Thanks to all of you who came along to the launch of the book “Slow Train to Switzerland” by Diccon Bewes at the Ferme du Manoir last night. Over 80 people listened to Diccon (author, travel writer and great raconteur!) tell the story of the first Thomas Cook escorted tour to Switzerland over 150 years ago, through the journals of Miss Jemima Morell from Selby in Yorkshire – one of the passengers on this first tour.
We heard how Jemima and the other ladies on the tour clambered over glaciers in their crinoline dresses, endured difficult travelling conditions, ate copious courses in some of the hotels and we learned about the hotel industry in Switzerland at that time. Diccon also told us how Switzerland quickly realised its tourist potential with the arrival of British tourists and how the country began to build many train lines to accommodate them all and take them up its mountains. We also heard about the contrast between Switzerland and Britain, then and now.
We heard about Thomas Cook himself – how he negotiated discounted rates with the hotels and how he came up with the idea of a “traveller’s cheque”. Diccon recounted how he followed in the footsteps of Jemima Morell by recreating her journey and the interesting coincidence he discovered about the author after he had finished the tour and began writing the book. The evening was a run away success!
For those of you that enquired about the Yorkshire cheese served that night, (to link the Yorkshire theme!) this was Wensleydale Cheese served both plain, and with cranberries.
The white wine was from a local farm and vineyard in Signy near Nyon called Le Panier Gourmand. This is a lovely farm shop that has lots of local sourced produce and wine for sale.
The red wine was a Pinot Noir rom the Valais called Hurlevent