smokingboot: (nuuushuuus)
'And another thing,' said the bride-to-be in clear if heavily accented English, 'Nobody comment on Che-che's boyfriend's head, OK?. I know what you lot are like; no pointing, staring, joking or anything at all. Just ignore it.'
'What's wrong with Che-che's boyfriend's head?' [profile] larians and I waited while opinions flew through translation. Everybody in the family had something to add.
'It's huge!'
'It's odd!'
'It's shaped like a mushroom!'
'It's like a satellite-dish - '
'Or just a dish. '
'Or just a satellite.'
'It's different, that's all,' concluded my Aunt Fatima, a gentle and lovely lady I've not met in 20 years or more. I hadn't seen most of the family since I was 9 and my cousins were toddlers. The elders have shrunk, the younger are huge. Things have changed.

Bride, Groom, Aliens, Soup )

Waking the Witch )

The city )

More about Head )

*Or something like that.
smokingboot: (dementolion)
I've had some wonderful birthday treats in my time. This year will be slightly different.

The difference )
smokingboot: (storyteller)
Tangiers.

No Indiana Jones but the next best thing; El Minzah, a 1930s luxury hotel, with deep blue water above a deep blue sky next to a deep blue sea. Swallows came swooping down for a quick surf on the pool and then wheeled up again. The waiters wore fezzes and should have looked ridiculous, but nothing takes away a sense of the absurd like courteous service. It felt like a holiday. The inner courtyard, elegantly moorish in design was frequented by bats, and people in panamas; but when the humans moved in to the piano bar to pretend to be spies, the bats stayed and played. That evening saw bright yellow roses in the fountain; the next morning red ones had joined them. Maybe the bats left them there.

A curious moment that evening )

Tangier with a guide: Not getting lost )

People )

Tangier without a guide: Lost )

I could talk about Tangiers so much more. Suffice it to say that not only was it pleasant in and of itself, but that it also enhanced our return to the Hoopie. People and adventure, flowers and caves, the old city, the high sierra, light on the sea, clouds on the mountains...I like contrasts and yet, I must confess, this holiday has not been restful, even with the delectable rescue of El Minzah. I'm pretty tired, and must find the energy to do stuff.

Tomorrow will be time enough for that.
smokingboot: (shivering man)
We were stressed you see, and exhaustion had charted our bones too thoroughly, so we ran away to an eco-ideal, cos we didn't need much; only warmth and ease.

It wasn't warm and it wasn't easy.

Of the Hoopoee Yurt hotel, [profile] larians amply expresses our disatisfactions in his post on the subject. I must say that seldom does a holiday drive me to poetry, and apologise in advance for subjecting you to my 'Omage du Conrad

If Mistah Kurtz (he dead)
had meant Yurtz
when he said
'Kill them all,'
We'd have had a ball!


There you go. It takes a lot for a place to do this to me.

There were many small issues, but I will only focus on a couple.

Bitching: the Hoopoee, rules, insects and poopoee. )

On the plus side, the food and the company was absolutely terrific. And the area's pretty enough, a Spanish wildflower meadow deep in the mountains of Andalucia, near Ronda and the White Towns. When the sun shines it is more than pretty; it is delicate and tough and very beautiful.

Even in rotten weather the Serrania is dramatic,a country for stone giants and ogres. Massive rocks jut out of the cliffsides above the roads while cacti flower on the verges; mares and foals roam the land, deep caverns supply neolithic graffiti(http://www.cuevadelapileta.org/textos_archivos/pileta_2.html) and in the fields every goat seeks goaty empire, a rock of its own from which to bleat at non rock possessors. Most goats are successful, for the land lacks no rocks.

Not that the driver will see much of this, because beyond each kerb lies the potential to pass eagles and vultures on your way down. The roads are challenging enough due to narrowness and ill-kept condition; add rain and wind, mountain ledges and mist creeping low towards you, and the resulting effect could drive you to the Yorkshire moors for balm and comfort.

We weren't dressed for it, but more, we weren't mentally prepared for anything so like hassle. By the time our clothes were drying out and the sierra smiled on us with blue skies and great goldgreen crags, [profile] larians was like a suitor exasperated by his moody mistress; disenchanted, he suggested Tangiers and I leapt upon his suggestion in smiling despair. Then the holiday changed. But more of this in my next post...

* Now gone up to £100.
smokingboot: (Default)
Struggling with an ensuing sense of the grimness, I return to record more of Italy, the last before I have to face life, work, all that stuff...

Pisa,mmm. I didn't want to see Pisa at all really, a tourist trap built around a medieval cock up. Who cares if a tower leans? But the lean is the least important thing about the piazza del miracoli; Truth is, after 900 years the whole square is full of stone lace buildings gorgeous and improbable, and in the Camposanto lies treasure.

Of an unknown genius )

On an almost unrelated note, another artistic amazement awaited us - an effigy of [profile] philoko as part of a sculpture in the Cathedral. I can't find a picture of it, but it's definitely him. He looks surprised, but not as surprised as we were;-)

And so then; where are the best bits, the fondest memories? I have spoken of the big cities, but the tiny places had as much charm; hippocras drunk at the fair in Serre De Rapolano, along with the sweetest cherries I have ever tasted,time standing still for a moment by the tall tower of Rigomagno, the San Luciano vineyard where a man introduced us to his award winning red, named after his father, and the almost entirely mythical bastion of Gargonza, cursed with a name too big for it.


But most of all, where we stayed, La Colonica, a beautifull restful place. Bye Bye for now Italy. I write one more piece, for [profile] eating_out and then I put you aside. Time to begin work again...any minute now...

*sort of. I can't resist a mystery...
smokingboot: (dragonland)
Oh my.

So beguiled have I been with the tiny villages around the Valdechiana, so caught up with full blown rose scent and the sun spilling itself in eggy neon over the mountains* I was actually not that fussed about visiting the Great Firenze herself. What an idiot I would have been.

Queen of the Renaissance )

Monsters Inc )

Water monsters of the Arno )

The day had one more animal mystery for us, but this we never solved. On the way home, [personal profile] bad_moon_rising and [profile] squintywitch saw a strange beast in the headlights. The former saw a creature that seemed half fox or half cat, very low to the ground with a striped tail, and wondered if it was a huge maine coon cat, the latter saw something like a stripey chinchilla/cat with varrrrst outsize ears. We are all none the wiser.

* La Colonica seems to have achieved the impossible and turned me into an early riser. Couldn't help it,the mornings were too lustrous to miss.

**It's my lj I can make up words if I want to.
smokingboot: (frustration)
Right. After much arsing around, I have fixed the problem of my post turning up on someone else's lj.

Hey! I fixed something!

Having re-read it, it really isn't worth the bother. But thanks to lots of you for advice etc, and letting me know when my last supposedly private post turned up public. I think I have that figured too.

Bloody hell, how hard can it be?

I record my last post here because eventually I know I will want to remember it. Today I am sick of the sight of the dratted thing. It's enough to put you off Devon.

Too much trouble by half post )
[Amended to add] My new icon, courtesy of [personal profile] caddyman is a perfect depiction of my current state. Thank you maestro!
smokingboot: (travelling)
My head is full of strange stuff. I want to be here:

http://www.museum-hotel.com/?WSCam=museum&WSEvt=google

or Scotland

or some place unknown to me, wild, old and dreaming.

And I have decided that sometime soon, this is going to happen.

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smokingboot: (Default)
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