Archive for May, 2010

Marche 2010

Posted in Uncategorized on May 13, 2010 by David Palmer
Why did I say yes? I had promised to officiate at the Harborough Rugby 7’s on Sunday and duly turned up at 11.00am (it was bitterly cold) to do my duty. Jim also arrived at the same time and we agreed to run the touchline on the 1st Team pitch. We ran along those touchlines from 11.30am until 5.30pm when the last final took place. We had no break and I was to regret it. I got home, had a bath, helped Jamie write a letter on the computer, then packed my bag for tomorrow’s journey and went to bed about 11.30pm.
I got up at 5.00am, rang Roger to make sure he was awake and made a cup of coffee and waited. At 5.30am Roger arrived and we began the drive to Stansted airport. I connected my SatNav to his car’s cigarette lighter to find that it wasn’t connected to the battery. We got there anyway. We caught the 9.55am flight to Ancona with Ryanair, to stay with Joan and Phillip. A couple of hours later we landed and were met by them in the Arrivals Lounge. They didn’t seem to have changed since last year. I suppose that is what Italy and red wine can do for you. After quite a long drive we arrived in Santa Vittoria and were met by Wags the dog, who had been left in Joan’s care until her owner (Luke and family) returned from the UK.
The weather was much better than the last time we stayed and we did have some very warm days.They had made some of their own red wine from last year’s grapes and we all agreed that it was very consumable and each evening, did so. I was also introduced to a very strong drink called Lemonchino (Joan made it). It is quite moreish and I suspect confuses the brain if you drink too much. I have the recipe and intend to make some of my own.
We were treated to a few days out and visited a blue lake, the mountains (with added snow) and some hill top towns we hadn’t been to before. Unlike last year the visibility was good and we could see the beautiful scenery of Marche. Phil had one of those significant birthdays that annoyingly crop up every now and again and we took him (and Joan) out for a very nice meal to commiserate with him. Roger and I rather pigged out on the meat course. One evening Rob and his wife came around for dinner. They were an interesting couple. Rob earned his living as a BBC/ITV camera man, but was semi-retired now. Quite a lot of wine got drunk.
After running up and down a rugby pitch for 6 hours, it took me  few days for the legs to recover and I struggled to be fully mobile. However, Roger and I spent many a pleasant hour in our Italian garden; planting vegetables, moving soil and practising our hunting skills as we stalked the dreaded wine weevil. Wags the dog got taken for quite a few walks, and on one particularly hot day she returned completely exhausted and fell asleep on the gravel outside the front door. Not to be outdone I fell exhausted onto my bed and had 2 hours sleep! Don’t know what Roger did, but I think I can guess.
Last year I remember being pleasantly surprised  that Joan could cook (I knew she could take assembly and staff meetings), despite being a vegetarian. I remember that the meals were delicious and I was nearly converted to the same pagan practise. However, it just shows what a years practise can do. This year, each meal was a gourmet’s delight and I am sure would have attracted a Michellin star or two, if the critics knew about ‘Villa Waggalino’. After starters and main course, most meals ended up with yours truly in Cheesey Heaven, with always at least 6 different varieties to choose from. I felt sorry for the others as they usually had to finish their meal eating a sweet dish called dessert (I believe they can rot your teeth).
Unfortunately though the ash cloud did threaten to close Italy’s airports, we did have to fly back to a very chilly UK after only one week. We thought it might be a nice idea to return in September (you can see why). Our return journey was uneventful, though we did see Bob and his wife at the airport, also returning to the UK.
Since being back, the weather has been cold, cold, cold! The plants in the garden don’t seem to have grown at all, and the evening shadows creeping across the Marche landscape seem a long way away now.

What Volcano?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 2, 2010 by David Palmer

Though Both Sue and I were sad about our earlier than hoped for departure from Shanghai, we were glad to be back and relieve Charlotte from her family duties of looking after Jamie, Sarah and Lucas.

When we arrived back the house was still standing, the garden and garage looked fine (even the pool was clear) but no one seemed to be around. However when we called out, Lucas squealed from upstairs and shot down to greet us and then bounced around for the next hour insisting we play with him. During that hour I fixed his new bike, chased him around the garden on it and had a good bounce on the trampoline before he settled down. Charlotte looked tired and I think another few days would not have done her any good. We said goodbye to Charlotte and Lucas the following afternoon. I think she was glad to be going back to Suraj, and Lucas was starting swimming lessons on the Monday.

We are now back to normal. The weather has been indifferent (but mostly cold and damp). Sue went into school for 3 days and caught up on the gossip there. I set about planting my seeds in the greenhouse and started my morning bike rides again. Roger took me out for a lunch that he owed and we chatted about our trip (this coming Monday) to see Joan and Phillip in Italy. Sarah got an ‘A’ in a Sociology essay ( I read it it but didn’t understand a word), she has quite a bad cold and has struggled to school each day, though she did succumb on Wednesday and spent the day in bed. Jamie is getting up for work each day and Harley is still in the picture. Jamie had been to Bournemouth the previous week-end with some of his friends to celebrate his 21st birthday and by all accounts had a good time. I took his car to the garage on Tuesday to have a wheel repaired as he had new wheels fitted and they had cross-threaded one of the securing nuts. I think he shares a lift to work now with someone who also lives in Harborough.

On Friday I went to the Leicestershire Referee’s Dinner at the Walker Stadium in Leicester. It was a good night, Jamie Robertson was the guest speaker and proved to be very amusing. On Saturday the Club were playing a very important match against Spalding for promotion to the next league. I had a phone call from the bar steward asking if I would officiate at the Club as there was a County match being played their (Leicestershire v Essex) and all other Committee members were going to Spalding. I duly turned up, watched the game, said ‘Grace’ and had a very nice meal with the players and officials. Afterwards I received a plaque on the behalf of the club, which I put behind the bar. Harborough lost their game and failed to be promoted. Leicestershire beat Essex, easily.

Nan travelled over to Wales on Wednesday to see her sister Josie. They are going to London at the weekend to see a show and stay over night. When I rang her she was out playing bingo, but I did get hold of her the following day and wished her a good time and inquired as to when she was going home, but I got the feeling she was in no hurry.

Charlotte has hurt her back and it seems to be causing her trouble. Lucas is coming down next weekend, as Charlotte and Suraj are off to a friend’s wedding, I do hope she is well by then to go. The rest will do her good.