Travel: Your holiday disaster

The white wine, Richard Marsden was assured, tasted like paint stripper. But he thought he'd find out for himself...

We returned to Chateau Lucretia one evening, exhausted but exhilarated after a day's skiing in the Italian Alps. Copious quantities of red and white wine were served in carafes at the dinner table each evening by our chalet maids, Jane and Clurr.

My instinct is always to go for the red. Cheap red is usually drinkable, whereas cheap white tastes like paint stripper. Lucretia's white was no exception. Having avoided the paint stripper for the first three nights, I thought it was time I experienced what all the fuss was about. I was joined by David, the only other of my party who had been sticking to the red.

Simultaneously, we took our first swigs of the evening. In the split second before I drank I remember smelling the wine. "That's strange," I thought, "no smell." I had missed the only danger signal. David yelled first. Our mouths were on fire. It felt as though the skin on our throats had been ripped away, exposing the raw flesh to a deluge of hydrochloric acid.

Not even cheap Italian wine could be that bad. We soon found out that we had consumed industrial strength dishwasher fluid, otherwise known as potassium hydroxide, an alkali with a pH high enough to dissolve your chemistry teacher. The chalet was linked to a hotel and rather than going to the extraordinary expense of providing the chalets with dishwasher powder, the tour operator was leaving the maids to decant fluid from the hotel vat. Our maids were using empty wine bottles for this task.

David and I reacted by downing water by the gallon, pausing only to throw it up again in a desperate attempt to clear our systems. This was apparently completely the wrong thing to do, as it forced the alkali up and down our throats again and again.

Eventually an ambulance turned up, and we were rushed, with sirens screaming, along dark, blizzard-stricken roads on a hell ride to Aosta general hospital, at the bottom of the Mont Blanc valley. Once there, we were ushered through a warren of corridors and elevators for emergency endoscopies.

Half an hour later I was lying in the geriatrics ward attached to a drip. I was told that there was no space for David and me to be in the same ward. This may have been true, but in fact David was in intensive care, surrounded by an array of tubes and LCD displays.

It was a week before our insurance company gained permission to fly us home. During that time, we had no food and drink but were fed through a tube that ran up our right arm and into our chests. Alternate saline and glucose solutions plus (if we were lucky) a mysterious milky liquid flowed up our arms, day in, day out. The hardest task was going to the toilet attached to a heavy stand containing a bottle and electronic monitor.

Meanwhile, Dave and I are back on our skis. We were in France in January and will be back again in March next year. Anything goes on the slopes, but it is strictly red wine for the apres-ski.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer - £30,000 OTE Uncapped

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor / Administrator

    £13000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines