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Sunday, 19 June 2011

On the Road Again - Welcome to the Hotel Astoria

We are on our way to help at the Special Olympics World Games in Athens, travelling there by car down through Italy to catch a ferry at Bari. Last night we stayed at a very pleasant small hotel at Cassine, north of Genoa, tonight we are at the Hotel Astoria, Ravenna. Ruth has been wanting to see the mosaics around Ravenna for the last 50 years. They have been waiting to be seen by her since the middle of the 6th. century, so closure has now been reached. The mosaics were made when Ravenna had been briefly the capital of the Roman Empire and was then subsequently part of the Byzantine Empire so the mosaics and the churches in which they are, are a brilliant (literally - they shine with golden tesserae)example of transition both between what were to become the Catholic and Orthodox churches and the end of the Roman Empire.

But another example of multi-culturalism was the meal which we had at the fish restaurant we ate at tonight. My Italian is a bit sketchy (although I hope to ink in between some of the dots in the next few days) and we had aleady eaten our first course before we persuaded the manager to find us a menu. This he did, and gave us one in English and German. This made things a bit difficult as we couldn't explain what it was we thought we wanted from the English menu to the waitress as she didn't speak English and couldn't understand the English menu. Worse, we couldn't understand the English menu either; e.g "some plates in our papers". I sought the help of the German version but that had been translated by the same person who had done the English. I asked for a French menu, so the waitress brought a second German one.(I worked out that "some plates in our papers" meant "our a la carte dishes"). We asked for the Italian menu. We understood that. So did the waitress. After a fairly immense meal, we were given some digestives. Very nice they were too, but I usually expect liqueurs to come in tiny glasses, not in two quarter litre jugs. Good night!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Etape Moto

The Tour de France is a tough challenge to undertake by pedal-power alone. That's why when 3 of our friends made an overnight stop with us in the course of a tour around France, they rather cheated, I think, in making sure that that they had the added support of 1100cc a piece to help them over the hills.

The Chef de Choeur Wonders What to Do Next

In my role as a jobbing joint deputy stand-in under-assistant choir master, I sometimes wonder how committed the choir is to serious choir practices. Like, how come they've got time to take photos?

Some Loungers

When you've been hard at work all morning, eliminating pests from the garden, cleaning out food bowls and culling the fish in the pond, it's good to put your paws up and soak up some UV's. That's what life's about.

Bringing Britain to France

The winter was very dry in this part of France and the farmers, who normally start irrigating at the end of July, this year started in early May. I was in Britain for about 30 hours at the end of April but just had time to stock up on a few clouds from which we would hopefully be able to extract some rain back here in our garden. Here they are in the back of the car:-