Seeing as I am over three months behind with this, the next few posts are going to be quick to try and catch up.
After the Brtonigla Mercatino weekend it was the last week we were all in Buje before Christmas. There was no urgent work in the office, but the Open University of Buje recruited Monika and Irena to prepare decorations for the Mercatino in Buje. I decided I didn’t want to do this work, partly due to the feeling that the University director was taking us for granted, a view that was confirmed when Monika and Irena were worked for 12 hours one day.
On the Thursday Alessio and I went out for an untraditional Christmas dinner (unfortunately the girls didn’t want to come). The local tourist office works on promoting Istrian cuisine with many different ‘Days of…’ festivals that celebrate local and seasonal produce. In December it was the Days of Adriatic Squid. We went to one restaurant, San Benedetto in Dajla, that was part of this, that provided a number of set menus showcasing the best of the squid. I had one that consisted of five courses, we had asked whether it would be enough to share between us, but were told that the portions were small. This was understandable, and whilst none of the portions were so big on their own they added up. And each course was heavier than the last.
There was a squid and olive salad (best presented); squid in sauce (tasty) with polenta and red chicory (bitter); squid and saffron risotto (delicious); squid al forno (best squid) with potatoes (too many); and a three-layer cake (sponge, mouse, lemon jelly) for desert.
On Friday Alessio left for Pistoia and I went for a last drink (before Christmas) with Maja and Ana. After this I had a few hours rest before taking Monika to Koper to catch a bus early on Saturday morning.
I hadn’t initially planned on coming back to the UK for Christmas, wanting to experience it elsewhere, but plans had fallen through on this, and on the Sunday I flew home. This last minute choice to return meant I was unprepared, and had to go to Chatham high street (something I have not missed in the many years since I last visited) to buy presents.
Over New Year I visited JDog and CBear at my old house in Bristol, playing a few too many games of Catan, trying all the different flavours in John’s new coffee machine, and listening to them tell me to stay because it felt like a real shared house again.
As much as I would have liked to stay, I couldn’t – though if I had stayed for a few more days I might not have been able to leave, or at least would have had to catch a boat to get away. Instead I had to get back to Buje, the most direct route to which is of course via Budapest.