Monday, February 28, 2005

If it's Saturday it must be Italy

This weekend was the shortest possible trip to Italy to see the work-in-progress at the Hovel in the Hills ™. We flew 7:15 am Saturday morning and back 11:30 am Sunday morning. Since we didn't fancy getting up at 4:00 am to drive up an icy M11 we decided to take the Stansted Express and treat ourselves to an on-airport hotel stay Friday night, the Radisson SAS is only five minutes stroll from the terminal.

I was most impressed. The hotel is smart and the Tapas Restaurant was excellent. Given a captive audience and a good percentage of business travellers it is easy for a hotel restaurant to get complacent, not so here. The food was well cooked, the prices reasonable and the Spanish waitress friendly and attentive. Much better that our local Tapas round the corner in Old York Road.

In Italy, Daniele and the workmen have made a start: creating a second driveway for the upper half of the property and digging a trench round the pizza oven and the lamia. This will help with drainage of the water that flows down the hill and so keep the house dry.

Trulli repairs
View of new drive and drainage ditch round pizza oven and side of lamia(taken from the roof of the lamia).

Friday, February 25, 2005

The train has wings

The reason for the delay on posting about the wine dinner was that I was in Zurich Tuesday and Wednesday. Leaving the office I could tell the people who don't do much business travel. They said things like "Have a good time" and "Enjoy yourself" as if it was some kind of holiday. They do not realise it is just commuting like they do every day, except the train has wings.

It really is not as glamorous as they think. As seasoned business travellers know it is mostly airport, taxi, office, hotel, taxi, airport. I spent Monday evening and Wednesday evening sitting in airports and airplanes instead of relaxing at home with Mary and the cat - not much of a trade :-(

People ask how I keep my weight under control with all this eating in hotel restaurants. The answer is easy: twice a week I eat airline food.

The Heart of Italy Dinner

Last week was a bit of a wine week what with Valentine's Night where we spent more on wine than food as usual, seeing the recommendable film Sideways and then on Saturday another Berry Bros and Rudd dinner - Heart of Italy - with Pete&Amanda. Held at BBR's premises in St James Street the menu was as follows:

2002 Verdicchio Classico Superiore Castelli di Jesi, Vegneti di Musone - Marche

Welcome from Chris Maybin, Marketing Manager

2000 Chianti Classico, Villa di Geggiano - Tuscany

Mixed antipasti

2001 Mirum, Verdicchio Marche Bianco, Fattoria la Monacesca - Marche

Seafood Penne in a Saffron Broth

1999 Vino Nobile do Montepulciano Riserva dei Mandorli, Massimo Romeo - Tuscany
1997 Brunello do Montalcino, Riserva Casisano Colombaio - Tuscany

Arista (Roasted Loin of Pork with Rosemary and Garlic), Canenellini Beans (selection of fresh seasonal vegetables)

2001 Visions of J. Fattoria le Terrazze - Marche

Selection of classic pecorino cheeses with mostarda


Berrys' selected coffee and dinner mints

Another fine evening. For me the star of the evening was the 2001 Mirum, Verdicchio and so Mary ordered a case - good move!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Living with my wife

As promised in Breaking the Fourth Wall and alluded to in Table for Two? a bit of background on the fact that I now live with my Wife!

For the last ten+ years we have been like the couple in the weather vane. Always one in, one out and never at the same time. When we first moved to Avon Cottage I commuted to Farnborough and Mary rented a spare room from a friend in London coming home at weekends.

After three months she decided to relocate, after all we were not long married. We would drive to Farnborough where I would throw her out at the train station and she would complete her commute by public transport. After three months of that CSC sent me to Histon, north of Cambridge, for fifteen months and the tables were turned.

And so it has gone for the last decade until January this year (2005). For the first time in all that time we now co-habit seven days a week. This has given rise to a certain amount of cynical humour from our friends but, notwithstanding the adjustments that always need to be made when lives change, I consider it a "Good Thing" * after all I did marry the woman!

* 1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England by W.C. Sellar, R.J. Yeatman (ISBN: 0413772705)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Table for two?

Top marks to Chez Bruce for not cashing in on Valentine's day. We were in the upstairs room where they had resisted the temptation to squeeze in an extra table. With only five couples it was possible to have a relaxed meal without overhearing whatever romantic chit-chat was going on at the next table. Also they had on a full menu, not some limited choice Valentine's Special. And very tasty it was too.

It was nice to be in the same country at the same time for Valentine's Day. Unlike the caller on Sunday's Classic FM phone-in who, after 20 years of marriage, was having to spend his first Valentine's apart from his wife. For goodness sake are they joined at the hip? We normally only have that luxury if it falls on a weekend as it did last year.

Mary was in Dublin so I went over for the weekend and we went to Ely Wine Bar and Cafe, Mary's favourite "100+ wines by the glass" wine bar. When I rang to book the conversation (and surely it could only happen in Ireland) went like this:

Me: "Do you have any availability for Valentine's night?"
Ely's: "Yes, what time would you like?"
Me: "Excellent! Could you do 8 o'clock?"
Ely's: "Certainly, sir, and how many would that be for?"

Monday, February 14, 2005

That was the weekend that was

Only one post last week doesn't mean nothing happening, quite the reverse. A busy week work-wise with two days delivering training in Zurich. The only reason I posted at all was the delayed LX340 on the way home Wednesday evening. That gave me time to use the free cyber corner in the Executive lounge.

The weekend was busy too with the usual giddy round of shopping and domestic chores - this weekend: clear outs. The spare bedroom-cum-study is now a lot tidier, the draw under the bed with all the holiday stuff is a lot emptier and the storage crates in the loft are fewer than they were.

On the up side spring is on the way. The narcissi, snowdrops and primuli are in bloom and the daffodils are starting to shoot. The light at the end of the Winter tunnel is in sight. Mary re-did the window boxes so we will have lots of jolly flowers in spring to brighten the front of the cottage.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Not-so-Super Bowl

I am sure it is a fine sporting event but the time difference means it is broadcast in the wee small hours here in the UK as I discovered Sunday night, or should that be Monday morning?

The lads upstairs were having a sports night in with, I suspect, more than a few beers. Although our flat and theirs share the same layout the usage is different with their living room being above our bedroom, thus I could hear their chat late into the night. So I put in my earplugs (Virgin Atlantic blue ones but I prefer the BA trad tubular yellow kind) and turned over trying to ignore it.

However I could not ignore the blast of Status Quo at china duck rattling volumes at 3:30 am. Ok, I thought, they are pissed and have poor judgment as a result. One track and I would have let it pass but they boogied on so at track four I upped and dressed to go knock on their door. You hear such "neighbours-from-hell" tales that I was concerned to deal with this in a non-confrontational way so that no offence and retaliation / escalation should occur.

My opening gambit was "Excellent choice of music <pause and shrug> but not so sure about the timing..." The guy apologised and turned the music down, but not off. At least it was enough to allow me to sleep but I was not at my sparkiest all day Monday.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Breaking the fourth wall

Saturday was not only Mary's biggest birthday party but also the one year blogiversary of Gullible's Travels. Average Posts Per Week 3; Posts Written 124; Words Written 16,003.

I was tempted to do a retrospective like all my our friends' Christmas newsletters. You know the thing, "Jasper has just passed his grade 8 maracas and been accepted for the RPO, Daphne is into horses and going through a bit of a Goth phase". Then email it to the Williams, the Thynnes, the Bennells and the Wallaces :-)

This week has been too busy, as the absence of a Wednesday post attests, so a full retrospective will have to wait. It has been a year of endings and beginnings. Several sad passings and the trauma of Mum's near misses. On the other hand Mary and I are now living together (an entry yet to be blogged) and the Trulli saga truly begins with the future life that portends.

* Fourth wall