Enchanté, Monsieur Trenet!

After the break we continued on A61 then changed on to A9 at Narbonne. It was around noon when we saw a sign for l’aire de Narbonne-Vinassan and decided to pull in for a quick lunch.

As we alighted from the car, we were greeted by a strange sight…

What the heck?!

A huge bronze head with a manic grin was looking down on us from the top of a small hill…

I had no idea what the sculpture was for and uploaded this image to my Instagram, asking about the meaning of it. Later days, thanks to one of my Facebook friends, the mystery was solved.

Enchanté, Monsieur Charles Trenet!

He was a French singer and songwriter who was born in Nabonne in 1913. He had many hits throughout his long career and the most famous song must be this…

“La Mer”, what a lovely song.

However, I still don’t understand why his statue was so bizarre though. A gigantic head sticking out from the mound, what was it all about? I showed the picture to Hubbie but he shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Well, that’s French for you.’ What do you mean? I still don’t get it!, I persisted as he walked toward a kitchen to make himself a cup of tea.

Anyway, mum and I shared spaghetti carbonara and mozzarella and tomato salad…

The kitchen seemed to specialised in Italian and they offered various pizzas as well as pasta and lasagna.

Oh if only Bella were with us…

I missed you very much, Bay-Bay!

Ok, on y va a Avignon!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Alpino Cafe @ Chapel Market, N1

Alpino Cafe, which is situated at the west end of Chapel Market, is a much loved local eatery. The establishment is a stone’s throw from our office and Hubbie and I often eat our lunch there.

Today’s special was chicken pie with vegetables and mashed potato…

Their portion was generous as usual. Nothing can beat a piping hot chicken pie with gravy when the weather outside is chilly and blustery, we wholeheartedly agreed as we ferried the piping hot mashed potato to our mouths.

The family-run eatery has a particular charm…

And their charm is derived from their individuality. The place has the air of history in a quirky way.

One of their walls are adorned with photos of football stars from mainly the 90’s and another one is a shrine for sports cars, notably mainly Italian’s and professional boxers. Their tables and chairs are recently updated and they are arranged rather tightly so the diners are almost elbow-to-elbow during lunchtime. Their extensive menu offers vast choices – from standard English breakfast to American pancake, sandwiches, pasta, risotto, gnocchi, lasagne, omelette, jacket potato, meat dishes such as chicken escalope and salad, etc. Plus they have special dishes which change daily. During the peak time, the service can be a bit slow but no one, especially the regulars, seems to mind. A team of waitresses, who I guess they are sisters, come in and out of the kitchen at a brisk pace, delivering the plates of food or clearing away the tables. Behind the chilled cabinets by the front door with cured meats and cheese for take-away sandwiches, an old lady, who I assume an owner of the cafe, manages the till. She calculates the bill without the help of a pocket computer no matter how long the addition may be and it sounds a treat every time I hear her doing the math with her native Italian. It is like a chirpy cheerful bird singing!

Sometimes, Hubbie and I buy our lunch from chains like Itus and Pret A Manger. It is because we are particularly busy on certain days and we rather scoff sandwich at the desk. However, the recent environmental issues such as plastic pollution make us contemplate if our habit of buying lunch at chain stores is damaging the environment. Of course, we do our best to recycle those plastic containers responsively. But would it be better if we don’t rely on disposable plastics such as lids and bottles altogether?

‘It’s win-win for both! Don’t you agree?’ While I munched on my chicken pie, I confided to Hubbie.

I meant was by having lunch at local restaurants such as Alpino’s, we weren’t producing any plastic waste. And we were also supporting local businesses which had to swallow a huge hike of the annual business rate by the Islington Council. What not to like!

Beside all the aforementioned benefits, we would enjoy our lunchtime together more because there would be no interruption by e-mails or phones. Let’s step back to the time when we had a proper lunch break, Hubbie and I agreed…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Pasta & pizza @ Augsburg

Where shall we have our dinner tonight? Mum and I pondered as we alighted from the tram. It was around half six and we were rather hungry. I remembered Albert the Hotelier gave us a flyer of his beer garden, ‘Do visit my place later!’ as we were checking in. Shall we go there?

The eatery was about five minutes’ walk from the hotel and it was on top of the hill. We found two mobile canteens in the corner, one was serving drinks and another one was for food. We were a bit taken aback by the sight of the place because we were expecting a building and a terrace. Instead, it was like a picnic area with wooden benches under the trees.

Eww, I don’t fancy it, I shook my head as we studied their menu. They were more like bar foods – burgers, chips, hot dogs, etc. Mum wasn’t keen on them either.

‘Shall we go back to the city centre and have dinner there?’ Since we had more than enough tram tickets to use up, it was silly not to.

There were many restaurants around Rathausplatz, and we decided to eat at Aposto, an Italian restaurant.

Mum was very happy to put her hands around a beer mug…

She opted for a pizza with ham, rocket, mozzarella with tomato sauce.

I fancied pasta…

Linguine with goat’s cheese, Italian ham, red onion and cherry tomato.

The meal was a welcome change from sausage and potato. Even though I did like German food, I missed something lighter time to time.

The square seemed to be a crowd magnet, we noticed it as we headed to a tram stop.

Apart from the people enjoying al fresco dining under the parasols provided by the restaurants and bars, the square was dotted with groups, sitting cross-legged and sipping beers…

Most of them looked like students. They seemed to be enjoying a mellow summer evening with their friends.

Let’s go back and have some rest because we are visiting a highlight of our road trip, Füssen…

Apparently, poor mum didn’t sleep very well that night. She recounted to me next morning that she tried to open a bathroom window after I fell asleep. Unfortunately, the window had a very fancy hi-tech hinge which allowed the window to open in multiple angles, and mum, who didn’t know how it worked, thought she broke the window! She was worried all night how she was going to explain about the incident to the hotel…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Sun, Glorious Sun!

What a fantastic weekend weather wise it was!
The sun was shining and the wind was warm and gentle, I had to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!
While my mum’s place, Nagano, was still firmly stuck in the snow & chill (in Nobeyama, they recorded below -20 ℃!), my neighbours were strutting around with vests & shorts. Can this be really right? I was glad that it was no longer grey and damp but also apprehensive about this unpredictable climate…

A morning stroll with Mr.B on Saturday.
He wouldn’t have needed a jumper then…

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Our fry-up at the Shepherdess the Caf.
I sat with my back towards the sun and felt my nape singed slightly…

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Then came Sunday, I met up with Letizia at Embankment and visited South Bank together…

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Well, we were one of those who were not good at taking selfies. The sun was in our faces and we were taking this image almost blind. Plus, it was my bad hair day so a beanie was the must. Well, enough excuses said.

The Thames was teeming with ships laden with tourists…

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The sight was so enticing and tempting as such, we momentarily contemplated if we should hop on one of those river-buses and travel to the Hampton Court or Greenwich.

A leisurely walk along South Bank.
The tide was low then and some people were venturing down to the river bed and exploring through whatever the Thames decided to leave on its shore…

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This guy was busking with his amplifier by his side. The amp was rather hazardously close to the water and made me wonder what would happen if he were zapped…

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Any table in the sun was hard to come by on the day like this and we queued nearly an hour to get ours. However, the sun went behind the high-rise building nearby as soon as we were seated. C’est la vie, huh?
Nevertheless, we shared a delicious bottle of rose and I enjoyed a plate of Linguine ai frutti di mare…

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Is this the arrival of the spring? Highly unlikely. But the day like last weekend reminded us what we should look forward to. And we could hardly wait for the real blooming spring!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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