by Patrick Vogt, Lotus Seven Owners Switzerland
Some have scratched their heads: What the hell does the "Fuori del Tempo" mean? Well, it is the Italian for “outside of time”. The organiser of this event was inspired by the Italian watch brand Officine Panerai, who advertised years ago with the claim “Comandante del Tempo”.
Fuori del Tempo was therefore suitable for a meeting in the French-speaking Jura, which is indeed a little ‘out of time’. And since the Swiss Richemont Group also owns the Panerai brand, the touch was only superficially Italian. In the Jura the clocks tick particularly loudly, albeit quietly. Many world-famous manufacturers hide in the sleepy valleys, and quite a few check the accuracy of their products either visually or with the machines of the "Prättigauer". These are sold to the Jura at high margins and therefore gives him the opportunity to use his 485- Seven to great advantage.
In fact, the Vaud region in particular still has the atmosphere of the Helvetian Ancien Régime, which perished in 1798, the time in which the Bernese patricians enslaved the people and the countryside. Everywhere, through the golden mist of autumn there were wonderful vineyards, bordered by stately farmhouses from a time of the immeasurable wealth of the farmers in the region.
What a romantic image but that is exactly where the two associations Lotus Seven Owners Switzerland (LSOS) and Lotus Seven Club Deutschland (LSCD) should have met in autumn 2020. However, the virus that thwarted all of us meeting together, Covid 19, meant that the meeting was postponed until this year and at very short notice.
Even this year with many restrictions lifted there was hesitancy for some participants. Covid 19 certificates were required in Burgundy, our excursion on Saturday, as well as for Switzerland and all in restaurants. An essential bit of paper for a seven meeting!. Nevertheless, 41 people registered in 26 Sevens, although a few had to cancel before the start due to an accident, illness, and fear of Covid19.
At the beginning of autumn in Europe, Friday, September 24th, 21 Sevens arrived at the Grand-Hôtel des Rasses, located high above the Swiss Plateau. The hotel was built at the end of the 19th century and deserves the name "Grand Hotel" not because of the gloss, that has long since peeled off, but because of the number of rooms. As a meeting organiser this is important as you don't know how many will register, and you don't want to turn anyone away. Large hotels are rare in the Jura, with the exception of the expensive palaces on Lake Geneva. Hey and after all, the hotel had won the “Historic Hotel of the Year 2019” award, so it wasn't all bad. The terrace in particular, with its view of the Alpine chain, pampered our eyes, while diligent staff served cool drinks - perfect.
After dinner, a few drinks and a good night’s sleep on comfortable mattresses, we set off for Burgundy. Some navigating with a sat nav, some without, and some just with their senses. The winding route took us into picturesque gorges, over hills and past castles. Here and there, pee breaks were taken, with the Sevens standing chaotically all over the landscape as their owners relieved their bladders. So enchanting were the routes that some participants forgot the map and passed the same castle several times, and therefore appeared an hour later for lunch in Charchilla in the Jurassienne restaurant, with good cuisine on the Lac de Vouglans.
Due to the delay, we voted democratically to shorten the route planned for the afternoon by 100 km. We didn’t experience fewer twisting and turning roads, but we did skip the slalom course over the Lake Geneva basin. A fortunate move as it turned out as this usually unvisited area was very busy, which is why we did not miss anything except the traffic jam.
Urs Roniger, 82-year-old and an active LSOS member until 20 years ago, served as a bartender for the afternoon aperitif in Saint-Cerque. Urs used to have a seal moustache, that gave him the name "Läppli", because he not only looked like “HD-Läppli” a character played by Alfred Rasser (1907 –1977) a Swiss comedian, but he was also like that. Together with his girlfriend at the time (who looked like Liza Minnelli) the couple was just known as “Läppli and Liza”. Well, the seal moustache has gone because of his new girlfriend, but the rogue was still there. After the obligatory white wine on the street, we continued over winding roads back to the hotel, where we all arrived safely at around 5:00 p.m.
Even with the best organization, mistakes happen. There was no coordination of the menus of the restaurants we visited, which meant that it was the same for lunch and dinner. The starter, main course and dessert were so similar, as was as if there had been leftovers from lunch it was recycled in the evening, but few complained. The chicken was washed down with absinthe, cognac or beer, while outside the stars exchanged for thick clouds with a silver lining as the rain did a great job of cleaning the Sevens which were covered with cow dung.
On Sunday the rain clouds hung low, so there was once again a vote to swap the Sunday driving programme to the La Petite Gilbert restaurant in Courgenay for the direct drive home. Not all followed the vote, some drove hard through the rain to Courgenay and sent a photo from there. That's how it is done.
In 2022, the Germans (LSCD) will be the organisers of the annual autumn meeting of the clubs, and we look forward to wide Black Forest roads and a lot of tyre wear!
Patrick is a Lotus Seven SII driver since 1986. He was the former editor of the Swiss Seven magazine and the former chairman of the Swiss Seven Club. Now, he is organizing for the International 7 Network all the paperwork.