Like a Gold Ring in a Sow's Nose
Experience life through the eyes of two star ladies - tat, clothes, tatty clothes...and Goblin beefburgers in a tin washed down with a pint of warm flat panda Cola.
Lake Como, here we come. Andiamo!
The holiday started very leisurely, just me sat up in bed with a slew of holiday details around me on the bed. I was swigging from a mug of tea thinking about what time I needed to leave the house to get to the Gatwick Sofitel (see left) when my eyes fell on a small previously overlooked detail…we weren’t flying from Gatwick, we were flying from Heathrow! “Shit!” I exclaimed then repeated the same word with every step down the stairs and into the living room where I booted up the computer and fessed up to Dan the perils of letting a depressed person organise a holiday. I had booked a £175.00 hotel room at the wrong airport cos I was too depressed to check the paper work, and I couldn’t get me money back at the hotel (the wallet shivered in my handbag). I then had to bite the bullet and book into the Heathrow Marriott for £125.00 including car parking off site. Streuth! Severe financial reverses already and I hadn’t even brushed me teeth!
So then Dan had to go to work to print off our new booking details as it was the nearest place we had with access to a printer (mine not having worked since pentium I was the new big thing).
Eventually I wedged everything I could into my case, zipped the expander shut to wedge it all down and crease it all good and proper and off we went to Heathrow.
I knew the way to the Heathrow Marriott (left) and made a special diversion just to pass under the Thicket Roundabout near Reading in honour of me and Justine.
So it was into Bar Hemia at the Marriott for a couple of wines and a shagged up chicken sandwich all for a bargain £30.
Looks like we have had our glitch for this mission” said I, coming over all Apollo 13-like as I sipped my Sauvignon that some foreign sounding barman argued with me was a sweet wine, “it may taste fruity mate but it aint sweet,” all because he was trying to saddle me with a glass of Chablis at £7.95 a glass. Cheeky bastard. I knew then that I had made a mistake…
So anyway, off to bed we went where I had a crap night’s sleep and had to get up for 3 o’clock. I checked out and drove us to the parking Express long term car park at Terminal 1. We then get the bus to the terminal and check in, finally off loading the bags and surviving a woman with BO who was as huge as Jabba the Hut and sat on the foreign currency desk.
Lake Como? You’ll be Lucky to get to perry Como Mate.
So we have 90 minutes to kill ‘airside’ (as below) and I’m hankering after a roll-away case to use as hand luggage. Why? Cos everyone else has one and cos they are nuisance value to the other passengers. We went in a shop which quite frankly had my eyebrows shooting off the top of head. As I said to Dan, you spend all day fannying around looking at the prices and then the assistants come over to help you and it’s all a charade, what you need to say from the outset is “Christ it’s too rich for my blood in here mate” and walk out with your head held high.
Then it was over to a cheapo version Starbucks where I had to queue forever to get a cup of tea whilst the ‘barista’ sparred with two Australians over the benefits (or not) of a Soya Decaf Latte. (For fuck’s sake). He put the sugar in for them, stirred it and put a jacket on it so they didn’t burn their little fingers, then it was my turn and he shouted “tea” and thumped it down like I should be grateful to get it in a cup. I added a little milk, got my own jacket on it and walked back to Dan who had his nose in Ryan Giggs’ autobiography. After about 40 mins my nuclear-thermo heated water had cooled to be drinkable and I wandered over to the bin with the empty cup and glanced at the info screens. Horrified, at 7.05am I read our 7.50am flight was cancelled. I went to the BA desk.
“The flight to Milan has been cancelled” I spluttered.
“Yes,” she said. stating the bleeding obvious, “ the air traffic controllers have gone on strike in Italy.”
She then sat and looked at me some more.
“Well what do I do then?” The temptation to swear was building now let me tell ya!
“Go down that ramp, get your luggage and re-enter the UK, then go back to the BA ticket desk.”
“Okay, then what?”
Then she shrugged! Shrugged! Bitch.
So then we waited in a queue to speak to someone from British Airways. Remember Jeremy Spake? (See left, what a tosser) He was the camp sounding Russian translator from Airport, that documentary set in Heathrow? Well he was behind the desk. I said to Dan, “if we get him I’m going to have to slap him.” Fortunately we didn’t get him and we were told that we should try again Tuesday and if the ATC were still on strike BA would give us our money back.
So I called the Marriott and booked back in and then I called the travel company and then it was a 30 min wait for a cab back to the Marriott where the serious issue of how to find cheap booze was looming. We couldn’t carry drinking in the bar at the hotel without a second mortgage and there was no offies for miles. We retired to McDonalds for breakfast and Dan had the whole range whilst I nibbled on a bagel talking to Sam. After this we went on a hike to find an off licence ANYWHERE. After a long walk in the cold, peppered with “fucking lazy bastard air traffic controllers” and “don’t even know if we’ll get away at all now, fuckers” (you get the picture) I shut up and we found a polish shop selling all sorts and booze at 10.30 am. We probably did more walking that we needed to but you don‘t like to stop strangers and ask where you can buy booze from early in the day as your “nerves are shaking for a pint“.
Armed with wine and beer and a “can you still open bottles with your teeth Dan?” we went back to the Marriott debating opening one up en route. Then the phone rang and the lady from the tour company said that she had sorted all the details out and we would be all set for the next day IF the ATC went back to work.
So back to the hotel where Dan went to bed and I went for a swim. I had to get my money’s worth this time, the hotel was feeling like a prison as it was - you were scared to come out of your room as you knew you would get mugged in the bar/coffee shop/restaurant, wherever you feared to tread really. Except the swimming pool…
It was a nice pool at the Marriot but unfortunately it was full of ankle biters and kids and even the roped off lane was taken by a large man who belly flopped into the pool leaving the water level somewhat reduced. So I did most of my 60 lengths kicking the kids. What a pleasant way to pass half an hour.
Back in the room I fell into a disgruntled snooze, awakening at 3.30. I decided to hit the wine and then the bar. On the way back to the hotel room I ventured into the gift shop (that’s how pissed I was) and bought 4 packs of crisps for £2.76. I accused the woman of being a thief and returned to my room with two bags of ready salted, one cheese and onion and one salt and vinegar. I was hammered come 10pm and passed out with several alarm clocks set for the 3 am call again.
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo palace (left) was our hotel and we checked into the hotel and they needed my credit card (as usual) and o get at it meant a fair old rummage in my handbag and the removal of me crisps…Dan looked a little uncomfortable at this display of scutterdom and I just said “£2.76, that’s all you need to know.”
We were shown our room and I began to get fixated on the outside swimming pool, immediately below our balcony, a pool floating on the lake.
The pool Of Death - La piscina di Morte
It was a lovely day. A cloudless sky, the sun was twinkling off the water. I had to give it a try. I would be grumbling about not going in and making Dan’s life a misery if I didn’t. Dan suggested I just did it then and there, get it over with so we could go and get some cheap beer and a drink in the bar. I persuaded him to swim too and he called to reception to see if it was OK to swim as it was off season for the pool. She warned him it wasn’t heated.
“Well the sun has been shining all day - it can’t be that cold” said I, thinking myself an expert on swimming outside since I went skinny dipping when pissed-up in Wales in the Irish Sea one August.
So we left the room and even our maid was amazed we were trying it - “there is an indoor heated pool” she said but we were made of sterner stuff! Oh yeah, this was the British bulldog spirit in action! (I don’t know what Dan’s excuse was!)
We approached the pool, Dan jumped in. He gasped at the coldness of it but managed to move until he got to the side and hauled himself out saying “my bollocks are killing.”
I gingerly put a foot in. Fuck me it was cold. I then slowly slipped in and tried to swim but the cold was so bad my major organs packed in with the shock and I couldn’t breathe. I had an audience and not wanting to embarrass myself (and because I couldn’t speak cos I couldn’t fucking draw a breath) I slowly hauled myself out the pool and sat panting on the deck.
“I thought the baths at school were a bit nippy but Christ! This is brisk” said I to Dan, when I managed to breathe again. A line I had been waiting to use for about 20 years.
“How about that indoor pool? Now we’ve got our kit on? We have to do some fucking swimming.”
Dan agreed and we slowly walked back inside the hotel and went to the hotel indoor pool in the spa. It was beautiful and so hot, it was being brought back to life from cryogenic freezing. And it was great as we had the place to ourselves. The pool of Death was born and it had died. Bastard!
After the pool of Death we went for a drink on the terrace bar. We were served by Max, a man who brought us our drinks and crisps and nuts and gave us advice on the ferry. We were a bit disappointed we didn’t get olives but the crisps were OK - I hadn’t eaten all day and needed something to sustain my body as my knees and elbows slowly got frostbitten from La piscina di Morte. After a couple in there we went for a mooch in Tremezzo, I bought postcards whilst Dan went into a wine shop, emerging with the words “I’ve been spending like Brewster in there.” So then we got some more booze from a lovely old man’s shop, he had to come back into the shop from over the road as he was having a jaw with a fisherman. And then were sorted. More drink was consumed in the bar and then on the way back to the room we spied the billiard table…
Fucking Get In
Now this table was an antique. Although with a nod to the modern they had set it up with pool balls (?) and snooker cues with no rests. I can play snooker with a rest but I can’t bridge so we started off a bit shaky through the drink and the laughs. After a while of potting fuck all, Dan noticed all the balls were going to the left of the table. Then we saw all the paper hand towels from the toilets wedged under the legs. So then we devised our own game called Sinestre (‘left’ in Italian), rules as follows:
Any ball can be potted in any order.
No penalty for potting the cue ball.
Balls don’t haveto stop rolling before you take a shot.
One point for any ball potted on the left hand side.
Two points for any ball potted on the right.
The pockets weren’t very wide, neither did they hold many balls and on one long pot Dan hit the balls so hard they shot off the table and one of them went through the door, across the hall and into the reading room. All the doors were glass so thank God they were open!
After a while I was potting some great balls and after one fantastic (and totally fluked) shot I did a Dennis Taylor (see left) pose and shouted “fucking get in.” You can take the twostarlady into a Five Star Hotel but you can’t take the Two Star Hotel out of the fivestarlady. Or something.
Dinner was very nice, five courses and wine and I was stuffed. I am so awkward around all this attention I just want to tell all the waiters to fuck off and leave me alone. For example, at one point we had four different waiters. The main waiter for our table was Daniel who once came over to ask me if I wanted some olive oil and/or parmesan in my soup. I smiled shyly and asked for the cheese but not the oil. What I would really have liked to say was “just the cheese mate and not too much as I will get the gut’s ache.” So sadly I am almost mute for the entire meal. On the second day we had Hot Chocolate Muffin and Ice Cream, I was in fits thinking of that muffin picture Julie found “covered in jizz!” I had my muffin necklace on as well. It was fantastic.
Oi! Fat Arse. Wash Your Hair
On Wednesday we managed to make it down to breakfast and in the toaster queue I had the olfactory displeasure of standing next to a right snotty Brit who had hair that smelt like it hadn’t been washed since…well forever. I tried making small talk, you know about cutting the bread thin enough it won’t glue itself to the toaster element, and she totally blanked me. Needless to say she had the fattest arse I have ever seen as well. Snotty cow.
Anyway, after a lovely swim we headed off to Belaggio and who was waiting for the ferry? Fat arse and what I presumed was hubby. Wherever we sat on the ferry they were there, when we got off they were just ahead of us at all times. At one point I heard Dan say “I wish I wasn’t following that paedo” to which I replied “that’s a bit strong Dan, I’m only annoyed cos she blanked me, no need to call him a paedo.”
Dan looked at me confused, apparently what he had said was something to do with the bidet in the bathroom and not ‘paedo’ at all…but in any case the name stuck and from then on they were known as Dog Shit Hair and paedo. I wonder what their names were for us? No I don’t!
So then we went to a Sports Bar, not really a sports bar but a place that sold food and beer and me and the old lad behind the counter had an understanding that I would speak in a little bit of Italian and he would understand me and bring the drinks over. And crisps. Must be crisp country - we had olives down southern Italy, this Alpine region must be a potato place!
We then went off for some souvenirs, buying some salt and pepper shakers where the natives had clearly been too depressed to paint salt and pepper on the shakers the right way around, a fact sadly overlooked until I unwrapped a pepper shaker to see the word ‘sale’ painted on it when in my kitchen. Then we went to the Hotel Du Lac (left) for another beer outside.
Then we went on a wander and came across the rather wonderful Bellagiopoint wine bar that was run by a man that looked like a bald Italian version of Dan’s dad Brendan and had a little of his manner too! (Below) He beckoned us to take a sip of a local wine, a red wine served chilled to keep the alcohol content low and it was lovely! We had a couple of glasses of that and he bought us some ham and bread and cheese and we were in heaven. What a great place, even Brendonio was entertaining as he treated his customers with disdain. After a glass we decided to buy a bottle and have another glass out of his fridge to which we got a semi-lecture about it being too strong to drink the way we were drinking it, we doubted we would get a third! Anyway, he was an entertaining man, he sells George Clooney 25 bottles a month with GC’s house painted on the bottle and was name dropping Brad pitt, Julia Roberts and Antonio Banderas. Sadly no Muffin. But still. We had a ferry to catch!
Thursday saw more breakfast and swimming and a trip to Varenna, a beautiful place reached by ferry again from Tremezzo. We had a stroll along the front and some poor Americans asked me to take a photo of their group (with my shaky hands!) and then it was time for a livener and into the bar Il Molo where we ill advisedly had a pint of 8% beer…it blew me bleeding head off! After a quarter of it I was as pissed as a fart. Anyway, I finished it and had another before heading to the Hotel Du Lac (popular name that) where we saw the most beautiful view…and had another beer but no crisps. Which was a shame as I needed some food by then, they only had fucking nuts at the Il Molo and I can’t stand them.
After a stroll around the cobbles and the death defying streets (left) we ended up back at the ferry port by the Hotel Olivedo.I was desperate for some food by now and we sat on the terrace there whilst I had some bread and local beef, a beer, a chat and inhaled the smell of the landlady creosoting the tables a few feet away. And then I realised we were sitting at a freshly creosoted table ourselves and I am glad I didn’t complain about getting it on my sock and running shoe after checking the place out online…“worst experience ever”…”don’t plan on sleeping”…”olive pit”…I think we get the message! A Nigel Mansell / Sam Torrance look-alike came in next which led me to ask Dan the following question:
“What would you do, right, if phil ‘The power’ Taylor” walked in here now?”
A question that had him blowing his beer through his nose.
Back to Tremezzo and a beer in our nice hotel. No poodles running around with shitty arses here! And Max must have felt sorry for us cos he brought us crisps, nibbles and olives. I wolfed them down! Three sheets to the wind doesn’t come close. A snooze was required, things were that bad! After this I went to dinner and went for gold, Champagne cocktails, wine, more wine, more wine, beer. Needless to say I missed breakfast the last day and found myself at the airport looking at my two bags of the World’s Most Expensive Crisps. I realised that they lost some of their appeal by having passed through an x-ray machine once, but I couldn’t bear the thought of them going to Dan’s mate Dog or even in the bin so I ate them both there and then. I suffered with a raging thirst from then one that BA just couldn’t quench!
When I got home I took to my bed. I reckon it was radiation poisoning. Or a 24 flu thing. But who knows, Lake Como was lovely and that’s all that matters.