Chapter *11.24*

Hotel Como

Tonight we were on three tables, riders on two and the support team, for which read the adults, on the other. There wasn't anything to say so but the girls all ended up on one table, lads on the other – I say girls, I was first to a seat, Mand and co just filled the other places so it was girls and me. Once we were seated, our host claimed our attention.

“You have had a long trip to us, you are cyclisimo , the appetite is good yes?”


“Giovanni he says what good for this, Maria my wife she say pasta, but I think too heavy for today. We compromise, Maria she make a the soup with how you say, dumpling, Giovanni make the special risotto pollo* for you to enjoy. Lidia and Claudio will start serving straight away; Eve will get you the drinks, enough talk, time to eat!”

The soup arrived in short order, a clear chicken broth with the promised dumplings, no not the sticky suet things but much smaller dough balls along with a plate of fresh bread. It wasn't unexpected that it was tasty just unexpectedly tasty, hmm, mighty fine!

“I'd hardly call these dumplings.” Claire opined studying one on her spoon.

“They'd probably say the same about our lumps of suet,” Laura suggested.

“At least it's not a tin of Heinz® like you get in some places back home,” Sal averred.

“Nothing wrong with Heinz® .” I asserted.

“In a four star hotel? I swear it was tinned soup at my cousin Zoe's wedding.” Claire observed.


The serving team were nothing if not efficient, empty dishes were quickly cleared and a space cleared on each table for the main course. Lidia distributed warmed plates to each of us on the table before Giovanni and Claudio brought in the risotto. You know risotto? Rice, veggies, maybe a bit of meat thrown in, the dish on our table looked like it would feed about a dozen, unlike the stuff I've had before this looks a lot lighter – for starters the rice isn't all stuck together!

A bowl of salad arrived and we were set.

“Please, lay-dees, helpa yourselves.” Giovanni prompted seeing our hesitation.

“Um thanks.” I allowed, grrr, he's including me with the girls again!

I guess no one on our table wanted to appear greedy, well I've got no qualms but even I didn't indulge in a big pile of risotto. It was, in risotto terms, to die for, I mentioned the rice, the chicken wasn't chopped but rather pulled from the bone, peas, peppers and olives added more colour and texture – my first helping barely saw the plate.

“Bleh!” I allowed sitting back.

“Yous girls eating that like?” Josh enquired indicating the still food laden dish on our table.

“All yours,” Mand offered.

“Cool, Geth gis a hand, man.”

“Dunno where they put it.” Claire sighed.

“They're boys, their stomachs are like a Tardis**.” Sal chuckled.

“Dad reckons I've got hollow legs,” I noted.

“That's not all.” Mand whispered which earnt a hard stare.

“What's that?” Laura asked.

“Nothing, private joke.” Manda supplied.

Yeah and it better stay private Miss De Vreen.

It being Italy dessert was two small scoops of sorbet, just enough to clean the mouth but not really a pudding – not that anyone had space for much more. We were of course restricted to soft drinks with the meal, not so the ‘crew' table where a couple of bottles of wine and several beers were doing their best to lubricate parched throats. As is normal in Europe we finished with coffee, well espresso in a tiny cup with one of those cinnamon biscuits, you know the ones.

“I'm well stuffed,” I declared.

“I'm ready for bed,” Claire supplied in turn.


As if waiting for that cue; Director Toynbee stood up, “Attention people.”

The murmur of conversation ceased and everyone turned their attention to boss man.

“Okay, folks, I'm sure some of you at least are keen to get to your beds, it's been a long couple of days for everyone. In a minute Caroline will sort out your room allocations but before she does just a couple of reminders. Behaviour, I know you are all mature enough not to do anything silly, I hope you will all look out for each other. If there are any issues come and find one of us; if you have any issues talk to us.

Tomorrow, breakfast from eight in here, it'll be a steady ride, a leg stretch after the journey – we'll be starting the real work on Monday so make the most of it. Enough from me, over to you Caroline.”

Chris returned to his seat as Caro stood.

“Thanks, Chris, right you all know who you are rooming with, Mike and Daz have already got your bags to your rooms so in a minute you need to collect your overnights off the minibus and Giovanni and his team will take you to your rooms. As Chris mentioned breakfast is from eight, we won't be going straight out so you don't need to be togged up first thing.

So bus, bags, reception.”


“Therea musta be a mistake; I will not allow these ina my hotel!” Giovanni stated with some vehemence.

“But...” Caro tried to speak.

“No, I'ma sorry but I cannot allow this, maybe ina England this is ok but Lezzeno, is not gonna happen.”

“What's up man?” Josh enquired with a whisper.

“Something to do with us sharing I think.”

“But everyone's sharing like.”

“You two want to wait outside?” Caro suggested, “We'll get this sorted out okay.”

I've got a fair idea of the problem, it happened in Altenahr, when we visited Mum a couple of years ago too, Giovanni thinks I'm a girl. Back then I ended up sharing with Jules but this time, well I can't see how we can sort it if I can't share with Josh.


“Problem chaps.” Caroline advised her colleagues now relaxing in the bar.

“Already?” Steve sighed, “What've they done?”

“Nothing, it's what Giovanni thinks they might that's the problem.”

“Come again?” Chris requested.

“Drew and Josh, he's convinced they um, are a couple.”

“Gay?” Daz suggested.

“Um not exactly, think like boy girl.” Caro mentioned, “Problem is I can't convince him otherwise so we've got a bed problem.”

“What's up?” Dave enquired returning from the facilities.

“Problem with Giovanni,” Chris stated, “he seems to think Drew is a girl, that right, Caroline?”

“'bout sums it up, Chris.”

She's not?” Jemma put in.

“So we've got a bed problem, the hotel is booked out, looks like someone's sleeping in the bus.” Chris observed.

“What about my room?” Dave asked.

“What about it, I know he's your son but I don't think Giovanni will go for you sharing,” Caro observed.

“I can see that, but if I share with Josh, Drew can use my single, problem solved.”

“One solved, can of worms opened,” Steve concluded.

“Yup, we don't want to be accused of favouritism,” Chris stated.

“Am I missing something?” Jem asked.

“Later, Jem.” Caro suggested.

“So we need a reason for putting Drew in Dave's room,” Steve mused.


"Okay you two," Caro greeted us, "we've sorted things out but there are complications."


"Complications like?"

"It seems our host is convinced that Drew is a girl hence all the malarkey about you two sharing."

"That's all I need," I sighed.

"Well you were sat with the girls at dinner; he was muttering something about your ID card too."


"So like where are we kipping?" Josh enquired.

"You're in the room we booked for you guys, Drew's dad will bunk with you and Drew will have his dad's single room."

"That's not so bad." I allowed, "I sense a but though."

"The problem is it could look like favouritism to the others so we've come up with a little subterfuge to excuse it."

"Aye?" Josh noted.

"Seems Mr Bond here snores - a lot."

"I do not!"

"Whilst we're here you do. If anyone on the team asks, that's the story."

"Okay, what about when we go to Switzerland?"

"Aye, it'll be a bit strange if next time we share okay." Josh suggested.

"We'll cross that later, so you two okay with this?"

"I guess I can snore."

"Aye, as long as snoring isn't in the family." Josh grinned.

"Come on then, let's get you settled in."


They'd squeezed Dad in at the last minute, a room not normally used for visitors up in the roof space. Still it has its own shower and toilet, there might not be room to swing a cat but the bed is comfy and the view from the admittedly small window is out across the lake. If I'd been sharing with Josh that room, whilst somewhat bigger had a great view over a back alley so I think I've scored here.

Well I guess as I'm on my own I might as well be comfortable in bed so after a quick shower I pulled my shorty pj's out of the case, well really they're loose cotton shorts and a cami top. I don't care if it's girly, they're comfortable right and this evening it's warm – it's not as if anyone is likely to see me is it? I tossed and turned for a while but sleep eventually overcame exhaustion sometime around midnight.


Bzzzt, bzzzt! Bzzzt, bzzzt!

I flailed an arm to locate the source of the noise, my hand eventually closing on my handy just as it completed a third ring.


“Drew? Where are you? You're gonna miss breakfast.” Mand's voice instructed.

“'s early still.”

“Only if you call quarter to nine early.”

“It's not?”

“It is.” She confirmed.

Bum, bum, bum! Not again, I must've forgotten to set my alarm.

“I'll be there,”

“In five minutes.” She finished the sentence for me.

* pollo = chicken

** Dr Who's ‘spaceship'

to be continued....

© Maddy Bell 19.06.13

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