Monday, January 31, 2005

Mary's birthday three times

Now that went more according to plan...

Friday night was a quiet night in with Geraldine and Alisdair who were staying with us for the week end. Saturday lunchtime it was off to Heathrow to collect Mary's sister, Sandra, and brother-in-law, George plus their friends, Willy and Isabel.

Saturday afternoon it was an "At Home" to the Scottish contingent as they polished off four bottles of champagne. Then dispersal in preparation for the evening. Included in that was warning the credit card company to expect a very large restaurant bill. The man at Amex, when Mary mentioned the amount, wittily concluded with "I hope you get pudding with that".

Saturday evening was dinner for 51 pax at Al Ponte. Those that got there earlier got the '88 Krug (en magnum), the laggards got an alternative as we only had three of the former. Service was a bit too leisurely with antipasto, pasta, main course at 11:00 (!) and desserts about midnight by which time a number had left for their last trains.

Boy can our friends drink and talk! The chatter was deafening as people mingled and chatted and circulated much to the bemusement of the staff as they tried to deliver food to the appropriate peripatetic diners.

We staggered out about 2am and back for one last nightcap with G&A then a dreamless sleep - well not so much sleep more like coma!

Pass the aspirin again.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Mary's birthday twice

Well that didn't go quite as planned...

Yesterday was Mary's actual fiftieth birthday. Plan A had been a romantic candlelit supper for two at a Michelin One Starred restaurant (Putney Bridge Restaurant). I had even arranged for Interflora to deliver a bouquet direct to the restaurant for a surprise.

What happened instead was Mary went to the physio Tuesday evening for some treatment on her bulging disc. Instead of helping, it made matters much worse. On the birthday morning she could hardly stand for the pain. I had to help her hobble from the bathroom back to the bedroom where she lay for the rest of the day in no small pain and discomfort.

So we had to cancel the booking and go for dining at home. Mary had only just been able to get up by 5 o'clock when I got home early. Instead supper was the best that M&S could provide: scallops on rocket and fillet steak with seasonal veg. Plus of course a glass of champagne and a bottle of Terre Dom Pepe (our local Locorontondo wine).

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Mary's birthday once

The weekend was literally a flying visit to Scotland. We flew for free courtesy of Mary's BMI frequent flyer points and stayed in the Hilton for free courtesy of my Hilton Honors frequent snorer points.

The occasion was a pre-birthday celebration meal with the older generation of the Galashan clan and friends who will not be down to London for this coming weekend. We had an excellent evening at The Pipers' Tryst Hotel at The National Piping Centre. Traditional Scottish meal with live music (fiddle and flute). I would recommend it for an enjoyable night out with friends.

Friday, January 21, 2005

No really it's networking not drinking!

Another CSC alumni meeting. This time in the far more congenial surroundings of The Crusting Pipe in Covent Garden.

Much the usual band of suspects: there was me, Tony Korn, Simon Hargrave, Chris Howard, John Warren, David Pelta, John Patient, Rob Heyfron, Carolyn MacDowell, Tony Czarnecki, Tony Hazel and Anne Carter. Apologies from David Martin and Anthony Bodle. A good turnout - thanks chaps.

We drank, we nibbled, we talked.

Several peeled off about 8:30 lured by the siren call of South West Trains. Mary joined us after an intensive handbag hunt in the Wild West End and came in clutching her Louis Vuitton trophy. Then we stragglers (M&M, CM, DAP, SH and TH) dined in the restaurant part (perfectable acceptable food) and staggered wandered off about 11:00.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Blog meeting 2

Went to another Blog Meet yesterday. Unlike the previous Blog meet this had 10 pax rather than the previous 4 which made for a livelier meeting. They seemed mostly normal but then I would say that wouldn't I; I was there too! Not, as my wife suspects, all techno-geeks but a cross section of normal people. Some ate, all drank, all talked.

Compared to last time I drank less, went home earlier, woke up feeling more alert. Although that may also be thanks to Cleo not scrabbling on the laminate flooring at 2:30, 4:40 and 5:25 like the night before.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Ghost cats

It was strange to go back to an empty Avon Cottage and not be greeted by a feline welcoming committee. I am so used to Oscar trotting up to the door to say hello. He did not so much demand attention but more invited it by his desire to be in the company of humans.

Oscar the black and white Persian cat

Several times in my mind I would see him trotting over to say hello or catch a glimpse of something in the corner of my eye and turn to see not Oscar but a pair of discarded jeans on the floor. The house is emptier without him, I do miss him and it still hardly seems real.

Original post The saddest news about Oscar

Friday, January 14, 2005

Inner city shopping

How different it is here in "The Great Wen" compared to our local Waitrose in Ringwood.

Firstly the very obvious (multiple) security guards at the door which says something about the level of shop-lifting that goes on. Oh the charms of inner city demographics!

Secondly the pattern of shopping. Not the weekly household trolley shop but the lunchtime basket shop for a sandwich and tonight's tea. That and the density of daytime population means queues of 60-70 in the Covent Garden M&S!

At first I thought "S*d this for a game of soldiers" and was about to return my selections to the shelves but then realised they have the single-queue / multiple-server arrangement. With 16 tills that queue rattled through in under 5 minutes and I was back out into the street clutching dinner for two.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Have you ever had a ride in a light blue car?

...Have you ever had to push push push push?

The mental jukebox has been on auto-repeat the last week or so with
Car Trouble from Dirk Wears White Sox by Adam Ant. Yesterday I twigged why.

The lifts in this office block had been breaking down regularly during December. With only two lifts operational at any one time and 12 floors to service the wait intervals drove many to the stairs. I got into the habit of using the stairs as being quicker and getting some exercise. The doors from the stairwell into the lift lobbies are labelled "Push" and without realising it have been subliminally triggering the mental play button - push push push.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Meetings in Puglia

It was a quick trip down to Puglia this weekend flying Ryan Air Friday evening out of STN down to BDS. First to meet with Pietro at the offices of Gruppo Damico and collect the actual top copy of the deeds to the Hovel-in-the-Hills. Then, after lunch, down to the property to meet with Daniele, our architect to discuss and finalise a number of options re the plans:

Plan click to enlarge
Mainly that we did not want a separate kitchen in the Trulli half. Instead to have it as a living room with sofa bed and turn the living / dining room into a kitchen / dining room.

A most successful visit apart from the late Sunday return flight. It went to schedule but getting home at 1:30 am is too late when you have to get up and go to work the next day. That Lottery ticket is just not working!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Ge'in it laldy

Every visit to Scotland adds to my repertoire of useful words and phrases for conversing with the natives locals. This time it was "Ge'in it laldy"

Watching TV on New Year's Eve the presenter described Nicola Benedetti's performance at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament buildings as "Ge'in it laldy". The humourous juxtaposition of high art and low vernacular made Mary laugh and me furrow my brow.

According to First Foot it means: " do anything with great gusto or to get laid in to someone big style whether physically or verbally."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Chad - wot no bananas

Following on from my previous post Wot no hangover I did a quick google for images of chad. I got lots of blokes called Chad and some maps of the sub-Saharan country but none of the WWII character. So here he is:
Chad - wartime graffiti

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A quiet Hogmanay

Probably the quietest on record.

The start of our Scottish sojourn was delayed when we were 2 minutes late at BOH for Ryan Air's strictly enforced 40 minute check-in cut off. What could we do but smile sweetly, pay out two lots of GBP 45 adjustment fee and vow to return 23 hours later.

New Year's Eve was the one year anniversary of Mary's father's death so an inappropriate time for celebration more for quiet reflection. We were there to keep Mary's mum May company with frequent cups of tea and biscuits plus running her to the shops and such like.

On the morning of the 31st we went to the crematorium for Mary and May to lay some freesias on the stone that marked Bill's ashes. The rest of the day was spent quietly at home. May went to bed early but Mary and I stayed up for the Bells. There can be only one toast on such an occasion "Absent Friends".