Archive | September, 2012

I don’t like the look of that petrol station……

12 Sep

Whilst in Tuscany we discovered the joys of filling up the tank, which is, surprisingly, quite a different routine from back in England. The siesta is still common place in Southern Europe, and apart from shops in major cities, and supermarkets, many shops and businesses close at midday, reopening early evening. As a conseqence, buying petrol can be difficult in the middle of the day. Many petrol stations do not accept credit cards when not manned. And when manned, you sometimes have to pay extra for the privilege of having non self-service pumps.

At the time we were in Tuscany, the price of petrol in Italy had rocketed; so much so that quite frequently Paul would refuse to stop at a station if he thought the price was too high. Also, the order in which the prices of unleaded and diesel is displayed is not consistent, and there seemed to be about 4 choices of types of fuel available. A handy tip though is that, unlike in England, unleaded is the most expensive fuel. So driving past a petrol station saying, ‘we’re not stopping there, it’s far too expensive.’ was quite a frequent habit of Paul’s. To which I would helpfully reply that we had better stop and buy some at any price before running out completely.

The other problem was payment; credit cards were frequently not accepted at self-service pay at the pump stations. In fact, it took us a while to find out how you could pay and get fuel. Then on one occasion a helpful Italian man started to wave a 20 euro note at us. Unfortunately he was not offering us money, but trying to explain in his best sign language that the way to pay is to put a 20 euro note in the payment machine, and then the petrol is released at the pump for you. We were convinced that there must be petrol stations where you could pay with a credit card, so kept driving on, but usually with no success.

So our next problem was usually finding a cash machine for the purpose of replenishing our dwindling cash supplies……

Now in Switzerland the petrol was really cheap, unlike the cost of a meal out……


Have you had your vitamin D today?

5 Sep

I love my teenager and love some of the silly conversations we have together. Today when I arrived home from work at just after 3:00 was a typical example. Jess had her friend Rachel round for the day and the conversation with her ran something along the lines of:

(me) ‘Have you been in the pool today?

(Jess) ‘No.’

(me) ‘Why not?’

(Jess)’Because we’re watching this’ (film showing on laptop)

(me)’I hope it’s suitable for your age group.

(Jess)’Yes of course.’

(me) ‘I am a bit worried that you won’t be getting your vitamin D sitting here in the dark. ‘Did you have some lunch?’

(Jess) ‘Yes.’

(me) ‘What did you have?’

(Jess) ‘Nothing.’

(me) ‘What do you mean, nothing?!’

(Jess) ‘I said muffin, not nothing!’

(me) ‘How’s your rabbit?’ (subtle way of checking she has been fed and watered)

(Jess) ‘She’s fine. I went to feed her whilst I was getting my vitamin D!’

(me, addressing Rachel) ‘Does your mother talk to you like this?’

(Rachel) ‘No.’

Still, a teenager with attitude is better than a dull one with no opinions. Creatvity is so important! This is what I tell Paul when she has splashed yet more paint on the carpet or on the garden chairs whilst having a creative urge and painting the bookcases yet another colour!