Sunday, 28 June 2015

An Italian Wedding

Let me take you on a journey, where the land is carpeted with cypress-studded hills, the sky is as blue as a lark, and a golden sun shines over vineyards and wineries, mansions and ancient castles.  This is Tuscany, home to fabulous cities like Florence and Pisa.
          Last weekend we took off to Pisa for a cousin’s wedding, and travelled along the central coast of Tuscany to the province of Livorno.  Our hotel, the Grand Palazzo, was only a short stroll from the church of San Jacopo in Acquaviva, a papal vision in pale peach melba topped by a huge bell waiting to ring out
un matrimonio
.  The church dates back to the twelfth century and dominates a corner plot exposed to both wind and sea.  In June, with soaring temperatures, the sea breezes are most welcome, although on this particular wedding day it scooped my hair into a vertical ‘Jedward’ arrangement, and caused chaos with ladies’ hemlines.
           Stepping inside the church’s cool interior, we slipped silently into the farthest pew.  I wanted to capture the bride’s entrance and had my iPad at the ready.  Moments later she was there, standing nervously in the huge open doorway on the arm of her proud father.  Heads turned, eyes strained, and there was a collective gasp that moved around the church like a sigh.
          ‘Ah, beautiful,’ I said to my husband.  That was my last coherent sentence before the music kicked in, so sweet and haunting that the hair on my head seemed to rise up without any help of outside sea breezes.  As the choir burst forth into an Italian version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah my face was suddenly awash with tears.  It dawned on me that if I could get into such a state at an Italian cousin’s nuptials, I was going to be in serious trouble if and when my own children one day marry.  But I digress, that is all in the future.  The here and the now was a bride sweeping regally down the aisle in a dress that screamed both elegance and class, whilst a long veil wafted around her like early morning mist.  Her awaiting bridegroom looked suitably gobsmacked at this ethereal vision who was soon to become his wife.
          I’d barely finished trumpeting into my tissue when another was hastily required.  The bridegroom recited his vows with perfect fluidity.  Then it was the bride’s turn.  She started well, but faltered half way through, her eyes brimming…which set me off for a second time.
          ‘Pass me those tissues,’ I said to Mr V.  But it turned out he was busy patting his own eyes.
          ‘Eyelash,’ he hastily informed me.
          Which reminds me. Girl to fiancĂ©:  ‘When we’re married, I want you to share with me all your worries and troubles.’  FiancĂ©:  ‘But I don’t have any worries and troubles.’  Girl:  ‘I know, but we’re not married yet…’

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Cretan Affair

You don’t know how much trouble I had typing that title.  The word ‘cretin’ was typed at least three times before I furiously backspaced one final time to carefully watch what my fingers were doing.
          But I digress.  My blog has been silent because, like most adulterous people, I sneaked off.  Well, I had the grace to tell the husband.  I just didn’t tell him all the nitty-gritty…like being seduced by a whisper of warm breath on the neck, or staring into the very soul of my lover.  And before you gasp in horror, I’m talking about Crete.  Yes, I was unfaithful to good ol’ Blighty, turning my back on the usual summer of sunny spells interspersed with heavy showers and a sudden need to put the heating on in June.  Legging it to Gatwick Airport, I wasn’t alone in this duplicitous act.  My sister came too.
          My sis is currently…well…going through stuff, and she needed a break.  And what better excuse does a big sister need to look after her little sister when a spot of foreign sun is involved?
          And so it began…this delicious affair with an island steeped in history and handsome Greek Gods.  We had grand ideas of checking out all sorts of places, going on a boat trip and sipping cocktails from the all-inclusive bar.  It didn’t quite work out that way.  As I said, my sis is going through stuff and it was as much as she could do to crawl to the swimming pool in the morning and her bed at the end of the day.  I did manage to steer her into the bar most evenings before dinner, but as she’s not a drinker, this wasn’t a roaring success.  Not that I’m a big drinker, but I do like a glass of wine when on my holibobs.  However, there is no joy in having a glass of wine all by yourself with a teetotaller drumming her fingers.  The result was always the same – me tossing the wine down my neck in thirty seconds flat on an empty stomach.  By the time I staggered into the dining room I was always having a head rush and somewhat blotto.
          ‘You wanna drink?’ the waitress would ask, hovering by our table with notepad in hand.
          ‘Yes please, water,’ my sister would crisply say.
          I would then have a huge glass of water so that by the time I walked over to the area where mass catering was taking place, I was once again stone cold sober.  Half way through the week I did finally persuade my sis to join me in a drink.  She went slightly berserk and had a soda water with lime cordial.
          Every evening we would chat to the ‘beautiful people’…the entertainment staff who were all gorgeous looking and made you wish you were thirty years younger.
          ‘Tonight it is salsa dancing.’
          ‘Lovely,’ I replied.
          ‘Good heavens, is that the time?’ my sis interrupted.
          ‘Is it late?’
          ‘Yes.  Quarter past eight.’
          Whereupon my sis would retire to her bed, a vision in sleep mask and ear plugs, and lay comatose for twelve hours.  I didn’t mind really, although I’d tease her about it.  The Land of Nod is a place we retreat to when life gets a bit lumpy.  And I was more than happy to hop into my own bed, a vision in face cream and lip balm, to scribble away on the current work-in-progress which has had more interruptions than…I can’t think of an appropriate simile so will leave you to think of one instead.
          Actually, tell a lie, we did do one activity.  Retail therapy, but Cretan style.  This involved a long lazy walk into nearby Ag Nik, which was quaint and charming and far removed from the throbbing party place it becomes in August.  We explored shops sporting all manner of goodies – from jewellers to shoes, and clothes to handbags.  And we both bought a Michael Kors handbag.  Well, okay, a fake Michael Kors handbag.  And fake Michael Kors sunglasses…and fake Gucci shoes…and ‘diamond’ bracelets.  I do love a bit of bling.
          And it was nice to have a fifty-something Greek ‘God’ (well, he had his own teeth and hair) call out, ‘Lovely ladies…nice eyes,’ and dutifully simper back.  We all like a bit of a flirt (don’t we?).  But the real knee-tremble stuff happened when you walked on the beach with sand so soft it caressed your toes, and the sea called invitingly making you embrace it at a run with arms flung wide, and the sun tickled your skin so you tingled from the inside out.  Which reminds me (and apologies in advance, but it’s a naughty joke!).
          A woman was having an affair while her husband was at work.  One day, while the boyfriend was in bed with her, she heard her husband’s car pull up outside the house.
          ‘Hurry! My husband’s home early.  Climb out the window!’
          ‘I can’t climb out the window,’ the boyfriend protested. ‘It’s raining out there.’
          ‘If you don’t climb out the window, my husband will punch you.’
          So the boyfriend grabbed his clothes and climbed out the window.
          As he ran down the street in pouring rain, he quickly discovered he’d run right into the middle of the town’s annual marathon, so he started to run along with the others, attempting to blend in as best as possible – he was naked after all.
          ‘Do you always run in the nude?’ asked a fellow runner.
          ‘Oh yes,’ he replied, somewhat out of breath. ‘It feels so wonderfully free.’
          Another runner moved alongside.  ‘Do you always run whilst carrying your clothes under one arm?’
          ‘Absolutely,’ he replied breathlessly.  ‘I can get dressed at the end of the run and go straight home!’
          Then a third runner cast his eyes a little lower and queried, ‘Do you always wear a condom when you run?’
          ‘Nope…just when it’s raining…’