Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Crime? What's that?

Rather reassuringly, all the shops in the local town shut for three hours at lunchtime. Some of them even leave their wares outside on the pavement, while the owner locks up and tootles off for three courses, half a bottle of wine and a decent snooze.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Inconsequential Post No. 94

My wooden rake was left on to me by the former owner of Casa Combo; hand-made (there's a statement of the bleeding obvious for you) and perfect for the three days of gathering when it comes to the cutting of the grass in the huge orchard at the beginning of June. The wooden teeth don't catch in the same aggressive way that a standard rake tends to and it's also considerably lighter. When it finally gave up the ghost last year I thought, sod it, I'll never get another one of those again. Well, blow me down wiv a fevver. I went to the local market to be ritually humiliated in front of tens of gurning gap-toothed peasants by paying far too much to have my wonderful Stihl strimmer serviced when, on the adjacent stall was..the new one. And it only cost €12. Oh joy! They probably ripped me off on that too, but I don't care!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Happy birthday Anna

A wonderful lunch on Sunday at a very posh restaurant near Asti. Nine courses, beautiful food, splendid wines, seamless service and everything rendered doubly delightful by the fact that the birthday girl picked up the tab.
All rather different from the local pizza joint we went to on Saturday evening where one glance into the kitchen would give any Hitlerish health inspector a seizure. All the cooks smoking, boozing and cracking vulgar jokes as they work and the owner/waitress nicking a glass of wine every time she came to our table.
Now, which restaurant do you think I prefer?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Early Doors

Blimey, you can't beat a decent Peddy (courtesy of The Intrepid One) with the last bit of Cheddar that Fred brought over. Now for some wine with supper. It's Friday evening, after all.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Britannia Rules the Skies!

Well, it's nearly a Union flag. I had lifted my eyes heavenwards as I left a school in order not to look at a charming cluster of 17 year old schoolgirls in front of me and thereby avert the Pavlovian dribbling that usually follows. Could this be a portent (the vapour trails, not the girls)? Perhaps we'll beat the Aussies this Summer.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

High Jinks

The Combo birthday has for several years been a 'must have' invitation and last night was no exception. The usual line of parked Maybachs and Bentleys, their uniformed drivers talking and smoking in small groups near their cars. Horribly inbred wall-eyed local peasants pressing their stinking rags up against the magnificent double gates over which is mounted the Combo family crest and motto Imbibo ad mortem, craning for a view. A string quartet sawing away on the main lawn. The chinking of £65-a-go Riedel crystal glasses as foaming Krug caresses expensive lips. Oh yes, no expense spared. Actually, Mrs Combo and I and the doggie had a lovely evening eating roast chicken, roasted vegetables and BOOZING*! Well, it's not often now, is it?

*One bottle of Pedigree, a half bottle of local white and a bottle of Monferrato Rosso (Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Merlot blend). Oh, and a baby grappa afterwards.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Green Shoots

A spell of warm, damp weather is seeing off the snow that has lain here since the end of November. And some of last year's winter crops are surfacing.
These are the rotting remains of the leeks that we should have been eating at Christmas.

And these are the cardoons, ditto.

In October I planted a shedload of garlic and I honestly thought that the three months of blanket snow would have seen them off. But look, here they come!

Remarkable. As was a weekend with Fred Fibonacci who left this morning. "Blimey" were his last words on the station platform, "I can remember virtually everything from this weekend." I must be slipping.