Thursday, 31 July 2008

Mo's Big Birthday

Maureen, greetings from Barga. Happy Big Birthday – sorry we can’t be with you.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Equilibrium and Equanimity

Although, sadly, there have been many departures this week – Claire, Carla, Mariann, Margery, Senga and Donna (not wishing to be considered sexist), Barga maintains its tranquillity as Loreno and Margret return to restore the equilibrium.

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

Quiet Day

Didn’t get back from Lucca until 02:00 this morning. Carla managed to summon up the energy to go globetrotting and shopping in Viareggio. We on the other hand and despite sleeping until nearly 11:00 are too tired to do anything today.

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.

Perfect Evening

Leonard Cohen in Lucca preceded by dinner.

To make things even better, Roberto lost the bet – he was certain that the concert would start with Bird on the Wire – whether I will ever see the €180 is another matter.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

No Worries

We now have our very own internet connection thanks to Michele who has lent me his spare Vodafone 3G modem but we will have to proceed cautiously for the time being as I have no idea who much it will cost.

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

San Cristoforo

Jenny speaking again. After a nice pizza and one of those flaming (literally) Barghegiana panna cottas, I went into town to await the arrival of the big procession for San Cristoforo, the patron saint of Barga. I had already seen some of the bands pass the restaurant I was eating at, but the full procession was amazing.

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.

Ringing in the Changes

Yesterday we decided to go to the new pool at Albiano for a change of scene. It is cheaper and you can swim more lengths as it is smaller. Unfortunately when we got there at 11am, the usual opening time, we found that it does not open until 2pm on a Wednesday.

No great problem as Mikes lives nearby so we popped in for a drink and a chat while we admired the house and the view.

After lunch back at our place we had a quiet day in the garden and on the balcony, reading and sunbathing.
Then, after a wander around old Barga, the evening meal was at La Mocchia. Mariann came too and did a great job of driving up the narrow road and parking in the car park – a feat in itself. Well done Mariann.

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.

Carla, Mike, Senga and Mariann invited out for a meal by Franco and Umberta.

Hence, Jenny is writing this blog – another change.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Life too Hectic

Following on from meal with Delio, Mark and Mike on Saturday evening then meeting Roberto and Mike (Francesca’s brother), I finally conceded defeat and was asleep in bed by 21:30 last night.

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.
Having missed the Scottish Pipe Band yesterday, we caught the tail end of a procession with drummers. The drumming continued for about three hours. We have no idea what it was about and I am guessing there may have been some flag twirling and tossing – perhaps Loreno or "doggybag" can advise.

We still haven’t made it to any of the rock bands, maybe maƱana.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Memorable Dinner

Carlo celebrated his birthday with a dinner party for 16 people. I am sure you can guess where. Very enjoyable evening rounded off with more drinks at Alpino where we met Mark and Mike – Mike having just arrived – and others. I think we left about quarter to one and there were a few tired people at the pool today.

The previous night, Thursday, we were invited out by Franco and Umberta with Mark, Margery and Gemma.Tonight we are going out with Delio and Fede together with Mark and Mike. It might be nice to eat at home tomorrow.

The rain forecast for yesterday never materialised and apparently we now have a high pressure from Africa that will ensure good weather as far as the eye can see.

Barga is rock ‘n’ rolling at the moment with nightly bands in the Piazza Angelio – some of you may recall this from our holiday a few years ago. Due to dinner commitments, we have missed the first few nights but we should be able to make it tomorrow night; if not there are another seven nights to go. Unfortunately tonight we will also be mising the Scottish Pipe band.

I have now sussed out all of the available internet options in Barga – though I am open to more suggestions – each has its drawbacks and sad anorak that I am I miss my cable connection.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Dramatis Personae

Today the same old same old as yesterday except tonight there is the Mercato sotto le Stelle. Tomorrow is likely to be the same as today though rain is possible.

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

Social Whirl

After a long day at the pool, we finally decided to come home for a light lunch at about 17:00 but then were waylaid by Mark at Alpino so we had to stop for a quick drink.

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.

A few heavy meals ahead: Thursday – Franco, Mark and, if he is up for it as he only arrives that day, Mike; Friday – Carlo’s Birthday; Saturday – Delio, Mark and Mike

Monday, 14 July 2008


Walked to Sommocolonia along a trail that starts just up the road from the house. The path passes through woods and then up a medieval cobbled mule track up the hill. Although the trail is only 3km at most, the last part rises through 300m. It seemed much longer on the way back along the hillside road even though it was downhill.

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

Livin' la Vita

Italiana that is and even a bit loca.

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

Chapter 2 - Starts Here

Another day another holiday - this time going for six weeks. We had intended to go for five but misclalculated the dates.

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.