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Roman Holidays

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Roman Holidays

Well now here’s a thing. I added an entry yesterday. Just a small one. Just a tiddler. And it failed dismally. This happens from time to time, but only when I write good stuff. The drivel is generally allowed to be displayed to a disapproving public.

So it’s been an absolute age.

How are you?

How are the kids?

Has the rash cleared up?

Rome was magnificent, as Rome always is. We walked more miles per day than a man with haemorrhoids and no buttocks. Honestly, we did around 15 miles a day, sometimes more. Nothing gets in the way of my quest to visit a godforsaken rubbish heap in an unsavoury suburb in order to photograph a single 2000 year old brick.

I took 1200 photographs in 3 and a half days. And I was being conservative so as not to use up all our camera cards. I would post some of the better ones here, but for photos of Rome just visit my website in a few days when I have the new Rome pages up. (The advert on the right, you Muppet!)

Mrs Moosehunter did not get accosted by tramps this time, although I did take every opportunity to wind her up the whole trip by singing ‘Gypsies, tramps and thieves’. Of the things worth relating here, the first would be the lift (elevator for Americans) in our hotel, which was one of those wire-cage-within-a-wire-cage affairs that would have looked perfectly in place in a twenties film noir. For Mrs M who has a fear of grills with depths below and I who generally get into a shrieking panic on a high kerb, this was an adventure. However, having walked 15 miles a day and our room being on the 5th floor up 20 flights of stairs, we risked the death trap every single time.

One night we came in and the guy behind reception was dealing with the Munsters who were obviously staying there while taking their daily doses of lead and stupid-pills. When he finally got rid of them, as he retrieved our keys for us, he rolled his eyes and told us what kind of a night he was having. Not long before he’d had a call from someone on the second floor who’d cried ‘my wife bit me!’ If I’d been the receptionist, my answer would have been ‘Congratulations sir.’

Once again we had to get used to the traffic system in Rome. I have no problem with the driving other side of the road thing, or even the volume of traffic. What perturbs me is the fact that you only have to put a Roman behind the wheel of a car and he immediately becomes Sly Stallone in Death Race 2000. The pedestrian crossing lights are misleading also:

Red means: You cross… you die.

White means: Traffic will come at you, but only from one or two directions. You might make it.

Green means: (no, not no traffic)… Traffic coming only from one direction.

There is no light for ‘there is no traffic’ because there is NEVER no traffic. It’s merely a severity of the theatre decision. Do you chance ‘deadly’, or wait for ‘unlikely’ or even, if you’re in no hurry ‘slightly worrying’.

Rome airport (Fiumacino/Da Vinci – call it what you will) may be the most disorganised place on the entire planet. If you took every airplane in the western hemisphere and told them all to go to Barnstaple aerodrome in Devon, where Charlie and Bert see a couple of Cesna every 18 months, the result would still be less chaos than five flights leaving Rome in one hour. Upon arrival we checked in. That is… we waited among a throng of people to be fondled by a sweaty police officer before being funnelled through a chicane with a million other irate tourists, where we enter a hall which appears to be the human equivalent of one of those lakes covered in flamingos. There were desks for check-in and various arcane labyrinths of barrier that seemed to lead off in random directions (one in particular led to the rear side of an escalator and there were still people queuing in it.) Not a single person in this entire confused mob had a clue whether they were standing in the right line or what they were supposed to do next. Like all Britons abroad, they were determined to queue politely while grumbling loudly about the ability of foreigners to find their own ass with both hands and an atlas.

After waiting in the wrong queue for half an hour, while watching other queues slowly overtake us, Mrs M found someone who had found an airport attendant that seemed to have switched on their brain. They explained that we needed to be in the queue marked something-or-other. Needless to say, this was some airline like Lufthansa or Aeroflot or some such and I was starting to worry that we might end up in Minsk if we followed these instructions. So we queued again and watched our previous queue pick up speed and sail past us. Damn! So finally, only about half an hour before the flight is supposed to leave, we get checked in. We arrive at our desk to find they’ve only served about half a dozen people in the last hour because our small number were queued with the passengers of a flight to hell (Birmingham) and we could have just walked up to the counter if we could have got past them.

Still, I am now grateful we’ve checked in. Now to head through passport control. And that’s when we see the passport control queue. It goes back past all the other queues we’ve been in to the main airport doors.

So with a sigh we go and stand at the back of it and dutifully shuffle forward like lemmings waiting for a commuter train.

Ten minutes before the plane takes off we get to passport control. The reason the queue was so long? Of the five X ray machines they had, they were only using one. As soon as we get there, of course they open a second and the queue behind us dissipates in minutes. By the time the plane was supposed to take off, we were on the bus waiting for the plane. By the time we were seated on the plane, it should have been somewhere over Milan. And then we have a thirty minute wait before the plane actually moves.

All in all it was a trifle exhausting.

If you’re ever going to Rome Da Vinci, pay the little extra for automated check-in.

So Tuesday I went back to work for a touch of culture shock, and it decided that now we were back in the country it could safely rain again.

Wednesday, Mrs M was supposed to be having her wisdom teeth out (have they been any use? Hmmm… I’ll suffer for that one) but now that has been delayed until October. So we decided to do the rest of the garden. Haven’t got photos yet, but I’ll add them at a later date.

In more recent news:

Our dogs have decided they like herbs. They ate a coriander plant the other day. It was in a pot on a windowsill, but it looked like food apparently and went the way of Dog!

I watched 300 and was totally disappointed. What an arty-farty piece of drivel that was. If there was a single Spartan around to watch it, they’d have spent the rest of their days hunting down the writer and director and turning them inside out. And why on earth were the Persians all played by extremely dark-skinned African looking fellows. Persians were middle-eastern. They should look more like Iraqis. (That’s Aye-raqis to Americans I believe.)

We have broken the catch on our bedroom door. Doesn’t matter over-much, but as soon as Murphy the blunder-hound discovers he can push and the door will magically open, he will never need a sofa again. He will be sleeping on our bed, whether we’re in it or not.

There is a population explosion at the moment with the Arachnid species. I am actually astounded at the number and size of the damned things. Our house appears to be pretty much made out of them. Every day the house resounds to the sound of shrieks and running feet and pleading noises from outside for Mrs M to remove the one I just found in the coffee jar or wherever. They also seem to be becoming inventive. They find somewhere to sit where they can’t be killed or captured, because they only have to retract 3 legs and their inaccessible to the world at large. I’m seriously thinking of having our entire house coated in rubber sealant, inside and out.

The light in the village (see many earlier entries) that traditionally switched off as soon as we walked under it has changed. It now stays off permanently. While this is less freaky, it does make it more adventurous walking around the village at night. If it’s been raining I can hear the crunch, crunch, crunch of snail shells and am overwhelmed by waves of guilt. But I can’t see you guys! Paint your shell luminous orange or something.

Well I guess that’s probably enough for now.

I’ll see you soon.



Written by SJAT

January 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm

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