Unlike those tourists though, who often spent as much as two years, if not longer, on the journey, La Belle Dame Sans Merci has only one week in which to transform her husband as they explore the delights of Naples, Pompeii, Assisi, Florence, Siena and Rome.
And if that were not challenge enough, he displays an amazing propensity for opening his mouth and putting his foot in it, not to mention getting himself into a number of extremely embarrassing situations...
Music, music, music. Right from the start of his package holiday to Menorca, “music” plagues and obsesses the author. But let’s face it, as Iona, his long-suffering wife can testify, he’s a pretty intolerant sort of a person.
Seen through his eyes, this book provides a sideways look at Menorca, a sort of rough guide to the island, (but not nearly as rough as his next door neighbours in his holiday apartment).
Informative, but at the same time witty and amusing, A Meander in Menorca is an idiosyncratic commentary on this little island from its earliest inhabitants, the ancient Talayotic culture, to the present-day tourists, some of whom have no culture at all.
He was prepared for a less formal atmosphere in the classroom, while, for their part, his students had been warned that he would be “Mr Strict”. It was not long before this clash of cultures reared its ugly head and the author found himself in big trouble. But, as he had found out from the very instant he arrived on the continent, just because we share a common language it doesn’t mean Americans do things the same way. And the Montanans, he was to discover, do things more differently still.
There were times, in the beginning, when he wished he had stayed at home in his boring but safe existence in Scotland and there were times when life got more than just a little bit too exciting for comfort. But mainly this is a heart- warming and humorous tale of how this Innocent abroad, confronted with one culture shock after another, overcame his trials and tribulations and thanks to a whole array of colourful and kind people, finally came to realise that this exchange was the best thing he had ever done.
Having learnt from previous encounters that neighbours are not conducive to good holidays, he elects this time to stay in a remote country cottage. If he imagined this would avoid encountering irritating people and ensure a trouble-free, idyllic, romantic holiday with his long-suffering wife, he was sadly mistaken. His gift for putting his foot in it, as usual, results in a series of tight scrapes, excruciatingly embarrassing for him, but which provides the reader with a vicarious sense of pleasure, not to mention Schadenfreude, appropriately enough, for Germans seem to cross the writer’s path with amazing regularity.
Follow in the author’s footsteps, let him be your guide as he explores every aspect of this island, which, he concludes, is one of the most spectacular he has ever visited, yet one of the least visited in the Canarian archipelago. Along the way, seen from his personal and offbeat perspective, he will undoubtedly inform you, certainly entertain you and hopefully persuade you - you must visit this island before you die.
But before he dies, the author considers some possible solutions before staring eternity in the face...
Ubiquitous Dutchmen, domineering drivers, pestilential teenage girls, a mafioso maitre d’, not to mention a glamorous older woman – these are just some of the colourful characters whom the gods send to cross the author’s path and severely try his patience, whilst his own bungling incompetencies result in an hilarious narrative as he attempts to extricate himself from yet another fine mess he has got himself into.
With a fine eye for detail and his penchant for the off-beat and the peculiar, the writer describes not only the people and events, but also the places he visits. You may have visited Sorrento before, but you’ve never seen it quite like this!