Domestic Dramas

When we got back from Paris the temperatures on the Cote d’Azur had started to fall away. While we’re still enjoying sunshine, rides now require arm warmers and a gilet to guard against catching a chill on descents. However, I seem to have done that anyway and spent the first part of the week feeling sorry for myself and sipping hot lemon drinks. The sore throat’s gone but I still have a bit of a chesty cough. Thankfully, my beloved departed for a business trip to Germany. However, even knowing I was under the weather, still didn’t stop him from batting further work in my direction. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? I want hot tea and sympathy, not more work to do!

Speaking of more to do, a nasty surprise lay in wait upon our return from Paris. The dishwasher had broken down which meant I had to hand wash and dry a full-load. When I say broken down, that’s not strictly true, it was partly working but not cleaning the flatware or cutlery. I gave the machine a full-clean and descale but it didn’t solve the problem. Cue call to my friendly technician who arrived and promptly diagnosed the fault. Its U-bend was full of paper. Remind me to take the paper labels off jam jars before I wash them.

This week I’ve also had my annual check up from the building’s plumber. Well, not me personally, my radiators have been tested and I need a number of valves changing. It’s important that these work properly so that in the event of a leak from the radiator, or more probably a flood – I speak from experience – said radiator can quickly be turned off. This assumes, of course, that there’s someone there to do it! We’ve had the same firm of plumbers looking after the building for ever – nice work if you can get it. The father used to wear the most atrocious, badly fitting hair piece. So bad, I had problems keeping a straight face when talking to him. His son, who started as his apprentice, looked about 12 and therefore didn’t inspire confidence, rather thoughts of child-labour.

When I first moved in, I had thought about replacing the rather ugly radiators but had little choice in terms of their replacement, because they have to withstand a huge amount of pressure as the heating is centralised. It was just more of the same. The father advised me not to replace them  – what workman does that? – because they still had years of life left in them. I took his advice and spent the money on fancy bespoke radiator covers to hide them. In the intervening period, I’ve replaced two radiators because they might’ve leaked.

The father and his hairpiece retired a few years ago and the son, who now looks to be in his mid-20s thanks to a beard, has taken over and follows the same principles as his father, if it ain’t broke…..He’s recommended I replace the radiator in the kitchen and half the valves which are nigh on impossible to turn off. The others are fine but, I’ve decided on a belt and braces approach and he’s replacing all of them. Better to be safe rather than make my neighbours sorry. I didn’t ask him how much it would cost because a) I cannot use another plumber and b) his charges are very reasonable. He understands there’s no point in killing the golden goose.

Unfortunately, the dishwasher wasn’t our only recent casualty. Bob my automatic vacuum cleaner who has been hard pressed to keep up with the amount of pollen, dust and general grime that flies in our full-length windows has finally given up the ghost. We’ve had many years of faithful service from one of the early models and have now upgraded to Bob II whom my beloved has programmed to start every morning at 09:00 am. He’s got more sensors than Bob I so tends not to knock quite so violently into the furniture but there’s still pieces he’ll try in vain to get under and then get stuck. Open a window and he’s out in a flash. And, like his predecessor, he gets stuck under the bed, right in the middle where neither I nor the broom can dislodge him. Otherwise, he’s doing a grand job of  keeping the dust down, and the floors clean and shiny.

I’ve long harbored hopes that the company that came up with the self-driving vacuum might extend its range. My brother-in-law has a version which automatically mows his lawn. It’s a rather more sophisticated model as you have to map out the lawn so it doesn’t play havoc with your borders or end up in the fish pond. I was rather hoping for a machine which does all the ironing though, to be fair, I’m working out ever more ways to iron as little as possible. One that would clean and polish my ten floor to ceiling windows would be wonderful. This is my beloved’s job which he’s conveniently avoided on account of the now-mended broken leg. I’ve bought him all sorts of gadgets to make the job easier. Generally, if I want him to do something, he has to have a gadget. He’s got no truck with a bucket, sponge, newspaper and plain old elbow grease. Believe me, I’ve tried in vain to find someone else to do it. A tall robot sounds just the ticket. He could sweep and clean the terrace after he’s done the windows.

Guys put down those instruments and give me a hand with the housework

As you may have gathered I’m all in favour of AI. I can’t wait until I can get an army of robots to keep the place clean. No one enjoys housework. In the fullness of time, they might even have to push my wheelchair and take care of me, just so long as they don’t leg it whenever I open a window onto the balcony.

Creatures of habit

I might like to say that I’m happy to embrace change but when it comes to restaurants I like the familiar and find myself returning time and time again to old favourites where I love both the ambience, service, setting  and, of course, the food. A bit like when I was a kid where I always ate the same dishes at certain restaurants thereby saving my parents from ever having to ask me what I wanted. Yeah, I know it’s a bit boring but you have to remember I don’t like surprises.

When we first moved to the Cote d’Azur, we visited loads of restaurants which I dutifully listed for family, friends and visitors. I still keep the list up-to-date with a bit of help from my friends. Some old favourites have come and gone, chefs have moved restaurants while others still prevail. Even with such a wide choice, we still find ourselves regularly patronising old haunts.

Unfortunately, certain restaurants, because they only do tasting menus, are now out of the question with my new regime. However, most restaurants with an a la carte menu are happy to adapt dishes to meet my particular dietary requirements.

When my beloved travelled most weeks, he much preferred to eat at home at the week-end and we kind of got out of the habit of regularly eating out. His more recent assignments mean he’s home much more and we’ve been able to reintroduce going out for dinner, to a concert or just to a football match. Now, of course, we have the added challenge of my dietary requirements but we’ve yet to find the restaurant that can’t come up with something I can eat.

Restaurant Chantecler

We recently ate Sunday lunch at what is probably our favourite restaurant on the Cote d’Azur. We’ve patronised it since it first opened and have been fans of the chef-owner at his previous restaurants. In 2002 we had a rare family Christmas in Nice and ate a memorable Christmas Day luncheon in The Negresco’s two-Michelin starred Chantecler restaurant where the chef was Alain Llorca.  In 2004, Llorca moved onto another of our preferred establishments, taking over the reins of  Moulin de Mougins from the legendary Roger Vergé, where we’ve eaten some outstanding meals in fabulous surroundings.

Finally, in 2009, he opened the restaurant (and now hotel) that bears his name, and which is our go to place for any celebratory meal. Despite the Michelin star, the place isn’t at all pretentious. His staff are all long-serving, his wife is in charge of front-of-house, his brother is in charge of patisserie and it won’t be long before his eldest daughter lends him a helping hand in the kitchen. And what a kitchen! I’ve been fortunate to partake in some very instructive cooking lessons there. It’s amazing just how many great tips and recipes you can pick up from a chef of his calibre.

It’s also a restaurant that my late father much enjoyed and we ate one of our last meals together there and, consequently, eating there always brings him to mind. Of course, the greatest accolade any restaurant can receive in our eyes is knowing that my father would have approved. Whenever we find a new gem we smile knowingly and say to one another: “Dad would’ve liked this!” However, we’re probably a little more adventurous that my late father and have sometimes enjoyed magnificent meals in the unlikeliest of places. Proving that you can’t always judge a restaurant from its exterior or décor.

Early morning pictures  of L’as du Fallafel without the inevitable crowds

We recently ate at a restaurant in Paris that wouldn’t have initially appealed to my father. It’s the L’as du Fallafel, a Jewish restaurant in Le Marais, in rue des Rosiers. Along this narrow, ancient street you’ll find kosher and Jewish style restaurants cheek by jowl with Jewish bookshops, small synagogues, prayer rooms, and kosher boulangeries and charcuteries. We ate there simply because every time we passed, day or night, there were people queuing for the restaurant and for the takeaway. It’s a veritable goldmine where they turn the tables (110 seats) every 45 minutes. During busy periods, ie. all the time, they don’t serve either desserts or coffee so there’s no excuse to linger. What they do serve is freshly cooked, delicious home-made Jewish food which is lapped up by pretty much everyone. Oh, and they also do home deliveries.  There’s another couple of similar restaurants in the same street but they don’t do the same amount of business. I should add that if I could’ve tempted my Dad inside, he’d have enjoyed the meal.

Maybe it’s because I come from a family of cooks and foodies that so many of my memories are bound up in the tastes and flavours of dishes I’ve enjoyed in restaurants the world over. Even though I enjoy trying new restaurants, I find myself longing to return to old favourites and mourn their passing when they’re no longer there.

Postcard from Paris: Part II

Strictly speaking this is a postcard from Le Marais though, on one of our many walks, we did stray into the 1st arrondissement. On our return, plenty of people asked us where we’d stayed in Paris. When we said “Le Marais” no one, not even the French, including ones who are frequent visitors to Paris, had heard of it – incroyable!

Le Marais is a historical district located to the east of the centre of Paris, on the right bank of the river Seine. It occupies the 3rd and 4th arrondissements which extend from the Centre Georges Pompidou in the west, Republique to the north, Bastille to the east and the Seine to the south.

The area was largely grazing land until 1361 when Charles V, King of France, started building the royal residences of Hotel Saint-Pol in the eastern part of the Marais which encouraged other noble families to populate the area until the Royal Court moved to Versailles. Subsequently, the area became a working-class neighbourhood attracting waves of immigrants which now account for its eclectic and vibrant atmosphere.

Fortunately, those long-abandoned buildings have largely been restored to their former glory – if not their former use – including the oldest square in Paris, Place des Vosges (pictured above). But that’s not all.

Because of the area’s rich history, there are many architectural highlights in Le Marais, such as the Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church built in 1641. Another iconic building is Paris’ City Hall, alongside the Seine, which is a wonderful example of Neo-Renaissance architecture and where we saw the Design &  Artisanat d’Art exhibition which showed just how many artisans are still working in ateliers in Paris, many in Le Marais.

It’s an area popular with Parisian families so at the week-end the place buzzes with the children enjoying the area’s many green spaces, and benefitting from the last rays of summer to enjoy a drink or meal at one of the area’s many restaurants and cafes. There’s also a wealth of food shops including many by famous names such as Pierre Hermé and Christophe Michalak which just had to be visited along with the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest market in Paris which has some fabulous food stalls.

The weather was much better than anticipated and consequently we walked all over Le Marais finding something to wonder at on almost every corner. Because we’d had the opportunity to go around so many buildings not generally open to the public over the European Week-end of Patrimoine, we only visited one museum on Tuesday morning. the Musée Cognacq Jay which housed the largely 18th century art and objets d’art collections of  Théodore-Ernest Cognacq and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, founders of La Samaritaine department store, now owned by LVMH and shortly to be redeveloped.

However, there’s still plenty for us still to visit on our next trip to Paris.

Postcard from Paris: Part I

My beloved and I decided to celebrate 40 years’ of married bliss with a long week-end in Paris, the most romantic city in the world. While I’ve been fortunate to traverse much of the city on foot and visit all its major monuments and museums, my beloved has not. Consequently, I left the choice of what we were going to visit to him. Though, naturally, I intended to do of all the bookings.

He’d expressed an interest in visiting Versailles but as our trip drew closer so the forecast worsened. Part of the charm of Versailles is its splendid gardens, so we decided not to book but to wait and see. Additionally, and quite by chance, the week-end was the one where you can visit lots of buildings not normally open to the general public, so our choice of places to visit expanded exponentially and we decided to play it by ear – often the best way.

We rented a studio apartment in Le Marais, largely because it’s an area I love and, having recently scratched its surface on my two most recent trips to Paris, was keen to discover more about it. Additionally, one of my girlfriends, whom I haven’t seen for a while, lives there and I really wanted to catch up with her. My beloved has never visited Le Marais but, as it had featured prominently in a book he’d recently read about the history of Paris, he was keen to visit.

We much prefer travelling to Paris by train. Sure it takes longer but it’s so much more relaxing and, providing you book well in advance, it’s considerably cheaper than flying. When you book a train ticket, you’re allocated a seat. When all the seats are sold, that’s it, the train’s full. There’s no standing on French TGV trains. I like to sit in the top section in either two seats side by side or facing one another. I hate sitting as part of a foursome. If I’m on my own, I’ll book one of the single seats. Sometimes I’ll work or maybe read but I often just enjoy watching the sea and countryside speed by. I say speed by but, in all honesty, the train doesn’t pick up any real speed until after Avignon.

The weather on route was sunny while we traversed the rolling hills of the glorious French countryside which was dotted with herds of creamy coloured cows grazing on lush green pasture and a patchwork of ploughed fields, golden stubble, shrivelled sunflowers and vines ready for picking.

We arrived in Paris at lunchtime, no accident, so we could dine at the magnificent Le Train Bleu restaurant. My late father would have loved it and it’s one of my few regrets that I never got to take him there. Sated, we wheeled our cases the short distance from the Gare de Lyon to our home for the next five days.

After checking out the neighbourhood, we bought a great bottle of wine and some goodies from one of the many traiteurs for a light supper before an early night. We needed to recharge our batteries for some serious traipsing around the neighbourhood over the week-end.

Postcard from Valencia

In truth our trip didn’t get off to an auspicious start. First, my beloved scraped the right rear side of the hire car on a pillar in the hotel car park. This was despite the car having one of those 360 degree warning systems – thank goodness for excess insurance. Then, having put the address of the destination into the car’s GPS, he proceeded to ignore its instructions. Why do men do that? What’s the point of having GPS if you’re going to blithely ignore it? After 20 fruitless minutes driving around in circles, we were heading out of Madrid on the right road. It was a clear, bright, sunny day with relatively quiet roads so it was an enjoyable drive.

Close to Madrid the fields had been harvested and the landscape was a patchwork of autumnal shades, reinforcing the impression that summer would soon be over. As we drove south the countryside gradually became greener particularly as we neared our destination. It was so green that I feared we might be heading north, towards the Basque country.

We drove straight to our hotel, just inland and to the north of Valencia. A beautiful old Spanish finca that had been massively extended and repurposed by its owners as a wedding and conference venue now attached to a small, traditional hotel. We enjoyed a delicious snack lunch in the bar area which way exceeded my expectations and meant we didn’t have to travel far in the evenings for sustenance.

Our room had a large enclosed balcony seating area – perfect for a spot of work – and a sizeable traditionally decorated Spanish bedroom with plenty of closet space and a spacious bathroom. Despite the hotel being fully occupied, the rooms were quiet and the hotel had a tranquil air, perfect for some rest and relaxation.

Sunday, we drove into Valencia to explore its City of Arts and Sciences, a huge futuristic entertainment-based, educational, cultural and architectural complex designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. It’s surrounded by water and sited within a picturesque, sunken, landscaped park, the former Turia riverbed. My beloved felt it looked very Star Warsish. Unsurprisingly, it’s been designated one of the 12 Treasures of Spain.

I loved that the design of the buildings and walkways were based on animal skeletons and covered in white and blue mosaic tiles. It’s a lovely place to just walk around and there’s some interesting and, no doubt expensive, real-estate overlooking the complex.

Thereafter, we walked through the park to the marina and along the beach, which has to be one of the longest, widest, sandy beaches I’ve ever seen.  We found a lovely spot for lunch before walking the six km back to where we’d parked the car. Our drive back took us past Valencia FC’s ground the Mestalla which is right in the centre of town.

Monday morning we worked before heading up into the hills which formed part of stage 6’s route in this year’s Vuelta a Espana. It’s a great area for cycling with good roads, little traffic and spectacular views. We lunched with locals at a popular spot and, once again, were blown away by the great quality and low prices. In the afternoon, it was back to the drawing board before some tapas in the hotel bar much later that evening.

Tuesday followed a similar pattern but we ate lunch in yet another great local restaurant pretty much in the middle of nowhere. We’d been in Valencia a few days and still hadn’t eaten paella, a dish which hails from here. This restaurant was an Arroceria so we decided to eat a squid based paella, black from squid ink. It was delicious but could easily have served four rather than two.

On Wednesday my beloved had a business meeting at the university, giving me an opportunity to fully explore on foot Valencia’s extensive Old Town. Or it would have, if only my beloved had a) checked the location of the University and b) left on time. The particular bit he was visiting was 10km out of Valencia and we left so late he didn’t have time to drop me off so I had to wait in the car. Despite the air-conditioning, I dropped off to sleep and woke cranky.

The Old Town has plenty of grandiose buildings and a seemingly endless supply of churches and cathedrals for us to gaze at and after a brisk walk around, with no time for me to dawdle and admire the architecture, my beloved set about hunting for a spot for lunch. It’s as if he’s got to race around at break-neck speed to prove his leg is now fine. Finally, he found a lovely Basque restaurant near the old market, now home to numerous bars and restaurants though none took our fancy, where I was much mollified by a lobster salad.

I mentioned paella above but as we drove around the area I kept wondering where’s the rice grown? I’d seen plenty of fruit, olive trees and vines but no rice fields. The answer is south of Valencia in the La Albufera national park which I discovered also has a gay nudist beach – don’t ask! It’s also an area popular with cyclists as it’s pan flat. Aside from the rice fields, there was lots of untamed forest, a massive inland lake and loads of restaurants offering paella for the tourists visiting in droves on coaches.

Of course, all this rice made us think about lunch and we found yet another great restaurant in a surprising location. The important thing in Spain is not to judge a restaurant from its exterior. Always check out the interior. Sated we headed back to our hotel oasis to continue working with one eye on the final few stages of this year’s Vuelta.

The professor my beloved visited at the Valencia dental school is Italian and his wife and his brother run an Italian restaurant near the City of Arts and Sciences which we tried out on Friday. It was superb and we needed a long walk in the park afterwards to wear off a few of the (many) calories consumed, where we found a fabulous kids’ playground built around a prone statue of Gulliver (from Gulliver’s Travels) which comprised endless slides and climbing frames. Of course, I wanted to have a go but tricky when you don’t have a kid in tow. Friday evening we couldn’t even manage a few tapas in the hotel bar, we were still full.

Saturday we rose early to drive back to Madrid and fly home. We’d enjoyed our time in Valencia but found it a bit of a curate’s egg, good in parts. The beach, the Old Town and the City of Arts and Science are all well worth a visit and can easily be enjoyed over a week-end. If we come again, it’ll only be for the MotoGP season finale and a footie match at the Mestalla.

 

 

Doggie Heaven

All summer long we’ve breakfasted on our balcony overlooking the forest at the back of our building which is particularly popular with the Domaine’s dog owners for early morning walkies. We know many of the dogs by sight, some by name, but during the summer months there are also a lot of visitors and their canine companions. The dogs’ antics keep us amused while we’re eating and provides an enjoyable start to the day. The other week, we realised we hadn’t seen one of our elderly neighbours who has a very excitable small dog called Titti, very much a pampered pooch, for a while. In recent months, neither Titti nor his owner have enjoyed particularly good health, hence our concern.

I resolved to ask one of two people if they knew anything: our guardian or the lady from the block opposite who provides cleaning and general assistance to a number of flat owners in our block. Both are usually reliable sources of information about the health and welfare of our block’s occupants. When we first moved in almost 13 years ago, many were very spritely octogenarians but as time has passed, they’ve become rather frail, a number have sadly died or don’t get out and about as much as they used to. Though there are a few, examples to us all, who seem indestructible.

Titti’s owner is not one of these. She’s shown me photos of her former life. A stunning looking woman in her heyday who certainly doesn’t look her age now. She was formerly married to two fabulously wealthy gentlemen. The first one died and she divorced the second, the father of her two daughters. But she appears to have been ill-advised when it came to negotiating her divorce settlement. Her current 1,000 sq ft flat must be a bit of a come down from the 13,000 sq ft one she used to occupy in Rome and, sadly, she’s a glass half empty rather than half-full type.

When anyone in the Domaine dies, it’s normal to post an announcement on the front door of each block with details of the funeral arrangements. I’m not keen on attending funerals, I’ve attended far too many of late. I’ve only been to one in France and found it deeply distressing even though I’d only once met the deceased. It was a very emotional affair. I saw a notice recently but fortunately it was only about a lost cat. My heart was in my mouth when I saw it from afar as my downstairs neighbour, a lady now in her late-nineties, is slowly slipping away after recently breaking her leg – the same injury as my beloved. However, despite an operation to repair it, she’s now bed-ridden and has already lost much of her vision. She’s well-cared for in her own home but she wants to die. She’s told me so. And I sympathise, without one’s health, old-age is surely a bummer.

Finally, I bumped into Titti’s owner in the lift who is now sporting a fluffy white, equally excitable dog. She advised me that Titti was now in the big kennel in the sky. I sympathised and petted Titti II. Lots of our elderly neighbours have small dogs. It’s a reason to get up and out in the morning and, if you’ve got a dog, people are seemingly happy to stop and chat, particularly other dog owners. Others have large dogs such as a Retriever, German Shepherd, Labrador, Weimerar and even a Dalmatian which must be quite challenging in a small flat. There are no medium-sized dogs, or at least, none that I’m aware of, calling the Domaine home.

My beloved would love a dog though it would have to be a large one as he’s unwilling to be seen out with some of the small, fluff balls favoured by many of our neighbours. I think he feels it would be affront to his masculinity. For example, while out walking recently, we passed a large guy with fulsome beard and plenty of tattoos walking a duo of teeny-weeny dogs. Of course, he could’ve been a dog-walker or doing someone, such as his Mum, a favour. My beloved was very dismissive. However, much as I love dogs, a love which is reciprocated, we’re not having one because I know only too well who’d be looking after it – yours truly!

(Header image: ©www.outoftheboxscience.com)

 

 

Design dilemmas

I’m constantly changing things around in the bedroom. That’s probably given you the wrong impression but, don’t worry, this is a post about soft furnishings. not hanky-panky! When I refurbished the apartment, I never really finished off the bedroom. I was hoping to create a restful space, splitting it into two separate areas one for sleeping and one for reading, with a small library. A gal can never have too many book shelves.

I had visions of a chase longue positioned so I could enjoy our magnificent view next to floor to ceiling book shelves along the one wall. Sadly, my husband’s two large wardrobes, which are in addition to his walk-in dressing room and built-in cupboard, are preventing me putting my master plan in place.

Consequently, I keep changing around the soft furnishings, bed linen, bed cover and cushions without achieving the harmony I desire. When my laundry became the bike room, I had to find somewhere else for the ironing board. Initially that was the underused guest bedroom but, as that has become a second storeroom pending the long-awaited reorganisation of our caves, it got moved into our bedroom.

Lest you think I’m a fiend with the iron, I should fess up that I try to iron as little as possible. Thanks to my brilliant washing machine and dryer, most items can be neatly folded and put away. About the only things I iron are my beloved’s shirts. However, I keep the ironing board out and ready for action as he has an unfortunate habit of demanding I press his suit/jacket just before he’s due to leave on a business trip.

Let him do it himself I hear you call out. Trouble is, as far as I’m aware, he’s never ironed anything other than the wax on our cross-country skis. Consequently, I’m mindful that letting him loose with a hot implement could prove costly. Of course, he knows this and plays on my fears. Plus, my always immaculately turned out father trained me how to iron shirts and press garments. Sadly, I never got him to train my beloved.

My dilemma is how to work around the omnipresent wardrobes. We had the most massive clear out of my beloved’s extensive collection of clothing ahead of last year’s trip to Australia. He’s a bit of a hoarder. The local charity shop and the recycling bins greatly benefitted. However, that still wasn’t enough to get rid of even one of the wardrobes. It appears I’m stuck with them so will have to think again.

So far, Plan B involves inserting a bookcase between said wardrobes and getting a pouf to match the existing armchair on which to rest my feet while reading. Meanwhile, I’m thinking of all the nooks, particularly above doors, that could be press-ganged into becoming places to store books.

 

Consequently, I’m adding a library to my ideal house. That’s  the one with the massive basement and outside wood-fired oven that I suspect will forever remain a figment of my imagination. Largely, I should add, because it’s well-nigh impossible to replicate our view which trumps the afore-mentioned library, basement and wood- fired oven. Ah well, a girl can dream can’t she?

Postcard from Barajas

I spent last week in Barajas, a suburb of Madrid, home to both its airport and exhibition centre. I basically went from the former to the latter, staying in the hotel we found last year, which is a total steal and close to both.  I was giving my beloved a helping hand as running an exhibition stand on one’s own is a bit of a nightmare.

We and just four other companies were on the UK Exhibition stand which we set up on Monday. Fairly basic, but nonetheless effective, we just hung a series of laminated posters on the backboards. Luckily for my beloved, I bought essential supplies with me including scissors to cut the Velcro, wet wipes to clean the hired stand equipment and paper handkerchiefs to wipe greasy finger marks off the glass exhibition case.

Having worked in the dental industry for so long, my beloved knows everyone and vice versa. This meant it was only a matter of time before he went walkabout and disappeared for an extended period leaving me to deal with the hordes. I had my product sales pitch off pat and could answer all but the most technical of questions.

Time can often hang heavy at exhibitions, I speak from bitter experience. You always need something to keep yourself occupied to help the time pass. Luckily, we were inundated with visitors. This may have had something to do with the position of the stand, on route to one of the lecture theatres and near to the refreshment stand. Our full range of linguistic skills was tested and my so-called restaurant Spanish was regularly pressed into service to explain products benefits.

 

It’s a while since I’ve been to a Dental exhibition and inevitably I bumped into tons of folks I haven’t seen for some time  and some I couldn’t ever remember having met! Was I having a senior moment? No, I don’t think so, rather that the individuals weren’t particularly memorable. I mean, you wouldn’t forget when and where you met George Clooney now would you? Sadly, there are no George Clooney look-alikes in the dental industry because, if there were, trust me I would’ve made sure I met them.

Freebies! Matcha Kit-Kat only available in Japan

Days tend to merge one into another at exhibitions as you shuttle from hotel to exhibition centre and back again. Over the years I’ve learnt several important lessons:-

  1. Wear comfortable shoes, you spend a lot of time standing
  2. Remember to drink plenty of water, the air conditioning is very drying
  3. Wear plenty of moisturiser (see 2 above)
  4. Make sure you get the contact details of everyone who visits the stand
  5. If at all possible, try and grab some fresh air during the day
  6. Take your own refreshments (water) and lunch to avoid being ripped off by the exhibition centre’s catering services

It’s also important to stay at a hotel close to the exhibition centre with a gym and a good restaurant as you rarely get the time, opportunity or even inclination to stray far.

That said we did wander out of the hotel into downtown Barajas which had plenty of bars and great restaurants around its town square. These included a Polperia which we had to try, twice. You know how I love octopus! It wasn’t quite as good as the octopus in Galicia, but definitely up there.

It might seem odd that we didn’t venture into central Madrid but it’s a place we’ve visited a number of times before and have already fully explored the glories of the Museo del Prado, Madrid’s many parks, plazas, markets, shops and wonderful restaurants.

After a successful few days at the exhibition, where the visiting dentists from all over the globe showed much interest in the product and  we may have found distributors for a couple of key markets, we headed to Valencia – my beloved’s choice. He’s visited the place a couple of times on business and has raved about it but it’s unchartered territory for me. I had fondly imagined I might visit it one November for the last MotoGP race of the season – ah, well, another year. Watch out for my postcard from there.