Archive for July, 2008

Talking to foreigners

You know how many people approach talking to foreigners – any language difficulties can be overcome by speaking louder and slower. I am surprised at how many people here adopt that approach with me.

The most recent was yesterday – I went into an AutoTag office (I needed some sort of sticker that goes on my car number plate). Anyway, I queued for 10 mins behind a Korean family who spoke limited English. The lady behind the desk adopted the above communication strategy. When it was my turn, she did the same. I didn’t think much of it initially (actually I thought she was a bit stupid or deaf – bless) until an American chap came in and she spoke to him completely normally.

At that point I couldn’t help wondering what it was that made her think I would benefit from the foreigner treatment. Particularly when in actual fact I think my English was rather better than hers….grrrrrr

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I did something today that I’ve never done before. I was out running an errand at lunchtime with the roof off. When I got back in the car – I closed the roof and put the aircon on.  That never happens unless it is actually raining. I was wondering what was wrong with me (apart from a boiled bottom and scorched thighs from the leather seats) until I looked at the temperature. Ok car temperature guages are always a litte off – but given that it read 103 degrees I think we can safely say that it was scorchio.

Actually it has been great to have a summer for a change. Yes it does get muggy and there’s the odd monsoon but on the whole it has been warm/ hot and sunny fairly reliably. So much so I bought a BBQ this weekend. Before you ask – not one of the gas powered* oh the horror* monstrosities that basically are your kitchen hob only outdoors. I bought another one of those pleasingly plump Webers. Now if I could only find some halloumi in this cheese deprived country I coul dmake my favourite kebabs.

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But I don’t want a lie down….

Something that irritates me on a daily basis is the loos here. Firstly, the fact that they are known as restrooms is plain ridiculous (the LAST  thing you’re going to want to do in there is hang around or rest).

The other thing that I dislike intensly about pulic toilets is the big gaps around the doors. Firsly the cubicles themselves are at least a foot off the ground. Then you have approximately a 1cm gap all the way around the doors. So you are sat there and you can see people walking past. Not good. I understand that in railway stations, bars and clubs etc you are going to want to discourage drug taking and other dodginess, but what’s the excuse at the office?

To make matters worse, despite the lack of privacy – the normally very prudish Yanks  have no problems with holding telephone conversations whilst sat in their non-private traps. They talk through the flush and everything! Just. so. Wrong.

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You know when you are back in the US when…

… the first thing you see at the airport (OK after the welcome messages from Mr Nutter the mayor) is this:


Wally Park

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Torna a Surriento*

After a long absence I returned to visit the Amalfi Coast. I’ve been there countless times and it still blew me away – the breathtaking rugged coastline, the intense flavours of the food, the sheer craziness of the drivers.

Amalfi Coast

Highlights for me were beasting around the coast on a scooter (when in Rome and all that), visiting old friends at the fabulous Palazzo Belmonte (a brief visit turned into a wonderful 3 hour Italian lunch overlooking the sea) and an amazing cooking course at Mamma Agata’s in Ravello (where participants were fed to within an inch of their lives).

Mamma Agata

Mamma Agata and her daughter Chiara

* ok so I didn’t go to Sorrento but you know what I mean…

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Tiggers like to bounce

As you may know – I was recently briefly in the UK. I took my sister neice and mother to Legoland one day. I think we all had fun but the best bit for me was the giant baby bouncers. Essentially you are strapped to a harness on bungy ropes over a trampoline so you can bounce and do somersaults to your heart’s content.


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Hard Rock Calling in the Park

Just before jetting off to Rome I went to the Hard Rock music festival in Hyde Park. The music was great – went to see the Police (hilarious rumours about how they hate each other), Clapped Out Eric (bloody good set actually), the Stranglers and Sheryl Crow. Actually we really lucked out for Sheryl Crow – got artists passes so watched it all from the side of the stage. Not bloody bad at all. She was great but what struck me more than anything else is that she is tiny – absolutely pocket sized. No clue where all that voice comes from.


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