Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Il Stroncapane

During the last two and a bit weeks since I last posted I have had several ideas that I fully intended to set down here. But something always got in the way - Life with a capital L. Now, of course, I can't for the life of me remember what any of those ideas might have been.

Another senior moment, I suppose.

Anyway, Il Stroncapane.

It was while doing the washing up yesterday evening that those words flashed into me mind. What caused this flash of Italian sunshine is beyond my comprehension.

And what, you ask, is Il Stroncapane?

Some years ago, my Good Lady and I had a holiday in Tuscany. As was in those days our wont, we rented a place for a week, self-catered breakfast and ate in various restaurants in the evenings. We visited Florence (disappointing, except for the baptistery doors), Siena (cram-packed with tourists) and Pisa (Piazza dei Miracoli miraculously empty when we arrived but after a stroll around it was filled with people pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower as their photos were taken).

What? No tourists?

We also took a look at the famous triangular piazza in Greve in Chianti. Just like Siena, there was hardly room to breathe. But in a small town closer to where we were staying is another triangular piazza. For my mopey, the piazza in Figline is more attractive - and wasn't full of screaming tourists!

The piazza in Figline
And tucked away in a corner of the piazza is - or was then - a restaurant that became our favourite that holiday: Il Stroncapane.

I wouldn't mind going back there sometime.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Blue eyes

I'm always a sucker for blonde hair and blue eyes, especially when they come with a young lady. yesterday I fell in love again. Mind you, she was only born in the early hours, but my latest granddaughter will be able to twist me round her little finger before she's much older. And here she is, Katie Elizabeth Rose.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

I'm late!

With all the kerfuffle going on, I never did get round to posting yesterday as I had intended. You see, yesterday was Trafalgar Day, the anniversary of the battle in 1805 in which the British fleet, commended by Admiral Lord Nelson, defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar. Nelson's flagship was HMS Victory, which has the distinction of being the oldest commissioned warship in the world!

Borrowed from the Daily Mail but I see another has copyright. Sorry!
I sometimes wonder how much of the ship actually saw the dockyard at Chatham when she was launched in 1765. A bit like the story of "my grandfather's axe. My father gave it a new haft and I gave it a new head".

Nelson, of course, was shot and killed during the battle and his body was preserved in a barrel of brandy.

Which reminds me of the story of a guide on the Victory telling a party of tourists, "That plaque on the deck is the spot where Nelson fell." To which one of the tourists responds, "I'm not surprised. I nearly tripped over it myself!"

On the quayside at Falmouth, Cornwall.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Silver for her...

...was gold for the Old Bat and me! Last weekend our granddaughter won the silver medal in the Sussex Gymnastics Championships, Tumbling Age 9-10 Women. What a pity we were unable to see it.

Where are the 2024 Olympics to be held?

(Yeh, just dreamin'!)

Wednesday, 27 September 2017


I just can't bring myself to do it. Almost everyone who send me emails starts them, "Hi" and although it doesn't grate on me, it's not something I can bring myself to do. Which - I have to admit - is just a little odd as I have no difficulty in ending my emails "Regards" - or even, sometimes, "Kind regards".

Language, I am very well aware, is a living thing; it moves, it changes, it develops. And that is how it should be. After all, Old Bill the Bard is venerated for having introduced (or even invented) goodness knows how many words. Infinitives I can split with the next man, despite knowing that a split infinitive is a grammatic abhorrence - but there are times when sandwiching the adverb just seems to give it a bit more punch.  As in "to boldly go", for example.

Back in the day, I was firmly instructed (or instructed firmly) that business correspondence opened "Dear Sir" and closed "Yours faithfully". If one was well acquainted with the correspondent, the salutation could be the less formal "Dear Mr Smith", in which case the closing would change to "Yours sincerely". Of course, letters to family and close friends would open with "Dear Jim" and close with "Love from". There would then be numerous permutations of opening with things like "Dear Prime Minister" and ending the letter of resignation with "Yours truly" or even "Yours ever" - although both the salutation and either closing would perhaps be somewhat tongue in cheek.

Of course, we have all seen examples of letters from the first World War trenches ending along the lines of, "from your affectionate son, Jack" - which simply goes to prove my point about language being a changeable commodity. but I still can't open an email with the word "Hi".

Sunday, 10 September 2017

A new one on me

The weather on Friday was decidedly naff, windy and with a fair amount of rain - oftentimes really heavy. Nothing compared to what people have been facing in the Caribbean or those southern states in the US, but a bit off for this part of England. Here in the south-east corner we have enjoyed a very fair summer - indeed, the weather has been very good for the most part and better than in other parts of the country.

But that is all by the bye and has little to do with what was new to me.

I had taken Fern for her post-breakfast walk - and got rather damp. In fact, very wet. There was very heavy rain late morning and I had pretty much decided that the afternoon walk would not happen - but the weather cleared. We set off across 39 Acres, through the wood at the top of Wild Park and on to the deserted golf course. And that was when it happened.

You can, perhaps, imagine my astonishment when I saw a crow looking for all the world as though it was about to land on Fern's rump! It's legs were outstretched as it approached the unsuspecting dog. I yelled at it and it moved away - only to come back a second and even a third time!

But it was then that the crow's avian nemesis appeared in the form of a first-year herring gull. The gull flew at the crow as if it was attempting to drive the bird away - and it kept doing so!

I don't know what surprised me the most: that a crow should attempt to land on fern; or that a gull should come to Fern's rescue; or that we got home dry after the better part of an hour's walk!