Monday, 24 December 2012


Ahhhh… Christmas; seems like only a year ago since the last one. My mum, bless her, truly loved this time of the year for as she used to say it was the one occasion she got to strangle a turkey!

It’s a shame we don’t see so many poinsettias around the Christmas table these days and it seems that these tender plants, once so much a feature at this time of year, are now rarely displayed at Christmas-time. Am I right? The main problem is that the plant requires good light away from direct sunlight and draughts. And where temperatures fall below 55ºF (13ºC), the plant is then at risk, and of course overnight temperatures much lower than this occur in homes in the UK. Poinsettias thrive in the temperate conditions of Central America. In fact when mum got a couple of poinsettias each mid-December, she was unaware that the short trip from Bardill’s Garden Centre to home, with the plants in the cold (often frozen) back of the hatchback, was enough to see their early demise and it was a toss-up to see what would endure longest during the holidays – the turkey or the deadened bracts of the poinsettia?

It’s nice to see these plants adorn shop windows and fronts in this part of Sardinia. They naturally colour up during the shortest days of the year.

Buone Feste…
Al Merlo Parlante - Birroteca
via Portoscalas, #69
Tel: 070 653981

Saturday, 22 December 2012


So nice to get away from the pre-Christmas frenzy and have  the chance to relax in some warm Mediterranean sunshine, with just a gentle sea breeze as accompaniment. Cliff Richard-free zone to boot. Mistletoe and wine? No thanks...I'm more of a poinsettia and birra man myself.

The thought often occurs to me when abroad, why we British never take the trouble to at least learn some of the basics of the host language? Even if it's a simple "Grazie mille!" or Auguri” - only in Italy though with those...

As an English-speaking nation, we’ve been indulged by the large number of people connected with the tourist industry speaking very good English. Who expects the locals to speak our language when you are abroad, anyway? It's ridiculous to assume that everyone understands English when travelling to the Continent and beyond.

And if you speak slower, louder, and with/without a local accent, you’re still speaking English, and they still won’t understand you. You only end up looking like a total prat!

US author James A Michener (1907 - 1997) once said of travel, “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

Buon Natale...

Il Birrificio di Cagliari
via (Isaac) Newton, #24
Tel: 070 456 0569


Thursday, 20 December 2012


Cadbury's have come up with a chocolate bar, exclusively for women.

Called the Crispello, the chocolate bar is aimed shamelessly at the female demographic, and specifically at weight-conscious women who have been moving away from chocolate altogether, resulting in a 6.6% slump in the £800m annual single chocolate bar market. Kraft, Cadbury's parent company, says the bar will be "… a lighter way to enjoy chocolate", marketed under the tagline "a little treat for you".

[Incidentally, I once got a peanut stuck in my ear and my GP recommended I put some melting chocolate into the ear canal to remove it. He was right - it came out a Treet! But we digress...]

Crispello, a mix of wafer and chocolate from the Fererro Rocher school of confectionery, comes in at 165 calories in 3 re-sealable packages, so that women can help themselves to "a little at a time rather than in one go". Hmm... this is women we are talking about, isn't it? One package at a time? Are you being serious? 

And while Crispello's 165 calories might be nearly 100 calories fewer than 260 for a Mars, a Flake has only 180 calories - and you can stick it in your Mr Whippy. What's wrong with a Yorkie, anyway? - a proper chocolate bar that and fit for any woman!

Wetherspoon (T2)
Airside, Terminal 2
Birmingham International Airport
B26 3QJ
Tel: 0121 781 7880