Competitions, Popstardom and Christmas


Greetings everyone! I hope you’re all well. This week: I’ve entered into a writing competition linked to the blog, my glittering career as a pop-star continues to go from strength to strength, I review questionable smartphone language apps and I shall provide a Christmas status update in Camerano…


Help! I’ve written an article for the Ex-Pats Blog website (click on that link to see it and write a comment) on learning Italian. The winner gets selected on the basis of comments so pretty please could you write a nice comment (apparently nasty ones don’t get published so apologies for that in advance!). Alas, it’s a bit of a faff to comment (I think to stop me from writing my own nice comments, pfft) but I would be very appreciative! I think it will want you to register and the comment needs to be more than 10 words so think of something intellectually insightful and thought provoking 😉 Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Return to the Big Stage

This week the infant school had their Christmas Show in a theater in Numana. I haven’t laughed so much for a long time. The kids were all over the place, waving to their mums and dads rather than doing what they were supposed to be doing and not getting any of the dances or songs right at all. Some of them only had to hold a glittery hula hoop over their head and even that they got wrong. One of them kept trying to run off the stage. Funny, funny, funny. I am still mystified that I was the only one laughing in the audience.

Anyway, the kids have been learning “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with me as part of their English lesson. My job was to provide the guitar accompaniment. I imagined this would be offstage whilst I mouthed the words to remind them. Instead, they plonked me at the front of the stage with a microphone. I think I used up all of my embarrassment/stage fright reserves a few years ago playing Robin Hood for the local amateur dramatics society (I don’t know how I get into these situations), so thankfully I pulled it off without a wobbly voice or shaky hands (I don’t know how that would work playing guitar). We even had a rousing audience participation chorus at the end.

You know how the soprano always gets a large bunch of flowers at the end of an opera? Well, it was EXACTLY the same. I got flowers (albeit two slightly dead looking ones that look like they’ve been sneezed on) at the end whilst everyone clapped and cheered and because I’m such a celebrity with the children in the Marcelli/Numana I got a few people shouting out my name too. Finally, I have some recognition!!! Wembley, here I come.


I have downloaded a free app called Duolingo for the smartphone for learning Italian. It’s GREAT. It gives you phrases in Italian for you to translate into English (and vice versa), it speaks phrases and you have to type out what they are, there are multiple choices and you can test out your pronunciation. It’s got everything!!!! I could have people test me ALL DAY without ever getting bored (some sort of personality default I think). Unfortunately, the result of that is that I’ve almost gone through all the levels on the app. It’ll be a sad day indeed when I get to the end. Anyway, I’m not sure how good it is for learning if you don’t have the grammar fundamentals but it’s definitely worth a go either way.

Meanwhile, my friend, recommended an app called “Memrise”. It works on the basis of giving you some words and a method of remembering them (usually a corresponding picture) and then tests you again (woohooo!). However, I’ve decided I’m too young and innocent for this app…


Uh huh.

Last week of School

SCHOOL IS OUT NEXT WEEK!!!!!! NO MORE SCHOOL FOR 3 WEEKS <insert celebration dance here>. I’m actually happier about school being out now than I ever was when I was a student.

I’m going to try and plan the next 5 months worth of torture teaching over the Christmas break so planning lessons doesn’t have to be quite such a weekly drain.


I’m not feeling very Christmassy at the moment, despite my door decoration…


Look at my nice door decoration 🙂 I feel like an adult! I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking “where can I get that lovely shade of brown from for my own door?”

All the villages have their decorations up too. Nothing quite as spectacular as my door decoration but still…


Numana and the lights (and the ugly church)


Camerano’s lights in the fog

I’ve made mince pies (they don’t exist here). They seem to be going down well with people despite them being burnt looking (I’ve dutifully informed people that’s how they’re supposed to be). It’s been difficult to purchase icing sugar to cover it up  decorate them. Apparently this is because people just save up those little packs you get in panettone (panettone for those that don’t know, is what Italians have at Christmas instead of Christmas Pudding. Like all Italian cakes, it is dry. Nice, but dry. I don’t think they’d know a moist cake if it hit them around the face. If you dip it in your cup of tea though, it’s amazing).


MINCE PIES TAKE ONE (Test Phase). These were the results of the Test Phase. A lessons learnt workshop was subsequently held (with myself), and changes implemented for the Go-Live phase.


MINCE PIES TAKE TWO (Go-Live Phase). I want you to feel like you’re getting your monies worth from my blog so I’ve compiled the Lesson Learnt into a handy set of Mince Pie Tips (MPT).
MPT1: Don’t believe your oven. My one is hotter than the sun even if you set it at 150 degrees.
MPT2: Put a TINY bit of mince in otherwise it bubbles over and makes everything look burnt / even more burnt.
MPT3: You don’t need to butter the tin. It would save a lot of researching / waiting for mother to respond time if recipes just said that (though I acknowledge that recipes could be considerably longer if they listed all the things that you shouldn’t do…)
MPT4: Don’t try and put strips on the top – it looks bad.
MPT5: Get a cutter if you’re going to do stars. 
MPT6: If you enclose the lids then there will be no bubbling over-spill risk – pierce the top though.
MPT7: If you use egg to gloss the top, it looks too scrambled egg-y and unappetizing. Best to use milk I reckon.

I think that about sums up this week. Right, lesson plans here I come…


ps) I’ve been using the american spelling of tyres (tires). I keep making the same mistake over and over. I acknowledge that will be annoying for people and would like to take this moment to apologise 🙂

pps) I still haven’t changed the tires. Tyres. Tires. Tyres…. TYRES.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Competitions, Popstardom and Christmas

  1. I left you a comment 🙂 Please send me some mince pies.

  2. Norman A

    Burnt Mince Pies – a natural progression from the Pizza! 🙂

    We’ve done our (non-burnt) 7.5 doz mince pies here – and pretty darned good, melt-in-the-mouth pastry they were.

    (Now all we have to do is to stop the kids coming around to ‘check them out’ all the time! 😦 )

  3. Mauro P.

    Icing sugar is “zucchero a velo”, and you can find it in Pandoro boxes (not Panettone):

  4. Peter G

    Please get the tyres/tires or a car exorcist soon. Love the new photo at the top of the page!

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