Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Ears Like A Horse...

The coffee break is , apart from the salary , the best thing about working . Once you retire you'll need to find a substitute  .
You know how a horse can point one ear to locate a sound ?  Well , when you don't meet so many people  every day , you'll find you need to develop something similar . Think Lady Bracknell ...  actually if you've ever had or worked with small children  , you already have .

 However busy your hairdresser's is you're never really going to hear anything truly entertaining , holiday destinations apart .
In good Supermarkets , the queues are not allowed to be longer than three customers anymore , so there's less time to  'news-gather'/earwig .  

The local paper's quite good ... I know , for instance , that  they're collecting money for new gnomes for the city farm  and which children have got their swim diploma . Or that if you buy a new bra in Stien's lingerie shop , you'll get a discount if you donate your old one ( they''ll send it to Rumania ... no , I can't think why either ) . But our paper's  going on holiday for a couple of weeks .

Which just leaves listening shamelessly to people in cafes or trains

" I'm allergic to everything . I can't help it , I can't eat anything at all ... I don't eat chicken , I don't eat beef , I don't eat pork . I only eat mince ." said the woman in yellow ... but then the bus arrived .

 There was the group of women sitting next to me as we all ate sandwiches in the park , who were discussing some their exes   ,  "Well , once he said that , I could see the message behind the message ... "   Everyone in a quarter mile radius nodded ...

Or the young girl on the train chronicling her food poisoning over the weekend to her mates , "I'd only had a few vodkas and a Berenburg earlier on Friday and Joris had made something with coconut and cider but I threw up the pea soup straight away on Saturday . Even the tiramisu made me queasy ... "...

In fact , sometimes there doesn't even need to be a conversation .
A young girl waiting for a train in Utrecht was carrying a large bag printed with "Awesome Shoes Take You To Awesome Places "... I hope they had , she was now wearing flip-flops and a BandAid .

I know , I'm just nosy ...

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

An Eighteenth Century Grand Tour Updated

By dint of working through endless weekends over the winter , supervising the rehousing of her firm's headquarters to larger premises the other side of town , Youngest Daughter earned two extra weeks holiday this summer .The offer of a flat in Budapest , a friend's desire to go to the Opera in Vienna and a love of Italian food ...  and she was off on a 2016 version of the Grand Tour .

I'd get 'phone calls from minor airports  , Alpine river banks , libraries , forests or street corner cafes ( preferably next to a tram line )  .
She was having the time of her life ,  and not even a superfluity of " potatoes and pig's elbows " on Munich lunch menus was daunting .  A couple of German castles revived her spirits swiftly .

The fact that Prague smelled of forests , had a municipal diving center in the middle
of the city and that the people all seemed to love living there made her want to stay for ever .

A huge park in Salzburg , breakfasts in Budapest , chocolate cakes in Austria , the Kunshistorisches Museum in Vienna and  having the Vermeers to herself ...  surviving the Marriage of Figaro in a 38C degree Opera House  , ...  the apericena in Venice with Aperol spritzers and buffets of endless delight  , five hours in Florence's Uffizi and some risotto ,

the market and food in Milan and a treasure hunt in its Salvation Army thrift shop made it all most uplifting and every bit as educational as any Grand Tour could hope to be  .

The first card is a self portrait of Sofonisba Anguissola  , "Her eyes look like mine in a Viennese cake shop "
And the second is Agnolo di Cosimo's  portrait of Giovanni de'Medici as a child in the Uffizi ... is it possible to adopt a postcard ?

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Well , At Least There's Not A Hosepipe Ban

It didn't rain on Thursday so I sat on the balcony and took stock .

The lavender hasn't died . The two cherry tomato plants are looking pale but brave and when I got down on hands and knees  and squinted , I counted five tomatoes . One this size , O and four this size   .

My Wildflower Plantation , a large-ish earthenware pot , sewn with a packet of Bee and Butterfly attracting plant seeds that the housing association gave each of us  this year

 has burst forth into one white flower too tiny to identify ,  two pink ditto  , a pretty purple sweetpea affair and a cornflower .

 Local bees seem to be reluctant to venture forth  however , though I have seen two hoverflies doing their silent best to fill the gap .

Never mind , with a balcony 10 by 6 foot , I was hardly hoping to be self-sufficient but yesterday's paper has a large article on page 2 telling us that due to flooding and hailstorms spinach , paksoi , lettuce and rocket will be in short supply till September , at least ... and I'm already a little tired of carrots ...

 It's chicken barley soup for supper and a kiwi fruit .

P.S. The plant pots and labels aren't mine . Not even I am  that optimistic . They were stacked ín a corner of the Orangery in Utrecht's Hortus , where the cactii were sheltering from the rain .