Monday Motorway Music™, May 23 – Mondays You Also Need Food. And Music.

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Just before the egg stuff goes in and the lid comes on…

In a bit of a space saving / efficiency exercise / bout of laziness, here’s a two-in-one: Monday Music and Monday Food…:)

The food bit was a spinach / feta pie. Vegetarian – not out of any principle, just because we like this one. In many households, it’d likely only qualify as a lunch dish or starter – but as we’re rather light eaters, it does us fine for dinner.

This works fine with frozen, albeit whole-leaf spinach – just have it thawn and squeeze as much water out of it as you can. Chop up an onion and let it simmer over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the spinach, season with salt, pepper & nutmeg. When that has simmered for a couple minutes more, throw in the feta.

Now, as to feta – I don’t live in Greece but I do live in a country that has a big dairy company that has a very big production of this “white brine cheese in small cubes” that they cannot call feta since the Greek owns that name (and, probably, rightly so). So I used “salad cubes”. And yes, it’ll by all the signs probably be even lovelier with a real feta. But maybe not too strong a goat cheese taste – I reckon.

Butter up a suitable oven-proof dish. Roll out a couple of plates of puff pastry (yes, I know it’s theoretically possible to make your own … In Narnia😉 ) and cover the bottom and sides. Drop in the spinach / feta mix-

Mix eggs and milk (whole milk – maybe not quite, but certainly more that skim), give that a bit of the pepper and salt, too. Pour over the spinach and then cover with more puff pastry and fold the edges in to close it up. Make a few holes with a fork or a sharp knife to let steam out and bake for a good half hour. Yummy!

Some of this is from the drive to work this morning – some is from the kitchen while cooking dinner. Enjoy – or so I hope.

Real Wild Child – Iggy Pop
From Now On – Supertramp
We Will Rock You – Queen
Rock Me Baby – Jomfru Ane Band
Twisting By The Pool – Dire Straits
Joanna – Johnny Deluxe
That’s The Way (I Like It) – KC & The Sunshine Band
Teo Toriate (Let Us Cling Together) – Queen
Stayin’ Alive In The Wall – Bee Gees vs Pink Floyd Mashup
Only Over You – Fleetwood Mac
The Raven – Gregorian
Smooth Operator – Sade

Photo by me.
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Wednesday Motorway Music™, May 18 – Much Ado About A Lot Of Things

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Again, one of these Danish spring weeks with bank holidays – Monday was Whitsun / Pentecost (I’ve never really figured out if there are any special reasons to use one term or the other) and so, no driving to work.

Not that I didn’t drive – we moved our youngest out of the house (all amicably, he wasn’t kicked out in any way!) and our oldest out of her apartment and the two of them into a shared apartment. But driving a large van and carrying boxes and half sofas up and down stairs and getting lovely pizza for an all too late lunch and all the rest of it wasn’t conducive to noticing what music played in the car – so Monday went by without a list.

Tuesday basically was wall-to-wall meetings, from the first online one even before leaving the house in the morning to a major 6-hour-or-so session for most of the rest of the day on the final planning of a big conference that I’m part of the organising committee of – and which rolls off the ramps in a little less than two weeks.

The result of all that: a fried brain. So, no list yesterday either.

But! A shiny and fresh Wednesday. With a photo above that doesn’t really relate to the post (or today, even – it’s a few days old) but simply is about spring happiness. And lo and behold, a list of music listened to today:

After The Love Has Gone – Earth. Wind & Fire
Weather With You – Crowded House
Brighter Days – Halberg Larsen
Honey – Velvet Volume
Dressed for Success – Roxette
Hey Good Lookin’ (Your Place or Mine?) – Backseat Boys
Dead Ringer for Love – Meat Loaf

Photo by me.
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Two photosets from Firenze

The Tourist Set

Art and Street Art

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Monday Motorway Music™, May 9 – The Most Beautiful Time Of Year

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I do believe I have made this confession before: While I absolutely love living in a country that has four distinct seasons, my heart is a little more lost to a glorious spring than to any of the other seasons.

Partly, of course, it is the longing for light and colour and vivid brightness after the dark and dreary winter months – but I guess it also comes from sheer visual pleasure. I mean, what’s not to like in the vista above of a green and oh, so bright yellow rapeseed field under a very blue sky?

(note: the rapeseed fields in flower look a lot better than they smell!)

We were in Italy over the long Ascension Day weekend. And yes, Tuscany and Florence offers many a beautiful sight. And, of course, the food and the wine is just fantastic and I will hope to be back in those parts many a time.

2016-05-08 15.35.01And yet, the smile I felt on my face and the joy that bubbled in me when we stepped out of the train from the airport on Sunday and saw the green-green-green beechtree forest… Nothing beats it. Of course, feel free to think differently based on where you live or what you prefer – but you may find it very hard to make me agree to anything being more beautiful:)

Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Diana Krall
Shame – Evelyn “Champagne” King
Hearts of Olden Glory – Runrig
Take On Me – A-ha
Lady Marmelade – Patti Labelle
The Power – SNAP!
Livin’ the Vida Loca – Ricky Martin

Photos by me.
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CFR Notes – on Frequent Flyer Status nomenclature and a bit on the FLR airport

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A couple of things for me to comment and/or speculate on from that picture of my boarding card from this morning’s flight from FLR to ZRH. I am talking about the “SK*P” coding right, oddly enough, where it says “luggage”.

  • 2016-05-08_20_00_00It would seem that Swiss and/or the full Star Alliance is jumping the the gun a little bit – judging by my online account status page, I am still –  adjusting for what the two flights of today will add – 525 out of 90,000 points from Diamond status. Yet, the status code right there has me boarding today as Diamond:)
  • Or as – what? Maybe SAS/Swiss/Star Alliance kept the abbreviations on the boarding cards from before Diamond when the level above Gold was Pandion – the mythical black card that SAS’ CEO handed out to the most (very most!) travelling customers. Which is odd because the Diamond membership cards certainly has the “EBD” prefix to the member number (the EB on the card is specific for EuroBonus and normally translates to “SK*” = Scandinavian, flight number prefix SK, plus a * for Star Alliance, when printed on other Star Alliance members’ boarding cards)

 

Skærmbillede 2016-05-08 kl. 20.35.14(As seen from this Star Alliance website screenshot, the Pandion status apparently still exists – one of the friends we travelled with positively has been EBP and for all I know could well still be. His boarding card also said “SK*P”.)

 

We’ll see how that starts panning out when I cross the Diamond threshold in the coming week – I need to qualify before the end of May but do have a flight to MUC and back in the coming week so that should surely settle it.

Update: From some frequent flyer discussion web-sites, it would seem that the “P” thing on the boarding card may come from a computer system that couldn’t determine status for the flyers. But hey – even if that is so, at least I got to feel Pandion-like for the day:)

—–

Now, as to the airport in Firenze, the four of us got there in plenty of time this morning, went through the rigmarole of checking  our luggage in (small planes, quite a few purchases that made bags a wee bit bigger and heavier than is kosher/halal for carry-on etc etc – and yeah, I know, violation of my principles but hey) and going through security and stuff. Still, we ended up with an hour-ish – and the two seasoned travellers among us thought “lounge!”

Well…

We should have thought that earlier. The Masaccio lounge that hosts Swiss customers is in the departure terminal (funnily enough) – landside. Bummer (both for us, today, and for the airport in general – very badly thought out)!

So – a frequent flyer tip: lots of time to spare in FLR? Don’t haste through security!

The airport itself is small, crowded, not very well equipped with anything.

So – a bit of “any type of flyer” tip: lots of time to spare in FLR? Don’t haste through security!😉

Photo by me
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Monday Motorway Music™, May 2 – But Above Everything Else…

 

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LX1266 approaching CPH

There is a decades old song in Denmark that has the chorus line “but up above everything else, Mother Sun is shining!”:)

And sure it did the other day – Friday last week on approach to Copenhagen. And still, there were big holes in the clouds to give a nice view of the ocean below as well.

I have an idea that I may be on to some kind of personal record – in a combination of work and vacation, I believe I’ll end up having 6 weeks at least where I am flying off to somewhere every week… Actually, even if the two vacation trips certainly are enjoyable, it is altogether approaching enough travelling…

Det bedste til mig og mine venner – Gasolin’
Behind These Hazel Eyes – Kelly Clarkson
As Good As It Gets – Beth Hart
Two Tribes – Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Substitute – Delta Cross Band
Loch Lomond (live) – Runrig

Photo by me.
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CFR Notes – why online check-in is important 

…and why it sucks when it doesn’t work.

I’ll be flying Swiss from DXB to ZRH (late) tonight. And until an hour-ish ago, well after I had old-fashioned-like checked in at a counter at the airport, Swiss’ online check-in was dysfunctional.

So while the nice gentleman at the counter moved me from a middle seat (yikes!) to an aisle seat, he also gave me a seat with an entertainment box below the seat in front. And all that is left have the same problem.


This is what makes checking in online and early is important. So no praise to Swiss for the major, prolonged malfunction of their online systems. Not something they did voluntarily, I am sure. But the available seating still sucks.

IMG_9056A little bit over in the mocking end of things, Swiss actually issued boarding passes that advertised the online check-in. Better done when the service actually works, methinks…

 

 

 

PS: The same nice gentleman at the counter told me that I could only access the lounge 4 hours before departure. Which was 3(ish) hours after I arrived. Thankfully, Lufthansa lounge people didn’t even mention such a limitation. Thanks for that!

Seat plan from swiss.com; photo by me
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Cobblestone Flight Review: LGW-CPH on low-cost carrier Easyjet

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Evening sky panorama from the apron at LGW 

No motorway driving today – or, yes there will be but on a motorway out of Tehran, Iran without any reliable internet. So, instead, while I do have internet – here’s a write-up on a flight from this weekend.

 

To be honest, the preconceived notions you may have about flying low-cost airlines all hold true :

  • very tight seat pitch: check
  • everything other than flying from A to B costing extra: check
  • delays and other irregularities not resolved in favour of passengers but of costs: check

Case in point: in an Easyjet home turf airport, we got a message some six hours before our flight that we would have a delay of an hour. According to the crew on our flight when it finally did take place, this was due to late incoming aircraft from Corfu, due to thunderstorms there.

All that is fine and understandable and clearly force majeure and thus not fault of EasyJet. Except for, of course, not trying to juggle things (read: planes) around so as to mitigate the problem and get people on the way on time. Because that obviously might actually – cough, cough – cost some money.

And you didn’t pay for that! So the hour’s delay – live with it.

Then we had a second set of delays due to a massive IT failure in Gatwick – apparently hitting both North and South terminals and closing down WiFi, boarding screens, pay terminals, the works. That is not a fault of EasyJet, fair enough. What it did was add to the delay – the boarding process partly failed so gate agents had to walk up and down the aisle, verifying passengers’ identities. Sigh.

The in flight service? It’s fine, I guess. As long as you find 3€ for coffee fine or 12€ for a pre-packed sandwich or similar plus a drink and a pack of crisps ok. Quality- and quantity-wise, the meal and drinks we had at the airport quite surely matched that – with something to spare.

I’m tempted to compare the discount airline experience with another type of business – discount supermarkets. We have one in my wee hometown and it has actually surprised me considerably – actually annoyed me a bit. See, I expected it to be just another discount experience: generally am untidy mess, not quite enough manning to keep queues short, and all that.

But this one? Well laid out, light and welcoming, very pleasant staff who’re eager to help. Altogether an ok shopping experience. What I am trying to say with this is that with the right mindset, a low cost experience can be made a good one. But in the case of EasyJet et al, it seems that the creep is more like a previous boss of mine once speculated: “it
seems that they actually design the customer experience to actively make you aware that you are flying discount. It’s not meant to be good at all.”

Despite my knees touching the seat in front of me, I did catch some sleep on the way to Copenhagen. Which was good in more ways than one – I only had a 7-hour turnaround so any sleep counted and it made the flight pass mercyfully quick.

Looking at it, the only thing that counts on the plus side on this one is that we got from A to B. Which, I guess, is something. But not something I’d give out any cobblestones for.

score-blankscore-blankscore-blankscore-blankscore-blankscore-blank
PS: Why did we fly them, then? Availability of tickets that matched our long-weekend, fair and simple.

Photo by me
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Cobblestone Cooking Music XXV – Turkey Breast Roulade

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Wheeee, photos! And even if this is actually from Friday, it’ll have to substitute for the Monday column as I haven’t been on any motorways today and won’t be for days.

  • Stan Getz et al, The Girl from Ipanema
  • Lounge Theme, Easy J

2016-04-08 17.51.23Ok, had a turkey breast in the fridge that needed doing and had a dear friend and a daughter for dinner (along with the usual suspects, aka the in-house family). Butterflied the meat and spread cream cheese over it and added finely chopped ramsons and parsley.

Then rolled it up – it is often a good idea if you can borrow an extra pair of hands for a minute for that – and tied it down to keep it in shape (see top picture). The needle you see in there is just because the ¤%#¤&&/%¤ turkey breast fought a bit against the butterflying and had to be held a bit more together than planned…

  • Hilary Duff, Rock This World
  • The Veronicas, All About Us

Into an oven pre-heated to 225°C, give it 10 minutes to sear and then turn down the heat to 175°C or so.

2016-04-08 18.02.25Sides#1. What we in Denmark call Hasselbach potatoes – peel relatively large (but not quite baked potato large) potatoes and cut them in slices – but only almost through.

  • Frontline, Can’t Be Seen
  • Fleetwood Mac, Book Of Love

Brush/drip them with butter, sprinkle with salt and paprika & a dusting of dried breadcrumb. Into the oven they go, too – a little before the meat, even. A wee hour at 175-200°C.

 

  • Mike Oldfield, Thrash
  • David Bowie, It Ain’t Easy

Side #2: Broccoli/bacon/onion salad. Finely dice red onion and cut/break broccoli into small, mouth-sized bits. Fry cubed bacon until crisp, and let it drip on some paper towel. Mix these things and stir with a dressing of mayonnaise, creme fraiche, salt, pepper and a bit of lemon juice. Actually should have had dried cranberries and roasted pine nuts as well – but the cranberries we were inexplicably out of and the pine nuts went against the allergies of our friend.

  • Eddy Grant, Electric Avenue
  • Bangles, Complicated Girl.

And that’s it. Could be served with a fuller white – we had a not-too-heavy Italian red with it and nobody was unhappy with that.

Happy cooking!

Photos by me.
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Monday Motorway Music™, April 4 – Managing On A Monday!

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Sunset at CDG

This is a bit particular. In spite of travelling, I am actually posting a Motorway post on … a Monday! And, to be sure, I am – maybe not quite cheating, but having to pull at not-so-common resources. Such as the wireless in the SAS lounge at Paris CDG.

And Bob knows, I’ve done motorways today. Something like 650 km – plus the 70-ish to the airport in Copenhagen and back!

You could call it a trial run for summer vacation – we’ll be going on a road trip to Normandie / Bretagne and that is where I was for a customer meeting today.

 

Drive – The Cars (!)
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
Sleeping on the Sidewalk – Queen
Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan
Fever – Peggy Lee
The Winner Takes It All – ABBA
Loch Lomond (live) – Runrig
I Touch Myself – Divinyls
Stand By Me – Seal
Turn Out The Light – Joan Armatrading
You Make Loving Fun – Fleetwood Mac
I Don’t Know Enough About You (live) – Diana Krall
Don’t Ask Me Why – Eurythmics
Because The Night – Patti Smith Group
Hootblooded – Roxette
Ain’t It Heavy – Melissa Etheridge
Down On West Fuxing Lu – Sinne Eeg
Suite Madame Blue – Styx

Photo by me.
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