Monthly Archives: February 2015

Distractions, Opera and Carnivale…

Ciao a tutti!

Well what a difference a couple of weeks makes…Pane Caldo has gone back to the UK to work for a while¬†ūüė¶ ¬†I shan’t be too soppy, lest he read this, but it’s not the same. But I’ve had the following distractions:

Everybody needs good neighbours: I’ve hardly eaten at home since Pane Caldo left. I think I’m the local charity case and no matter how much I say “no, really, I’m fine”, my neighbours are¬†insistent! So that’s been nice. I’ve not really felt too lonely, in fact, often its been far from it. The problem is the Italians cook lots of stuff – they have a prima piatti (pasta dish) and a secondo (meat usually), a contorno (veg) and then a dolce (desert). Which is of course not a problem in itself but it is when it’s my turn to return the favour¬†and herein lies the problem: a) I can’t just double up on what I usually eat for lunch – crackers and cheese is hardly a fair swap for someone used to eating 4 courses at lunch, b) Even if I did go ‘all out’ and try and do multiple courses, I have a limited supply¬†of electricity to the house so using the oven and hob at the same time can be a challenge and c), Most of what I cook is “Italian” but I can hardly serve my version of Italian food to a genuine Italian. Oh the shame!

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Look at these lovely home-made treats the neighbours brought us for Carnivale (Shrove Tuesday)

Stealth Cat:¬†I thought the cat might be an ideal Pane Caldo replacement so I thought I’d let him stay in overnight (he usually sleeps in the barn with the other cats but he does whinge about it). But he’s a bit hormonally charged- all the cats here are at the moment, it’s like a feline soap opera. On top of that I think he’s just reached puberty.¬†Anyway, he seems so overcome with glee about being allowed to stay in at night that he can’t contain his emotions and bites me.¬†So I put him out. And then we do that again the next night. Although he’s started getting wise and starts off at the bottom of the bed like a good cat and as soon as I turn the light off he edges up to my head and starts biting my shoulder. As though I wouldn’t notice that! I think he thinks he’s being stealthy. He’s the only cat I know that meow’s to have a cuddle.

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Pretending to be an innocent non-biting cat

Opera: My favourite distraction has been going to see an opera Рit was called Giannis Schicchi by Puccini and it was in a pretty little theatre in Amandola. It was a lovely evening and it was nice to do something a bit out of the ordinary, for me at least! I even understood it, though the explanation from my friend first helped I suspect!

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Look at the beautiful ceiling! And I was in a box!!! A BOX! I felt like the Queen.

DIY: My main source of distraction has been DIY though. I think ‘The Sanding of The Beams’ last year sapped all DIY motivation¬†out of us. Anyway, I have managed to claw it back and have tiled the kitchen and have been doing a bit of plastering etc. I’ve certainly got a lot to be getting on with over the next few weeks.

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I’m not sure the tiles particularly go with the kitchen but they were in the Cantina when I bought the house so I thought might not. I have a million tiling tips for anyone interested. My first one is: Don’t bother tiling.

Out and about: I’ve also been out and about. I went to a Carnivale celebration in a pretty little hill top village called Castignano with my neighbour which was good fun. ¬†In comparison to the very organised and impressive one I went to last year in Fano, this one was complete chaos. Nobody in the parade paid any attention to what they were supposed to be doing. It was mainly¬†a collection of odd looking adults and children wandering down the road but it was a good atmosphere.

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Carnivale in Castignano

 

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This is the view from the church at the top of Castignano

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And on another little trip I went to San Ginesio which is just a few minutes away from where I live¬†and finally went into the church …quite a pretty crypt

Bread making:¬†¬†And of course there is always bread to be baked. These are yesterday’s efforts. I left out salt in one (unintentionally) and the “Popovers” stuck to the muffin tin and had to be levered¬†out with a spoon. Not my biggest success to date.

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Dirty Dancing:¬†My most confusing distraction has been getting¬†propositioned by a 70 year old. I’m 34. I assumed he was being fatherly and looking out for me, but no, it turns out he wasn’t. Is that flattering or insulting?

I think that about sums up recent events. I hope you are all having a good week.

xxx

 

 

 

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Snowboarding, Gazelles and Dog-led tours…

Ciao a tutti!

How is everyone? It’s been fairly quiet and sedate here in the last couple of weeks. Here’s an update…

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snooooow!

We have snow! The weather has been so dull and dreary for ages but on Monday it finally snowed¬†and whilst we were here (the last time was at Christmas when we weren’t) and it was an experience!

It turns out there’s a whole bunch of things you have to do when it properly snows: Leave your gate open lest you can’t open it the following day, get your snow shovel out and somewhere accessible, don’t put the handbrake on the car lest it freeze over and leave your car unlocked in case¬†the lock freezes over (I assure you the last two pieces of advice did not come from a car thief, though it does seem like they could have). Then there’s a whole technique to snow shoveling. And then did you know icicles are quite nice to eat? We had an baptism¬†of fire with the immediate neighbour giving us heaps of advice about what to do and not to do before we went off in force up the road in order to clear it with the other neighbour. It had quite a nice little community feel and if it had been feasibly¬†possible for 4 people to snowshovel the same bit of road without getting in each others way and being told off, I would have quite enjoyed it! We had a mistra (lethal¬†aniceed drink)¬†laden espresso at the end to finish off – all’s well that ends well.

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This is our terrace – we should probably put the table and chairs away :-s

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And this is Sarnano at the moment taken from the front garden

Snowboarding

Then, because it was an absolutely stunning day and it had been snowing, we thought it might be an ideal time to go snowboarding, so up the mountain we went. Perhaps only in Italy would the ski-lifts¬†be¬†closed because of, well, snow. There was one horrible lift open though – not those nice chair lifts that you can sit on and admire the scenery as you go up, but button lifts where the lift guy shoves a bit of plastic between your legs and you’re dragged up one by one by your bottom (they should be called bottom lifts perhaps). ¬†The next day was much more productive and all the lifts were open again so that made for a much more entertaining day. The slopes are fairly short and there’s a very limited number of them but it’s just brilliant having them only a twenty minute drive away. We got a cheap hire deal on snowboarding stuff – 10 euros a day and it was 11 euros for a day ski pass. What an absolutely bargain!

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The piste. As you can see, it’s absolutely packed. Full of people.

Woofer Guided Tours

I’m on a mission to track my walks and write up guides for tourists so on a day where it wasn’t so grim we went for a long walk around Sarnano. We were met by a random collarless dog (they all are to be honest) who led¬†us for most of the walk.¬†We decided he might make a reasonable tour guide – he could pick up tourists at 11am on Sundays. Alas, he was easily distracted and ran off after an hour so we didn’t get an opportunity to discuss the details.

Woofer the Tour Guide meeting us at the start of the walk

Woofer the Tour Guide meeting us at the start of the walk. We did worry a bit that perhaps he was trying to lead us to little Timmy who’d fallen down a well.

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We found some unstable looking hunting shacks during the walk

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Italy is dotted with old houses that have fallen into ruin. I want to rescue them all! It’s very sad. On the plus side, they do make for good photos.

Batfink the teenager

Batfink is going through a teenage phase. He’s not washing (well he does, but he still smells), eats all the time, sleeps all day and when he isn’t, he just acts up. He was quite funny in the snow the other day though so that made up for it. He doesn’t like people throwing snowballs at him.

 

The cat didn't walk through the snow but leapt like a gazelle.  Very elegant.

The cat didn’t walk through the snow but leapt like a gazelle. He was very elegant.

Bread experimentations

I’m still making bread though I’ve¬†calmed down a little. I think I’ve nailed regular loaves of bread that taste ok and have a good texture and look so I’m focusing my efforts on sourdough bread.

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Latest sourdough bread attempt – I think it looks quite pretty. I can’t stop marvelling at bread – it’s just flour and water and salt. Amazing!

Sewing machine inventions

I bought a new sewing machine a week or so back so I’ve been experimenting with that. So far so good though I’ve recalled why I get fed up with sewing. It’s not the sewing per se, it’s the ironing which¬†seems to be an integral part. The iron is surely the most futile¬†invention known to mankind. However, it seems to be essential for trying to sew straight seams so I’ve managed to locate an iron for the purpose of that and my sewing project has thus been delayed by several days due to my lack of ironing motivation!

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I don’t really have much of a clue about sewing but I’m steadily learning! The prototype didn’t go too badly – hopefully I’ll finish another three in the next week.

I think that about sums up the last couple of weeks. Have good weeks the rest of you…

x

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