Friday, February 28, 2014

Tiny Boat, Heavy Rain, and a Big Smile

A few days ago I received a text image from my friend Andrew McHardy in New Zealand.

First thing I noticed: how tiny the boat was.
I took a closer look and recognized gondola-like contours, along with a few unique features I hadn't seen, at least not in Venice.

Then, I realized that the surroundings were definitely not Venetian.
A closer inspection revealed that the boat was out in the pouring rain and appeared to be plying a flooded street.
One person, riding in the front, had an umbrella, while the other occupant sat in the back wearing a big yellow raincoat and an even bigger smile.

I jumped on-line and searched "gondola in the rain", figuring that I probably wouldn't find anything helpful.  In minutes I saw several more shots of the same boat, with the same background, and more importantly - the same guy on the back in a yellow raincoat and a smile.
(for the record, he was wearing more than just the raincoat - but it was the raincoat that stood out)

With this next link I learned that this gondola voyage in the rain was a recent event, and took place in the UK during a storm which caused flooding in the village of Datchet (along the Thames), along with many other areas.
"Torrential rain and strong winds hit the UK - in pictures"
(see the 8th photo down)

This happened about a couple weeks ago.  The folks in the gondola were out promoting their Italian restaurant, and giving a shining example of how to make the best out of the worst kind of situation...and the cameras loved them.

The 14th photo down on this next link shows a much clearer view of the boat, while floating in front of the restaurant.
"UK Floods Crisis: Hurricane Force Winds Batter Britain"

More images can be seen at:
This Daily Telegraph photo collection
Huffington Post
and here's one from Australia

Some very compelling images are also available in this link that mentions "Plucky Brits"

In case you're wondering, yes, I did consider posting up some of the other images, but chose instead to simply link to them so each website gets the traffic they deserve for putting up such great images.
Besides, I'd rather not get sued by anybody.
(as for the above photo, well, Andrew sent me that,
so if the owner of it wants to, they can sue him - he's on a farm somewhere in New Zealand so good luck with that)

Before and after views are on display at "UK Flooding: Then and Now"

Yes, while many of us were enjoying or enduring the weather in OUR areas, the folks in Datchet were getting a thorough washdown.
Datchet is a fairly small village, I'm told, with a population of just over 4,500.   
The restaurant is “Piccola Venezia”
They did some great publicity work, but it wasn't all smooth sailing for them.
According to their website, they were forced to close due to flooding, but I found their facebook page, and was happy to learn that they are now back in the business of making pizzas and putting smiles on the faces of their patrons.
As for that unusual gondola. turns out it was once Elton John's gondola.

I reached out through facebook, hoping to get in touch with the current owners, and was pleased to get a response from them.

Hi Greg thanks for taking out time to message us thanks for your compliments and we are happy to share with you some of the info on the gondola , firstly it was owned by Elton John , we then got our hands on it by a customer at our restaurant so as a publicity stunt we followed it through as we had no other option of bringing customers to our restaurant. 

For the record, I don't believe that he used the gondola to actually carry passengers.  When he says "bringing customers to our restaurant" I think he means create interest in the restaurant.  But hey, I could be wrong.

He continued:
We are a family run Italian restaurant in Datchet just outside of London, my name is Domenico keep up to date with us on Facebook, many thanks from the other side of the world from all my staff.

So that's the story so far.

I would love to visit the town of Datchet next time I'm in the UK, see their unusual gondola, and have some great pizza.

Cheers Domenico - way to keep a stiff upper lip and make the best out of a bad situation.

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