I hope you’re all well. I made it back in one piece! It’s been lovely 🙂 I’m back to wearing vest tops rather than jumpers!!!
Car rental trials and tribulations
I hired a car from Ancona airport. ‘Budget’ cars seem to offer the best deal so much so that there was absolutely nobody at any other car hire place and a massive queue for Budget. The others should up their game (or help out Budget so people don’t have to queue for hours).
In the UK our steering wheels are on the right hand side. In Europe and everywhere else pretty much, steering wheels are on the left. So I was a bit nervous about this and driving a new type of car as well but really, it’s only been mildly traumatic. I hit the window each time I want to change gears and I feel less comfortable being on that side for other reasons too – given the Italian’s have a penchant for driving at speed in the middle of the road, me physically being on the pavement side of the car used to feel safer (in the event of a crash, hopefully they’d just take out my passenger. Phew.) Also, I suspect I might have been scathing in the past about how Italians sometimes just park basically where they are, rather than at the side of the road. But mystery solved! It’s quite difficult for some reason parking when controlling it from the left-hand side. I think me, the cars behind and all the onlookers were all thrilled today when I eventually managed to parallel park in the tiniest space imaginable in a car that seems to have blind spots in almost all directions. I am about as quick and reactive as a sloth. I wish there was a “Learner” style sign for people trying to work out how to drive new cars and on the wrong side. I can’t even point to my trusty old GB sticker by way of explanation.
House and feline welcoming committee
It’s been lovely catching up with the neighbours. I’ve been duly provided with eggs from the chickens next door, celery, herbs, several jars of preserved tomatoes, onions, grapes, peppers, courgettes… I hardly needed to go to the supermarket. I do have the best neighbours of all time.
Batfink the cat was here to welcome me when I arrived! He was very sweet and didn’t leave my side all day and meowed incessantly wanting to sit on my lap whenever I sat down for a second. Before I left for the UK he seemed to be having a thing with his auntie (despite frequent lectures on what’s right and wrong) and had almost ditched me entirely but I think they’ve fallen out because I seem to be his favourite again. He’s turned into a bit of a grumpy old man. I think he’s been emotionally scarred by the kittens who are naughtiness epitomized. To be honest, I think I will be scarred soon too.
Every time I open my door, Batfink comes in followed quickly by 4 kittens, Batfink’s ex/aunty, his mother and his father. Eight flea-bags is just too much. So I shoo the cats out, and the adult cats go. But the kittens remain. Nothing at all scares these kittens. So I pick up a kitten in each hand and put them outside, close the door and then go to get the remaining kittens. I pick up those kittens and as soon as I open the door to put them out, the other two kittens come in. So I close the door to get the other two kittens. Guess what happens when I put the other two kittens out? Yes, kittens number three and four come in. It’s relentless kitten removal. I’ve had to resort to using the handheld kittens as sort of bowling balls to knock the others out of the way so I have enough time to close the door.
I was also welcomed by a giant scorpion, a massive spider occupying most of the terrace, and several dried up ants. They were less cute but expected nonetheless.
Well I have enrolled in my art course – I’m quite excited!!! It wasn’t a simple enrollment process. In England, my usual method of course enrollment goes: Look at the prospectus either online or paper copy. Decide on the course based on course information (syllabus / dates and whatnot) and complete / download the enrollment form and send it off with a cheque. Receive confirmation with details as to where and when it is.
So there’s some information online about this course but for the year 2013/2014. I downloaded a form and attempted to complete that but it’s out of date. Not to be put off, I went to the school itself. The conversation went thusly:
S: Help me! Is this the right form for the course I want to enroll in?
Guy (G): Meh, looks like it <glances at it briefly>. You need to go to the bank and send us some money.
S: But is there space for me on the course?
G: There’ll be space.
S: And this form, I’ve filled it in ok?
G: Hmm. Yeah I reckon so.
S: So I can just send you money and then come back with it?
S: It’s just I wasn’t even sure this was the right form because it seemed old and for another course.
G: Hmm, I guess you could use this form <hands me this years form, an entirely different form in fact which requires a passport photo and tells me the course is actually 100 euros more expensive>.
S: Ok. So I fill in this form and do the money thing and then what? When does it start?
S: Any specific date?
S: The first Thursday?
S: And like, when?
G: Usually afternoon.
He seemed thoroughly bemused about the level of information I was asking for. I do wonder how people here usually enroll for courses. Perhaps they fill out random forms and then just sort of hang around hoping to come across the course. In fact, there were a few people loitering outside…
So to enroll in the course you can’t just send in a cheque. You have to:
- Go to the post office and pay some money (I wonder what the post office do with this money…?).
- Go to the bank and transfer some money (to the school I presume).
- Go to the tabaccheria and pay for a very expensive stamp which gets stuck on the application form (for tax purposes I was told).
Anyway, despite all that, I’ve done it!!! It wont be long now until artistic fame and fortune rolls in, I’m sure.
That’s about it so far apart from a quick excursion to Lago di Fiastra yesterday (photos below). Car buying is in full swing. I’m seeing some at the weekend. Please keep up with the vibes!