John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Sunday 17 June 2012

[2012]
Did diary update, using the “big feller” with the Maxtor USB-powered HDD plugged in. Took advantage of the dry, though overcast, day to give the grass an overdue mowing; fed the birds for the last time for a week; wound the clock up. Packed my hand luggage, consulting a checklist I made last night (and kept by the bed and added to a couple of times). This included the “little feller”, the Maxtor USB-powered HDD, my camera, Janet’s camera, and their power-supplies, connectors, and other ancillaries — also the book Leaving Alexandria by Richard Holloway.
Janet had packed my black shoes, but I wasn’t in excessive discomfort in my trainers till the end of the day; I managed at the airport, and on and off the plane. Gaz the taxi driver was a little earlier than the scheduled 12.00 noon; he took us to Humberside Airport for £25 and we tipped him £3. Baggage check-in and passing through security were hitch-free, apart from the officer querying something in my bag that showed up on the X-ray; it was the little bendy tripod I’d bought to go with the audio recorder (which I’d decided not to bring with me). The bar girl in the departure lounge tried to charge me £6.10 for a 250ml glass of Merlot; I insisted that the tariff said £5.95. The man, who appeared to be in charge, said, “I knew there was something I’d forgotten to do!”, i.e. update the tariff card, and told her to accept what I said. It wouldn’t really have mattered a great deal, but I already had £6 in my hand and would have had to grope in my pocket for an extra coin.


13:50:36
Arrival of our Small Planet Boeing 737 from Verona


13:54:43
Disembarking steps and luggage transporter are in place. I didn’t photograph the refuelling truck when it came.

Janet had a window-seat to the left just in front of the wing, I had the middle seat, on the Boeing 737, which seemed to have just adequate leg-space, compared with the last, very cramped Thomson flight. However the man next to me to my right seemed to like more than his share of room, and encroached into my space with left knee and left elbow. When we passed over the environs of Wiesbaden, there appeared to be bodies of water all over the place, as if there were extensive flooding below. It must have been an optical illusion, or cloud shadow, though. What’s more, when we passed over the Alps, there were similar bluish shadows. When we emerged into the bright sunshine of Verona Airport, it was a baking 37°C (98.6°F). To the baggage conveyor-belt, then a cursory passport check; then a woman carrying a “Newmarket Holidays” sign pointed us in the direction of a waiting small coach. Along toll-motorways, and dual carriageways with red and pink hibiscus growing in the central reservation, past fields of crops that I couldn’t identify — some I could, like wheat and vines — to the first stop: a hotel on the west bank of Lake Garda. Thence, by a somewhat roundabout route, to the east side of the lake, returning to the lake about halfway up where it begins to narrow, and proceeding along the west bank northwards, passing eventually through various places named on the road signs “[Something] (Brenzone)” till we passed one that said “Assenza (Brenzone)” and drew up at
Hotel Drago,
al lago.
It was just across the road from the lake, with the slopes of Monte Baldo immediately behind. The “Newmarket Holidays” woman at the airport exit had jested that the woman on reception at “Drago” was a “dragon” herself, but she was in fact helpful — and spoke good English. She took our passports, issued us with a room key and an envelope from Newmarket Holidays, and pointed us in the right direction. Our room was on the top floor of a three-storey annexe just off from the main hotel building. She urged us to return to the dining room as quickly as possible, for they normally closed for dinner at 8pm, and by now it was ca.8.20pm.


19:25:40 UTC (20:25:40 local time)
View through our hotel room window — south-west


19:25:53 UTC (20:25:53 local time)
View through our hotel room window — west


19:26:10 UTC (20:26:10 local time)
View through our hotel room window — south

By now my feet had started to hurt; but the lift didn’t come, and we used the stairs. In fact, an older lady was stuck in the lift for it had stopped just below the ground floor, with her companion standing without at the door. It was after 8.30pm when we were sat by the waiter with very limited English at a table, at which he also sat the companion. He didn’t seem to understand her plea for help for the one in the lift, but the latter did appear shortly afterwards. Janet and I welcomed the fact that it was a (now familiar from other holidays and most other establishments) buffet: soup tureens; bains-marie with fish, meats and vegetables (a bit lukewarm); other dishes; and sweet desserts, fruit salad and the whole fruits themselves. Janet wanted to go and sit in the bar; but my feet were hurting, so I elected to stay in the room, while she went to the bar and brought her Coca Cola Light up to the room. Transferred the photos to the computer system, tweaked them with Photoshop (21:53–22:15), and made a PowerPoint show (22:18–22:39). The sky looked dark till I noticed the blacker mountains, spangled with lights from hillside villages which flickered as starlight does sometimes. Janet went to bed, but I lay on the bed and read Leaving Alexandria till ca.1am. There was no air-conditioning in the room, so we had the door to the balcony open, which made things noisy because of the traffic immediately below. I used my Sennheiser in-ear phones as earplugs.

[Monday 18 June 2012]


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