Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Adventure Begins

Thursday, April 24/14. 

At last, after a fairly hectic few days, we are at the start of our journey.  To get to Como from Wellington we have three flights.  Wellington/Auckland – 1 hour; Auckland/Hong Kong – 12 hours and Hong Kong/Malpensa, Madrid – 13 hours.  This is followed by a 40-minute car ride to Como.

The adventure is just beginning and a charming young Asian steward brought a glass of champagne before the plane took off.  Then the purser appeared with a beautifully produced menu for lunch.  I chose salmon with apple and wasabi mayonnaise salad, followed by stir-fried prawns with XO sauce, jasmine rice and vegetables.  Delicious.  But before lunch, the same young Asian man brought me a perfectly mixed Bloody Mary complete with a small bottle of Tobasco sauce as he didn’t know how much to put into the drink.

We had fully flat beds and after such an early start they looked very appealing.

It is a few years since I was last in Hong Kong and the changes to that airport are amazing,

And the Cathay Pacific lounge has to be seen to be believed.  It is without a doubt the most beautiful airline lounge I have been in.  Carrara marble on every surface and while that sounds awful it was absolutely beautiful.  They call this lounge The Bridge as it bridges two areas each complete with bars and cafes with every type of food imaginable.  But who really wants to eat after a 13-hour flight?  We had some broth and a cup of coffee.

We had four hours wait in this fabulous lounge.  And even at 12 midnight, the shops were open offering high-class goods.

Friday, April 25

Then it was time for the next leg of our journey.  This time I slept most of the way – all through dinner and the next round of snacks.  It is great to be able to stretch out in full-length beds and sleep the hours away.  Breakfast was served and suddenly we were beginning our descent into Malpensa.

Our friends were at the airport to meet us and drive us to their home for a few days rest and recuperation after our long flight.

In Italy, April 25 is a public holiday – Liberation Day.  It marks the fall of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945, towards the end of the second World War.   This is also a public holiday in New Zealand – ANZAC Day.  It commemorates the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at Gallipoli, Turkey, during World War I in 1915. This event, also observed in Australia, remembers all New Zealanders who served their country in wars and conflicts. Links to posts written for Anzac Day 2011, 2012 and 2013 are at the end of this missive.

As everybody was on holiday the whole family came for lunch on a glorious spring day.  Small children, adult children and their spouses all gave us a great welcome to Italy. It was such a lovely spring day that we ate outside in the gazebo. But once the family went home, we retired to our beds for a welcome siesta.

Saturday, April 26

Another lovely warm spring day and so after breakfast we went into Como to parade around, look at the lake and do some people watching.  But first, our host had to have coffee.  What a beautiful old city this is.  The church, Duomo, is 12th Century and we decided against going into it as there were so many people around.  Instead we chose to just wander around for several hours.

Then back to our hosts’ house for another siesta.  We were becoming very used to this custom by now.

Sunday, April 27

All the family came to lunch again.  As it rained heavily we were all in the house and the children became a trifle grumpy as they couldn’t get out to play.

Monday, April 28

Today it rained as if it would never stop.  Typical spring weather in Italy we are told.  Good friends of our hosts came for lunch which went on well into the afternoon following which we had another siesta.

Tuesday, April 29

A wet start to the day but it improved to hot sunshine later.  We went into Como for the necessary espresso and to acquire Italian sim cards for our phones.  But we didn’t have our passports with us and so we had to go back home to retrieve them.

We did some window shopping, bought another suitcase and had lunch in a restaurant atop a four-story building affording fantastic views of both the Duomo and the lake.

Buying sim cards and a USB for the internet proved to be more difficult than we expected.  Vodafone would not take a credit card or cash for the USB and after trying several of our cards our host came to the party with a cash card to pay for the connection.  With the difficulty of language, their not taking our credit cards or cash this transaction took over an hour.  So we were all pleased to find somewhere for coffee and then go home again.

“The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
― G.K. Chesterton

Links to ANZAC Day Posts

 

Easter 2014

So far this hasn’t been a particularly Happy Easter here.

Fire at storage unit

Following the fire in the storage units last week we checked the cartons for damage, smoke and water, and took the worst of them away to deal with the contents either by drying or by tossing out. On Friday with my daughter and her two sons, we revisited the new storage unit with the intention of allowing her to remove the outdoor furniture and other things she wanted for her new house.

What confronted us then was a whole lot of soggy cardboard cartons piled on top of each other in a haphazard way. When the movers installed the goods into the lockup we asked that any wet cartons be placed to the front so that we could easily access them. The cartons they put in the front were those we moved early this week. But on second looking there were probably 20 more cartons that were sodden.

We moved some of these; my daughter and her sons cleared everything out of the unit and repacked it so that we could at least see what was there. Then thoroughly exhausted we repaired to her house to unload the things they wanted and for a much-needed rest before all going out to dinner.

Saturday found us back at the storage facility, this time without my daughter but with her sons, with the intention of repacking the soaked boxes. What a thoroughly nasty job that was.

I was fairly lucky in that I only lost two beds and mattresses, some clothes and shoes whereas others lost everything.

 

 

The good news is that the arsonist was caught fairly quickly and has been charged with setting the fire. But this doesn’t help all those who have lost so much.

So today, Easter Sunday, we are having a quiet day at home, albeit still washing things recovered and tomorrow we will go to the facility for the final time, taking those things still to be stored until we return from Europe at the end of July.

“Everything is funny, if you can laugh at it.”
― Lewis Carroll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can’t Wait To Check In

After yesterday’s serious blog I just had to post the following which was sent to me today via email.  Don’t know how true it is but it is certainly worth a good laugh.

“A friend went to Beijing recently and was given this brochure by the hotel. It is precious.
She is keeping it and reading it whenever she feels depressed.
Obviously, it has been translated directly, word for word from Mandarin to English.
Getting There:
Our representative will make you wait at the airport. The bus to the hotel runs along the lake shore. Soon you will feel pleasure in passing water. You will know that you are getting near the hotel because you will go round the bend. The manager will await you in the entrance hall. He always tries to have intercourse with all new guests.
The Hotel:
This is a family hotel, so children are very welcome. We of course are always pleased to accept adultery. Highly skilled nurses are available in the evenings to put down your children. Guests are invited to conjugate in the bar and expose themselves to others. But please note that ladies are not allowed to have babies in the bar. We organize social games, so no guest is ever left alone to play with them self.
The Restaurant:
Our menus have been carefully chosen to be ordinary and unexciting. At dinner, our quartet will circulate from table to table, and fiddle with you.
Your Room:
Every room has excellent facilities for your private parts. In winter, every room is on heat. Each room has a balcony offering views of outstanding obscenity! .. You will not be disturbed by traffic noise, since the road between the hotel and the lake is used only by pederasts.
Bed:
Your bed has been made in accordance with local tradition. If you have any other ideas please ring for the chambermaid. Please take advantage of her. She will be very pleased to squash your shirts, blouses and underwear. If asked, she will also squeeze your trousers.
Above All:
When you leave us at the end of your holiday, you will have no hope. You will struggle to forget it.”

 Whether true or not, I love it and am suspending belief in light of the fun I am

having sharing it.

“It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.”
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

New Zealand Calling

After months of not writing a blog, I got up last Friday (04/04) fully intending that this would be the first day of many blogs.

I have had a lovely few months.  We had a holiday at the beginning of the year away from the stresses of an architect building a home for himself; then we spent 5 weeks travelling around the country with my sister from England and sharing with her some of my favourite places in this beautiful land; then more friends from overseas.  We had a few days in Australia visiting 4 artists in their studios and then a trip to Hobart in Tasmania to visit MONA – Museum of Old and New Art.  What an exciting time that was and what an amazing building.  Here’s the link. Please take a look you will hardly believe what has been achieved here.

In February we moved house although the new house isn’t ready to move into and following a series of minor (or maybe major) disasters it won’t be ready for another two or three months so we are going to Europe for three months.  We are busy planning our trip with friends in Italy with whom we shall stay and then go to Spain with them.  How exciting!

But the best-laid plans – on Friday (04/04) we heard that there had been a major fire in a storage facility in Wellington and yes, all my worldly goods were stored in that facility.  Panic ensued and nothing else was thought of for the rest of the day.  However, the next day we went to the site and discussed the situation with the General Manager and the Fire Chief.  We were told there would be water and smoke damage but both thought it would be minimal.

So there followed a week of waiting to be told that we could go onto the site; meeting with removal men to determine where the soggy goods would be stored; going to the new facility and sorting out what had to be removed immediately – boxes that disintegrated as they were lifted.  These mainly held linen and scarves – easily washed so no real problem – and shoes.  This was a different matter as they all had to be stuffed with newspaper and dried at the fire.

Of real concern though was the artwork, prints etc.  Fortunately, my daughter has just bought a house with a self-contained apartment attached.  So we moved the pictures into that and set the dehumidifier.  It looks as if we have been really lucky.

Books, photos and papers were in plastic storage bins so again we have been very lucky.  The photos and letters were what I was most concerned about.  Everything else is just stuff.

And now we are told that the fire was arson.  The mind boggles at how anybody could do something like this.  All week we have heard terrible stories of people having lost everything.  CCTV coverage shows a man entering the facility with what looks like a drum of petrol.  Let’s hope they get this man quickly.