When I pointed out the mistake, they apologized and said while they would send me the pens straight away, they did not want the pencils returning.
So, I got in touch with the Hartlepool Mail and asked if they could help me find someone out there, a school or something can find a use for these mini pencils.
Hey Presto! After a quick article in the town's paper, I got seven requests for a few of the pencils and among them, a school, a girl guide club, an African charity, etc...
I am very happy that the mini pencils are going to a few good causes, thanks to the Hartlepool Mail's help.
The people have decided! After two months of voting, our customers have decided that the iconic Audrey Hepburn should replace Marilyn Monroe on Portofino's balcony.
She got over twice as many votes as second place, Frank Sinatra.
128 artistes were voted for.
The top ten and their votes are: Audrey Hepburn 64 Frank Sinatra 29 Liz Taylor 20 Sophia Loren 18 Lady Gaga 15 Madonna 14 Freddy Mercury 12 Marilyn Monroe 11 James Dean 10 Michael Jackson 10
A little bird tells me that the saga is not over yet... Watch this space!
Gill Harland from Hartlepool was drawn from the customers who voted for Audrey Hepburns. She wins A Meal for Two at Portofino
A few weeks after being forced out of the building by smoke and flames, Elvis is back at Portofino.
I searched the web high and low for the exact Elvis cardboard cutout and finally, I found a company which specialises in immortalizing famous people. It arrived this morning and I could not wait a single minute to unwrap him and place him back where he belonged for many years before the fire that occurred at Portofino in early March.
I washed up at a pizzeria in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and, after watching the Italian chefs prepare this simple yet delicious Mediterranean dish, I often made it for my lunch! Al dente Spaghetti, Clams, Tomato sauce…
But guess what! I bet not many people can boast of having had Spaghetti al Vongole cooked from scratch on the beach!
When I was young, we spent most of our summer holidays at my aunties', uncles' or grandmother's as we lived about 60 km from the sea in the Atlas mountains.
It was not unusual for a dozen kids to sleep in the same room. The added bonus was when Gran lay in the middle telling us ancient fables.
Most days, she took us kids to the beach in the morning till late afternoon.
Our lunch consisted of a few chips and a slice of bread as food was less important than having beach fun. This amazing feast was washed down with a swig of cheap cola. Heaven!
However, Sundays were a different affair as the adults joined the party!
A copious larder was loaded in the boot of the car and off we went.
On our arrival at the beach, the children virtually dived into the sea from the moving cars, while the adults set up camp in a remote corner of the sandy beach. Tattered parasols turned the camp into a tented Saharan village. All we needed was a few camels and goats and we would have looked like nomads.
A grand competition then took place. Buckets at the ready each one of us began collecting clams from the shallows.
The women, in the kitchen part of the “camp” lit a charcoal fire in a terracotta burner and got on with the sauce and the pasta.
This is the recipe:
Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil
Fry a finely diced onion until soft.
Add 2 finely diced cloves of garlic and fry until soft.
Add one tin of chopped and mashed tomatoes and 1tbsp. of tomato puree.
Add a glassful of water. Nowadays I add a glassful of white wine…Shhhhh!
Bring to the boil and then simmer for about half an hour.
In the meantime boil the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and cool under running water.
The clams need to be washed a few times to get rid of the sand. (Tinned or frozen clams may be used)
When ready to serve, heat the sauce up and add the fresh clams.
Once they are open, add some chopped basil and parsley.
You can either re-heat the spaghetti up in boiling water or just add it to the sauce.
Serve hot with Parmesan! Mmmmmmmm!
On the beach, once the Spaghetti al Vongole was ready, we were summoned to form a circle to wolf down this wonderful dish with thick slices of French bread to mop up the remaining sauce and our lips.
A cool drink and a slice of ice cold watermelon finished this wonderful meal. Ice cold because, on our arrival at the beach, bottles and watermelons were buried deep in the wet sand.
I would give up a gourmet meal at La Tour d’Argent to experience that once more!
Now, can anyone tell me if this isn't as near to heaven as life could really be...
Many of you may have heard that Portofino was closed for nearly three weeks last month as a result of an accidental fire which occurred in the early hours of Thursday 3rd March. Residual heat in a bucketful of recently washed and dried tea towels resulted in a fire at around 2am. But for the vigilance of the Historic Quay's night watchman, who heard the smoke alarm and saw the flames through the restaurant's kitchen windows, the whole place would have been gutted. Kevin Mason who was doing his usual round immediately called the emergency services which turned up very quickly to put out the fire. Part of the kitchen was gutted with fire but moreover, the entire restaurant was smoke damaged. A great team of craftsmen came to the rescue under the directions of Adam, restaurant manager Elaine and head-chef Noel.
The Navigation Point Businesses and Mandale Properties got together in December and organised a Christmas Raffle for the NSPCC by donating meal and drinks vouchers . Over £2100 have so far been raised.
Revellers were very keen to purchase raffle tickets to win a meal here, a bottle of Champagne there as well as help the NSPCC at Christmas and at a time when many charities are seeing their fundraising efforts thwarted by the economic downturn.
It is also refreshing to see businesses usually competing to attract the same clientele, come together for the sake of helping the local branch of the NSPCC.
As well as the Christmas Raffle, three events took place in December and despite the cold weather, a few children accompanied by parents and grandparents came to visit Santa's Grotto and received gifts.
A few members of The Northern School of Music sang Christmas Carols as Chinese Lanterns were let off into the skies over Navigation Point.
Further events are planned in the future to showcase the jewel in Hartlepool's crown, the Marina in general and Navigation Point in particular.
Since its inception in early 2000, the area has blossomed into a very popular leisure hub, with its various restaurants, cafés and bars. The Marina now attracts visitors from all over the North East and beyond.