Theoretically for three and half days, but Easyjet 'went technical' on Tuesday afternoon and we ended up leaving Pisa a day later than planned.
Bitter experience meant that as soon as the airport staff were announcing a delay of around eight hours, we knew exactly what that would mean in practice (i.e that the crew would be 'out of time' before the plane was fixed, and that nobody would be flying off that day, for sure). So, before pandemonium broke out, and even as they were still making their announcement, we hoofed it, back through passport control, down the stairs and out - the wrong way - through security, across to the taxi rank...and probably were already half way home even before they'd begun to field the onslaught from irritated passengers. One phone call later, and we'd transferred to the following afternoon's flight...which was definitely preferable to the 6.20 departure in the morning that practically everybody else seemed to be subjected to. I noticed only one person on our flight the next day who had been on our first, aborted flight, so assume that the rest of them must have dutifully boarded the early morning alternative, bleary-eyed and in fighting mood; since this is the busiest week of the year in Pisa, with both the Luminara and the Palio taking place, then I should think hotel space was limited, and our hapless fellow passengers ended up being bussed out to somewhere like the Holiday Inn in Migliarino...a prospect not to be entertained lightly!
So, London timetable was a bit crammed - although, in fact it didn't terribly matter, since there was nothing much on offer anyway. Nothing whatsoever to see at the cinema - presumably because they were expecting everybody to be watching 'the football', and so didn't bother - and only The Summer Exhibition on at the RA, which I'm generally happy to miss. Charles Spencer's review of it in The Telegraph was wonderfully damning, and merely confirmed me in my suspicion that it would be just as dreary this year as it always is.
Fitting in around the chores, we managed a dinner party on one evening (Lamb, Apricot & Coriander koftas; Papardelle with Burro Rosso; Pork loin in Mustard, with Marsala Carrots; Cherry & Almond Tarts) and headed off to the Horace Walpole exhibition at the V&A for their late night opening on the following one. Agreeably empty - due to 'the football' - it was an 'eclectic' lot of stuff. HW clearly collected rather indiscriminately, and, moving from exhibit to exhibit I was increasingly reminded of Harold Acton and all that tat (with optimistic, but not very credible attributions) in La Pietra. I suppose Harold would have been gratified by the comparison, if nothing else.
And then, the horror of the airport for the return journey. Total and apocalyptic chaos. Thousands of people milling around in increasing levels of stress, as flight closures approached, queues got no shorter, and the airport staff appeared to have surrendered the will to live some time before. By the skin of our teeth, we got the flight - leaving only an hour later than advertised - and even managed to re-connect with our baggage on arrival...which, in the circumstances, seemed a minor miracle.
No more airports for another month!
Mackerel Rillettes on Tomato Salad, with Lemon Vinaigrette.
Lamb Shoulder, stuffed with Garlic & Anchovy; Baked Fennel.
Pear Tart, with Orange & Cinnamon.