Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy new year! A week late. That's my only resolution in the can then, as not being late was top of my list for this year. I'm not sure why I haven't had time to update the blog as the last couple of weeks have been a happy melee of carol concerts, drinks parties, egg nog, christmas markets,a STUPENDOUS Christmas lunch, a second stupendous post-Christmas Christmas dinner last weekend (thanks Rob and Greg) and not much in the way of work. It's jolly hard work being a party animal.

I have to admit that the moment New Year's Day dawns, however, all Christmas cheer is banished back to the battered carrier bags in the shed for another 11 months. Why does it take twice as long to undress the tree as it does to deck it?

And so to 2014 and new opportunities. All of a sudden work is looking rather inviting in a month that is usually morgue like. January is all about the yachting industry and EastEnders. It's not often you see those words in the same sentence, unless you count Sid Owen quaffing Champagne on board a floating gin palace at last year's Cannes Film Festival.

Getting back into work mode is always helped by the girls going back to school. No more lie-ins til noon, unmade beds for days on end and a fridge which is permanently grazed upon and perpetually empty apart from the oddments of cheese wrapped in foil left over from Christmas.

We managed to get a few things done over the Christmas period, including sorting out both our office spaces and stocking up on Chianti, Prosecco, parmesan and taleggio on a day trip to Bordighera last week. What an amazing little gem, just over an hour's drive from here. As you cross into northern Italy from the beautiful last stretch of Cote d'Azur, the landscape becomes slightly more industrial and agricultural, with row upon row of greenhouses dotted across the hills just back from the coast.

Ventimiglia is the first stop, although not for me since the time Norma and I got towed away on market day and spent five hours in 40 plus degrees of summer heat and €400 getting our cars out of the pound. Usually we carry right on past Ventimiglia, flicking our own V sign as we pass, and stop at San Remo instead.

Let me tell you about Bordighera, which you can see from these pictures is tres mignon. There is a fab alimentari selling wine, cheese, parma ham and other specialities at rock bottom (compared to la France) prices so you can stock up on arrival and it's already been a worthwhile trip. Then you head into the old town, where the winding narrow streets boast trattorias and very decent restaurants serving fab vongole, ragu and all manner of other northern Italian cuisine at around half the price of my favourite (very authentic) Italian here, da Laura in Cannes.

We wandered down to the beach and ordered aperos at la Reserve, situated on a teak deck overlooking the sea which filled up within half an hour of our arrival. The drinks arrived with a platter of delicious antipasti for which there was no charge. Let me say that again...NO CHARGE! And you wonder why I love Italy so much. The promenade is traffic free and runs alongside several beachside eateries on stilts where you can still order lunch at 3pm on a Sunday. Talk about revolutionary. Is it any wonder we are returning in two weeks to celebrate handyman's birthday in true Italian style?