Italian Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Eggs Benedict

We recently returned from a long weekend in Northern Italy. Lake Garda to be precise. I’d never been to Italy before (the wife has, she’s been everywhere, and is determined to get me to see more of the world).

Rather than playing it safe, by booking travel and accommodation through a brand holiday company we winged it – randomly booking flights and a hotel that had 4 stars and did absolutely no other preparation until the night before.

It occurred to us that although we knew how to get to Verona (the nearest airport to Lake Garda) – British Airways takes you there – we had no idea how to get from the airport to our lakeside hotel.

So I began, at about 10pm the night before our flight, to investigate how to get from Verona to ‘Gardone Riviera’, the spot we were staying in. No chance. I mean for a start all the websites were in Italian.

There was one blog, written by someone who was English (or American) and interested in the area. He had a forum where someone had written the question ‘How do you get to Lake Garda from Verona Airport by train?

Simple enough question you’d think. But this guy was one of those blogging expert types who suffers a form of pedantry restricted to  those who know more than anyone else, and are only divulging their brilliance onto the unwashed masses through sheer exasperation at the stupidity and ignorance of everyone else.

His response; ‘Which airport are you referring to? There are several around Verona’. The person who wrote the original query didn’t respond (possibly because he or she realised they were dealing with a twat, who answers a question with a question). I can answer the blogger’s question though; ‘The airport everyone else arrives at when going to Verona, you twat.’ There.

Anyway, through a series of minor miracles, coincidences and lucky breaks we made it to our hotel. You might at this point be wondering, why not get a taxi. Well we decided that we were not going to throw money down the drain and we’d use public transport. All in all to get to our hotel that day we took one car ride, one plane flight, a trip on a coach, a train journey and another coach trip.

I was totally knackered by the time we got there, as my wife did her standard routine when we arrive anywhere hotel-related by making sure no one else is within 200 yards of our room – quite a hard trick to pull, but pull it she does. And I could write many, many anecdotes about our time in Italy, mostly positive (beautiful place, lots of history, laid back people (that can be good and then it can be not so good)), but here we can focus on food, more specifically breakfast.

What I like to eat in hotels is Eggs Benedict – doughy muffins topped with lightly poached egg, smothered in foamy, rich hollandaise sauce.

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How to Make an Emergency Hen Party Cake – the ‘L’ Plate Cake, or Big Red Willy – You Decide!

Scenario: Wife is going to my sisters Hen weekend in Portsmouth (it was Portsmouth wasn’t it?). She wants to take a surprise Hen Cake and she wants me to make it.

Now for a time-poor, busy, go-getting individual like myself (mmm…) I needed a solution to this culinary problem that was a) foolproof (I was only going to get one shot at not cocking this one up) and b) quick (I naturally left it to the last minute, the night before).

So what to do? I hit Google, and typed in ‘Hen Party cakes’. It wasn’t very useful. Pictures of cakes shaped like boobs and cakes shaped like willies filled the screen. Well I wasn’t going to create an X rated cake for my sister.

But a ‘Learner’ shaped cake appeared. You know like the ‘L’ plates you have to put on your car while you learn to drive. Nice and easy.

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Back to school – ‘I didn’t think it was physically possible but this both sucks and blows’.

A quote from Bart Simpson up there in the header.

The holiday season is over. For some six weeks I’ve been able to get to work in 20 minutes but now it’s all come to an end. I will remember those halcyon days of August, where it was just me, a couple of BMWs and a handful of white vans, with a nostalgic glow.

Now it’s all 4X4s, SUVs, buses and children throwing themselves under the wheels of my car in a desperate attempt to put off the inevitability of maths and P.E (P.E. Even now that acronym sends shivers down my spine).

Never mind. What lies at the end of the drive in the morning doesn’t change whether it takes twenty minutes or an hour and a half.

Some weeks ago I reported on the fatberg that had evolved within the sewers outside our office. And guess what. They are still ‘fixing’ it. I use that term loosely; we often stare out the office windows watching the ‘fixers’ sitting in their van drinking tea and reading The Sun.

Sometimes they all stand round watching one team member shoving a bit of gravel around with a spade. Their productivity both sucks and blows, which, as Bart Simpson pointed out, should be a physical impossibility. And of course my productivity suffers while I stand there doing nothing, watching them doing nothing. It’s all very Kafkaesque (no I don’t really know what I mean by that, and no I don’t give a monkey’s either).

But, at the end of the day, I get to go home – to the wife, a nice glass of wine and an endless landscape of culinary possibilities (oh, and the bloody X trainer too; I’ve finally given in to the notion that losing weight is easier if you move around a bit).

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