Monday, April 30, 2012

Cleaning the Wandle April 2012

Erica described this as "the one with the obstinate lamp post" but I think of it as "the one with no shopping trolleys". I always describe these community clean ups as pulling shopping trolleys out of the Wandle so it was a little disappointing not to find any this time.


Still there was plenty of other rubbish to haul out. The carpets are the worst (after duvets) because of the weight of water. You have to haul them part way out and wait a while for the water to drain out before it gets possible to haul them the rest of the way. Given the height of the banks much of that water dripped into my hair - rank and filthy water, yuck!


Theo, the chairman of the trustees, is a keen angler and has just published a book on urban fishing, "Trout in Dirty Water" - a guide to urban fly-fishing, river restoration and the voluntary sector in the 21st century. Naturally I had to get a copy and have it signed by the author.


Theo Pike book signing

The water was deep and the waders were heavy and awkward - call me the Stumbling dice. I stumbled in the water and got a wader full of Wandle, I stumbled on the bank and got a handful of stinging nettles, I stumbled on the path and got a kneeful of grazes. Doctor, doctor what should I do? Limp!


This is at lunchtime, the final haul was: 1 holdall, 1 metal barrier, 1 saw, 1 car seat, 1 wheelbarrow, 1 fridge door, 1 microwave, 1 tarpaulin, 1 long plastic pipe, 2 lamp posts, 2 oil drums, 2 metal frames, 2 road cones, 2 office chairs, 2 televisions, 3 large bore pipes, 3 mattresses, 4 metal pipes, 5 pallets, 6 metal bars, 6 plastic pipes, 6 sheets of corrugated iron, 8 carpets, 12 tyres and approximately 2 tonnes of other unidentified rubbish.


Hard work and a knackered knee but still, a mountain of rubbish and a job well done :-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Easter 2012 - Home alone with the family

Mary was off on a business trip to Ecuador leaving me home alone to spend quality time with the cats - an ideal time to catch up with family.

Good Friday: first stop - down to Farnham to visit Mum and Dad and meet up with an old family friend, Heather, who my father describes as an honorary daughter.

Easter 2012 - Heather at Farnham

Easter 2012 - Heather at Farnham

We have known Heather over 40 years, since school days. She and her husband dropped in on their way to Arundel for an extended cuppa.

Easter 2012 -  me, Jane, Chris, Dad.

Easter 2012 - me, Jane, Chris, Dad.

Next I was on chauffeur duty to drive Mum and Dad over to Jane and Pete's for a full family "Sunday" roast with all three of their boys plus a wife, Vanessa, and a fiancé, Hannah.

Easter 2012 - family meal

Easter 2012 - family meal

Later it was back to Farnham to spend the evening with Mum and Dad and an overnight stay.

Easter Sunday I had supper with brother Ian and Sarah for a general natter, so all in all, a full on family weekend.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Opening up Trullo Azzurro - Spring 2012

Every spring we go out to open up for the season and prepare Trullo Azzurro for our first guests. Basically it is the reverse of the autumn close down visit when we went to harvest the olives, bag up all the linens and generally prep the place for over-wintering.

Key to opening up is airing the mattresses and bedding - we drag the beds out into the sunshine to drive off the winter damp and hang out all the duvets on the line. We also leave all the doors to let the wind breeze through the building.

Trullo Azzurro - airing bedding
Mary supervising the pillows as they top up their tan

We have someone who does the "macro-gardening" for us: the trees have been pruned and the grounds rotovated. That left us to do "micro-gardening": weeding the flower beds and bundling up the tree trimmings for kindling.

Trullo Azzurro - garden rotovated

Another consequence of the Puglian winters is soggy salt. All the salt cellars and grinders are full of damp salt which won't grind or pour and needed drying out in the sunshine.

Trullo Azzurro - salt drying

Other standard "to do" items are meet with our local agent to top up the kitty, drop in on Carol and Mino at Truddhi and go out for a meal with neighbours Chris & John.

In amongst all this we managed to squeeze in few hours sunbathing and relaxing and eating and drinking. A weekend is not enough and it is a long time till our September trip so Mary has booked flights for long weekends in May and July; can't wait to go back.

Trullo Azzurro logoTrullo Azzurro: beautifully restored trullo in delightful, secluded valley near Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Available to rent on a per week basis, sleeps 4-6. For more information visit

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Sting at the Hammersmith Apollo

London, Tuesday 20-March-2012

The Back to Bass tour.

An opportunity to see another legend this time of music rather than movies. Last time we saw Sting it was as part of the reformed Police in 2007 and before that a solo gig at Wembley Arena. The solo gig I was a little disappointed in, the Police gig was good, but this was excellent.

From the tour name I was expecting an acoustic set but in fact he had a full band - a guitar, bass, violin, drums and backing singer.

Sting at the Hammersmith Apollo

We went with our friend Andrea, We had supper at a local pub The Distillers before the show and a drink after.

Sting played two solid hours and for the encore did a solo guitar version of "Message in a Bottle" - an excellent finale. The reviews were luke-warm but then it depends on your point of view. Sting is generously represented in our CD collection so we were expecting an enjoyable time and that is exactly what we got :-)

Reviews from: The Independent and This Is London.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Joan Collins at The Leicester Square Theatre

London, Thursday, 15-Mar-2012

I was a little surprised at Mary's choice of entertainment, "One Night with Joan Collins" - not our normal type of theatrical selection - but still I thought it would be fun and it was. We had seen Joan once before in 1990 when she played Amanda in a revival of Noel Coward's Private Lives. Basically this was a one-woman show covering her life in four parts: the film star, the Dynasty star, the home-maker and the celebrity survivor.

Pre-theatre supper at Mary's old haunt, Kettners, then a short stroll to the The Leicester Square Theatre. It is an excellent little theatre right in the heart of the West End but walking past you would hardly know it was there.

Joan Collins at The Leicester Square Theatre

Much of the narrative was backed by a collection of movie and TV clips some of which were hilarious and some showed her as one of the great Hollywood beauties. The last section was a Q & A session with questions handed in at the interval. They were read out by her husband and Joan made the submitter stand up so she to talk to them directly. A great evening in the company of a living legend.