Monday, October 30, 2006

Siblings in Puglia

This weekend the six of us went to the Hovel-in-the-Hills™: Mary&Me, brother Ian&Sarah, sister Jane&Pete.

There was a little trepidation as this was the first time my family have been over to visit after three years of seeing the photographs and hearing the long drawn out saga of the purchase and the building works. You know the sort of thing: I hope they like it, I hope the weather holds, I hope the flights are on time, etc.

As it turned out all went as well as I could hope for. Jane and Sarah gritted their teeth, forsook their cleansing lotions and unguents and went hand luggage only which helped a lot. We flew out Friday night, Ryanair Standsted to Bari, picked up the hire car and went straight to Locorotondo, walked through the town and got to the restaurant Centro Storico about 10:15 pm for a late supper.

Rear view of Trulli

Saturday morning was the usual flurry of workmen. Daniele's collaborator, Stefano, arrived to oversee the locksmith, the heating engineer and the blacksmith. Meanwhile we awaited delivery of the last piece of furniture - a cabinet for the bathroom.

Blacksmith fitting Pizza Oven door

Mary stayed behind while I took the rest over to see Alberobello, a whole town of Trulli. Then back for lunch on our new dining table. After a siesta we took them in to see Cisternino, our other local town, and settled up with the furniture shop. We went back into Cisternino for the evening meal at Osteria Sant'Anna and it lived up to all that we had told them about it.

Jane, Mark, Ian, Sarah, Pete, Mary

Sunday morning exceeded the weather forecast so much that we were able to breakfast al fresco. Then it was a trip to the coast for a tour of the archaeological site at Ignazia followed by lunch in a seafood restaurant overlooking the Adriatic. Finally back to the Hovel to pack up and set off for the airport

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mushroom Foray in the New Forest

Every year Peter Jordon and his wife Val (Tasty Mushroom Partnership) run a couple of forays in the New Forest. This year we were able to get down to the cottage that weekend and take them out for a meal to repay their hospitality from a couple of years ago (see "How do you know they're toadstools").

Saturday evening we took them to Plummers in Ringwood High Street for a very enjoyable meal. Sunday we joined the other 20 or so mushroom hunters for the morning foray. After a successful morning's picking we all had a lunch of mushroom soup followed by mushroom croustade (cooked by Peter and Val). At that point we dipped out and went back to Wandsworth with our haul: Sunday roast with fried Ceps (aka Penny Bun aka Porcini) and Monday night soup with the rest.

basketful of mushroomstrug of mushrooms

edible mushrooms book cover

Peter very kindly gave us a signed copy of his excellent new book "Field Guide to Edible Mushroom of Britain and Europe". You can order your own *signed* copy via his website.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Crock of Gold

About four years ago Mary's sister, Sandra, bought Mary a ceramic piggy bank. Mary decided she would feed it two pound coins. For the last few years she has spent scarcely a single one. They all went into the jar (along with any she could steal from me).

ceramic piggy bank before smashing
Crock before smashing

But then it got so full that even with a good shuggle we could not get another coin in so it was time for the hammer! Including three coins in her purse that could not be forced in, the grand total came to a surprisingly tidy sum!!

ceramic piggy bank after smashing
Crock after smashing

Counting the money
Counting the money

Of course it's all gone now - she went to Max Mara and bought a very fine, brown winter coat and used the change to buy trousers and a dress.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My old Claud Butler

A while back Rosa asked about my trusty steed - an old Claud Butler (no "e" in Claud). Well she asked...

I bought it second-hand off Penny (Dave's first wife) sometime around 1984 (give or take a year). It is obviously a man's frame. It makes more sense for a woman to buy a male frame as they are stronger (or lighter for the equivalent strength). The saddle tube had snapped so I had to get that extracted and bought myself the classic Brooke's leather saddle it still has to this day.

Claud Butler frame
Claud Butler frame

Over the years almost every part has been replaced apart from the frame, forks and handle bars. The seat post, saddle, wheels, chain rings, rear block, mudguards, panniers, crank arms, pedals have all been replaced at some point. I even had the frame stripped and repainted its current metallic blue colour. The guys who did it welded a crack near the headset and kindly preserved the CB badge. The model is unknown but I know the frame is 501 tubing.

Claud Butler frame
Claud Butler badge

When I worked in London I used to cycle the 9.25 miles from South Wimbledon to Devonshire Square in the City (of London) for four years from the beginning of April to the end of November clocking up over 10,000 miles. Plus various other excursions means that saddle and my bum have been through a lot together. Then I changed job, started working out of London and the bike no longer got the same usage until this current contract back in London.

Claud Butler frame
Claud Butler saddle

For the full story of urban cycling this time round go to Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle and work your way forward.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More of Dad's Pictures

I took a load of pictures of the pictures at the opening of Dad's exhibtion at Wolfson College, Oxford. I have reworked his site and started to put those pictures online at

Click on Gallery 1 to see thumbnails and links to bigger versions. I have done the first dozen, only 29 to go!

This is a holding site at until I can get his domain name transferred over and a proper hosted site put up.

The Italian Grand Tour Dinner

Friday, October 06, 2006

Another BBR extravaganza down in the sub-basement of the Napoleon cellars, so named because one of the founders, Mr Rudd, was mates with the Emperor who used to frequent the establishment.

Hosted by Chris Pollington


2004 Gris Pinot Grigio, Lis Neris, Fruili

Swordfish carpaccio

2005 Gavi di Gavi, Cru La Maddelana, Roberto Saroot, Piedmont

Risotto with porcini and parmesan shavings

2000 Barbaresco, Cru Serrabolla, Cigliuti, Piedmont

Wild boar stufato with roast plums and creamed mash

1999 Barolo, Cru Monprivato, Castiglioni Falletto, Guiseppi Mascarello, Piedmont
1999 Brunello di Montalcino, Lisini, Tuscany

Parmesan and aged pecorino with figs and mostarda

2000 Mithas, Amarone della Valpolicella, Corte Sant'Alda, Veneto

Zabaglione with spiced winter fruit compote and vanilla shortbread

2004 Moscato d'Asti, Bava, Piedmont

Berry's selected coffee and chocolate

and a taxi home...

The Gavi di Gavi was good so we have ordered a case :-)

Gullible's Travels has moved to

My blog is now at

My ISP's webserver has been down for over 10 days now ( Not impressive. I am glad I am not a customer running a business website. So I decided enough of using the free webspace that came with my account, after all you get what you pay for. So I moved my domain name to, bought a hosting package and re-uploaded my files. Well most of them, more to follow, some to reconstruct / recreate and some to edit the blog links for the pictures. Bear with me while I sort out the stragglers. Let's hope for a more stable future.

Now to catch up on the missed blogging...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

If you can afford a Maserati

What is wrong with these drivers? Are they brain-dead from the steering wheel up? Yesterday lunchtime I encountered not one, not two but three incidents of thoughtless and illegal driving.

First was the lady in the Mercedes who stopped her car two-thirds of the way over a Zebra crossing (US: crosswalk). I glared and walked round.

Then there was the smartly dressed lady in a silver Maserati dialling a number on her hand-held mobile (US: cell phone*). As a frequent urban cyclist I am particularly sensitive to drivers who are not in full control of their vehicles. Before I could react the lights changed and off she drove phone still in hand.

As luck would have it I met her again several blocks later as she was feeding a parking meter. I introduced myself and in my best über-polite manner pointed out the nature of my concerns, observed that if she could afford a Maserati she could certainly afford a hands-free car kit and suggested she treat herself to one.

Finally there was the Volvo driver who decided that stopping at red lights was optional. I was at a junction, the lights had changed fully to red and as I started to cross this driver, half a block away, decided stopping was not for him. I narrowly missed having my toes run over and I gave the side of his car a good thwack with the flat of my hand as it whistled by.

Mary says I shouldn't do this as some drivers are very protective of their vehicles. If he had stopped to remonstrate with me I would be polite but am quite prepared to engage the 'very loud shouty circuit' if needed and go verbally postal. This is the kind of driving up with which I will not put.

* I love the Italian use of the diminutive for these: telefonino - little telephone.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Michael McLellan: A Retrospective

Michael McLellan: A Retrospective

  2nd to 20th October 2006  
  at Wolfson College, Linton Road, Oxford, OX2 6UD  
  Open Daily 10am to 4pm subject to College commitments.  
  Visitors are advised to ring the college lodge beforehand +44 1865 274100  

It would help if I had put the details of the exhibition in my previous posts! The reason for calling is that the rooms are also used for meetings and other functions, so to avoid disappointment call first.

Some piccies
Room 1: Pictures 1 to 15
Room 1: Pictures 1 to 15

Room 2: Mark thanks Ben (out of shot)
Room 2: Mark thanks Ben (out of shot)

Room 3: Michael explains the imagery
Room 3: Michael explains the imagery

Room 1: Picture 1 - French Street
Room 1: Picture 1 - French Street

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Michael McLellan Exhibition Private View

Sunday was the private view for the opening of Dad's exhibition at Wolfson College, Oxford and by general agreement a most successful event.

Saturday morning Mary and I drove down to Farnham to fill the boot with paintings then off to Oxford for an 11:00 assembly at the college. Thanks to Dad's preparation in pre-stringing all the paintings the actual hanging went in record time. Each room had one person un-bagging the exhibits, another hanging on the wall and another folding up the bags for later. Others mucked in with general furniture moving and moral support. Then it was back to the hotel for lunch.

That evening we all went en-masse to a cocktail bar to celebrate Tom's 18th birthday (actually on the Sunday). Then off to Pierre Victoire for a family meal, all 15 of us: Mum&Dad, two siblings, their partners, six nephews and one girl-friend. The noise was deafening as we all talked at once and the table next door was even noisier. The resulting escalation of talk volume spiralled out of control and I felt sorry for any other diners hoping for a quiet, romantic meal for two.

After the meal us old-uns and the two youngest nephews went back to the hotel for a night cap and early to bed. The rest went off to Chris's place (he is a student at Oxford Brookes University) to party. A bleary-eyed Lorenzo informed us at breakfast that he left them to it and got back to the hotel at around 3:30am.

The private view was 12-3pm so we all went down to the college at 11:00 to be ready for the first guests who started to arrive pretty promptly. There was a large contingent of old family friends, neighbours and colleagues of Dad's many of whom were also known to us offspring. This made it seem like an episode of "This Is Your Life".

At Ian's suggestion I made a short speech of welcome and I would like to repeat here the thanks I made there:

 • Wolfson college for hosting the exhibition
 • Jan Scrivens (College Secretary) for all her help with the organisation
 • Barbara Harris-White (Professor) for the original suggestion and promoting the idea
 • Ben (Mike) Hutchinson for all his work on the graphics (poster, catalog, postcard)
 • Dad for being a talented artist

About 50 people turned up and it was more like a cheese and wine party than an art show. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet some friends of Dad I had not met before. One thing that struck me (and the others at the hanging) was how colourful the paintings are when seen all together. There were some old favorites of mine and a whole stack I had never seen before that had been lurking up in his workshop (aka spare bedroom).

Dad sold about 8 or 9 pictures and we sold 3 prints. I took a load of photos as did Mary so I plan to post some images over the next few days. We talked, we admired the art, we trod cheese into the carpet then tidied up after the guests had gone home. All in all a most satisfactory day.

See previously:
"Michael McLellan Limited Edition Prints"
"Exhibition Planning"

Monday, October 02, 2006

He looks in my mouth and then he starts to gloat

He says my teeth are OK but my gums got to go. *

Went to Raj on Friday because my teeth were giving me gyp and it looks like I am down for two crowns and an extraction at Harley Street prices. The latter may be years off but the crowns, numbers 12 and 13, are to be done as soon as I get the x-rays taken (see previously "And finally monsieur a wafer-thin mint").

Meanwhile I am on Corsodyl mouthwash, for the gingivitis. Corsodyl is one of the viler tastes on the planet and wreaks havoc with the taste buds. My tongue feels like it has been lightly sand-papered. I can forget about drinking fine wines until I am off the stuff as everything has hints of sand and glue.

* Unfinished Sweet by Alice Cooper