New toys

Photo: A Quooker bought directly in The Netherlands

On return from London we had a couple of new toys to play with. Kitchen toys. Not only had the Quooker all in one (hot, cold and bioling water) tap been fitted but we brought this little beauty from London:

City Break

Photo: We discovered a new cocktail place for us to enjoy in Soho. La Goccia.

For most of August we enjoyed a City break – in London. The main purpose of the trip back was for Colin to do Paris Brest Paris, but then Colin’s brother, Darren, advised us that their main holiday this year would be in the UK, including a flying visit to see us.

Whilst Colin was away Jan enjoyed the freedom to shop, dinner with girl friends and a board meeting (so not all fun).

Together, we enjoyed dinner with freinds David and Carolyn, shopping, the pub, eating non Italian food, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (big Tarantino fans, but this was too long), and cocktails.

On the way back we were heading to our usual stop over at Beaune when Colin decided to check the reservation. We had decided to try Bourg-en-Bresse this time but had completely forgotten. No problem, just another 100km to the journey, but a shorter drive back to Cartoceto the following day. Always worth checking.

Weekend whirlwind

Photo: Between Southampton and Scotland, a flying visit to London for Darren, Trish, Cam, Jacqui and Graeme

They arrived from Heathrow, but didn’t fly in. Cam had got the right airport this time, but they had to return a hire car to Heathrow before heading into London. Cam, the London expert after two days here in March was their adviser.

“Where’s all their stuff?” asked Graeme as he walked into the apartment. Welcome to minimalist living.

Walking tours of the two cities dominated.

The City of London on Friday:

The City of Westminster on Saturday:

That left just enough time for the Museum of London and brunch on Sunday at Smith’s of Smithfield, before heading back to Heathrow.

It was great to catch up with the family, especially the conversation Jan and I had with Graeme on Sunday morning whilst the others slept. He wants to be either an actor or an engineer. We shall see. Not sure he’s going to be a minimalist though.

Final fling

Photo: Festa della Gluppa on the beach in Fano.

What’s a Gluppa? It’s a word in the Fanese dialect to describe a handkerchief tied to a stick to carry food. The festa is a BYO DIY event. They supply the tables, chairs and entertainment, you bring the rest.

This was our last social event before heading back to London for the rest of August. Jan will stay in London whilst Colin does something stupid on a bike (Paris-Brest-Paris).

Food, wine, beer, chat, Jan’s very popular chocolate brownies, a stand up comic and music. The finale of the evening was lying on sun beds at 23:30 to watch the firework display over the Adriatic. In keeping with our recent Mark Knopfler and Bocelli concerts I decided to just watch and not video. Spoil sport.

Italian robots

Photo: Colin, Jan, Gessica and Mirco

One of our favourite places to eat. Da Gustin, Bargni. We wined and dined very well as always, but it was the company that made it. It was an innocent question about their robot lawn mower (we are seriously thinking of getting one).

It turns out that their German robot lawn mower is very Italian. Refusing to work in the heat. They even tried an umbrella to keep it cool, but no, the robot was having none of it. Mirco showed me the GPS tracker showing that it was being re-educated back in Germany.

The conversation got more absurd, and funnier, as we speculated that the great robotic revolution will stall in Italy as the robots adopt a more “Dolce vita” approach to working.

Flitting between Italian and English, we had such fun with M&G. A wonderful couple and great freinds. I even came away with some great material for my ambition to do a stand up comedy gig in Italian one day.

Double Dutch

Two dinners with Dutch friends in as many days. After Monday it was Gerard, Jelina, Joep and Bernadette’s turn to enjoy Jan’s cooking.

  • Champagne on arrival
  • Asparagus cigars (The Wine Society’s White Burgundy)
  • Sea bass in pesto (The Wine Society’s White Burgundy)
  • Polenta cake (Vin Santo)
  • Coffee/Moretta

Great company. Great view. Great food and wine. The hours just slipped by.

Pile ’em high

Photo: A hint of what was to come

It didn’t matter to me. I’d just burnt over 2,000 calories climbing Monte Nero on the bike with Leo and Maddi. 13km of pointing upwards, rising to 1,400m aboove sea level.

After a fast descent we met Jan at the Ristorante Il Poggio in Cagli for lunch.

It’s famous for its carbonara. Not just the taste, but the portion sizes. We had two small portions of the Carbonara Classica and two small portions of Carbonara al Tartufo. The largest portion they do is 300gm of pasta. That’s not a portion, that’s a mountain. One mountain was enough for the day.