Back intact and bear free

August 31, 2007

Canadian jaunt turned into a very rewarding Canadian Trial

I’m Back from Algonquin provincial park – still a little jet lagged about 10000 kcal down in the week not lost any weight but converted about 16 lbs from fat to muscle. feeling very refreshed revived and ready for anything.

top tips and observations:

Do not let a man with a hangover be responsible for buying your food for a canoe trip.

Do not underestimate mother nature she is very unforgiving

Sometimes a walk in the park is decidedly not a walk in the park.

do not fall for the skin so soft myth – the Algonquin biting insects just don’t notice it

Bears do sh*t in the woods :) and just because you don’t see them it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Moose are BIG

honestly I loved it but it was damn hard – no film crew around the corner for us and we had a few hairy moments.  

I feel pretty  invulnerable at the moment  even though it’s the most physically demanding thing I have done in my life my body is suffering and I’m somewhat exhausted.

Apologies to the lovely couple who had to put up with my stench of bog water for 6 hours on the way home I had no idea until I got back to my own house.

expect normal service to be resumed shortly

Technorati Tags: , , ,
Advertisements

Away for a well earned rest

April 27, 2007

normal service will be resumed early in May

We’re taking my parents away for a week  to celebrate one of my Mother’s milestone birthdays (she’ll kill me if I divulge the truth ) so expect minimal blogging for the time being.

I’ll be posting an in depth review of the E650 when I get back and may use a bit of blogmailr whilst away if anything tickles my fancy.

have fun

Alasdair


weekend in Dorset

February 19, 2007

been away for the weekend to the family cottage near Bridport in Dorset, hooked up with a couple of friends from London Village, who were glad of the oxygen ;)

highlights:

patatas bravas, Dorset style

the walk around West Lulworth on the ranges above the village, with the light at Mupe Bay being a particular joy

the food at the Bull hotel in Bridport (sort the website peeps)

Palmers wine store (not off licence Jim)

the fossil pavement at Lyme Regis

it’s the seaside

Mr Normans sausages, and kidney, and black pudding and smoked back bacon (in bradpole village)

NoLights:

the service at the Bull – needs someone to oversee the dining room pleeeeease – 30 minutes to get your drinks and having to ask twice for nearly everything …. not good , let down the decor and the food tbh.

Lowlights:

the bloody M1 ( as always)


Yum Yum

January 23, 2007

I some culinary info on Venice, on the whole the food was great although it lacks the kick of southern Italian cooking. as landlocked Notts folk we revel in the seafood extravaganza that is Venetian cooking however in January you’re limited to staples. we didn’t have a bad meal, although tourist prices are high. we did have some exceptionally good value meals.

the highlights:

  •  My favourite place we ate was the Da Remigio  my Gnocchi starter was fabulous and I had cuttlefish stewed in it’s own ink, YOU MUST BOOK, or turn up early 7.30 or around 9.30 to get one of the few free tables.   To book you are best turning up early  or going in person the day before and asking to book for the night after, this place is popular amongst locals and the food is very good value for the quality.  
  • just next door  is the Osteria Oliva Nera seems to benefit from referrals from quite a few of the higher class hotels so is in the expected price bracket.   The hostess and host Isabella and Dino are excellent at gauging just how much attention their guests crave or shun. there was a family of Australians on the table next to us and Isabella kept them well informed as to the options and gave guidance for dishes and wine, we were left more to ourselves as we knew our way round an Italian menu. I had liver Venetian style which is treated very differently to the veneration it gets in Rome chopped and fried with onions, it’s delicious  and probably the second favourite dish I tried.
  • the next establishment worthy of mention is the  Trattoria da Roberto touristy and busy but great value pizze

Venice Highlights

January 23, 2007

We stayed at the Villa Igea  sister hotel to the hotel savoie and jolanda and they are both are just round the corner from the Piazza San Marco, great location however at the Igea there’s no view and you have to walk 50m for breakfast so it drops drops a star and 30 euros a night from the savoie but at only 90 euros exceptional value for money including a hearty  international breakfast.

Very friendly staff and very clean throughout and surrounded by bars and trattatoria that are just far enough away from PSM to be affordable and yet close enough to have English speaking waiters.

that said nowhere in Venice is far is far from anywhere as the crow flies or eel swims but it’s a  very different matter as the unguided tourist walks. the main island is quite small and the population of the city is only 60000 or so, so the tourists pretty much outnumber locals for all the year, in peak season it’s 4:1 !

our collection is here

I love Italian food, my wife and I travel a fair bit to Italy although it has to be said we have favoured the south, where flavours are fuller with more Moorish influences and heat from chili but more of the culinary delights later.

Venice is  a bit surreal, there aren’t actually as many canals as you would think, you just cross the ones that are there many many many times, I’d not really considered it before but they’re not actually canals as in the cut my granddad used to talk about they’re inlets of the sea and they follow the tides and have limpets and barnacles and stuff.

The Grand canal is pretty impressive and anything but anything goes by boat, deliveries, ambulances (we saw the obligatory town drunk being decanted from his ambulanza boat into the hospital) and  even hearses which was the most unexpected, it’s the quickest way to get around.

the real highlights were :

  • the accademia : in January we strolled in but apparently there’s a limit to the number of visitors at any one time but fill your boots full of Bellini, Tintoretto and titian if you love icons, there’s plenty to choose from and you can while away an hour or two in here.  
  • the scuola Grande di San Rocco:  quite amazing I’m not going to say anything about this as it’ll spoil the surprise but apparently Tintoretto did the whole job for expenses – downstairs there’s a handful of canvases  but upstairs is remarkable – the crucifixion in the ante chamber is a great place to start when you’ve got your breath back. Ruskin described this as one of the three most precious buildings in Italy – he was probably right.
  • the  chiesa San Giovanni e  Paolo  truly cavernous church  where doges aplenty are buried
  • not there for long but there’s an Albrecht Durer exhibition at the Museo Diocesano – the etchings are amazing, the main collection is an accumulation of bits of old churches, crucifixes and  art and altar pieces rescued from many disused and derilict churches it has some interesting reliquaries as well if you like scattered bits of saints.
  • the basilica ….. gold  gold and more gold mosaic – good but not as impressive as the walk
  • the Friari ( well Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Friari), titians monument a truly stunning reliquary and an altarpiece by bellini, the monuments are well… monumental worth the
  • the Peggy Guggenhein Collection, a fantastic collection of modern art pieces right on the grand canal, there’s a great Klee painting in here as well, great architecture and decent carpaccio :)
  • the Ca d’oro – a highlight because we navigated there without a hitch ( cheating as it’s right on a waterbus stop ) and the painting of san sabastian (the one who dislikes arows) was away for cleaning.

overall Venice is amazing, tortuously twisting streets- NO CARS and the quietest italian city I’ve visited.  


the Venetian perils…. forget technology

January 23, 2007

OK tips for Venice:

  • don’t use multimap or Google maps or Live local to find addresses in Venice – the only people the addresses make sense to are the Venetian postmen. we had a rather entertaining diversion when trying to find our hotel which involved catching the bus (the waterbus) back around the island and then back to walking to within 100m of where we started when the location was described to us by the hotel’s staff. 
  • you’ll get lost, often, and GPS is next to useless as you are essentially wandering around in  the bottom of man made canyons my Fortuna clip on even when using SiRF had no hope. one of the best ways to navigate is to use the sun when you can see it.  when I say lost it’s more of the well how did we end up here I’m sure we were heading to San Marco kind of lost than the OMG where in the hell are we and why are those people staring at us kind of lost, in any case it’s a great way to burn off the gelati calories 
  • if you don’t speak Italian don’t worry everywhere we went there were waiters who spoke English, if you do want to speak Italian you’ll be out of luck and we often had the ridiculous situation of my broken Italian being responded to in broken English and this carrying on for several minutes until I gave up.

Away for a few days

January 19, 2007

we’re off to Venice for the anniversary of our meeting – seven years and counting – should be fun, looking forward to testing out my ever so rusty smattering of Italian.