Thursday, 21 August 2008
“Voi mi dite vostro concittadino per il gusto,
che ad altri parrà singolare e che a me pare
cosi naturale, di stabilirmi in una campagna
presso di voi. Né già per un commercio, né già
per un'industria, né già per un calcolo qualunque;
ma per contemplare il sole che tramonta dietro il monte forato,
la luna che pende come una lampada accesa sul colle di Barga,
per aggirarmi all'ombra di castagni
e parlare con cuori di contadini.”
The last few lines of which say that he chose to live in Barga:
to contemplate the sun that sets behind Monte Forato,
the moon that hangs like a lit lamp over the hills of Barga;
to wander in the shade of the chestnut trees
and to talk to the hearts of the peasants.
I am open to better translations but should I have misunderstood it please don’t spoil my illusion.
Have yet to persuade myself that home is where it is at. A visit to Tesco was a reality shock – I hate Tesco – but at least I got some broccoli.
On the plus side, the suite that was being re-upholstered during our absence has turned out well.
Monday, 18 August 2008
So in a couple of days after final meals at il Bugno and l’Altana, I will once again be able to enjoy some broccoli at home. Always look on the bright side.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Loreno and I had a couple of friendly hands of poker which Loreno won – but let’s not forget who won the serious championship in January.
Andrew, Jill and Joe walked to Tiglio. I suppose someone has to do it.
Thankfully, on the way down to the pool the market stall was open. When I explained my problem to the old man whom I assume is the husband of the old lady he was sympathetic but said he could only offer a “superior” replacement product – albeit that this was the same price and also made in China.
Discussions continued until he finally conceded defeat and gave me my money – it is not of course a money thing but playing the game that counts.
Hope the watch I bought in Fornaci is more reliable.
Evening dinner was at the Pesce Patate Festival in the football stadium – the best fish and chips I have had outside Scotland and amazingly well organised.
Friday, 15 August 2008
As we were eating at home tonight I decided to use it to season the chicken I was grilling. One squeeze and it fell apart. I have saved the pieces for the fun of trying to exercise my statutory rights and get my money back. The threatened thunderstorm did materialise so unfortunately no prospect of the market or the old lady being there. Perhaps she will be there tomorrow.
On the other hand to restore the good/bad equilibrium, we heard that Andrew’s scientific contribution to the Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change Nobel Peace Prize has been officially recognised.
Day at the pool yesterday and walking round Barga today to see the Santa Maria and San Rocco Fiesta. Hopefully, the forecast thunderstorms will not materialise and the dancing in the piazza tonight will not be disrupted.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Curry last night at Delio’s – thanks Matthew for the ingredients – followed by checking the blog and searching for copri-scopri parts for Delio’s truck.
Then final drinks at Alpino’s – thanks to Roberto and everyone who has helped us settle into life in Barga.
Seems very windy today.Andrew, Jill and Joe arriving tomorrow so – need to smarten the place for visitors.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
The other contender for the title is probably the Scacciaguai which I feel verges on the pretentious – although this could be considered an unfair assessment on my part as I haven’t actually dined there.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
The table tennis tournament final saw the two top seeds, me and Roberto, facing each other under the fierce midday sun. The fact that it was a closely fought five set match with the fifth set going 22-20 does not compensate for the fact that the outcome was a bitter disappointment. Let’s not speak of it further.
On the positive front I did finish my latest Italian novel – Il giardino del Finzi-Contini – a great read.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Celebrated Matthew’s birthday in Viareggio and at Bugno.
Tonight eating at La Mocchia which contrary to rumour – that I may have started – is not closed for the next two weeks.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
While I am here, I have come under some pressure to refer to the table tennis tournament. I hadn’t thought it important as it is still work in progress. However, if I must: Roberto is currently in the lead with Tim in second position but I am confident of pulling back the championship.
Friday, 1 August 2008
Apparently, next week is Ladies night at the club but I don’t think we can make it as it is a fish night and Matthew and Michelle are not keen on fish.
Today was a pool day with insalata for lunch and now getting ready for dinner somewhere, than drinks at Alpino
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Congratulations to Loreno and Margret who today celebrate their fortieth anniversary.
Commiserations on the other hand to Roberto who was pick-pocketed in Florence: but if you will insist on wearing a shoulder bag what can you expect.
Monday, 28 July 2008
However, although we don’t usually read papers or keep up with home news while on holiday, in this instance we – or I at least – couldn’t resist going out to get yesterday’s Sunday Times to read about Gordon Brown’s latest misfortune.
Saturday, 26 July 2008
This morning we got up early – about nine o’clock – to take Carla on the walk to Sommocolonia following which some of us have had to have a siesta while I did something useful by going to Alpino to put some money on the internet SIM card, have a beer and then sort out the connection.
Now catching some more rays before dinner at home tonight. Last night we had to eat out again – great seafood with Mariann, Delio and family.
After dinner we plan to go to the Barga festival which tonight features a Beatles tribute band.
Tomorrow – Sunday – we are going to dinner in Lucca and then have tickets for the Leonard Cohen concert.
Hopefully we will be able to squeeze in a trip to the pool tomorrow between Mass and Leonard Cohen.
Friday, 25 July 2008
It went on for half an hour with bandsmen, drummers, and marchers mostly in mediaeval costume, some carrying banners and others carrying very heavy looking crossbows. After cutting up the backstreets to just below the Duomo, I watched most of them come past again through the dimly lit streets with their flares lighting the way.Just after I arrived home I heard loud explosions outside.
When I looked out from the balcony I saw a fantastic firework display which was happening just yards away from the back of the house. I believe it was part of the post procession celebrations for the participants.
Ray on the other hand went to the Giovedi Club and had lots to eat and drink.
Today was back to the Barga pool after dropping in on Mark to admire his house and see the great job he is doing painting the back wall.Ray is off to the Giovedi Club tonight. This is traditionally a Boys Only night out on a Thursday. Girls are not invited unless ththey answer to the name, Bob.
Monday, 21 July 2008
Awoke this morning more than twelve hours later and smartened up the house for our visitor and then went to collect Carla from Delio’s. More good news is that Carla can get a lift back with Mariann to the airport, thus avoiding a 03:00 drive to Barga. Back to Delio’s for dinner tonight.
Saturday, 19 July 2008
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
To help you follow the plot, the main players are:
Roberto (and Francesca arriving soon) with Sara
Carlo and Claire with Giorgia and Rocco
Mark and Margery with Gemma
Andrew, Jill and Joe eventually
Loreno and Margaret arriving
Mike and Senga with Nina
Delio and Fede, Veronica and Michele and Carlotta
Late breaking news: Matthew and Michelle have also decided to join us
Franco and Umberta (local)
Mike and Donna with Matteo and Chiara (Francesca’s brother)
Carlo and Remo Padreschi with their families
Marie, Cliff, Roberto, Wanda and many others
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Finally had lunch – melon and prosciutto – at about 18:30 but decided to regard it as the primo of tonight’s dinner.
Now watching our current favourite programme on Italian TV – Il Commessario Rex. In fact a German series about Rex – a police inspector’s dog – dubbed into Italian. It is so dire that it has to be watched.
After we eventually get round to dinner, we will then probably go for late night drinks with the gang at Alpino again as Mark has a late night pass.
Monday, 14 July 2008
We are taking up where we left off in June and have been welcomed back at a couple of restaurants – excellent slow roasted lamb at Da Riccardo tonight. Jenny discovered the delights of panna cotta.
I was greeted like a long lost friend by someone at Alpino. He had attended our old school although he was about four years ahead of me – disappointingly it turned out however he thought I was Loreno.
In case you have heard about the storms in the North and Tuscany, there is no need to worry as this hasn’t affected us though there was a thunder storm earlier this evening.
Pool beckons tomorrow – may checkout the one at Albiano but expect we will probably end up at the Barga pool.
Carlo found a snake on his terrazzo yesterday and had problems unlocking his car today but we are celebrating his birthday at the Bugno on Friday.
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Interestingly we both felt like it was coming to another home rather than being on holiday.
The apartment is an old 20th century Italian apartment but if you haven’t seen one that won’t help you; it has large rooms with high ceilings some of which are painted – though without the skill of Michaelangelo – and lots of windows allow the mountain breezes to pass through.
We are a relatively short distance from the Alpino and Onesti drinking centre of Barga – of which more later – and not too far a walk from the pool.
Barga has all the cousins and friends we expected but is said to be quieter than usual – either because of the pending economic Armageddon or the fact that Loreno has gone back to Scotland, although of course Scottish accents remain prevalent.
The pool is much quieter than I remembered – possibly due to the relatively quiet season and – is very pleasant with shade and cool breezes.
The major achievement has been getting an internet connection through Vodafone G3 here in the house although we are reliant on Roberto’s continued goodwill for the use of his PC card. Unfortunately his promised ASDL line has been delayed to the end of August and therefore we will have to find an accommodation but- sad to say for Roberto – possession is nine tenths of the law.
Food and alcohol are as always a problem and Jenny and I have been the last to leave Alpino’s each night – or more correctly each morning as we have been drinking alfresco till after midnight – personally I blame Sara.
Need to sign off now and go for a siesta.
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Anyway, going over tomorrow leaving the wet English summer behind for what is said to be glorious Italian weather though after our last trip we are being only cautiously optimistic for the moment.
Barga looks to be lively over the summer - Roberto and Mark are already there, Carlo is arriving as I write, Mike arrives soon and Loreno at the the end of the month. Carla also coming over and Mariann is going to Ponte All'Ania. Hopefully, Peter might also get across all being well. Not to mention of course respective paretners and some children.
Saturday, 14 June 2008
Home is also a good place to be.
Uneventful journey back and collected by Fran from the airport (thanks to Fran and Matthew for the taxi service).
We don’t envy Jim and Margaret their trip home – left Albiano at 7:00am this morning, getting train from Pisa to Rome this evening, flying early Sunday Rome – Munich – Heathrow - Edmonton
Our new combined weight – which no one guessed correctly – is 127kg
Friday, 13 June 2008
An extended lunch at Loreno and Margaret's . A most enjoyable afternoon. Loreno on cracking form – strange how wine seems to have less effect in Italy.
Glorious afternoon and managed a final swim before another dinner and another thunderstorm which lasted more or less all night. As a result the garden and roads were awash when we set off this morning.
Azzurri live to fight another day.
See you soon.
I have never been to Cinque Terre before. It is beautiful but possibly too much so – a fairy tale place.
We started at Riomaggiorre then took the train to the end of the line (10 minutes away). On the return leg we stopped at Manarola, the village before Riomaggiore, and then walked back along the coastal path.
A light drizzle started as we set off on the 20 minute walk back but of course being Italian rain it was warm and dry.
We therefore called Loreno to change our dinner plan from a BBQ to a restaurant. However, by 4:30pm the weather was still glorious so we reverted to the BBQ option, did a quick shop and had a great BBQ. We then walked up the hill to Albiano for grappa and limoncella before venturing back though the vineyard in the moonlight and following the fireflies.
Looked a promising start to the day but by the time we had finished coffee with Ann and Ricco Capani at about midday it had turned cloudy again.
The Capanis have a small but beautiful house with a spectacular view of Barga.
Evening dinner was at Da Riccardo where all the tables were occupied with people with Scots accents. Even the owner and her daughter were Scottish Italians – nevertheless it was an excellent meal.
Jim & Margaret’s friends Vic and Gay came over on Sunday with their daughter from Rome and her partner with their two children. We BBQd the lunch in the rain and ate indoors. The children and I managed a brief swim in the pool but I only went in because there had to be an adult in the pool with one of the children who couldn’t swim.
Defrosted the fridge with a hair drier.
Monday, 9 June 2008
The bright spells in the afternoon enabled us to do some swimming and I think I have cracked bilateral breathing for my crawl which now looks even sexier.
Friday, 6 June 2008
Thursday, 5 June 2008
Apartment for return trip looks really good although limited garden. Walking distance for getting back from Oneste and Alpino for poker. Sleeps six so start booking your places now.
Weather continues miserably but summer is said to be arriving before we go though we have heard this before.
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
At mass on Sunday, we met a lady, Mhoira McFarlane (no Scottish, or English, spellchecker for that matter) who knew the Scottish artist Peter Luti from his days with the Scottish Highers. She is now with the Foreign Office in Florence.
Off now to drive round Barga and see if we can find a wireless hot spot to access the internet before resorting to the internet access point at D&D.