The Alfa, Rolle and Us.

Alfa 147 @ Le Verger

It’s Friday afternoon. I’m driving down the motorway between Lausanne and Geneva, the Alfa 147 sensitive and purring like a mountain lion. To my left Lake Geneva, keeping France at an arms length and gleaming white and hovering between all the blue is Mont Blanc. I ask myself the question. How did you arrange this? This time last year you and Jo were baking in the winter sun of Longreach and driving between the dead earth that is the road to Winton, which even the crows have enough sense to avoid. The pure answer is I couldn’t have dreamt this up even in my best day dream. Not this setting and detail at least. I know there is a big picture, a universe without end and fearlessly we can be in any and all parts of that expansive greatness. I loved being in Longreach but three days would pull it up. I love being in Lausanne and the universe keeps opening up.
About the Alfa Romeo 147. My mate Pete Hollard has told me at least a dozen times (at least) about how when he was forty he bought an Alfa GTV and used to fly like a wild beast with it up and down the Adelaide Hills. The GTV would growl and grunt like some untamed thing as it hugged the corners and spat molten tar against the guard rails. Pete would wind down the window and shout words of encouragement to it, the rush of the air slapping his beads and gold chains against his chest to the screeching rhythm of Santana’s Black Magic Woman. When I started looking at cars over here these Alfa 147’s kept sticking their bonnets into the picture. I was thinking Saab 93 but they were not to be.  The short story is I found this baby out the back of the Hyundai yard, freshly traded and looking for a new direction in life. I took her for a test drive and as they say in Switzerland, ‘voila’. It is interesting how you can buy a car through a French speaking car sales technician who cannot speak a word of English and here you are speaking no French. Thank God we had the advantage of being able to ‘phone a friend’ (his mother) when either of us hit the wall.
Jo hadn’t seen the Alfa until after I’d picked it up today. I called at the school and took her for a spin. The red duco and U2 perking out ‘In the Name of Love’ on the stereo made for an instant love story.
So here I am Pete with Peter Gabriel taking me back to the early nineties (about the time of your Alfa experience) on Yes FM. I press the electric window button to down. The high-coiled, tight-lipped gurgle is immediately recognizable and all I can do to respond is push the pedal to where it wants to be and shout ‘Sledgehammer’ as the cameras flash above me. 
For the next three months we are living in an apartment at Le Verger (where I volunteer) in Rolle. Rolle is situated on the Lake about half an hour west of Lausanne central. We have a view of the lake, Thonon and the French alps from our bedroom window. It is very quiet here after Rue de Borde, but a good quiet. The people working and living here great to have around and the village shops are a five minute walk. You can swim in the lake while looking up at the perpetually snow-capped Mont Blanc which is kind of weird. Somehow though I don’t think we’ll be doing swimming for much longer. there is a definite cool change in the air this morning. Have found a local, cafe (coffee shop, boulangerie, patisserie whatever you like to call it) that has promise, with indoor and outdoor comfort and fine coffee. Yes and you can include pastries. 
We had a relaxing day Saturday with Jo getting used to driving the Alfa in the Euro conditions. We checked out Mount Rolle and scooted along the lake to Nyon. Wentfor a two hour walk with Harvey and Lyn on Saturday afternoon, up through the vineyards above Pully, into the forest and then along to Belmont and back down to the lake. After a two hour walk with Harvey on Friday I was almost walked out. We made the mistake of doing a ramble through the forest trails near Chalet Gobet but only realised after an hour that our ramble had been all down hill. But the walk up and back wasn’t so bad.

At Mount Rolle
View from our bedroom

Out front of Le Verger


  1. cool car man. Good description. I could hear that exhaust crackling as well. Drive safe brother!


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