Tag Archives: friends

Spreading the Christmas Love

So tonight, my darlings, S….. (a Kiwi buddy) and I are off to see L’elisir d’amore at Covent Garden’s finest, the Royal Opera House, no less. I have not seen this particular alcohol induced love triangle before and am anticipating twists, turns, tangles and much quaffing of the red wine elixir.

the elixir of love (ROH website)
the elixir of love (ROH website)

I can’t wait and am going to spend many of the intervening hours debating (with myself) whether I drive in comfort and stump up for congestion charging and extortionate parking or brave (relatively) low cost public transport and get sore feet. Hmmm. If I had the egg -shell blue Vespa above and the clement weather no argument would be needed but I do not and so I must go on fighting. At least until I put on my high heeled boots and grab the car keys from the dog’s bed.

Last month I took a pic from our seats in the stalls of the glorious Opera House. Here it is:

not sitting here tonight (mrscarmichael)
not sitting here tonight (mrscarmichael)

S…… and I will be seated just out of shot and ever so slightly upwards. No, up and back a bit more. Bit more, bit more. Ok, I have my crampons. I have my opera glasses. Good seats at the ROH, I’ll have you know, cost a gazzilion spondoolies and Donnizetti may just not do it for us. Bryn Terfel will though. Of that we can be sure.

It’s all good. So good, in fact already I have popped the tickets in my handbag. S….. will be especially pleased to hear this news. Her last invitation resulted in disaster and the non-seeing of Sadler’s Wells, Great Gatsby, heralded by all (bar S…… and myself) as a triumph:

In Which Mrs Carmichael Looses the Plot and Needs to Take Time Out For a Jolly Good Cry

And for that I am truly sorry. Tonight is going to be worlds’ better. It’s Christmas, I have the tickets, a table for two is reserved in my name at an Italian restaurant (see how I’m running with the theme here) in Bow Street for 6.00pm, my black jeans are in the dryer now and the ‘weather bomb’ predicted to grace our shores today is, as yet, happily making sixty foot waves out west, Atlantic way.

What can possibly go wrong?

Jersey, Merci

I had never been to Jersey until last weekend. Friends, R…… and L…… have just moved back to the isle of their childhoods and Mr C and I thought it a brilliant idea to carpe le weekend and go somewhere new and not too far away.

We arrived just behind the pantechnicon containing one thousand plus boxes. Actually it was slightly more complicated than that. Because of the narrow, unforgiving, stone sided roads, the furniture removal truck had to remain in St Helier and the gang, van the boxes to our friends in a convoy of white. There were a lot of boxes. Both opened and unopened all over the house. Thankfully it’s a very big house.

We arrived just behind the 789th van deposit. I think R……. was quite pleased to see us as it gave him the perfect excuse to stop unpacking boxes. L……, like most women, was much more dedicated to the task and I believe, because of l……, the thousand boxes will all be opened and contents assigned quarters in a relatively short space of time. If it were left to R……., I have my doubts.

We flew in at lunchtime so out for lunch we went.

I considered joining the surf school (mrscarmichael)
view from our table (mrscarmichael)

I considered going the surf school but opted for

oh so yum (mrscarmichael)
oh so yum (mrscarmichael)

calamari, chorizo, beans and rocket salad with garlic mayonaise. Oh, and a nice big glass of rosé.

Then we went for a drive. Jersey is only 45 miles square. You would think it were much bigger if you, like me, were in the backseat of a Volvo going at speed, breaking at speed, cornering at speed and attempting to cover each and every mile of the isle before pre-prandials.

Before I got really car sick we saw a lot of beauty.

After a wee nana nap (to settle my stomach and prepare it for the evening) we went out for a slap -up meal. I remember very little about the food. I believe it was good. It seems I might have drunk my body weight in rosé at the restaurant. In my defence, it slipped down very easily. Although I did manage to force another down back at the ranch, it would be fair to say that I slept like a baby. An unconscious baby.

I woke feeling a tad seedy but two slices of toast and a strong black coffee sorted that out. Once I woke from my 9.30am nap I managed to make it to a sun lounger (another strong black in hand) and have a well deserved sleep while L……. unpacked more boxes. She is a machine.

I must tell you that L…… is also a Michelin starred chef. At least she has been referred to as such, so great are her skills in the kitchen. Unfortunately, her kitchen was brown- boxed- in last weekend. R…… rounded us up and all four headed to Marks and Spencer for lunch. Mr C insisted I come to ensure he didn’t horlicks up his choice of sandwich for yours truly. L…… came because her husband refuses to pay M and S for the carrier bags so many hands were needed to carry our carb laden repast back to the Volvo. I ate way too much and, bolstered by another mug of caffeine and an indigestion tablet, I dressed for an afternoon on the high seas.

Have any of you see the movie, Captain Ron? Made in the early 90’s it stars Kurt Russell and Martin Short and if you’re in a silly mood and want to watch a silly movie, this is a goody.

laugh out loud with a cult following (crusingoutpost.com)
laugh out loud with a cult following (crusingoutpost.com)

R…… is learning to captain/sail/drive a rather powerful motorboat. He’s mastered the going fast in a straight line in open water. He does that very well. Anchoring and mooring are proving ever so slightly more problematic. There are aspects of Captain Ron’s character that I see reflected in our friend R…… I was thus relieved to learn that, in ensuring the well being and longevity of all on board, he’d invited N…, his best bud, along for the ride. N… is good at anchoring and mooring and as such an asset to our afternoon’s adventuring.

We headed to St Brelade’s for a spot of swimming.

our boat did not look like this (mrscarmichael)
our boat did not look like this. This is way more Swallows and Amazons (mrscarmichael)

We anchored twice and began to bob around. I began to feel ever so slightly queasy. The queasiness got worse. Then it stepped up a gear. My mouth got all watery – usually a vomit precursor. By sitting high up, in the centre of the boat, looking with a fixed eye towards land and not talking to anyone I managed to hold my chicken caesar wrap down. I could not swim. The thought of changing in a confined and bobbing cabin brought tears to my eyes and more saliva to ma bouche.

We then drove/sailed to deeper water and fished for mackerel. This involved more bobbing so I couldn’t fish – having to keep my eye on land and sit atop the motorboat but Mr Carmichael gave it a go. He has fished once before when he was starving in Greece but is not sure if he used a hook or just bread and, unsurprisingly, caught nothing.

Saturday was very different.

“I think I’ve got the line caught on the bottom,” he says and with R…….’s help reels in a fish.

R…… catches a fish. And another.

Line cast again, Mr C is now a fisherman. “I’ve got another,” he shouts but he was wrong.

He had five! All tangled together on his now, and forever, unusable line.

R…… unhooked/cut them all off narrowly avoiding a tumble into the Atlantic.

I wish I could show you the photos. They are hilarious but, in the efforts of anonymity and without a pixalator, the amusement must remain on Mrs C’s camera. You will just have to use your imaginations.

We sailed/drove back to the marina.

At this point Captain Ron came to the fore and N… came into his own. Well, he would have if he hadn’t jumped off the boat prematurely. I think he was under the impression that because R……. had driven our craft full throttle into the berth he was planning to leave it there and ropes would need to be tied.

R…… had other ideas and within moments we were reversing rather quickly towards the behemoth moored behind us.

Because Mr Carmichael’s only job was to offer words of support and nothing else, I could actually enjoy the next thirty minutes or so of in/out manoeuvring, swearing, long distance exchanges between Captain Ron and land lubbered, N… and a few very close shaves.

We parked and had a rosé to celebrate and wait for other boaty people on their boats to stop laughing.

That evening, as a starter, we bbq’d the mackerel at the beach and watched the waves crash against the sea wall.

waves crashing onto sea wall (mrscarmichael)
waves crashing onto sea wall (mrscarmichael)

Mr Carmichael’s catch was delicious.

fish bliss (mrscarmichael)
fish bliss (mrscarmichael)

We had some rosé and and went for Italian. L……., my husband and I ordered seafood pizza. R…… doesn’t like fish so steered well clear. Sensible R…….

There are words that one never thinks they will concatenate into a single sentence. ‘Pizza bisque’ is a perfect example. Bisque as a soup – fantastic. A pasta sauce – perfect. A topping for a pizza -hmmmmm. So shocked was I, I neglected to take a photo. Again, please use your imagination. Think brown, think runny, think as far away from any pizza you have ever seen and you’re almost there.

“It says bisque on the menu,” our waitress informed us when I mentioned the utter oddness of my dinner.

We asked for a menu, believing that three of us could not have missed the warning. It said rein about the bisqueness of our chosen meal. Quel surprise!

L…….., she of the ‘michelin star’, took over from me and spent the good next while in the kitchen with manager and chef reinventing their menu. I drank rosé and waited to hear how she got on.

“Don’t think that’ll be appearing again,” she said and quaffed a well deserved mouthful of pink wine.

Mr C and I flew home in the arms of Hurricane Bertha, our little prop plane circling Stanstead in a left sloping holding pattern just long enough to make me airsick.

oh my god (mrscarmichael)
oh my god (mrscarmichael)

And so, to summarise:

A trifecta of motion sickness and then there was the rosé.

Fresh fish caught my Mr C, my pecheur d’island husband.

Beaches, beaches, sea, sea, sea and stunning hydrangeas.

Great company.

It’s Thursday and I have almost recovered.

Suggestion Stupidity

It is no secret that I enjoy a wee glass or two of wine and the end of the day. Not every day but most days it must be said.

My go to wine is a New Zealand sauvignon blanc but there are others, many others that I enjoy. Chardonnay the exception to this rule. Sorry guys things that smell like petrol often taste like petrol. In my experience.

Editor’s note: Knowing Mrs Carmichael as I do she will be happy to be proved wrong re the Chardy but this will be a marathon not a sprint.

My friend Gracie works within very similar parameters vis a vis wine preferences and consumption.

From time to time we discuss taking a break, not drinking Monday to Friday, drinking every second day, embarking on the 5:2 regime or giving up all together.

Editor’s note: Yeah right.

We know any one or a combination of the above would benefit our livers, our body mass indexes and our wallets.

Gracie, who has been on a prolonged, intense and it must be said successful diet for her up-coming trip to South Africa, was counting wine calories and considering the minutiae of fluid carb content.

Recently, and over an early evening glass of Marlborough Ned, Gracie mentioned our musings to her daughter, A…….

Editors note: Gracie and Mrs C have many daughters between them. Said daughters are, without exception, full of and vociferous with suggestions re self improvement regimes for their particular mother.

"try gin" (theginblog.co.uk)
alternate therapy (theginblog.co.uk)

A…….’s suggestion therefore surprised Gracie.

“But I don’t like gin, ” she replied.

“I didn’t say GIN,” A……. retorted. I SAID “try the gym!”

How mi amiga and I guffawed over a Wither Hills the following evening.

“Anyway, gin’s got calories,” I reminded her when we managed to stop laughing.

Arrrgh - (virginactive.co.uk)
Arrrgh – (virginactive.co.uk)

On Tuesday I saw Woody’s latest, Blue Jasmine with my friend K……. at a wonderful art house theatre, the Rex, in Berkhamstead. It’s one of those lovely theatres that not only show great movies but allow you to sit in style. Upstairs there are armchairs and down, tables, swivel seating and a bar! It’s glorious.

not country appropriate in this instance (theatlantic.com)
not country appropriate in this instance (theatlantic.com)

Daughter #1 had not only recommended the movie to me but once she knew I had taken her advice and booked it offered a further generous suggestion.

“Schnnaps??” I asked, “Why schnapps? Surely it’s not set in the Nordics.”

“I said snacks,” my eldest responded post haste. “Take some snacks.”

Whether she meant a healthy nibble because we were attending a matinee or a more typical carb and sugar laden alternative I am not certain. What I do know is that we got no further with the conversation due to the high decibel raucousity occurring in our kitchen. That got even louder when I relayed the gin/gym tale to her.

nice but where's the wine? (gofowomen.com)
nice but where’s the wine? (gofowomen.com)

Editor’s note: Snacks and wine (but possibly not Schnnaps) are available at the Rex and can be topped up during the movie.

Hearing tested? I beg your pardon.

Thanks For the Mammaries

Knowing that I was planning a trip back to the home country, my oldest (length of friendship-wise) amiga suggested, somewhat forcefully, that I tie my Antipodean antics in with an upcoming Wellington Girls’ College reunion scheduled for around or about my travel time.

Knowing how much I hated my years at the school it’s a wonder she mentioned it to me.

For my part, knowing the pressure of her persuasive powers and their relentless nature I accepted the offer of a bed for the duration and a seat at the, almost, top table with alacrity and just a modicum of that feeling you get when you’re doing something naughty.

I was, according to the powers that were at WGC in the early 1970’s, always doing something naughty. Or downright bad. Or worse. If requested I could fill this blog spot with my back catalogue of heinous crimes against the black and gold school colours for the remainder of 2013 and well into the new year. And actually would quite enjoy doing it. Catharsis and all that I guess.

The frisson of fear I felt was there for good reason. I assure you of that.

Not so my friend C……. who enjoyed her time in these halls of learning, her daughters who proved to be loved and accepted members of the school society and her sister Ruth who is listed on the present website under famous old girls along with Katherine Mansfield and Anna Paquin no less.

friends since the age of three (mrscarmichael)
friends since the age of three (mrscarmichael’s mother)

C……. was organising the reunion – top to toe and her sister producing all the fab food for the three day fun fest. In such hallowed company this was going to be a breeze. I began to wonder if I might even enjoy the experience.

And bits of it I did.

The parade through Wellington’s CBD I could have done without but the new Principal, Julia Davidson’s, speech beside the Michael Fowler Centre gave me cause to have a ponder positive as to if I could, indeed, have been happy there under her teaching and care.

Unfortunately Betty Fraser and Olga Harding were in charge of my education and pastoral provision which explains why I did most of my lessons in the corridor outside their office. But I digress as the learnt fear mounts in dark corners of my soul.

Back to the reunion.

The gala dinner was not only yummy but more fun than expected and there was most a generous amount of wine allocated per head. My next day was a write off it must be said.

The highlight of the weekend for me however was not my level of liver poisoning but C…….’s wrap speech in the school hall. In front of hundreds she thanked the attendees, introduced the dignitaries and spoke of her fond recollections, her years at Wellington Girls’, the wind and vertical rain in Molesworth Street that we all were forced to pit our wills against, her comrades, friends and the school spirit.

I was on tenterhooks through the entire speech because I knew what was coming. If she didn’t chicken out. And my friend is not the chickening out typa’ gal.

“Wellington Girls’ College,” she said slowly, clearly and with great elocution. “Thanks for the mammaries.”

She handed the microphone to the Mayor of New Zealand’s capital city. It was not easy for him to be heard above the applause, laughter and women asking their neighbours if they had heard her correctly.

Although taught in this building I am not in the photo because I'm probably at a desk outside Betty Fraser's office (Evening Post archives)
Although taught in this building I am not in the photo because I’m otherwise occupied at a desk outside Betty Fraser’s office doing maths (Evening Post archives)

In Which Mrs Carmichael Looses the Plot and Needs to Take Time Out For a Jolly Good Cry

yes, I'm feeling blue (weeping woman, Viola Frey, gallerycrawl.typepad.com)
yes, I’m feeling blue (weeping woman, Viola Frey, gallerycrawl.typepad.com)

It wasn’t meant to be this way. Mrs Carmichael has been looking forward to Thursday, 23rd May for quite some weeks. More so since the weekend gone when she was ‘Luhrmanned’ within an inch of her 3D life and forced to pen a review of The (not so) Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann and The Great Gatsby, 3D Style (a Review) because she ‘ had the……. conviction that life was beginning once again with the [evening]’. Thanks, F. Scott I can take it from here.

The back story:

As some of you, my Second Life confidents, already know I am due to see Northern Ballet’s Great Gatsby tonight with my Kiwi friend, S……

Yesterday before I drove to Birmingham (and back) to lunch with Daughter #2, post uni exams (hers not mine), I took a deep breath and approached my ‘put everything important in here’ drawer to retrieve the tickets so I could relax on the hundred mile journey north safe in the knowledge that I would not be begging Sadler’s Wells to let us in or scouring online bank statements to prove payment. That has happened before. The drawer has been known to let me down. It’s a scary place.

he's got me just about right (www.pablopicasso.org)
he’s got me just about right (www.pablopicasso.org)

Anyway, hooray and hallelujah, I found the tickets in a heart beat. My heart swelled with relief and joy. And then it burst. I read the date. I read the date again. I checked my calendar. The date had gone. A week ago. Exactly.

There was no doubt about it. Mrs Carmichael had f&*%ed up. Big time. And she couldn’t even blame the drawer.

Putting a very brave face on it I text S…… with profuse and abject apologies. I textually prostrated myself at her feet, begged forgiveness and promised redemption (my own that is) on my return from Birmingham. Somewhat sadly for me, everything she plans goes off without hitch.

Note to self: socialise with lower flyers on more of a regular basis.

I exited Casa Carmichael with speed and stealth unable to discuss my failings/destroyed evening out with judgemental family members various just at that moment.

I had a good time in Birmingham, ate Caesar salad, no croutons, managed to stay spending on Daughter #2 to a bikini for Ibiza (upcoming birthday) and tested my tale out on her. She is the dancer and as such concentrated on the shame of having missed out on this:

Daisy and Gatsby as ....... and Leo can only dream it to be (NB prdt photo, Bill Cooper)
Daisy and Gatsby as Corey Mulligan and Leo can only dream it to be (NB prdt photo, Bill Cooper)

And this:

boo hoo hoo (Northern Ballet prdt photo, Bill Cooper)
boo hoo hoo (Northern Ballet prdt photo, Bill Cooper)

The castigation, I realised, was coming later.

Actually, you know what it really didn’t. And that’s a good thing. I think because mea culpa was the only route available to me I milked it for all it was worth. And S……, has a big day in her big job so pretends to be relieved. Please God she doesn’t read the excellent reviews.

“I’ve only got myself to blame,” I shall use more frequently in the future I have decided.

Right now I’m typing this instead of bearding ‘the drawer’ to check play tickets for next Thursday, Mayerling tickets, early June and hotel bookings north of Barcelona.

Wish me luck. It’s going to be a hell of an afternoon but, as we now know, I’ve only got myself to blame.

There’s Posh.

I’ve just got back from a weekend in The Forest of Dean, an ancient woodland in Gloucestershire bordered by the Rivers Wye (to the North), Severn (South), Gloucester, the main burg to the East and Wales in a westerly direction.

The River Wye from Symonds Yat rock. So wish I'd had a wide angle lens (mrscarmichael)
The River Wye from Symonds Yat rock. So wish I’d had a wide angle lens (mrscarmichael)

Even in Winter it’s stunning so I can only imagine what foliage, snowdrops and bluebells must transform it into. The wild bores who are digging each and every grass verge into oblivion within this historic royal hunting ground have certainly discovered its life giving essence. I am too sad that I didn’t get to see one. I did, however, get to see a lot of sheep – real sheep that are distinguishable from each other and who literally live on the hard shoulder – risking life and limb for greener blade of grass across the lane. I forgot to buy a leg of lamb so exhausted was I, homeward bound.

I shared the driving with my new friend, Gracie. She’s not really a new friend. Nor is she called Gracie but is seriously considering the change.

“What is Mrscarmichael on about?” you ask.

It’s a more than reasonable question. So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

I was off to meet my 89 year old second cousin, Gertie who has recently ‘found’ me and is very cross that the last thirty years of my UK residence have been wasted.

“I might die tomorrow,” she opened with as she smacked my hand.

In reality I don’t think there’s much chance of that. I have never seen someone run on sticks with such agility. Boar diggings, grave stones, pub slate floors and strangers’ bedrooms were no match for my octogenarian in-law. Gracie and I were left breathless.

Gertie’s best friend (who she’s known ‘since a foetus’) is called Amelia. She is 90 and not quite so nimble on her pins. She is also ever so slightly deaf. Hence the Gracie misunderstanding. T…… chose to let it go.

Gertie is staying with Amelia for a fortnight in Coleford, the town that my father’s side of the family hails from and where my grandfather was born. The lane bares my name. It’s a nice feeling.

the cottage where it all happened (mrscarmichael)
the cottage where it all happened (mrscarmichael)

Granddad and his many siblings were raised in Homestead. The boys, like their father worked the drift mines on their hands and knees. Amelia’s husband mined Hopewell until 1990. On his hands and knees. I can’t get my head round it. Her family stayed in Coleford whereas Gertie (who wants half her ashes scattered in the backyard of Homestead and the remainder strewn over Mount Kilimanjaro) and my ancestor have lived more peripatetic existences.

My grandfather and two of his brothers chanced their luck in New Zealand and Australia and that, as you can see, is where I come in. I feel closest to this strand because they are the reason I could stay indefinitely in this green and pleasant land.

So this is the outside of Homestead.

'I hear a car." (mrscarmichael)
‘I hear a car.” (mrscarmichael)

Amelia stayed in the car while Gertie, Gracie and I investigated every external crevice of this house, including the stable, gig shed, earth lavatory location, Uncle Henry’s shed (collapsed), the well and it has to be said we enjoyed a jolly good peer through the bay window.

“I hear a car,” Gertie said as she clambered over garden detritus, sticks clasped under her arm. “Good. Now we’ll get somewhere.”

We got into the upstairs bedroom, where her son was conceived, and admired the flag stones in the dining room (off cuts from Liz Hurley’s up the road) and the current owner (who really did not know what had hit him) discovered that his walls are permanently damp because there’s a spring under the cottage.

He took it with more equanimity than I would have if the house were mine. But I don’t think he was firing on all cylinders. Why else would he have let three (forceful) women into his home without a whimper. Perhaps because his wife had just requested a divorce that morning and this chocolate box Forest of Dean dwelling could not even go to fund the alimony so depreciated is its value in these credit crunched days.

“I should have bought it,” Gertie mused but baulked at the price tag.

Thankfully Amelia was still with us when we got back to the car an hour or so later. And we were off to The Dog and Muffler for a late lunch. This was Amelia’s choice of restaurant, “because she doesn’t get out much” we had been told by Gertie when we offered to take them for a meal and all things considered it was great pub food supplied at a reasonable price. Gracie and I even managed to purchase at fair trade a bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc for later consumption, fearing the local corner shop may not stock our tipple of choice.

Now you know when a photo opportunity is missed – how it sits and rankles. I forgot to get a pic of the dog sporting his muffler, in actuality a school scarf in need of a little wash. The cleanliness or no of the muff however, pales into insignificance beside the dog himself. This is a true Hound of the Baskerville and from his vantage point above my head he watched us eat. I touched him. He was, or had been a real dog. Arrrrgh. We checked. We were right. If anyone has a photo, please attach.

Hopewell drift mine (mrscarmichael)
Hopewell drift mine (mrscarmichael)

We covered multiple cemeteries, the Hopewell Mine, a village called Newland and homes various of people I can’t quite place into my family tree. I have learnt more than I’ve forgotten and I have forgotten a very great deal. Gertie, it has to be said, could never give someone the silent treatment. She would combust with the pressure of unspoken words. Amelia by comparison was more judicious with her thoughts.

And as Gracie unlocked from afar the arm-chair-on-wheels that we had borrowed from her hubby in order to accommodate four women, two walking sticks and a walker in some comfort, Amelia, in her beautiful ‘Forest’ accent admired the new technology.

“There’s posh,” she said.

A date with How Green Was My Valley is well overdue, methinks.

Travel Theme (Transportation)

While Ailsa aka Where’s my backpack? criss crosses the US of A providing us with way too many diversions and detours from things we should be doing her latest theme is a great one for me and has even got me giggling like a naughty school girl. Why?

I’ll show you but first a tiny bit of back story.

In June my friend T……. and three of our daughters took a week’s holiday on the Greek island of Kos. I have used some pics from there in a previous challenge Travel Theme (Hot) but this one cracks me up.

When T……. was but a teenager she went to Kos with her family and fell madly in love with a waiter at their hotel. His name was Tasos. They exchanged, photos, records and billet doux and the memories were so vividly rekindled for my friend this summer that we were frogmarched to the hotel and forced to tour the corridors where they courted. She also talked about him quite a lot.

To get our own back, the four of us took secret snaps of men who just might turn out to be the ageing lothario. Until this challenge I had no idea how many of them were in transit when they were photographed.

Please enjoy Transportation of the Tasai. They’re on the move.

you're supposed to ride it, Tassos (mrscarmichael)
you’re supposed to ride it, Tasos (mrscarmichael)
not on the pavement, Tassos (mrscarmichael)
not on the pavement, Tasos (mrscarmichael)

And the final piece of the trifecta was actually taken at the entrance to the hotel. Could he be our Tasos?

were you once a waiter at this hotel? (mrscarmichael)
were you once a waiter at this hotel? (mrscarmichael)

Now, in normal circumstances I ask permission of friends before I include them in my blogging life but in the case I have not spoken to T……. prior to publishing. For obvious reasons.

I Don’t Like the Smell of Antipasti or Swiss Food for Thought

When I last visited Zurich it was the height of summer. The lake shone azure, the River Limmat glowed like stirling silver and Swiss army knives burst blood red from military shop windows. Likewise sachertortes glistened brown and deliciously chocolate among pastries and cakes of every hue. Even the long white sausages tasted oh so much better than they looked.

I do remember also that the female population appeared to be descended from the Valkyries and my puny five and a halfish foot frame embarrassed me for the first time in my life. Not enought to stop eating the cakes though. Or the sausages or drinking the beer in copious amounts. I was with three guys that trip.

It was high summer as I said.

unexpectedly white and wet (mrscarmichael)

This time it snowed and I was by myself. It snowed before the leaves had fallen and trees were bowing and breaking under the unexpected weight of frozen water. I don’t like snow. Where I live it has a habit of stopping EVERYTHING – cars (roads ungritted); the trains (wrong kind of snow on tracks); planes (one de-icer for the whole of Heathrow) and my life (four daughters at home because their schools are closed trying their best to catch colds in the back garden).

It’s alright in the Alps when the sun is shining its ozone filled smile and the après ski bar is only a wide flat, blue run away. But that’s it in my book.

gift’s in the post (mrscarmichael)

Because it had snowed we had to look inward for our entertainment. In a way lucky because I couldn’t fit my walking boots in the minuscule carry on bag EasyJet allowed me to travel with. For the same reason I was forced to leave my hosts’ present behind as well. I did take a photo for them to soften the blow.

Now, my friends drink tea in the morning. I drink black coffee, at least three cups, to get me going especially after an evening of reminisce and red wine. There was no coffee in the house and I was gagging, I hope quietly, for a cup.

IM VIADUKT (Claudia Fuchs)

We went to IM Viadukt for our coffee which we may not have done if a) it hadn’t been snowing and b) there was coffee in the house. And that was a good thing because

what more could I want? (Mara Truog)

the place is fantastic. It’s Zurich’s first covered market plus over fifty shops under the arches all with design in mind. And apart from the exorbitant pricing of everything (buy some more Euros Switzerland, please) it is my kind of shopping, eating, drinking and hanging out venue.

testing the strongest gluten tolerance (mrscarmichael)

With coffee firmly in mind we passed stalls selling cheese, bread, cured meats, honey, wine, flowers. We passed a wine bar. My eye was drawn. It was 1.00pm. We passed the biggest mushrooms I have ever seen on sale in my life. We passed a trolley of beer. We passed wonderful scents, colours and people looking happy. Nirvana.

The restaurant is at the far end of the market and open to every sensory pleasure. The coffee was very good. I had two cups and felt a lot better and more like me. I also felt hungry.

frites out of view (mrscarmichael)

All around us people were enjoying moules and frites with goblets of wine. Moules, frites and a goblet of wine is possibly my favourite meal. My female host picked up on my appreciation and, I guess feeling pleased that she had chosen the venue so presciently, suggested lunch.

What a splendid idea. My treat. My lips had only formed the “Wh” when……….

“I want to go to Mr Wong’s,” my male companion said. “I don’t like the smell of antipasti.”

Jaw, floor, gobsmacked. That was my reaction. How are you coping? I’m just praying for a cathartic release by penning this blog.

best bookshop window display (mrscarmichael)

We left and at least got to look at the shops. I bought some earrings and a couple of kitchen utensils. Obviously I was constrained by my miniature suitcase and the Swiss franc induced hole in my wallet. I did find a wonderful bookshop that, if all the books hadn’t been in German, I could happily have stayed in all afternoon and sneaked back to the market for you know what.

I loved the vibe there but we had a pressing date with destiny in the guise of Mr Wong’s wok and you cannot argue with destiny.

Mr Wong’s was across town and a ways from where we parked. Although I’m not a massive fan of Chinese food I had reconciled myself with the thought that if we were making all this effort it must be worth it. It wasn’t. Indeed it could be categorised as the ugly side of badly not worth it. Food-wise, it was terrible. And of course it wasn’t cheap. If you go, even after reading this, do not have the Thai green curry. It is not a Thai green curry. I will say nothing more. Nothing more needs saying.

don’t be fooled by the decor (Mr Wong website)

So, when in Zurich my advice is simple. Don’t go to Mr Wong’s. Go to the IM Viadukt and embrace the heady smell of the antipasti. Stay, have a glass or two of wine and try the mussels for me.

In case you’re wondering I had a wonderful weekend and am writing this with my hosts’ blessing. A few glasses of wine later that night forced me to bring the antipasti moment up. I had to. It was the best food for thought I’d had all day.

the vibe (Ralph Hut)