Archive for May, 2006

What a wild, extravagant guy I am. To celebrate my bonus, my shopping spree in France saw me purchase…two tubes of shower gel.

Not exactly a Ferrari, eh?

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Women. Never trust them in a store.

Yesterday was bonus day. In order to celebrate, I thought I’d go and buy myself a little something to celebrate (nothing too crazy – think more Ferrara Rocher than Ferrari!)

Off we went to Fenwick’s to have a look around. Except that “we” got sidetracked. So instead of buying something nice for myself to celebrate, Aude has a nice new outfit to wear to her friend’s wedding this summer. And she bought it just in time for the loudspeaker to announce “It’s now six o’clock and Fenwick’s is closed.”

Oh well, we’re off to France today for some shopping. Maybe I’ll find something nice there instead.

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It looks like summer is nearly here. I went out yesterday and bought a barbeque grill, which brought a whole new meaning to the words “some assembly required.” I’m guessing that Aude learned a colourful expression or two as I put the grill together. We may complain about having to put together Ikea furniture, but at least the Swedes put some thought into the design of their products. Not so the Chinese, who think that sending 160 unlabelled parts and assembly instructions in Finnish is adequate customer service. Perhaps it’s some sort of Communist joke?

Barbeque Grill

Anyhow, the finished product looks okay. We threw a couple of marinated flank steaks on for lunch with some friends, then did some chicken breasts for a Caesar salad in the evening. It’s nice to have the garden and even nicer to have a barbeque – I’ve been without one for too long. I was beginning to feel like I was losing my masculinity. Nothing says “I’m a man” like industrial-strength tongs and burned meat.

Since we have nice 6’ fences, I decided to let the cats out to explore the garden. It’s the first time they’ve been outside in nine years – so understandably they were a little curious. And spoiled. They refused to leave the concrete, as they didn’t like the feel of the dirt under their paws. Awwww.

Calypso exploring the garden

Daisy exploring the garden

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Cosi fan Tutte

For those who asked, Cosi fan Tutte was fantastic. It was an unusual modern staging, with the “backstage” clearly exposed throughout. The music and singers were excellent, and the music itself was played on vintage instruments, which gave the opera a really different feeling.

My only criticism was the subtitles, which were projected onto a small screen at the far left-hand side of the stage. I’ve seen other operas at the Marlowe Theatre with proper sur-titles, but I guess that the equipment must have belonged to the production company rather than the theatre. Disappointing, because it really detracted from an otherwise excellent performance. Still, with our “friends of the Marlowe” card, the tickets were £12.50 each, which has to be some of the cheapest opera around. Fantastic value-for-money, and a really nice evening.

It’s almost summer here, which means that it’s nearly time for the opera season at Glyndebourne. We’ve already secured our tickets to Fidelio, and I should know in the next 24 hours or so whether we’ve secured some tickets to Die Fledermaus as well. I don’t know what we did before eBay!

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Beef goulash

Goulash. What is it about goulash this week?

How often do you see goulash on a menu? Not very often, right? So what are the odds of seeing it three times in a row? That’s right. It was cold and rainy on Wednesday night, so I decided to make a pot of goulash for dinner — a dish I haven’t eaten or seen on a menu in more than a year. So I was a little surprised to arrive at work the next day to find that the lunch menu featured Hungarian goulash with noodles. Coincidence, right?

That alone would have prompted the odd comment over the lunch table, but wouldn’t earn the anecdote a place on my website. But when I arrived at my hotel that evening, what was the special of the day? Sure enough, Goulash with Sour Cream. That was a coincidence too far.

Seeing a steak on the menu three times in a row — not such a big deal. Every restaurant serves steak, right? But goulash?

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Now that everyone is up-to-date on our new house, I thought I’d write a few words about what’s happening in our social lives. I actually promised the scoop to Hello magazine, but they wouldn’t pay my asking price, so I’m publishing it here first, in another “Where’s Matthew” exclusive.

Aude, Matthew & MG

We had dinner last night with our friend Darren, who snapped this photo over a few beers in the pub afterwards.

Earlier in the day, Aude’s brother Jerome came down to Kent with several of his friends for a tour of the seaside town of Whistable. Unfortunately, he picked a terrible day for it, with pouring rain and gusty wind. We sat in a seaside restaurant, eating local seafood and watching the rather mad locals windsurf and sail in the pouring rain. Air temperatures were 16 degrees and water temperature was 13 degrees, so thermal wetsuits were par for the course.

The previous weekend, we took advantage of the brief spell of good weather to get the Corvette out of storage and go for a drive. We went to Hythe, near Folkstone, to visit the American Garden, 8 acres of informal woodland garden with a spectacular display of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. In the middle of nowhere, it was really stunning, with everything in full bloom, and the perfect place to spend a warm, sunny afternoon.

Tomorrow we’re off to see Cosi fan Tutte at the local theatre…

Life in a small town, eh?

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