You wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love you

(A weekend or two ago)

I can’t remember why it came up. But the end was something like this:

“It’s lucky that you have a boyfriend who loves your dogs so much.”

“Yes, this is true, but I would like to be loved too.” Now that I write it down, it sounds so whiney. But it wasn’t like that. It was almost a throw-away line. A kind of joke.

It is true, of course. I do feel like that but I know that he does love me. Sometimes though, I’d quite like to be told.

“If I didn’t love you”, he replies, “you wouldn’t be here.”

And I know that to be true also.

Luncheon vouchers?

I’ve never worked anywhere that gave luncheon vouchers.

Here, we have a canteen that is, in my opinion, very good. Every day (more or less), I have a pasta dish and a meat dish with a vegetable. It’s good value for money in that only about 7 cents is deducted from my wages.

Also, our cook is very good and tries to be a bit imaginative, which I really like.

But we are into the holiday period and, I have been informed, the canteen is getting some sort of make-over. And, so, it’s closed in August – for the whole month.

Here, in Italy, lunch is provided almost everywhere you work. Provided for a small fee. I think this sort of thing happened in London, at least until the Inland Revenue saw it as a useful source of extra tax. If your company (in Italy) does not have a canteen, then you are provided with these tickets. The value depends on your company. It is usually about €7 or so.

And so, we have some tickets for this period. The value of each ticket is only just over €5. Some people are less than happy with that. To be honest, I don’t really care. It’s not so important. After all, this will give me the chance for a bit of a ‘diet’ for the week before I stuff myself with food for two weeks and a week’s ‘diet’ for the week after the two-stuffing-weeks. It may, after all, be quite a good thing.

So, I shall probably, for the first time in my life, be like so many other annoying people at the supermarket queue – using my tickets for the shopping!

I am very excited. Does it show?

The problem with him was ………..


You know how it is with couples. There’s one that you really like and one that you don’t like so much. OK, that’s not always true but you know what I mean. Of course, if you were the friend of one before the relationship started, then you are bound to like them better, aren’t you? Even if you like them both, of course. Even if you’ve always known them as a couple there’s probably one that you gravitate towards and that one you like better.

It makes me happy to see someone with someone they love and who I like too – but the one you’ve known before is the one that you hope ‘doesn’t get hurt’.

The problem really comes when you really dislike (I hesitate to say ‘hate’) one of the two. Often it can end a ‘beautiful’ friendship.

It’s not the first time it’s been said to me. I suppose everyone makes comparisons and I can’t stop them saying it but I find it interesting.

V wasn’t perfect, obviously; otherwise we’d still be together. Some people say that they didn’t like him directly whilst others say the same thing but in much more diplomatic ways. Sure, he could be ‘difficult’ but I really didn’t realize that so many people thought so. I always thought that he was ‘more liked’ than me – not that it was a competition – just because it was that way. I didn’t have a problem with it. I was, kind of, grateful, to be in his shadow, so to speak.

But now people say that they felt ‘uncomfortable’ with him. That he ‘didn’t really like me’. Things like that. Even if F is ‘the same’ (which he isn’t really but since we’re trying to draw comparisons ……) he is different.

But now I know it wasn’t always so. Some people preferred me, after all. Wow!

I don’t mean that I thought they didn’t like me, I just thought that most people preferred V. V was more gregarious, more chatty, more friendly, etc., etc.

Of course, he was also more false. I knew that but I didn’t want that to be known. And, apart from this blog, I don’t say it to others, even now. Since most of the people who knew him, when we were together, don’t read this blog or read it so infrequently, I can post it here.

But then, these people from the ‘past’ meet F. People like F. He’s quite like V but less false; kinder, somehow; genuine. People like him instantly. They congratulate me on finding someone so nice. It makes me sorry for V but, I suppose, those people that remain friends of V like him too. I’ve never asked them to choose. It’s OK by me. I was with him for a long time and I liked him for many reasons. The things I disliked, eventually, drove us apart but that doesn’t mean that, overall, I didn’t like him.

However, now that people can ‘talk freely’, they say what they thought and still think.

I’m guessing V was right to ‘defriend’ so many people as he did when we split.

In a way, though, it’s a shame that people didn’t see the side that made me fall in love with him and only saw the side that made me fall out of love. Or perhaps it’s me who’s being stupid?

Last Weekend

Obviously, we’re back online :-)

I’ll be adding posts written in the last few days and here is one:

Well, that was all rather nice. I think they enjoyed it. We didn’t seem to do much except eat and drink and do a little tourist stuff and a bit of shopping and then eat and drink.

My perfect holiday.

We did go to Bagutta, a restaurant in Milan, just behind Via Montenapoleone. We ate in the garden. It wasn’t so hot and there weren’t so many mosquitoes, which was good (although it could have been hotter for me, of course).

The waiter was funny (as in funny, ha ha not funny, strange) but he did bring us fried courgette flowers to start which were delicious. It was the first time that I’ve had them like that. Before they’ve been filled with ricotta cheese or something. I had some culatello (meat – like ham, thinly sliced) with figs. F had prosciutto with figs. I tried some. I should have had that.

I had penne with a ragù sauce (which included peas). We skipped main courses because this was enough! However, I saw that they had raspberries and wild strawberries so I asked for a mix of those with some cream. It was lovely (even if the raspberries were not as tasty as those we had the other week in Cararra.)

We had wine and water and mirto or limoncello at the end. It is expensive, coming to over €270 for the four of us but really nice and the food and service were excellent.

The night before, we had gone to Porca Vacca. F is so taken with that restaurant now that he suggested to An, when we went out for a drink with her on the Sunday night, that we should go this week. So we are going on Wednesday night, apparently.

But the main thing was that D&S enjoyed it – which I think they did.

La Piccola Versilia

It started off quite well. We were greeted and given an option of several tables. We chose one. The background music was quite loud and a slightly strange choice – it was more like dance music!

The restaurant was small. It was more like a bar that had some tables. The decoration was ‘modern’ but, to be honest, there wasn’t really much in the way of decoration. There was a mural behind me which was fairly nondescript and high on the wall opposite was the front of an old fiat 500 (I think), the lights supposedly being lit – but only one of them was.

The antipasto arrived. This was quite lovely and gave me high hopes. There was a bacon thing, fried. Very tasty, probably smoked, with mostardo – one cherry and the sauce. With it was some nice cheese. F didn’t want the meat so I had his and only had a taste of the cheese. We had water and they asked about wine. We asked for white. They were sorry but they didn’t have white apart from the house white.

This has got to be the first restaurant in Italy that I have ever been to that didn’t have a proper wine list. The house white was OK but nothing special.

Then came our primi. This was risotto. Risotto Milanese, of course, with a small osso bucco. It was OK. I’m not really a big fan of rice but I knew this was what we were going to get. The presentation was fine but the risotto itself was nothing stunning. After the starter this was a slight disappointment. Still, there was coteletto to come!

It came. It was thick and on the bone. I prefer the thin and no bone myself. So does F. We had ordered roast potatoes with it. They were fine. The crust of the cottoletto was slightly strange. More like the coating to southern fried chicken but without the spices. Maybe it had been deep fried?

We finished. They took away the plates and the bread (which was quite nice). F finished his glass of wine (we had 2 glasses each) and his water. We waited for them to come over and suggest sweet or coffee. They didn’t. The restaurant was very small and they had two people as front of house. There were a total of 3 tables occupied. We were surprised that they didn’t come over. But we were ready to go and so we got up and paid. The Groupon voucher was supposedly worth €58, the bill for the cover charge, water, wine and potatoes came to €22 – so a total of €80 for the meal.

F said as we walked to get an ice-cream, that he wouldn’t go back there again, even if someone invited us. And I agreed.

Enocratia, the last one we went to with a ‘set meal’ for the Groupon voucher was a million times better. We felt that the food could have been a little bit more ‘special’ but that the service could and should have been wonderful – and that would have made a difference to our whole experience.

I would give it one star for the antipasto thing and nothing for anything else. We discussed Porca Vacca where the Groupon voucher experience, although not worth much, means that we shall be going back (on Friday, actually) or Enocratia where, if only it were closer, would become, I’m sure, one of our favourites.

As we discussed, with this Groupon voucher it is a chance for us to discover new restaurants and for them to show how good everything can be. La Piccola Versilia failed quite miserably, I’m afraid.

Summer socks

I love September. The days are quite often warm and, although the nights and early mornings are a bit on the chilly side, it’s the extension of the summer – at least, here.

There’s also the smell of the fallen leaves. The dark nights which should be cold (in my head) but are warm enough for sandals, T-shirts and shorts. There’s the warm rain at nights (at least, hopefully warm and only at nights). And, there’s the rub. You can’t really rely on the weather. And that’s the bit I hate (also the fact that it IS the end of summer.)

But, what I definitely DON’T like is when September comes early. Like last night. And this morning. It’s July, FFS!

Last night we had rain. Rain in summer is OK as, here, afterwards, it is warm and pleasant although a degree or two cooler. But not last night. After the rain during the night, this morning it was 14°! It was chilly. If not, cold.

I am wearing socks again. I don’t like wearing socks, at least not in July. Not in this country.

It is the end of summer. It is September. I am wearing socks. We are all doomed.


Just so you know, we have no Internet access at work – so no visiting of blogs and these posts have to be posted in the evening – and I have so little time. Hopefully, all will be back to normal soon.

In the meantime ……….

I had done a long piece about the falling out F had with his Mum. That was the weekend before last. There was a walk out, things were said and, afterwards I was told that now, he doesn’t feel obligated to go there.

Except I lived with V for over 20 years.

Let’s be honest, if I fall out with someone, I really fall out with them. It doesn’t go away. I guess that’s why, in the last 30 years or so, I don’t speak to my parents and have only seen them twice in that time.

It’s not that I bear grudges as such, it’s just that I don’t feel it can all be ignored. If there’s a problem then it remains a problem. I realize it’s my problem really but it’s the way I am. I tried to change when V left but V wouldn’t let me. Perhaps more of me rubbed off onto V than I had thought?

So, last weekend, I was, at once, surprised and unsurprised when, after we had arrived on Saturday, F phoned his Mum to say that we were down but we wouldn’t be going round for something to eat that evening.

On Sunday, he said he was sorry but we needed to go and see his Mum and Dad before going to the beach. He bought some cakes to have with coffee. I said it was fine (which it was). I may have a problem with forgiveness myself but I have no problem with other people being able to forgive – at least, between themselves.

And so we go. His Dad is on his own. He makes us coffee and he and F play cards, as normal. Hi Mum comes. She makes faces at me as if to ask ‘Is he OK now?’ or ‘He’s a strange one’ or something like that. I smile and raise my eyebrows and shrug my shoulders.

Finally, he and his Mum sit down (when his father has gone to the other room) to talk about a lunch at some restaurant to be arranged for his Dad’s birthday which is in a few weeks. I don’t suppose his brother will be there. But, who knows?

I don’t really understand families. Well, I understand my own – it’s everyone else’s that’s a mystery to me.

Lettuce and Cheese

It’s a summer thing, really. It’s like raspberries and, now, sandals.

I always used to be reminded when Wimbledon was on. Wimbledon and lettuce and cheese sandwiches go together. Oh, yes, and strawberries and cream. My mother used to do the sandwiches. Now, thinking about it as I am writing this, she probably did them so that she didn’t have to interrupt her Wimbledon-watching too much.

There are things I ‘got’ from her. None of the rest of the family did but, even though I can’t say we were ever close, certain things remain as my favourites and were her favourites too. Things like Wimbledon, lettuce and cheese sandwiches, bread and butter pudding, rice pudding, etc., etc. Hmmm, now I look at it, it’s mostly food. I wonder why I have these things – my favourites were her favourites.

Of course, I developed some of these. I actually went to Wimbledon, twice and I don’t think she ever did.

And, lettuce and cheese sandwiches had black pepper added. Nowadays, as it’s harder to get salad cream (impossible here), I have to use mayonnaise. Salad cream has a more acidic flavor and compliments the other ingredients perfectly.

Here, of course, no cheddar either.

So, Saturday, on the beach, I ordered a lettuce, cheese (fontina), and mayonnaise sandwich. Because they don’t have black pepper (for some reason Italians don’t like it and think it’s bad for you – for me, it’s not only essential but it’s also good for you as it is supposed to improve your sex life (I heard that from someone and I’m a great believer in things I like to believe in)), I brought my own black pepper to add.

As I got it (and F’s sandwich) from the bar, the guy said that it was a strange combination. As usual, I replied that I’m English. That’s usually enough for Italians as they think we’re strange. He said that Italians would never choose this sandwich. They would never even think about it as a combination.

I took it back to our place and with the added black pepper it was almost as good as the real thing. Or, maybe that’s because I haven’t had them since, er, last summer?

It seemed a perfect thing to have on the beach, under the hot sun.

Sons and Daughters

It’s going to be a busy few weeks before the holidays.

Apart from that, it’s also going to be a fattening few weeks with lots of meals out.

So, by the time the holidays come, I shall be, at once, fatter and slimmer – although, probably, the ‘fatter’ part will win through.

I am quite looking forward to next weekend when my son and his wife will be over.

For those of you that have just thought, ‘Have I missed something?’, no, you haven’t. I’m not really being serious. But it’s sort of like that. It’s the guy who got married last year. They’re coming to celebrate their first anniversary here, in Milan. Aw, bless.

Actually, in all these years, only 3 people/couples have come here to Milan to visit me (previously, us). This will be the fourth. In six years.

I hope to be able to help them to enjoy their stay and am taking some days off to do so. During their time here we shall be eating (rather well, I think :-) ), drinking and doing some other things that are less important. Mainly eating and drinking. Oh, and seeing the Last Supper. And, maybe going to the Duomo and, if it’s nice, up to the roof. And, did I mention? Eating and drinking.

I will be enjoying it.

But that’s the weekend after this one. In the meantime, have a good weekend.


I have mentioned ‘service’ in Italy before now, probably in many posts.

Sometimes, it is exceptionally good. At other times it is, at best, abysmal. The abysmal usually occurs when you’re dealing with bureaucracy. There are many things which, whilst in the UK are straight forward, here require an amount of red tape that is, let us say, unfortunate.

Go to a small shop that, for instance, sells pens. There the service will be wonderful. When you have finally selected a pen, it will be wrapped with care as if it were to be the most important gift for someone – even if you are buying it for yourself.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to all shops. Zara, for example, doesn’t carefully pack your purchased items but, much as shops in the UK, will just slip them in a bag. It does depend on where you go.

However, when dealing with something that requires the red-tape documentation, don’t expect a level of service even up to the Zara standard.

Instead, expect to wait; to be ignored; to be advised that you will have to come back with some other document; to be told that it simply ‘can’t be done’.

I go. Each desk is occupied both with an ‘assistant’ and a customer. There are a number of chairs for people who are waiting to sit on. It’s not a good sign. I’ve found waiting areas to be a sure sign of extreme slowness and incompetence. I find that I am not disappointed this time.

Two customers leave. The desks are empty of customers. The staff, though, are doing something else. Going for water; chatting to other people; walking around. They all look at me from time to time. I am English so am, to some extent, used to waiting. Quietly. Surely, I think, someone will attend to me shortly.

Another customer leaves. There are a lot of staff walking around. The desk where the last customer was definitely says ‘Closed’.

There are now only two desks which have customers at them. There is an office behind me that seems to attract the busy, walking-around staff. I could just pop my head round the door as it is right behind me. I don’t, of course.

Surely, I think, someone will notice the fact that I am waiting and that, by now, I don’t look like I am enjoying myself.

I wonder if the two customers that remain and are being served will ever finish.

A short man who could best be described as a retired spiv walks past. He is wearing one of those loud brown, striped suits. He reminds me of Danny DeVito. He looks at me and bids me good day. I mumble something in return. It’s not really a ‘good’ day for me.

The mumble was going to be something like ‘salve’ which is a two-syllable word but comes out as a one syllable word that almost doesn’t come out at all, it is so quiet. In part this is because no one, up to this point, has spoken to me.

He walks off somewhere.

About five minutes later he comes past me again. He asks me something in Italian. By now my mind is numb and even if he had said ‘Good Day’ in Italian, I wouldn’t have understood it. I feel like I have died whilst I’ve been waiting.

I give him the contents of the envelope and crank my mind into some sort of gear. I think I am somewhere between zero and first gear. He understands my comment that I just want to pay. He calls a woman from the room behind me – her with the ‘Closed’ desk. He tells her to serve me.

She is, obviously, less than happy with this. But, then again, I am less than happy with being here amongst all these totally ignorant Italians. I mean in this office not in Italy, of course.

She serves me. She is useless. But, in spite of her uselessness, five minutes later I am out of there. It will be the last time I use them and so, next year, I will do something about it. In time. I.e. a month before I need to do this again.

Or else I will be too lazy and go there again this time next year and be unhappy all over again.

Let’s see.