It’s a shame I guess but we are always thinking of where we will be going next. Here we are in the beautiful Cinque Terre and needed to book ahead. It’s funny but we have become very complacent. This is one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Clear blue sea and sky. Green hills to climb and we were a bit ‘ho hum’. On our first night here Gilbert said it’s shame that we have seen so much, this doesn’t feel as fantastic as it should. It’s just another place to stay. We are a little jaded. We thought about coming home in fact. I am really missing the kids and it just feels like we are filling in time from one place to the next. In hindsight I think we have made this trip too long. I could go home happily tomorrow.
“Why are we going to Milan?” Gilbert asks me. Cause it’s Chee’s name I remind him with a smile. For no real reason other than we named our son Milan. Well I tried to. I shall tell the story cause I can. He was our third born and I loved the name Milan. It was right through our family tree but also a Yugoslav friend had named her son Milan and I loved to hear her when she spoke to her children, but also hearing her say his name.
When our baby boy was born Gilbert wanted to call him Chee. It was not only the name of a friend he played squash with regularly and he had known him from school, but also Gilbert’s fathers Christian name. Joe Kum Chee. In China they put their Christian name last and surname first. There was much confusion about the order of names and some of his brothers kept the name Chee as a surname and some, like Gilbert, opted to have the surname Joe.
So I pushed for Milan Chee Joe and Gilbert pushed for Chee Milan Joe. It was hard going but I agreed he had a strong case being his Fathers Christian name and so agreed to sign, after court proceedings were threatened for not registering…and so Chee Milan Joe he became, though I and almost everyone else continued to call him Milan. When he started school they asked what was his name, and we realised there had to be consensus. It had to be one consistent name. So at five years old we sat him down. “Mate, you know how Mum calls you Milan and Dad calls you Chee? Well now you are starting school you need to decide what you’d most like to be called. Milan like your Dalmatian family name or Chee like your Chinese family name?…And be called ‘cheese and onions’ for a nick name”, I added…well the kid had to be told!
He thought for a few seconds and looked at us both seriously and said “Chee. I’d like to be called Chee”. Little shit! So we registered him at school as Chee and I still called him Milan for the rest of his life, or at least until Tara called her little boy Milan and it started to get confusing.
Once again I digress. So we had thought to go to Milan for pretty much, no other reason. No idea otherwise. It was just on the way to Paris. We google Milan. No offence to people who love Milan but we looked at the pics and thought it didn’t look a whole lot different to anything else we had seen. “A city with lots of old stuff” Gilbert said. Hmmm. We decided to take stock and look at our options and WWOOFing was one of them. The more I looked the more I liked about it and enthusiastically put the idea forward in the morning after some research. For every positive thing I came up with Gilbert countered with a negative. I could see this was not going to be his thing and after all it was ‘our’ trip so we decided on a compromise of two weeks in Nice. I read on a travel forum it was a ‘great spot to stop relatively cheaply, and travel out to other destinations’. Not only that, but Gilbert found an apartment that was a ten minute walk to the beach and close to train and shops so I am really looking forward to a more lengthy stop and think this will take the ‘travel for travel sake’ away.
So some people will think us mad but we are by passing Paris. As much as stopping in the cities has been good and I love seeing and hearing about ‘old stuff’, we hate the crowds and every time we stop at a beach we completely relax and love that more. So for now we are continuing our journey. In France I want to see how much school French I can pull from the dusty archives, painful as that may be for the receivers ear. I want to take a bit of stock and do some future planning. I want to shop at the local markets and cook for ourselves. This will be entirely different from anything we’ve done on our trip so far and I’m looking forward to it. Sooo after an absolutely stunning day at the beach we celebrate the decision with dinner at a beachside pizzeria.
A bottle a wine…and after dinner, here I have to admit that I am now rather partial to the espresso. Zarko asked me why we take coffee, full of body and flavour and first water it down and then make it milky. “I don’t know” Zarko I say. “It’s just how we have always had it.” “Try this”. Mirjana orders me espresso and yeh. It’s ok. Since then I have tried several and I am almost smitten now Mirjana. I get it. I still add a little milk but it is rich and thick and stays on my tongue. I get it!
And now Ren I want to know, did I chuck out the set of green espresso cups that Nana Maureen got us for our engagement in 1975 in the declutter you made me do? We had never heard of espresso then and had no idea why anyone would want cups so small but I feel I may just have discovered the reason!