Archive | May 2013

My Vacation – May 2013

I got back 10 days ago from what should have been my dream vacation in France and Italy (with a brief stopover in Monaco).

The itinerary was perfect – 6 nights in Nice, 1 night in Genoa and 5 nights in Viareggio – a beachside resort in Tuscany.

While the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful – and the number of yachts in each harbour unbelievable – the “tour” part of the package was too challenging for me…..starting with what felt like miles of walking in Charles de Gaulle airport!!  I’ve been in many airports, large and small, but this one ranks up there among the worst…….very spread out and nothing to see or do – just the occasional overpriced sandwich bar.  They even charged for internet service after a free 15 minutes at a kiosk.

Rather than dwell on the negatives (and there were quite a few) – suffice it to say I didn’t see everything on the agenda and I returned home in bad shape.  The trip was meant for “extreme mountain goats” – and I certainly didn’t qualify!!!

I will let pictures speak for themselves.  As you will see – we covered some very lovely territory!

The best part of the whole trip – I travelled with two of my very best friends!


European Plumbing

The last time I was in continental Europe –  and not on a cruise ship or a river boat –  was in 1970. Let me tell you, NOTHING has changed in all this time when it comes to bathrooms.

In hotels, you either have a very tall and skinny bathtub (to climb over) with a shower inside it – or you have a miniscule shower stall – so small that lifting an arm to clean an armpit is a major challenge.  In the tubs, as well, we found the taps stuck on the side of the tub – right where you stand to take a shower.  That armpit cleaning manoeuver in this case resulted in a blast of scalding or freezing water, depending on which way one turned……and accidentally bumped against the taps.   The toilets worked – and there were often bidets as well (great for washing out socks and undies).  In one hotel, the toilet was in a separate “closet” just wide enough for the john itself – not an inch to spare.  The door to this opened up against the door to the rest of the bathroom so one had to be very careful when opening these doors given two were sharing a room.  Calling out a warning when opening bathroom doors isn’t a usual routine.

In restaurants and public areas – it was a whole different story – and one that took me back those 40+ years.  You would think, with tourism being such a huge part of the economy, they might spend a euro or two on the bathrooms.  NOT A CHANCE.

We visited the very posh Villa of the Rothschild family – huge, now with a restaurant – apparently they hold weddings here – and ONE BATHROOM plus an outdoor cabin in the bushes.  If you don’t want to change the heritage of the building – add 6 more bush bathrooms and at least the line-ups would be more reasonable.

On three separate occasions that I know of, somebody got locked in the john – all women, of course.  Obviously the hardware didn’t work any better than the plumbing!   When you are late getting back to the bus and people start to worry about you – it’s embarrassing to be discovered stuck in the bathroom.

Several of us experienced the OOPS scenario where you walk into a bathroom in a restaurant or public area and find somebody of the opposite sex busy doing what they do in these places.  Many of the public bathrooms have one area with a sink in it – and then 2 separate areas for toilets (if you are lucky) – however – not every place had functioning doors – or even doors at all and it was rare to find a toilet seat.  One of my co-travellers even came upon an asian style toilet – that hole in the floor with marks for foot placement.  Oh my.

It truly is a mans’ world.


Update on the Painting Project & What’s Next

I just realized that I left you hanging about my paint colour.

Alpaca went on one wall – two coats – and was left to dry while the rest of the main level was being sanded, patched and readied for painting.  IT WORKED!!

I’m not quite sure how to describe it – it is soft taupe with a hint of grey – absolutely no pink or yellow undertones (YEAHHHH!!!) and it suits my decor very well.  It looks very different on the actual walls than it does on the little colour strip you pick up at the paint store and, yes – it looks different in different rooms and under different lighting conditions.  I’m happy with it and that’s the main thing.

On to the next project – landscaping the grass right out of my front, side and back yards!!!  I’m going to cash in my future and do some sort of combination of shrub and perennial gardens with dark mulch, riverstone and artificial grass.  Yes – fake grass.  I have HAD IT with grubs, skunks digging for grubs, cinch bug, and weeds of every variety.  With the “no chemcals” rule – you just can’t win.

Take a peek at or at  It even has little brown bits and thatch in it – so very real looking – and feeling.  Expensive though – thus the landscaping to reduce the amount of “grass”.  I’ll keep you posted on this one.  Waiting (waiting forever) for a couple of designs and estimates.  I’m hoping this will pay for itself in 6-8 years and it is warranteed for 10!