travel & outdoors

Click to follow
The Independent Travel
Worrisome news for next season among fashion-conscious male travellers arrives from southern France. Trendy (and comfortable) swimming shorts are out, gauche groin-hugging trunks are in. And that is not merely a fashion statement, that is the loi.

News of this tightening of the Napoleonic Code arrives courtesy of our photographer Brian Harris, who took his family on a Eurocamp holiday to Spain. They had booked an overnight stay at a camp site in Valence, halfway between Lyon and Avignon.

Mr Harris' twelve-year-old son was first into the swimming pool in his Nike swimwear, but as soon as he had dived in an attendant yelled at him to sortir. It became apparent that his son was being ejected for not wearing trunks.

In a gesture of paternal solidarity, Mr Harris jumped in too. But since his swimwear was equally interdit, the owner of the site was summoned and attempted bodily to remove Mr Harris. Not much of a holiday so far, then.

"We were told that a new French law prohibits shorts from swimming pools on grounds of hygiene. `OK,' I said, `instead of swimming I'll sit by the pool and read my book.' But this outraged le patron so much that he went and fetched a video camera to film my attempt at relaxation."

To their credit, the Eurocamp reps arranged for the family to stay at a local hotel, and paid most of the cost. Next morning, the Harris family continued to Spain, where many locals really don't care what, if anything, swimmers wear.

InterCity East Coast - which runs trains between London, Yorkshire and Scotland - has been taken over by Sea Containers Ltd. A little odd, you might think, that a railway for moving people around by land is owned by a company specialising in moving cargo around by sea.

Stranger still, the whole operation is being run from an island in the middle of the Atlantic. On Tuesday this week, the company revealed that the line was henceforth to be known as the Great North Eastern Railway. Yet the announcement came not from Berwick, but from Bermuda, from where Sea Containers appears to manage the line. To find out what lessons we might learn from the Bermudan railway heritage, I phoned the island. "We do have a shop called The Railway Company," said the lady in the tourist office in the capital, Hamilton. "We used to have a railway, too," she added, "but it closed down about 50 years ago". Not the most auspicious news for Britain's fastest railway.