Update and Easter

Well, obviously, it’s not all cut and dried …. yet!

It seems that the building expenses weren’t quite right and, in fact, are higher. What I still fail to understand is why they weren’t right from day 1 as the people involved MUST have known the correct figure!

So, last night we went through the options and I suggested offering something with the option to go a little bit higher, if necessary.

F decided to make the offer as suggested and not go higher. And, he’s kind of right. So, we’ll see what happens.

I’m still hopeful though.

Apparently, the agency phoned him yesterday (they’d given us the correct figures just before Easter and were closed on Saturday and, of course, Monday) – so they’re obviously keen to let it to us.

If it doesn’t work out then it isn’t meant to be, so I am calm and relaxed about it. And, anyway, I’ve got the work visit to another country (where I dislike both the country and the people), so the flat, at the moment, is not at the forefront of my mind.

In the meantime, the weather at Easter was fairly crap – apart from Easter Sunday which was nice and when we went out for a meal with friends to a little place called Il Fontanone. It’s basically a small fishing lake with a wooden hut. The wooden hut is like a slightly bigger version of a garden shed and probably seats about 30 people and they serve a set menu. The lunch is served at 12.30 sharp! The food isn’t “wow” but it’s good and wholesome (one might say “rustic”). We had an antipasto, some pasta (and three of us had second helpings), some grilled and roasted meat (including lamb chops – there is a tradition of eating lamb here for Easter) and roasted potatoes, a colombo (a type of cake they have at Easter) with cream and coffee. We also had about 4 bottles of wine and coffees. The total cost was €20 per head! Which, given the amount of food and wine we had was a real bargain.

The day itself was quite warm and sunny. We sat outside for a bit, walked around the lake and, generally had a lovely time.

On the other hand, it was raining nearly all day on Saturday and the same on the Monday, when we were on holiday. Also, Monday was bloody cold.

Now, of course, when we’re back at work, it’s beautiful and warm outside. Typical!

Still, this week is a short week (Friday being a public holiday) and the following week we have the Thursday and Friday off. And, in between this work visit, the only bonus of which is the thought of the Tapas restaurant we went to last time we were there!

Breaking News ……..

Sorry for this post being so close to the last one but I’ve just heard …….. it seems as if we shall be moving. The offer has been accepted and so, in about 2 months or so, we shall be living together, in a new (old) flat.

How exciting!

How frightening!

So now, things to do.

1. Get my clocks repaired.
2. Get the sofas and chair recovered.
3. Sort out movers.
4. Throw away lots and lots of rubbish.
5. Get rugs cleaned professionally.
6. Get new kitchen.
7. Allow F to take over my life and the way I live and not complain about it.

OK, so I might fight the last one but I am concerned that it’s what will happen. Oh well, I’m sure it will be fine. And the timing for this couldn’t be better. I have the money to do all this (or will have in the next few days), so it’s just a matter of buckling down to it all. Fun days ahead then. Wish me luck!


You know how sometimes, everything seems to go a bit awry?

Well that’s how it is. I mean, it’s nothing major or really important, just little things that are annoying and involve trips to shops and buying some stuff.

So, it started last night. I got home from work and had to take the dogs out quickly and I noticed that my ultra-cheap shoes seemed a bit funny. Sure enough, the sole was coming apart. Of course, these are ultra-cheap and, so, don’t last. But, my thinking is that, if they last even 6 months, it’s still worth it. This is because I wear them to work and, somehow, all the shoes I wear to work quickly become tatty looking. Rather than spend a fortune on decent shoes, it seems better to spend next to nothing and throw them away once something goes wrong. In fact, even when a lace breaks, I’m almost inclined to bin them :-)

Anyway, this means going to buy new ultra-cheap shoes.

Then, I noticed my watch had stopped working. It needs a new battery is all – but that means I’ve got to find somewhere to get it done. Last time, the jewellers I went to wouldn’t do it and I ended up getting it done in Hereford Butter Market – so now I have to find a different jewellers here, in Milan.

Obviously, I checked my other watches and found about half of them needed new batteries.

See, I told you they were little things. It means Saturday will be busy. And, as my next post will show, there are a million and one other things to do too!

Quite nice is not VERY nice, is it?

“That’s quite nice.”

Here, the most important word is “quite” – as in almost something worth looking at. Not nice enough to buy or have in the house but, sort of nice. In the way that, compared to everything else that was on show, it was better but without any “WOW!” factor.

I probably said it a few times. And that, kind of, summed it up.

Amongst the dross there were a few things that were OK enough to look at.

Saturday, bless him, even if he was tired, he knew I wanted to go and see some things with him. So, off we went, with his friend, Fi, from Austria, walking not far from my flat. We were going to Wallpaper. There we did see some lovely things. Last year, we then continued to Brera. This year, Fi wanted to go to Lambrate. So we got a taxi and went.

I’ve never been to the “famous” Lambrate area during Design Week, so I was quite looking forward to it. It’s the other side of the railway that circles Milan – a place I would never normally have gone to. It’s quite a nice area in that it has a “village” feel. It was packed with people. Lots of ex-factories have become workshops and places to exhibit. This is the Fringe Show of the Furniture Fair. We traipsed through some but after two of them I mostly stayed outside. Not only was there really nothing worth seeing (in my opinion) but the crowds were just too much. Still, the sun was out and it was warm, so quite nice. The whole area felt quite bohemian (what, nowadays, is called Hipster, I believe) – full of young designers and artistic types doing the rounds.

There were a few things that I found “quite nice” – but most of it was crap or seemed to have been done before.

By about 2, we were leaving. Fi was going somewhere else, we were going home.

The next day, there were a couple of “exhibitions” by friends or friends of friends. So, yesterday, early evening, we went. the first was a photographer (who, apparently, used to do sculptures which were very good) but he should have stuck to the sculptures because the photographs were, quite frankly, nothing much. Housed in a tiny, tiny room, there was hardly room for the three of us (this time, with F’s colleague, Ma).

Then on to a “utensil” exhibition in a studio. Again, a couple of tiny rooms, only one of which had anything – on a large table in the centre of the room were things created from everyday utensils. What was created was neither decorative nor useful. It looked like the sort of thing you’d get kids to make in primary school!

Afterwards, when we having a beer, F (who was of the same opinion as me) said that, next year, he would set up an exhibition with his photos of Ma in various disguises (which are very good). Now THAT would be worth seeing. So, next year might be more interesting than this year :-)

An update

Well, as we suspected, the offer was rejected. But not exactly outright.

The comment that came back was – “we were expecting something closer to our asking price.”

Apparently, they were happy to have us – it was just lower than they wanted.

So, last night, we were back to the estate agents and we made our 2nd offer – actually half way between the two (our offer and their price). We explained that we didn’t want to keep coming back and forth. We asked if they would be likely to accept it. Eventually, with a few more Euro, the next offer was made.

Now we wait and see but we may even know today!

Plastic People

I am way, way over my head here.

And how different this was from the previous night!

I am introduced to various people, only one of whom I will remember – and that’s because we’re going to his wife’s shop (or, rather ex-shop) soon.

Eventually Si and I go to get a glass of prosecco and I manage to grab a small chocolate sweet from one of the waiters passing by who, until now have passed close to me but not close enough for me to grab anything and, anyway, seem to be moving through the room at something close to the speed of light. Most of the time, the ones that get close enough are carrying empty plates back.

The people around me speak mostly Italian and far too fast for me to understand. The men are dressed in suits with ties (no jeans) and the women have on their finest designer outfits and are all “beautiful” and “thin”.

This may be Design Week but one could be excused for confusing this with Fashion Week.

Si had only texted me when she had arrived at the shop (or, as we should now call them, Flagship Store.) Initially, I thought I’d say “no”. I was already tired from the night before but then I thought that I never really do these things and that I really should. What’s the point in living here if I don’t experience the “high life” once in a while. So I had rushed to change and to get there and I was now hot and bothered. She is dressed with a pink theme but doesn’t look out of place. I feel out of place since I have jeans, a casual white shirt (a little unusual – as is my wont) and a “suit-type” jacket.

After a little while we go to our next place. Si’s colleague, M’s wife used to own one of the most famous jewellers in Milan (apparently since I had never heard of them). We walk to the shop. On the way, in Via Montenapoleone (one of the main fashion streets in Milan), we pass their other shop. M goes over to say hello to someone there and then beckons us over. Apparently we should be going to this shop and not the other one. This shop, though, is not their historical main store but, rather, one that is exclusively for Rolex watches. In fact, I learn, this was the very first Rolex Flagship store in the world.

The party is in full swing. As for most places, there are people on the door checking if you are “on the list”. If you’re not “on the list” or know someone inside, you won’t get in. Of course, we are with the husband of the ex-owner (her cousin now owns it but she goes because it’s expected as she can meet and greet some of the long-term clients that will be there), so we get in.

Si seems very pleased with all this. She works in Marketing for a Luxury Brand (but not fashion) so there could be a tie-in.

Here the clientèle at the party are richer than the previous party. The men are not all in suites but, then, the crowd is older. I say older and that’s not entirely true. The men are older, some of the women are older but some are there because they’re not. However, there is so much plastic in the room – most women seem to have been under the knife, some with disastrous results (in my opinion.) There was fur; there were jewels; there was plastic – everywhere.

The shop is not that big but opulent would be a good word to use. The carpet thick, the wood special and lots of it and, of course, the watches. Now, personally, I really don’t like Rolex as a watch. Too much – I prefer simple watches – simple faces, preferably white or blue – even if mine are quite expensive (not as much as a Rolex though.)

The food was fantastic. They did little burgers that were so tasty (and, obviously NOT McDonald’s) and some proper Risotto Milanese. Si knew the chef (I’m not sure how she found that out) who is quite famous here, apparently and has a restaurant near Bergamo. Anyway, she mentioned something to one of the waiters and the next thing was that the chef came out to say hello to her – and me – and bearing another tray of the delightful mini burgers (just a mouthful each time – I had about 5!)

The shop had a “vertical” garden at the back, a roof terrace on the top floor and, on the same floor, a very large balcony that overlooked via Montenapoleone. Quite stunning.

It was all very nice but, to be honest, I preferred the previous night. There weren’t any real “designers” at these parties, just people who were to be “seen”.

I wasn’t way over my head because of the people so much as the fact that I don’t have the “culture” knowledge that they do. I mean, I know stuff but when people mention this designer or that artist, quite often I don’t have a clue who they are. Mostly I say I don’t know them. Sometimes, just because otherwise it gets boring, I say “Oh really?” – thank God they don’t ask too many questions.

Although, obviously, these people, especially at the Rolex shop, do move in a different world from me.

Still, it was all very nice and I’m glad I went but I did prefer the previous night where I got to meet “real” people rather than “plastic” people.

Design Week – the parties, the exhibitions, the fun of it all.

The weather is quite nice now. Not really hot but warm and then, in the evening, pleasant – but you need a light jacket or coat.

That was certainly one reason why, when I arrived, the place was heaving. In fact, I’ve never seen it so full.

Obviously, I know a lot of people now so it took us a while to get to a place to grab a drink. At the start, S hung on my coat tails but, after a while she relaxed.

The shop looked great and F had done a really good job although people would “touch” things and move them out of place and that irritates F. There were four stunningly nice chairs onn hooks on the large wall they have and on one of the bottom chairs, F had placed a bird (it was a theme). Some guy who looked like he had come straight from a Harry Potter film set as one of the teachers of the school – long, slightly crazy white hair, beard and glasses – had just reached up to the bird and dislodged it. We watched him as he tried to put it back on the chair. He couldn’t. He laid it on the chair and, with F seething, we watched him look around, trying to work out if someone had noticed. He looked and, almost certainly felt, very guilty.

We eventually got a drink from a roving waiter and picked up food as it came round. S was introduce to everyone that I talked to.

F told her she looked very elegant, as he does to almost all females. So, even today, all I am hearing is F said this; F said that!

Anyway, she loved it. She felt more special, I know. I remember when I used to feel like this all those years ago (before F). Now, I’m just interested in finding really nice people that I can become friends with. Not because I’m looking for friends, you understand, just because it’s nice meeting new people who are intelligent, funny, experienced and, with any luck, have something really interesting about them. Still, all the people that S met were, so she said, very nice. Of course, F was the best and she kept on about his trousers and how I should get some the same which, of course, I won’t, since I don’t really do trousers unless they are part of a suit!

We wandered about and chatted with all these people. Colleagues of F, friends of ours who came, other people that I know that are friends of F’s or his colleagues or used-to-be colleagues. Even our (my) old neighbour came.

At 8, people were still trying to get in and soon after they stopped people because they started to clean up. Si had arrived late and she and I stood outside; waiting for F who was polishing all the glass table and cabinet tops and resetting everything that had been touched and moved, ready for today. S left as she had her daughter to collect. But you could tell that she really wanted to come with us.

Then, we walked down to Via Tortona and a street that ran parallel. There were crowds and crowds of people and, as we commented later, it’s a nicer crowd during Design Week, more relaxed than during Fashion Week. Obviously, there were the people with the strange idea about dress – a little bit quirky or downright weird. But it is more casual, in general.

We met up with F’s best colleagues and visited some places that were open (most were open) including the studio of L’s sister, B who is very, very nice.

Everyone is “wowing” about the designs she does. I’m agreeing but inwardly thinking “Well, this is OK but I wouldn’t have it in my house”. But, of course, you can’t say that.

We did meet a 50-something dancer who has a one-room flat in London, speaks very good English and has just opened a dance studio here in Milan. She might also design jewellery. She might have been quite interesting to get to know but it was late and I was tired and we were about to go to Bar §Basso. I’m sure that I’ll meet her again – if it’s meant to be.

And then a taxi to Bar Basso. Si, who is more like F’s age, seemed genuinely “excited” about the whole thing and the atmosphere at Bar Basso because it was “very International”.

Then we went home.

Also, the people who own the potential new flat are very interested in us taking the flat but want us to come closer to the asking price.

We go this evening to update our offer :-)

Staying with you -v- going out with my friends

He doesn’t say much.

I mean he talks A LOT, but doesn’t say much in the way of “lurve”. No “I love you”s or “I miss you”s or stuff like that.

So, you have to take what you can.

Last night we were out doing some of the Design Week Fringe events and we ended up at Bar Basso with this rather lovely lady, Si. We got our drinks and were standing outside drinking and having a cigarette amongst the crowds and crowds of people, many foreigners who come for Design Week.

F likes to get the cocktails in great big glasses, which they do there and is one of their trademarks. Then there were these people from somewhere “abroad”, staring at our drinks whilst they were drinking the same drinks in very small glasses and chatting amongst themselves about the drinks, probably thinking they were some special drink and, of course, they’re in Milan so everything is exotic.

Anyway, F was saying to Si that he could go out every night with his friends, staying out with them but that he “prefer to stay with Andy”. That’s about as close as I get to an “I love you”.

Later, when we were at home, I said that it was one of the nicest things he had ever said.

He doesn’t take praise well and so the reply was “Well, it’s true”, which I guessed anyway.

Still, it was a lovely and unexpected thing.

How excited are we?

Well, it seems, very excited.

Bordering on hysterical.

Now, when I say “we”, I don’t actually mean “we” as in F & me. I mean my colleague, S.

She is a bit “snobby”. Not in a horrible way, of course, but she does like to think of herself as better than she is. More elegant, more beautiful, etc. I find it funny, to be honest.

Anyway, it’s the Furniture Fair in Milan this week and F’s shop has a display of some furniture, the fabric for which was designed by the designer (of the clothes, obviously). And there is a kind of small “party” which is really just an aperitivo, tonight. I am going, of course and, as F requested, invited certain people (it means that the shop will be full and that’s always good). There will be prosecco and the event is catered with some very nice “finger food” and there are waiters mingling to hand out this finger food. I go because F wants me to go and he can introduce me to English people and I can talk to them, which he likes.

Anyway, amongst the people I invited was S, my colleague. I knew she would like to be invited and half expected her to say no but, instead, she said yes. What the hell, I thought. She almost certainly knows of the existence of F (being quite good friends with some people that know of F here, at work) and I’m sure she is being just slightly nosy. But, in addition, it is a party with, for her, the glamour of Milan fashion and, so, something to be seen at.

However, I wasn’t expecting the reaction we have so far – she is wearing something but has bought a dress to change in to if I thought what she was wearing wasn’t good enough!

As I’ve tried to explain, this is just a small party in the shop. It’s not really something you have to wear a cocktail dress or evening gown to. It starts at 6.30 and will be all over by 8!

However, she is VERY excited. and a little bit apprehensive, which surprises me.

So, we shall see. The “tension” will be mounting throughout the day. Probably.