Monthly Archives: June 2016

20160620 – Rammed By An Italian Exhaust Bandit, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano And Not Forgetting The Referendum

Tuesday – hot and sunny

Wendy goes for a paddle.

Wendy goes for a paddle.

Lazy day around the villa.
 
Our villa.

Our villa.

Don’t I just love Italian design? I thought they were meant to be the world leaders in design. From our experience I think not. A toilet roll holder that can’t hold a full toilet roll; a toilet designed by toilet brush salesmen; cups that big you can wash your feet in; roads and roundabouts so confusing it gives you a headache comprehending them.

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Wednesday – hot and sunny

DSC_0301Drove up to Pisa. Well you have to go and see it. But as our son said it’s a one tower, and of course a Duomo, town. If it hadn’t been for a relaxing coffee I think we’d have left in 30 minutes.

From a EU obsessed with Health and Safety I’m gob smacked that there aren’t barriers around the leaning side in case it falls down.

Pisa

Pisa

Have to say though free parking, even if there were no signs indicating a car park, and good 1 Euro bus service – we walked – does make it one of the most tourist friendly and accessible towns.

Driving out of Pisa and some Italian exhaust bandit finally manages to get up my exhaust pipe as she rams into me as we’re setting off from a junction. Fortunately and amazingly, there seems no apparent external damage. Bumper seems to have done it’s job without disintegrating or even cracking. Insist on her insurance detail just in case and photograph everything including FEMALE driver. Whiplash, whiplash, whiplash goes the cry – worth at least £3,000 each.

Lucca

Lucca

Then we’re off to Lucca. Told this is a not a place to miss. Pass on the suggestion of cycling around the very formidable town wall – it’s 90F. Stop for lunch which consists of ice creams, it’s so hot. Then we saunter through town, slithering from one patch of shade to the next, like a pair of vampires trying to avoid any direct sunlight.

It has a church, plaza and amphitheatre thingy with street cafes around it. Not all that impressed. It came highly recommended by another of those “Italy’s oh so wonderful”, get up your nose snobby aficionados.

Lucia old amphitheatre

Lucca old amphitheatre

After a busy days driving sat enjoying the benefits of a few quality Reinheitsgebots in the shade on our patio.

Met a group of 9 Brits who were on a cruise. Interesting they all in favour of BREXIT but sadly were that thick they’d assumed they’d got an internet vote. No real idea how they were going to do this internet vote. 9 BREXIT votes lost through stupidity.
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Thursday – hot and sunny

Wendy with yet another ice cream.

Wendy with yet another ice cream.

Oh it ain’t half hot so we have a lazy day around and in the pool.

Put out to pasture each day and kids come and bring them in at night - joy.

Put out to pasture each day and kids come and bring them in at night – joy.

Brief trip out to a local supermarket. Just like France no concept of customer service, too busy chatting to their buddies, probably about how good sex was last night.
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San Gimignano

San Gimignano

Germans give us better EU terms.

Dear Brits,
If you stay in the EU…
* …Even we will acknowledge the Wembley goal!
* …We will stop making jokes about Prince Charles’s ears!
* …We will no longer use sunscreen at the beach – in solidarity with your sunburns!
* …We will do without our goalkeeper for the next round of penalties, for more excitement!
* …We will introduce tea breaks by the bucket!
* …We will voluntarily provide the bad guy for any James Bond movie!
* …We will immediately turns our clocks back one hour!
* …We will introduce an EU directive banning foam on beer!

A bit of cheese. Awesome smell.

A bit of cheese. Awesome smell.

* …We will reserve the hotel sunloungers for you with our towels in the morning!
* …Jogi Löw (manager of the German national football team) will guard your crown jewels!
* …We will all attend the Queen’s 100th birthday!

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San Gimignano

San Gimignano

You’re sauntering around town in the sweltering heat and constantly pestered by black (statement of fact not racist) street sellers. You try to swat them away like a swarm of mosquitos, but to no avail. I wonder whether we can buy a repellent spray in the chemist.

Their marketing and sales techniques are abysmal.

Do I look like I need a fake Gucci handbag?

Why would I want a pair of sunglasses when I’m already wearing prescription sunglasses?

Here I am with 20lbs of Nikon camera breaking my back and they want to sell me a Smart phone selfie stick.


Friday – hot and sunny

San Gimignano - Wendy at the well.

San Gimignano – Wendy at the well.

Bit of a sleepless night as I follow the referendum results. BBC’s lack of a sensible prediction or swingometer is appalling. The graph / slider seems meaningless.

San Gimignano

San Gimignano

Get to about 02:00 and despite earlier polls it seems obvious to me that there is a groundswell in favour of BREXIT. Time for some more kip.

Wake up again around 04:00, don’t I just love my old mate insomnia, and finally seems the BBC has been brave enough to make a prediction. By 05:00 it’s looking good, so back to sleep.

By 08:00 it’s a done deal. It’s our 1776 moment and we managed it without Adams and Jefferson, certainly wouldn’t compare Farage, Boris and Gove to those intellectual giants. WE’VE ESCAPED THE EVIL UNION.

Wow the suns still risen; an asteroids not struck; there’s no plague of frogs; our little lizards are still eating flies and ants on the patio; no horsemen of the apocalypse have yet been seen; Internet connection is still crap.

Another gargoyle that would give an adult nightmares, never mind a kid.

Another gargoyle that would give an adult nightmares, never mind a kid.

Breakfast and off out for a 2nd attempt to visit San Gimignano, lovely hilltop town full of towers. Apparently some middle ages competition to see who could build the tallest. The Manhattan of Italy.

Good job we got here around 10:00 as the car parks are nearly full to gunnels, like Britain and it’s immigrants.

Now that's a pizza.

Now that’s a pizza.

It’s a lovely relaxing town, but oh so hot, so we’re dodging from shade to shade again. Coffee stop and then Wendy has an ice cream stop – the best she’s ever tasted. One of the nicest little towns we’ve visited. By 12:00 we’re exhausted with the heat and head for home.

Lazy afternoon around and in the pool. Wendy hides in the cool of the house.

Well the retribution, whining and nastiness has begun. All us BREXITers are a bunch of racist xenophobic idiots. Us oldies, who haven’t got long to live, had no right voting out when the vast majority of the youngsters wanted to remain. Buggered up their future! Yet they were that passionate about remaining only 25% of them could be bothered to come off their Smart phones to vote. Tough. Democracy in action.

Meanwhile the bruised remainders are signing a petition for another referendum. Let’s keep doing it until they grind us all down and they get the right result.

Back at the villa

Back at the villa

In the evening our American neighbours come around and ask if we’d like to join them, help them finish of an excess of pizza. We pop round and have a pleasant time with them putting the World to rights; helping them understand the Evil Union from our perspective; discovering their perspective on Trump. Typical friendly Americans.

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What is it with ties. Not one of the people on the EU Referendum programme knew how to tie a tie properly. They all had those sloppy, sloping knots.

Is it some upper class elite snobbery? It certainly makes them look like frayed bedraggled bachelors with no wife to dress them properly in the morning.

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And finally my comment on all this acrimony that has now ensued following the referendum:


20160617 – Siena And Florence

Friday – hot and sunny

Our home for the next 10 days, just outside Siena.

Our home for the next 10 days, just outside Siena.

A lazy day planned after our sightseeing and cultural excesses.

Lounge around the lovely garden and pool. But no day would be complete without a short trip to a supermarket for the things we couldn’t get yesterday.

Bedroom

Bedroom

Well at last I’m getting to try and hopefully master the Moka stove top espresso maker. It sure makes a powerful espresso, without the need for a £400 baristas special on your kitchen top, and only about £10. Certainly get a coffee that you could underseal your car with, takes your head off, however, still haven’t cracked getting the perfect crema. I notice that it delivers a great cream in the Moka pot but when you pour it you loose it.

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Earn big money by displaying a “How’s My Driving” on your car, along with an 0906 number (£1.50 per minute) from BT. Then drive around town like a complete arsehole. Here in Italy everyone would be a millionaire and it’s solve their National debt crisis.

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Saturday – hot and sunny

Patio.

Patio.

Lazy morning and then we drive into Siena for a bit of sightseeing and culture.

Park at the station car park and all you morons at Blackburn council take note – parking is free. There’s an amazing 10 escalators to take you up to the shopping precinct and then to the old town which is on a hilltop.

2nd patio in case we get bored with first.

2nd patio in case we get bored with first.

The main feature seems to be more churches, than sex slaves on sale in a typical ISIS market, and a rather grand central square. They have a horse race around the square. We were going to sit and have a leisurely lunch here overlooking the square but all the restaurants charge a cover charge. We object to paying about €5 just to sit at a table and then pay exorbitant prices and a 12% service charge, so we settle for one of the many restaurants on the side streets.

Pass on any museum or church tours. Like typical philistines once you’ve seen the innards of one church you’ve seen them all and it rather disgust me to see the sheer opulence of these places. Just imagine if all this money invested in churches had been put to good use for society over the centuries how much better off we’d all be.

Loungers

Loungers

Nearly get mowed down as we forget that zebra crossings over here are no more than paint on the road and have no meaning whatsoever.

At last we encounter a decent supermarket, but alas still no baked beans, but all is not lost as they do sell Original Hofbrau.

Driving in Italy is a nightmare. Give me America, Germany with them screaming down the autobahn at 150mph or even France. The side roads have more snakes and turns than you average snakes and ladders game; there’s zero respect for the speed limit; they all want to peer up my exhaust pipe as there understanding of safe stopping distance is measured in centimetres not metres.

Down one of the ten escalators.

Down one of the ten escalators.

Well I have to eat my words. I’ve always been a bit disparaging about Italian beer, worshipping the Reinheitsgrebot and the German Brewmeisters, but I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised at this Moratti I’ve just downed (after 17:00 I might add), a tad sweet but very palatable. But there’s some Pauline’s and Hofbrau awaiting in the fridge.

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Siena main square. No horse race today.

Siena main square. No horse race today.

What is it with foreign country imports of German beer. There’s a fantastic selection of solid quality beers yet go in an American, British or Italian supermarket and its packed to the gunnels with wheatbeers, dunkels, doppels, triple bocks, schwarzbeer and every perverted brew you can think of. Do the Germans just keep the good stuff for themselves and dump these exotic fashion beers on the rest of the World?

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Siena

Siena

I got to thinking about the certainty of the EU army. Dodgy Dave ranted about the risk of World War 3 if we leave, but just think of the Evil Unions 5 power-crazed presidents podgy little fingers hovering over the nuclear button. Having these meddling megalomaniacs controlling a nuclear arsenal and army represents a bigger threat of WW3.

At least if we BREXIT then there’s a fighting chance it will be the beginning of the end of this Evil Union.

LET’S GET OUT.


Sunday – hot and sunny

Siena

Siena

Well we’re off to San Giginano, a hilltop town about an hour away. Roof down it’s a pleasant, but slow drive. Most roads around here seem content with 30MPH, with an occasional heart stopping and wind swept hair of 37.5 MPH.

Arrive and it’s heaving, all the car parks are full. Drive around for about half an hour including a dirt track that my satnav seemed to think was appropriate to drive me to distraction but all to no avail.

San somewhere or other.

San somewhere or other.

Plan B – drive home and call in at a much smaller hilltop town – Monteriggioni. Whatever happened to sensible, pronounceable English name like Luton, Preston and even Blackburn. Stop for lunch for Frau Edwards and coffee for me. Menu and food looks so much more interesting than the boring repetition of Venice.

Well our villa here is lovely. Typical Tuscan villa both inside and out. Fairly well kitted out, including a Moka Espresso maker. However, you do have to wonder about the crockery. Cups, with no saucers, that are big enough to wash your feet in. Cereal bowls like flat plates and no beer glasses.

As usual, wherever I go, the internets like an ISIS executioners arm, up and down, but we get by. Watching a mixture of yet more EU debates and The Americans on Netflix.
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Florence

Florence

Don’t get me wrong it’s a real tragedy about the useless slaughter of Joe Cox. But come on ceasing campaigning and the debates for 5 days, in the so called most important decision we’ll have to take, is just over the top. Are they all trying to outdo one another in how pious their campaigns are?

I’d have settled with a day of total abstinence and a commitment from both sides not to use this tragedy to their advantage or part of their campaign. Surely that would be respect enough.

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How to drive an Italian mad? Drive at the speed limit. It sends them up your exhaust pipe with frustration.

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Monday – hot and sunny

Lunch in Florence

Lunch in Florence

Well it’s another day of culture as we set off to explore Florence, all part of our Grand European Tour.

Florence

Florence

Road from Siena to Florence is a dual carriage, pot holed ridden nightmare. Plenty of road works with 24MPH sections and a terrify top speed of 56MPH. I can assure you with this number of pot holes, 56MPH is pretty daunting, we really should have bought Wendy’s SUV.

Florence centre is mainly closed off to traffic, thankfully. Manage to get to my chosen car park with no problem but driving into the bowels of the earth it seems that the Italians have decide it’s better to drive on the British side of the road, not that they can be bothered with a sign to let you know their change of heart. Anyway arrive with no incident thankfully.

Florence

Florence

Florence is pretty crowded with the tourist hordes but quite a relaxing city to wander around. Still suffering from our cultural overdose we’ve really done very little planning other than identifying a car park and aiming for the Duomo on foot.

First glimpses of the Duomo are awe inspiring. It’s most impressive from the outside and no doubt equally so from the inside but e’ve had enough of churches for this year and the long queues mean we don’t bother.

Wendy admiring one of the many statues.

Wendy admiring one of the many statues.

We do have lunch though overlooking the Duomo. It’s the awesome MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA again.

DOn't ask me why they have this amidst all this old stuff?

DOn’t ask me why they have this amidst all this old stuff?

Then after a relaxing lunch we wander around Florence. No real idea of the history or culture just soaking up the atmosphere. Get to see a statue of my good old hero Machiavelli. Take some pictures, especially of the naked geezer, which from the appropriate angle looks like he’s got a big rod for his knob.

Invest in a Moka coffee espresso machine for home.

Wendy in front of famous old bridge.

Wendy in front of famous old bridge.

Really relaxing and enjoyable but I don’t see us coming back for another day this trip. It really seems to be one of those cities that people get up themselves about. “Oh darling’s you just have to see Florence, it’s the quintessential Italy so cultured”.

Wendy in front of not so famous a bridge in Florence.

Wendy in front of not so famous a bridge in Florence.

Hmm don't think anyone thought of it from this angle.

Hmm don’t think anyone thought of it from this angle.

My hero. Wrote "The Prince" in 1516 same year as the Reinheitsgebot.

My hero. Wrote “The Prince” in 1516 same year as the Reinheitsgebot.


Florence

Florence


Florence

Florence