Since When Is A Balcony A Garden?

It may have occurred to my readers that Italian would not be my first choice of restaurant. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, I don’t like them much. Admittedly I reduce my options because I am reluctant to eat veal on account of how it is produced. I learned this on honeymoon with Vivien in Cornwall in 1963. We stayed at a farmhouse. One day the farmer rushed into the sitting room and asked me to help him get his bullocks in. Naturally obliging, and attracted by the sense of adventure, I dashed out to assist. We rounded up these poor creatures and ushered them into a darkened shed. Their owner’s reply to my questioning why they were kept there, was that they were used for that necessarily pale delicacy, in my experience being the staple of Italian menus.

Nicolino'sNicolino’s, however, has changed my view entirely. This establishment, which can be seen from Becky,Ian, Flo, and especially Scooby’s balcony, was chosen by Ian for his fiancee’s  birthday meal. The service was warm, friendly, and efficient. The staff recognised the family as neighbours, and were attentive without being intrusive. The menu was extensive. Operatic arias were played quietly on the music system, and there are guest singers on specific dates. The cooking was superb, and the meals so huge that Ian had to take some of his home, and I couldn’t face a sweet. Still less eat it. Three of us drank Peroni and Becky had a carafe of pink wine.

The balcony, incidentally, is another example of estate agents’ capacity for deception. This had appeared on the brochure as ‘garden’. So unlike one was it that the representative who showed the prospective tenants round needed, in answer to Becky’s question, to telephone the office to ask where it was.Pegs on balcony Even she expressed surprise as she passed on the answer. There is room for a washing line, but I don’t think that justifies the small triangular space high above the street being described as a garden.

Having, yesterday, given Flo, who had been using it in her jewellery and wand-making workshop, my electric drill and set of bits, I possessed no tools with which to fix our newly-acquired mirror to the wall. Fortuitously, severe delays on the M27 on our return home this morning, caused us to divert around Wickham and Hedge End where we passed a B & Q at which we stopped to purchase replacements.

The check-out queue, where Val was the only non-robot on duty, snaked across the store. All the other payment stations were self-service ones, of which we have a phobia. Most of those who joined Val’s queue were patently of a certain age. She patiently persuaded us all to trot, in turn, over to the supervisor’s kiosk, and fill in a form entitling us to membership of the over sixties club and a discount of 10% on Wednesdays, of which today is one. We deduced that would be a tidy reduction, so we complied.

Early this evening, Elizabeth arrived for her stay with us. After a coffee and an Earl Grey tea, my sister and I watered the pots and hanging baskets while Jackie cooked splendid spare ribs with her trademark savoury rice (recipe). A Post House Pud was to follow. Jackie finished the Cimarosa, and Elizabeth and I shared a bottle of Bourgogne de Calonnaise 2012.


  1. Dear Derrick, A small “garden” indeed. But, from the description, tell Becky, it appears just adequate to house the monkeys in the absence of a tree!
    x John

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