Easter weekend started a little earlier than expected this year – by almost 10 days. After two days in Milan at its prestigious furniture fair, the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, it was time to do my seasonal shopping dip in Como at menswear shop A Gi Emme on Wednesday (more of which in a moment), followed by a swervy-curvy drive up to the Engadine to clear my head.
With the magnolia and cherry trees in full bloom, Lombardy already felt like summer – but in St Moritz the lake was still frozen, and there were plenty of snowy patches in the village and skiers wandering around town looking as if they had enough snow on the pistes to keep them amused right up until the ski lifts close.
My base in the mountains is something of a bunker (not so much in appearance as in mindset). When I close the door to my apartment there, I feel as if I not only have a broader view of what’s going on in the world (being at an altitude of 1,800 metres helps), but the one-hour jump ahead of London time – along with being an hour closer to our offices in Asia – makes a big difference in terms of efficiency.
On Thursday morning I was up reasonably early by cosy mountain standards (it’s hard to beat sleeping with the windows open, tucked up under Swiss linen and an Austrian eiderdown, and even harder to get out of bed) as I had to correspond with colleagues in Tokyo and work on a series of projects – a new book, a summer music series and a couple of staffing shuffles.
By midday, most Asia-focused issues had been dealt with and London was just kicking into gear. At this point I was hoping to move my office out on to the terrace and enjoy the sun, but the clouds had locked themselves in the valley and a chilly wind kept me at my desk. This was perhaps a good thing as it allowed me to get through a stack of magazines I’d been hauling around since Japan (new copies of Uomo, Popeye, Brutus, Premium and Aera’s style supplement), along with some I picked up at Zurich’s main railway station and in Milan (Häuser, Beef, Transhelvetica and the style supplement to Il Sole 24 Ore).
As usual, I did my special exercise in editorial triage, organising the titles into categories devoted to “flip and mark” for future research, “flip and discard”, and “set aside and savour for the weekend”. My effort didn’t prove to be all that successful in the first two categories as there was too much good stuff to consume, so I ended up tipping most of the pile back into a large tote bag for the coming weekend in South Tyrol.
The next morning I bundled the mags, along with this column’s postbag, into the back of the car and made my way over the mountains. When I set out, the temperature was hovering at freezing point; less than hour later, it had climbed into double digits, and 30 minutes later, as the palm trees whipped by, it was already above 20C. As I pulled into Merano, the city felt like it was well into summer with queues at the gelato stands, and the beer gardens packed long before lunchtime.
After a brief pit-stop to scout out some commercial real estate, I was on the autostrada to Bolzano, later returning to Merano for three days of sun, good wine from the vineyards of Terlano and a few dips in the pool.
Come Monday midday, I was still happily parked poolside at the Hotel Fragsburg and I felt as if I’d already had my Easter break. A few projects in London were tugging me back to base. So, feeling rested, slightly tanned and finding it very difficult to make the move from lounger to car to then venture beyond the gates of the Fragsburg, I delayed a bit by reaching into the Fast Lane postbag to answer two of the more frequently asked questions.
Q: As we’re moving into the warmer months in the northern hemisphere, I’m hoping you can help me (and my husband) with a styling tip on swimwear. He’s still a fan of the French brand known for its rather bright patterns but I think they make him look from behind as though he’s wearing a diaper. Do you have any thoughts on improving the view?
A: I know exactly what you’re talking about. I think you need to get yourself to Aspesi shop and check out its line-up of swimwear. The cuts are more flattering and your husband can, if he wants, still indulge all of his print fantasies – though I’d suggest that he just sticks with navy.
Q: What are your thoughts on pens? Should I get ballpoint or rollerball? And what about brands – anything interesting and unexpected?
A: I used to be all for rollerballs but I’ve had too many in-flight mishaps with them and now prefer a sharp ballpoint. As for brands, I like anything chunky and stainless steel from Lamy; I’m also keen on some of the collection from Japanese brand Sailor.
Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine
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