Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Peelin' spuds

Away from all that northern sunshine and beautiful tomatoes I'm craving stodge again. Shepherd's pie, pasta and lots of bread. Not to mention mashed potatoes. Thankfully I have help in the kitchen.


We certainly got a temperature shock when we got back with a number of icy, cold days. Today though is lovely (in the sun) and just the right weather for a spot of painting.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Singapore II

We crammed quite a bit into our 'day' in Singapore, though not as much as I'd planned. Originally I'd wanted to take Jack to Sentosa Island to go to Universal studios but didn't tell him in case it didn't happen. We arrived at 6am and were flying out at 8pm that night. We checked into our hotel and then showered and slept. Neither of us had slept well on the flight from Rome, though we did share some wedding cake with some lovely Italian newlyweds. I was still planning the trip to Sentosa even though time was slipping away and Jack opted for a swim instead in the hotel pool. It was pretty nice even with the distinctive tang of av gas in the air.

After our swim we caught a taxi into town for a look-see which involved shopping and eating, because we hadn't done nearly enough of that on our trip. Jack when faced with a huge choice of foods like sushi, yakitori, hainan chicken rice, mee goreng and more chose fish and chips (they were actually very good) and at least he didn't want pizza..

We found some amazing toy shops and checked out the bookshop Kinokuniya.

We got back to the Crowne, packed and re-entered Changi airport where we once more visited the butterflies and used the free wi-fi while we waited.

Jack loves these feedback screens at Changi Airport. He usually said everything was excellent.

Jack did this list on the way to Italy. I think we covered it all, though maybe not in quite that order.

Danger Money

The traffic in Rome is crazy, cacophonous and chaotic. I'm surprised we only saw one minor accident. Roundabouts seem to be every man or woman for themselves with no indication where they begin or end and as for lane markings, I think these are viewed as suggestions only. Think then of traffic policemen standing in the middle of intersections directing all of this armed with only a whistle and one of those natty uniforms that the Italian police love so dearly.  What you can't see from this photo is the number of large buses just metres from where he stood serenely waving his arms and scores of tiny cars and buzzing vespas waited impatiently for their turn. 
On our last day we found a book called This is Rome by M. Sasek from a wonderful series including Paris, Venice and New York. Jack particularly liked this illustration. 

Jack's Rome

As our bus ticket was for 24 hours we decided to rest after the Colosseum and hop on again later that day. We scored a seat upstairs and outside, though at a price as we were surrounded by a large family who yelled across us, jostled us and kept bumping me in the back of the head with their ipad when they stood up to take photos. A dramatic thunderstorm meant we took cover and escaped. Jack took charge of the camera and took some interesting photos so here's a selection. I won't put all of them on because he took so many but I think you will get the idea.


As I may have mentioned I have this thing about not wanting to look like a tourist, even though as S reminded me I am. Maybe part of it it is not wanting to draw too much attention to myself saying,"Soft target! rob me!" so I avoid sandals and socks and taking photos with gigantic tablets and doing segway tours. We saw them almost everywhere we went, though funnily enough not in Venice. There's just something about these groups that makes me giggle. From their matching helmets and their upright postures and earnest expressions. What would the collective noun for a group of segways be? A durp? 

 Or maybe I'm just secretly jealous because I've always wanted to try one.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

ticking off the to-do list

On our last day we had many things left to do like see the Colosseum (tick), buy presents (tick), eat gelati, play one last game of foosball, catch the bus and find a substitute for the Trevi Fountain so we could fling in coins for friends and family.

We decided this one in the Piazza Navona would be most satisfactory and Jack set about flinging fistfuls of coins forward and backwards, over his shoulder with abandon. He only hit one person and was pleased to have crossed that off his list. (the coin in the fountain task not hitting someone with a coin).

The Last Days of Rome

For our last day, Jack and I bought a ticket one on of those hop on/hop off sightseeing buses. We were going on the red one, but the tout gave me the irrits so we went on the green one. Possibly it wasn't as good but all Jack cared about was seeing the Colosseum. In retrospect we could have just caught the metro there and saved ourselves some euros but Jack loves those buses and desperately wanted to sit upstairs. We saw some other sights of Rome but Jack certainly wasn't disappointed in his first glimpse of the Colosseum, even though part of it was clad in scaffolding. An American tourist sitting near us asked his mother if they were "adding on". Bless.
We hopped off and joined the queue only to discover we both needed to go to the toilet. What to do? Public toilets in Italy can be tricky to locate. We decided to tough it out and stayed in the queue and waited and waited. It didn't seem that long before we were inside but then we could see the queue winding in and out between columns and disappearing out of view. Outside touts had offered tours as a way of jumping the queue but it all seemed a bit dodgy. Inside however when we were offered an official tour we accepted, jumped the queue, found a loo and joined our group. Because it was busy we were given personal amplifiers so we could hear the guide.
Jack was not so impressed with these, though he loved learning about the Colosseum. He was pleased to learn about the lifts and trap doors they used to get the animals up into the arena. Occasionally his hand would sneak up into the air as he waited to ask a question, though the first time he got shy and forgot what he was going to ask.
He was also pleased to find the gift shop where he found a present for a friend and himself.

Books for bambini

I love bookshops in other countries. I still have a cute board book that I bought in Edinburgh for Jack. Italy has some lovely bookstores and Jack's favourite was La Feltrinelli which we found in Milan, Florence and Rome. The one in Milan had a room set up as Geronimo Stilton's office which really impressed Jack. Geronimo is a mouse who is the head of a publishing house who wears a lot of plaid and Jack and many Italian children are particularly fond of him. I dislike mice, especially when they wear clothes.

  The shop in Florence had a tunnel for kids and an excellent selection of books on poo, so much more entertaining than books about a mouse!


 I was also delighted to find this Dr Seuss book which sounded positively delicious when translated.

In the end we purchased this one for Sam and he was very pleased and that's before we've replaced the batteries and can find out what noises it makes. I wonder...

Friday, 18 July 2014


And so we are home. As predicted when I asked Sam if he missed me his reply was a resounding No! I got the same response when I asked if he wanted a cuddle. He was delighted with his Cacca book, Pinocchio whistle and Cinghiale or tuscan boar (and no I didn't bring home a wine & truffle enthusiast). It's nice to get home safely (especially considering what has just happened in Ukraine) but it is cold, the house is in a state of greater chaos than usual due to our house painter who has an interesting system that seems to create the maximium amount of disruption in as many rooms as possible simultaneously and I am sooo weary. If I can get this computer to talk to my camera I will be able to post photos of our last couple of days. In the meantime here is you-know-who.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Farewell to Rome

Today we leave Italy for Singapore, which is a happy/sad moment. Soon we will get to see Sam, though I'm expecting the cold shoulder. Maybe the Italian kid's book on poo will win him over. By all accounts he's been having the most dreadful time with his grandparents and cousin Scarlett (not).
Yesterday we went on a sightseeing bus and saw many things but most importantly the colosseum. Jack had been looking forward to this for the whole trip. As S has left with his computer (rude!) I will upload photos soon. We had a great last day, in spite of not being able to play one last game of foosball. Now onto Singapore (if I can wake Jack).

Sunday, 13 July 2014


Doing the ironing

Our last two flats didn't have ironing boards so I really shouldn't complain....

Kosher Rome

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. We've eaten a lot of pizza and pasta and pig in the last week. Today we stumbled upon the Jewish quarter in Rome and decided we'd go back for dinner. I heard talk of crispy fried artichokes so tonight we set off along the river to Nonna Betta's which is apparently the place. It was great fun, and S didn't even manage to say,"Cosa mi consiglia?" (what do you recommend?) before the waiter had us sorted. While we waited we watched the opening of a Jewish Sushi bar next door (talk about fusion) and watched the Nonnas shuffle past in their lace dresses and running shoes while a fashionable young roman fed his dog sushi with chopsticks.
Afterwards we walked along the riverbank where there were more foosball tables and bars and places to watch the final of the world cup tonight. Go Argentina! Any criminals hatching a plan should go-go-go tonight. All the police are in bars watching the game!