over them and every surface was cluttered with what seemed to be the contents of a charity shop. There was crap and cat hair everywhere you looked, from threadbare teddy bears to clocks with only one hand, chipped crockery and cheap china ornaments. Any space there was was filled with dust.
They finished completing the form and were led up a flight of creaking stairs to their room by the flustered lady. "This is our "Romance Room" she announced grandly and virtually shoved my staff in and slammed the door on them as though she was worried that they might change their minds about staying there. My staff could instantly tell that it was the "Romance Room" because there were large gold painted plastic cherubs strategically place around the room. There was one on top of the nineteen sixties wardrobe, a couple on the dressing table and one on the toilet cistern. My staff explored what was to be their home for the next three days. Everything seemed to be working, the bedside lights, the curtains and most important for a "romantic getaway", the television. They checked the fridge. It was working too, and there inside were their champagne and chocolates, except it wasn't champagne at all but a bottle of local sparkling wine called "Brute de Brute" with a picture of a Tasmanian devil on the label and a price tag of $7.95 stuck to the bottle. The chocolates were a pack of three Ferrero Rocher - that's one each and they'd have to fight over the third one.
The next day it poured with rain, so my staff decided to postpone their romantic picnic in the hope that the following day would be better. It wasn't. In fact it was worse. The rain was heavier if anything and now it was being blown in horizontally by a freezing wind from the Southern Ocean.
At breakfast my staff were informed by the flustered lady that they'd have to have their romantic picnic today because they'd be leaving tomorrow.
"Collect your picnic basket at noon from the kitchen." they were instructed. My staff obeyed. It was a large basket too, and heavy. Obviously filled with goodies. They rushed through the rain to the car and set out, optimistically hoping that the rain and wind would ease and they'd able to have their romantic picnic at a nice scenic spot where they could munch on delectable little nibbles while gazing into each others eyes. After two hours of driving around the weather only seemed to be deteriorating, there was now some minor flooding and small branches were being snapped from trees.
"This is ridiculous." said my female staff. "Let's just go back to our room and have the picnic there."
"I suppose." sighed my male staff. "But I don't think I want to eat with all those bloody cherubs watching me. There's a lookout at the end of the street by the B&B, lets sit in the car and eat there."
So it was agreed. My staff parked the car at the end of the street where the lookout was, not that they could see anything because the scudding clouds were so low and the rain so heavy. Nevertheless, they tucked into their picnic, which as it happens was surprisingly good and plentiful. The car was rocking crazily, buffeted by the gale and the all the windows were steamed up because it was too foul outside to open one of them even a centimetre. My female staff was just taking a sip from her class of "Brute de Brute" and my male staff about to bite into his fourteenth sausage on a stick when there was a loud rapping on the drivers side window. My male staff pressed the button and the window whirred down allowing him to received a faceful of bitingly cold rain. A policeman peered into the car - a smug look on his face. "You can't do that sort of thing here sir." He said. This is a residential area and there are kids................ " The policeman clearly expected the rocking car and steamed up windows to be connected to something a little more romantic than what he was confronted with; a fully clothed middle aged couple sitting amid the detritus of a picnic, chicken bones, sandwich crusts, paper wrappers, cocktail sticks, eggshells and the like.
"Cocktail sausage constable?" offered my male staff.
Ich haf often heard der story of Herr Billy's staffs' romantic veekend. Ich only vish zat ich could haf been zere to offer mein help mit der cleanink up of der salad items in der auto. Und Schpeakink of romance, not ein Valentines card vas ich gettink. Not even ein from Baci. It vas ein sehr disappointink tag.