At last, my steel toe-caps have been hidden out of sight and mind, physically and metaphorically under the stairs, as we down tools and I take a well deserved holiday. It has been another tough month at the Fife coalface but I firmly believe we are winning the fight. Plans are passed, project number one done and dusted, hangover from housewarming party been and gone. Project number 2 is now in the hands of a few talented professionals - people capable of independent decision making, while I cool my hardened heels in the Dalmatian sea, obliviously out of contact with the real-world. Actually, as I desperately try to make the editors deadline, I am once again writing in the skies, something that seems to have become a habit of late. Only this time it is with the comfort of British Airways, with my darling wife dozing by my side, happily reunited after 4 weeks apart. Although I have been there many years ago, I refresh my geography from the in-flight magazine to see exactly where our destination, the walled city of Dubrovnik, is, particularly in relation to Syria, a place that may or may not still exist by time this goes to print! Hopefully there is enough land and sea between us and it and, since Mr Macaroon has jumped on the anti-warfare jet-fighter, it may even be safer than being in France? Talking of which, Wendy reports that torrential rain has continued back home during my absence, bogging down the sheep, much the same as it has been in Scotland. I am not sure who the professionals blame for this diabolical spring but surely it will let up soon, and resume the status quo.
Last time I was there, Croatia had only just settled from its own conflicts and the break-up of Yugoslavia, when corruption was rife and your pound went a very long way. I would like to hope it has moved on somewhat since then, albeit more expensive. Dubrovnik certainly boasts seems to boast some fine places to dine these days. Once I can clear my mind of business, I am quite looking forward to studying the history of this place, which has suffered under invasion by everyone from the Romans, French, British, German and more recently Russian influences. Not being exactly a city-centre person, we are staying out on a peninsula to the south of the town - hopefully the peaceful end - with just a cool beer, an octopus and the setting sun for company.
One could be forgiven in thinking that the neck tie, or cravat, was invented by the French? But, in fact, it comes from the word ‘hrvat’, meaning Croat, which was adopted by the Napoleonic army who just happened to be in the market for more stylish neck-wear to go with their boring uniforms at the time of their occupation. Apart from former Wimbledon winner, Goran Inyourfaceabit, a few footballers, and Cruella Deville, the Dalmatians haven't really made it to the realms of fame. Although Marco Polo, discoverer of all things including the mint with a hole in it, claims to have been born here. Aside from exports of virgin olive oil, seafood and the odd spotted dog, tourism is the main breadwinner of the Croatian economy.
However, there is another lesser known output from this wee corner of Europe: wine. For those of you not in the know, the quality of Croatian wine is a well kept secret, particularly Traminac, which is set to be served at the up-coming wedding of Prince Harold the younger and Angela Merkel. Is Harry really marrying the German Prime Minister, or did I get slightly mixed up there? Current affairs never was my interest.
Anyway, guess what? Our visit just happens to coincide with the Dubrovnik wine festival. Trust my wife to seek out the perfect holiday.
See you on the other side. Hic.