Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sailing Courses, graffiti and the Italian Job…


Well I think we can establish that having the smart phone is not much facilitating my blog post frequency! If I’m out of the house, I spend the whole time looking furtively around for potential phone stealing thieves. Perhaps the novelty will wear off at some point and I’ll become less panicked about showing it in public. I’m gradually moving ahead, here’s an update:
  • Work over here: I had been considering that i could do the occasional day contracting to earn a bit of cash. Apparently I’d need to get myself set up on a self employed basis rather than going through my current contracting route which is a bit of a faff.
  • Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme: On the flat leasing subject, if you’re leasing a property, the landlord needs to put the tenant’s deposit in an independent account. Alas, it does mean you can’t earn interest on it! I’ll use You can register online and set it all up remotely. Seems to be pretty immediate so simply a case of finding someone who wants to rent and then setting it up.
  • Language School: I got in touch with the language school to ask about minimum notice to sign up. You need to give a months notice in order to get some decent accommodation. In the shared apartments, you just share with other students. I can do a month at the course but stay on another month to give me more leeway to find a flat a bit more long term. You can rent bedding if needed. I’ll see how much i can fit in my suitcase!
  • Giant boats and sailing courses: I went to the London Boat Show last week with a friend (thanks for coming Laura!). Apart from an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy at the end having walked around some of the biggest, most luxurious yachts I never knew existed (and they were just the ones you use to get to the REAL yachts!!), it was fab to get a chance to look around the more reasonably priced boats. Also very good to talk to some of the training course providers. Having initially been attracted to the foreign training courses, we spoke to one guy who said that you just don’t get the same experience in terms of tides as you do over in England so if you want to sail over here, then to do a course over here. Good advice I think! Anyway, I shall be doing my Day Skipper “Intensive” Theory course over the Easter weekend and then a week later, doing my Day Skipper practical. It’s with a small company called Nomad Sailing. They all highly recommended me doing a competent crew course first – which I’m er, not going to do. The beauty of this course is that apparently I can keep doing them until I eventually pass (perhaps this could be a cheap way of sailing?!?!) Anyway, the sailing plan is in full swing.


  • Italians: I made a friend on the tube! Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I forgot where I was, broke the acceptable “tube” behaviour and responded to a girl who asked if I was learning Italian (she wasn’t psychic, I was doing some Italian homework). Anyway, she helped me with my exercises and then gave me her email address. We’re meeting on Friday – very exciting. And I’m pleased to report that I could understand her emails without referring to the dictionary once! In other news – I’ve been on a graffiti course today and the tutor was Italian. He said my Italian was good (ha!). Perhaps I’m actually getting better. I’m loving graffiti by the way. I’m going to get me a wall. I’ll have to work out how I can make money from it (perhaps I can threaten to graffiti people’s walls unless they pay me?). Here’s the result of 15 minutes with rubbish colours…


  • Boring bits: To be clear, I’m not implying here that Tenancy Deposit Schemes are interesting… However, as a collection of other administrative type things, I did hear back from the pension people about what I’d need to do in order to ensure I keep my state pension <yawn>. I must read it. I’ll report back. I wonder where I filed it…  I also heard back from Lambeth Council about notifying them of my move. I must read that again too.

I think there’s been other bits & pieces but can’t recall off hand! Anyway, ciao for now and sogni d’oro…


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Capodanno, Sue’s Smart Phone App Review and packing up…

Buon capodanno a tutti!

I hope you all had a good new year. Thank you for feeding back on the blog! Had some good feedback – 80% preferred the new format, 20% of you didn’t notice. I’ll take that 🙂 I did have one comment that it required “sexing up” (thank you Justin, useful feedback as ever ;-)).

It’s been a busy few days for me. Here’s an update:

 Smart phones. Well, let me tell you. I’m a convert. I’ve always considered them irritating wastes of time (apart from when I’m lost or need train times – admittedly, this happens quite frequently). I’ve come to realise that my opinion was based solely on being around men who use them for incessant football result monitoring and Angry Birds. But I’m pleased to report that there’s SO MUCH MORE!  So, here’s my review of good apps to have if you’re moving to Italy:

  • Any Do: Is a task manager – you can easily add tasks, add categories, allocate your tasks to the categories, set reminders and sync it to your Google task lists if you have a Google account. It’s slightly tiresome in it’s nagging but I think that’s the key to it’s usefulness! With all the other apps I have, when they give you a notification you can clear it with a mere swipe of a finger but with Any Do, if I’ve said I would do something today, then its insistent in its reminding. You have to go in to the app, mark the task as complete or move it to a later date and feel inadequate as a result. It’s a sad day indeed when you feel like your own phone is judging you.
  • GoalTracker: For those of you who are into your New Years Resolutions – it’s a way of keeping track of what you want to achieve and when. You can mark off your status easily and share your goals with others via a range of means (presumably so it’s more embarrassing to not do them). It’s useful to keep an eye on the bigger picture whereas Any Do is good for the specifics that help you get there.
  • Evernote: Is an application which enables you to sync your notes so that you can access them from any device that can access the internet. I’ve started using it for Italy research. You can set up a number of notebooks and add specific notes under each one. I write the blog posts on there – there’s a small outside chance that I might update them more frequently now there’s less of an accessibility excuse.
  • Italian Apps: Well well well – there are LOADS! I’m so impressed – this has been the best thing for me about the smartphone by far. I was beginning to get quite the hunchback from lugging around a bunch of Italian learning books with me everywhere I went “just in case” (god forbid I would be bored for a couple of minutes) but there are apps for everything! No more dictionaries, exercise books, Italian books/magazines for me! It would take too long to review all the ones I have. I might review them in a separate post one day but in summary, get “EN-IT Dict” (dictionary), “Italian Verbs” (has them all nicely conjugated – for anyone that doesn’t know Italian there are roughly 1 squillion ways of saying every single verb depending upon who, when, what and where and a number of other confusing and frustrating factors) and if you want to practice your grammar, “Italian Class” is excellent. There’s a free version of that last one but if you pay the £2 or whatever it is for the full app then you get a lot more exercises of a lot more grammar.

– Currency Conversion: I’ve done a bit more research on that, click here for more info. I think I’ll probably use a currency conversion agency – seems to be a good way of transferring money.

– Language School: I emailed them about notice periods for starting the course and about accommodation.  I got a nice response back. I don’t seem to need to give them much notice at all about starting the course but he reckoned they’d need a month or so notice to get a good deal on accommodation. He said that normally a room in a shared self catering apartment (2 max 3 bedrooms, max 4 people)  costs 150 euro/week. If I stay for longer than 2 months, I can have it for 100 euro/week. I’m quite keen to see photo’s of it before committing to any length of time though 2 months isn’t too big a deal. He suggested I fill out the application form and send through and then I can pay the deposit later when I’ve firmed up dates. I’ll do that I think.

– Clearing out the flat: I’ve started packing! It feels like it’s actually happening now! How is it possible to accrue so much tat?! So far I’ve donated 4 bin bags (and importantly their contents) to the charity shop, and the same for the tip. I’m selling my exercise bike – currently on ebay with several watchers all asking stupid questions (why don’t people READ the advert before asking where I am – I’ve put it there in bold capital letters!), and will start selling a few other bits & pieces too. Lee/Fabrizio (hmm Leebrizio?) has picked up all his bits and pieces from the flat and has kindly given me some cardboard boxes for my own packing. Thanks Leebrizio.  My parents will be assisting in the transportation of the bits & pieces back to storage i.e. Nan’s loft and then hopefully to Italy if I can get it down to a reasonable amount! Thank you parents. And of course I would like to encourage all of my friends and family to please visit regularly (and bring me some of my stuff).

– Flat leasing contract: I’ve pretty much finalised this as much as I can without predicting the names of the people who will be moving in. Next week I’ll print out some other examples so I can compare and make sure the one I’m preparing has everything it needs to. Thanks to Anke & Laura for sending their examples!

– Budgeting & Flats: I was also looking at rental accommodation near Ancona – it seems to vary. The Italians are not big on photo’s but the flats that did have them seem to look ok. It’s going to be a struggle to stay in budget I think. I’ll work on the budget a bit more over the next couple of weeks and perhaps publish what I think it might be. Then in a few months we can all have a good laugh about it.

Anyway, the flat currently resembles a jumble sale so today, I must stop blathering and clear a path to move from room to room without climbing over boxes and bags. Meanwhile, if any of you have any app suggestions that you think might be good, send me a comment!



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