Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Urban Forests, Snow shoes and “Newphews”!


Well it’s been ages since I’ve written so in addition to buongiorno, I’ll wish you all a very Happy New Year too and I hope for those that celebrate it, you had a great Christmas!

So what’s new here? I had a good Christmas break. I was back in Blighty (I don’t know why England has that nickname?!) for three weeks or so. My favourite things about being back were as follows:

  • Seeing family and friends. It was one of my longest stints away so I was ready to go back for a visit.
  • Acquisition of a new nephew, a “newphew“ if you will 🙂  He’s less than a fortnight old and he’s my first nephew. I painted a mural for his bedroom which was good fun and very therapeutic.
  • Pubs, like proper pubs where I can drink…
  • Cider. Why doesn’t Italy have cider?!?!
  • English food and by that I mean, culturally diverse food! I’ve had various pub meals (goodness, it sounds like I’m obsessed, I’m really not!), an English breakfast, pie and chips and tacos.

But I did miss Italy. The things I missed most were:

  • My friends, neighbours, my cat and the house. Poor Batfink the cat must be used to me going away for long stints by now. Still, he gets the run of the house when I’m away as my neighbour lets him in.
  • The weather. When Italy has horrible weather, it’s proper horrible weather and then it goes. When England has horrible weather, it’s horrible for weeks at a time. So even though it’s warmer in the UK, I do not know how anyone can maintain a cheery disposition in what is otherwise a sea of oppressive grey drizzle or unrelenting rain. In fact, the poor North has had some horrible flooding this year.
  • Italian festivities… I literally missed them. One Christmas, I would like to experience the culture and traditions here.  They have “presepe” (nativity scenes) in many towns which they put a lot of effort into doing, sometimes using live people. I did get to one cool event before I left though – “Il Bosco Urbino” (The Urban Forest) at San Severino, a local town which I must revisit when it’s daylight as it looks lovely. Il Bosco Urbino consisted of dozens of Christmas trees all lit up in the main piazza which you could wander around and then strings of lights hanging from above. It was lovely. It was also very quaint but impressively so!

This is il Bosco Urbano in San Severino. See how pretty it is?!

I also missed the scenery. A week or so before I came back I went on a guided “ciaspolata”, a snow-shoeing event in the mountains not very far away from my house at all. There’s lots of these events about. If you’re interested check out: Sibillini Web 

1512 Ciaspolata a Pintura (4 of 7)

Hare tracks… I call this photo “Here Hare Here” and I will give top marks for anyone who knows where that title comes (you’re not allowed to cheat!)

1512 Ciaspolata a Pintura (6 of 7)

Beautiful scenery…

1512 Ciaspolata a Pintura (3 of 7)

Part of our Ciaspolata group

1512 Ciaspolata a Pintura (1 of 7)

And these are the snow shoes. Not at all as I was expecting. I suspect the tennis racket model that I had in mind is a bit out of date!

Anyway, I am now back in my beautiful Sarnano and I have a hundred and one things I want to be getting on with. I shall no doubt be reporting back with progress!

Meanwhile, I hope you’re all having a good January!


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Touring Berlin…

Buongiorno a tutti!

Well I’ve had a lovely few days in Berlin with my friends who have an apartment out there. Here’s an update…

I’ve been to Berlin before, a few years ago. It’s a really lovely city, in fact, one of my favourites. In my opinion, a visit there at Christmas time at  least once in a lifetime should be mandatory! In December, the whole city lights up and what is already a pretty city becomes even prettier. It seems there’s a Christmas Market on every street selling all manner of things, including the delightful Glühwein (mulled wine for us, Vin Brule’ for the Italians).

Berlin reminds me of London only it’s a lot more open – the streets and pavements seem wider and it feels a lot more spacious as opposed to a bit claustrophobic like some parts of London feel to me!

I arrived at Schönefeld airport on the outskirts of Berlin. If you ever go, go prepared! I wasn’t! I thought there might be information or people to ask about how to get into town. Ha! There was no visible information office or people to ask. I managed to locate only two faded small tube/train maps but trying to find out where the airport was, was like a game of Where’s Wally only harder. You can only buy your tickets from ticket machines and the machines that I went to didn’t take card or notes (actually it turns out they do take cards but “Maestro”, which we don’t use in the UK generally).

For what it’s worth, I took the train (the RB14) to Berlin HBF from platform 6. You have to stamp your ticket before you get on the train and there’s a handy red stamping box at the top of the stairs on the platform. It took 20 minutes or so to get to Alexanderplatz. Single tickets cost €3,20 I think, the day pass was something like €7.

I spent the first day wandering around the city. I walked about 234059234859 miles and as a result, I finally feel like I have my bearings. The city is served by overground trains (s-bahn) and underground trains (u-bahn) and lots of buses but it’s easy to walk around too. Bike hire places are everywhere and you can hire one for a day for €10.  Many of the streets have cycle lanes too.

These are some photos from my little walking tour…

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There are some lovely parks in Berlin. This was Volkespark near Gesundbrunen station. Gesundbrunen, by the way, has a good shopping centre!

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The Reichstag

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This rather snazzy building was close to the Jewish War Memorial

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View across the river…

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I’ve no idea what this building is – looks like it should have concerts there though!

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And this is the Siegessaule, or Victory Column which was built to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War

The thing that’s most noticeable for me about Berlin is its connection to the war.  There are memorials everywhere to the millions of people that lost their lives (I’ve just checked on Wikipedia – over 60 million people killed in WW2. What a terrible and unfathomable number). It’s very poignant. The memorials are all beautiful, all very somber and thought-provoking. But from a personal perspective, I’m not sure how I would feel if I were a Berliner. Of course it’s important to remember the war and what happened but there’s just soooo much of it that I do wonder whether they’ve got the right balance between remembering the past and moving on with the future.  The past and the mistakes that were made are a lesson for us all, not just the people of Berlin. Anyway, here are some of the memorials…

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This is a peace mosaic designed by school children

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Memorial in Tiergarten park, the main park in Berlin

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This is where the Berlin wall used to be on Bernauer Street

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This is the Brandenburg Gate which has also become associated somewhat with the Berlin wall and the war

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This is Neue Wache, another memorial for the victims of war and dictatorship…

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And then there’s the poignant Jewish War Memorial…

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…Which is lovely to photograph!…

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The second day we investigated the Charlottenburg area of Berlin. This included a famous bombed out church (here I excelled in my knowledge of architecture by not actually being sure whether the church steeple was designed in the way it was or whether it was indeed evidence of bombing activity). We also conducted further quality control tests of the glühwein there. It’s a hard job but somebody has to do it. We had a wander around the shops and warmed up in a lovely little cafe’ overlooking the zoo.

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The bombed church has a concrete monstrosity next to it which turns out to be significantly prettier on the inside than the outside. Here it is from the inside.

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Just one of the pretty market stalls…

That night we went to the Piano Saloon in Wedding (Wedding is a northern region of Berlin), a very cool warehouse kitted out stylishly in bits and pieces from pianos.  The pianist played what I think must be “discordant jazz” and though it wasn’t particularly my style (if my headaches could play the piano, this is exactly what they would play), he was absolutely brilliant.

The next day we headed to a Vegan Market in the Friedrichshain region (East Berlin). The area was noticeable for it’s completely rundown feel but the graffiti was excellent! There are some very talented delinquents in Berlin 🙂 We loved the Vegan market. I know it might not sound thrilling to many of you who are not vegans but actually, it was very good indeed. The thing with veganism is that you have to be very inventive. You don’t just eat bog standard waffles, you have waffles made out of polenta and grated veg and other things. And you don’t buy leather wallets, you buy them  out of recycled car tyres. Vegans are cool.

Then we went to see the part of the Berlin Wall that still stands, called the East Side Gallery. Again, covered in graffiti, but really nicely done graffiti!

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At this point we were thoroughly freezing so we went to one of my favourite places in Berlin, Soho House, for an hour or so in the spa. German spa-ing is unlike spa-ing in the UK. It’s frowned upon to go into a spa with your swimming costume (which is handy because I didn’t have one). We chatted about it briefly in the sauna. It seems to be considered somewhat disgusting to wear one because of the close proximity of the swimming costume fabric to your body whilst you’re sweating. I suggested that this would imply that going to the gym would also need to be conducted in the nude but apparently the fabric is an acceptable distance away from your body to make it perfectly acceptable. So that clears that up then.

All in all it was a lovely weekend and I was sad to leave! I thoroughly recommend Berlin to you all 🙂

Meanwhile I hope you’re all having excellent weeks.






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Snow, sunsets and surprise nordic walking races…

Ciao a tutti,

How is everyone? I don’t have a great deal to update on but I do have a ton of photos! My DIY motivation has taken a severe dip so I’ve done absolutely nothing on that front. However, Pane Caldo has been making some headway on a hatch for our perilous stairway to stop the heat from downstairs escaping upstairs, and he’s been drilling holes in the walls for vents. It appears to be challenging. So far, he’s broken a drill and snapped a chisel in half.

Walking around Sarnano

I, meanwhile, have been out on lots of lovely walks locally with my neighbours. It’s thanks to this that this week’s blog is photo heavy.


This is the beautiful San Liberato monastery


Taken from around the Sarnano area.


Taken from a neighbours house


Taken on another walk from the house…


It’s snowy!!! I’ll need to work out how to put on snow chains soon.


Sarnano and the snow capped mountains.


Sarnano from below


Taken from my neighbour’s garden


Pretty snow 🙂

Random Nordic Walking Event!

Last weekend something weird happened. My neighbour asked me if I wanted to go to a `festa` in town. It would involve a bunch of people dressed as Father Christmas racing around the town. Who wouldn’t want to see that? So we got up early and headed down there……….and then I don’t know quite what happened. Suffice it to say there were no Father Christmas’s. I ended up being enrolled on a 7km race as part of a Nordic Walking Team. (Presumably this was the racing around town part).  I have never Nordic walked! It turns out that it’s actually quite difficult and by the end I was still nowhere near doing it right. However, it was a good laugh and I met some lovely people and I’m pleased to have learnt a lovely new walk around Sarnano. I might even consider joining the Nordic Walking School. Even better, I got a bottle of wine and some pasta as my “prize” (despite our team, which started pretty much first, coming pretty much last… it’s the taking part that counts!).

House History

I’ve been learning a little more about my house and have even met a couple of people in the local area that lived in the house decades ago. Apparently the bathroom used to be a small bedroom as there was an outhouse for the bathroom, the floor used to have lots of holes in so you could see the cantina (I dread to think about the horrors that could have come up!), and my personal favourite, the upstairs bedroom used to be for pigeons! I had never thought about having a room for pigeons before!

Animal Watch

Animal watch in the last couple of weeks has been reasonably active. I’m back in the UK now so I’m missing Batfink the cat. My neighbour has been sending me some photo’s though 🙂 Meanwhile these are some other animals from the last couple of weeks.


This is Pippa. He belongs to one of my neighbours. He was adopted after just turning up one day. I don’t think he’s a duck because he’s gigantic but I don’t think he looks very goose like.



We have a donkey farm a few miles away – who knew?! All the donkey’s are slightly different breeds. Apparently this is obvious (they all look pretty similar to me).


This is Drago my neighbour’s dog. He hates his photo taken so this is a rarity!


These are some rogue sheep ‘guard’ dogs. They’re called Pastor Maremmano and according to my neighbours they’re quite vicious because they have to defend the flock against wolves. They’re certainly big but I think they look quite cuddly. My neighbour insisted we take refuge behind a gate. The sheep come down from the mountains in the winter and they’ve been doing a tour of our local fields for a few hours at a time.


Sheep on tour. I’m considering mounting Operation FreeSheep (they’ll get eaten at Easter) but I haven’t worked out where to hide them yet.


Now I’m home for Christmas so animal watch will be less exotic for the next month. So. Here’s my Nan’s dog 🙂

I think that about sums up the last week or two. All that’s left is for me to wish you all a lovely Christmas break and a Happy New Year and thank you all so much for your support and feedback over the last year! It’s much appreciated! 🙂




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Divine Comedy, Christmas festivities and slimey fruit…

Ciao a tutti!

How is everyone? It’s been a busy week here. I’m trying out a new way of displaying photos on the blog. If you’re reading it from the WordPress internet site hover over the pictures to read the captions. However if you receive it by email, I’ve no idea what it will look like! Let me know if it works ok 🙂

Here’s a quick update…


These last couple of weeks we’ve been to some new places which have been really lovely. I had forgotten how much I like exploring new areas.

A couple of weekends ago, we had an interesting coach trip to Gradara and Candelara with about 40 or so of our immediate neighbours. It was good to meet them all, though I don’t think I could tell you anyone’s name. Although if you call everyone Giuseppe you have about a 70% chance of getting it right!

Gradara is really interesting. It’s a beautiful castle that I’ve been meaning to visit for ages having driven past it several times. It’s a few miles north of Ancona. We had a guide to show us around. She spent ages and ages talking about headaches in a very confusing fashion, almost giving them a personality if you will. Or at least, I thought that’s what she was talking about until I finally established that “mal di testa” (headache) is not the same as “malatesta” (a surname). It turns out Gradara was owned for a period of time by the very influential Malatesta family and not reigned by headaches.

The castle has an interesting story attached – it tells the true love story between Paolo Malatesta and the wife (Francesca) of his brother (Gianciotto). The story is immortalized in Dante’s `Divine Comedy`. Basically Francesca is tricked into marrying the unattractive, limping, hunch-backed Gianciotto because he sends his handsome brother Paolo to propose on his behalf, pretending that he’s him. She seems to genuinely marry Paolo but he signs the wedding certificate in his brother’s name. That night, back at the castle, the curtains around the bed were pulled, all was dark, Gianciotto enters and er, job’s a good’un. Francesca, on discovery that she’s married a man with a face like a bag of spanners and the morals to match (though at least she married a clever man, if not a looker), decides to starve herself to death. Francesca, who seems to have been a very forgiving sort, didn’t seem to hold a grudge against Paolo who she immediately commenced an affair with. Gianciotto finds out, tries to kill his brother but Francesca steps in the way. She’s stabbed and killed and then Gianciotto kills his brother, Paolo.  I think that sums it up – no need now to worry about having to read the Divine Comedy 😉

Candelara is a beautiful hill top town. The coach trip also included this too as at this time every year they have a festival where all the lights are turned off and it’s lit only by candlelight. During this, they had a `pyrotechnic display` which featured 10 regular sized balloons with lights in.  There was also a big market and an exhibition of precepe (nativity scenes).


Last weekend, we went to Ferrara with some friends and had a fab time. We stayed the night before in Jesi at a friend’s house and went out for a nice meal in the centre of Jesi. It reminds me a bit of London. Whereas on a Saturday night in Sarnano, absolutely nobody is in town, on a Saturday night in Jesi, everyone seems to be in town! It was standing room only in all the bars. We headed to Ferrara the next day. Depending on which website you visit or who you speak to, Ferrara is either a great place to go to or quite dull. In my opinion it’s the former. Quaint with lots of little pretty alleys, it’s got a stunning cathedral and it’s just a nice place to have a wander around. When we were there it had a Christmas market and with all the festive lights, it really did look pretty.


It’s not really sightseeing because it’s only 5 minutes away, but I just wanted to say how impressed I am with our little village. It’s got a good sized ice-rink. I went during the day and before the Italian’s turn their Christmas lights on  (here it’s about the 8th December I think) so I’ll go back again this week and take some photo’s for the blog. I might even attempt to skate.

As an aside, I don’t know whether this is just in my area or not but today is bonfire day here. You light a fire so that the angels carrying the Virgin Mary’s house to Loreto can find their way there (no Sat Nav I suppose) and warm themselves up a bit. How sweet!

Christmas Decorations

Keeping on the Christmas theme, we bought a Christmas tree from a florist in town. It’s my first “real” tree too. I don’t usually approve of that but this one is in a pot so we can bring it in year after year assuming we don’t kill it. I hope it doesn’t grow too big. Anyway, it’s feeling quite Christmassy in the house, despite the terrible handmade tree decorations involving paper, oranges and fir-cones. I did a little better with the wreaths which I’ve been giving away as presents (I gave one to my Jehovas Witness neighbour this morning. She wasn’t in so I left it by her door. When I returned, Pane Caldo informed me that they don’t celebrate Christmas so I raced back to retrieve it. Her mother is generally on guard at the window and I have a horrible feeling saw the whole sorry business).

Paying bills

Bill paying in Italy is a mystery. You never pay the company that you need to pay directly. I made that mistake when I phoned up the water company once asking if I could pay my bill. They said, yes, of course. I asked if they would take credit card. They said they weren’t sure. I was a bit stumped and asked if I should give them the long number on the front of the card. There was silence and then they finally understood…. I can’t pay THEM, you know, the people I owe. It turns out, in Italy, you pay your bills at either the bank, at the Tabaccheria (basically a little corner shop selling cigarettes and newspapers sometimes – oh and matches, you can only get matches at a Tabaccheria rather oddly) or the post office. I still don’t know what you pay where. I generally do a circuit of all three until I find the correct one. It vaguely makes sense to outsource your bill payment I suppose, but it seems strange nonetheless!


This week has been curious on the food front. The next door neighbour has a lot of cachi at the moment. Cacchi are orange apple-sized fruit that mature about now. As a short Italian lesson: cacchi is the plural, caco is the singular version of the noun. All italian nouns are split into feminine or masculine and they end in a different letter accordingly (very simply ‘o’ for masculine, ‘a’ for feminine usually). In most cases it doesn’t matter if you can’t remember whether your inanimate object is masculine and feminine – people get what you’re trying to say. But, you must never, ever, say “caca” when you intend “caco”. The word “Cacca” means another thing entirely and something you certainly shouldn’t eat. It’s the same with all kinds of fruit – if you mix up your feminine and masculines when it comes to fruit it can be very embarrassing. Anyway, apparently you should eat your caco on bread and I must say, it’s very nice. It has a consistency of jam without the hassle of having to make the jam.


Caco on bread…


There’s Nespole which is another fruit (Japanese Plum for us maybe?). This one is a small orange one which you eat when it’s brown. My neighbour is insistent about you eating things immediately so when she presented a brown squidgy slime that looked positively gone off and then encouraged me to eat it, I didn’t quite know how to cope with the situation. However, it wasn’t too bad. Weird with lots of sort of big random pips in, but not bad. I’ve got lots to eat now. I’ll have to make something with them.

On taking this photo several flies flew off when I moved them. I think they might actually be mouldy. I think that's just how you eat them, like blue cheese.

On taking this photo several flies flew off when I moved them. I think they might actually be mouldy. I think that’s just how you eat them, like blue cheese.

Carrying on the food vain, I made focaccia the other day but it turned out flat and heavy, not light and fluffy like it’s supposed to. I consulted my neighbour who said I should buy some dough from the bakery. The dough is decades old, from the bakers mum. I don’t think she’s ever bought yeast because it’s a living organism and so it just grows. When you make your bread, you leave a bit of the dough to one side, add more flour etc. to it and then it grows more yeast. I do not know how to make bread using this strategy! I have a bread recipe book and at no point does it say to get a bit of someone’s dough and do ‘x’ to it. You just don’t seem to be able to buy yeast in packets here like in the UK. I kind of like this method, it’s quaint. So tomorrow, I will go to the bakers and ask for their dough (ha!).


I’ve almost finished my book! I just need to write another 3000 words or so to make it up to 70000 but I’m stuck on the ending! It’s absolute trash but I’m quite proud of having got this far.  I usually give up after the first chapter. Anyway, please send happy writing vibes, I’m determined to finish before I leave for the UK next week. but these last few words are a struggle!

Animal watch

The animal watch spot has been quiet, I know. We haven’t seen many really but here’s one I took this evening of the resident animal.


I thought cats sort of curl up to sleep but no, Batfink sleeps like he’s had too many beers.


Right, that’s it for now. Have lovely rest of weeks!


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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.

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Teaching (again…), roasts and liquor…


Well, this week, hot off the press I bring you teaching traumas, slightly inadequate roast dinners in Italy and Corbezzoli…


I think I may have to set up an anonymous blog about teaching.  I think all I should say is that this week had challenging moments involving full on screaming fits, tears and temper tantrums. And don’t even get me started on the kids…

A couple of the students don’t like it because I speak in English – it being an English class and all (to be honest, they’ve probably more chance understanding my English than my Italian anyway).  Anyway, all my Italian classes where I’ve been trying to learn the insanely complex Italian grammar have been only in Italian and I’m surrounded everyday by people speaking Italian at the speed of light. I’ve understood barely nothing for 7 months. My lessons on the other hand are in very slow, basic English with pictures, songs, games and miming. So, I have no sympathy. I’ve prepared a speech for next week, in Italian, to explain to them how if they understood what I was saying, they wouldn’t need lessons and to stop being so whiney when I eliminate them from “Simon Says…”.

I’ve been taking the guitar in again – they like the hello and goodbye song. I had a request from the infant school to teach the kids a Christmas song. Only, they still haven’t grasped the Hello Song and it only has 8 words in it. There are no Christmas songs with less than 8 words. I’ve had to devise a special version of “We wish you a merry Christmas” but unfortunately this means I need to be there for their Christmas show so that I can play it on the guitar.

Anyway, despite all that, I’m honestly doing an amazing impression of a competent, understanding and caring teacher who adores children.


I’m making liquor! Out of these things called Corbezzoli which I picked with Il Polemico at the weekend in Monte Conero. Out of interest, can you buy 90% alcohol in the UK in the supermarket? I’m sure you can’t. You can here. It seems dangerous. Anyway, I’m glad you can otherwise the liquor would have been a flop.


Bag of corbezzoli

We need to leave them covered in the alcohol for 40 days and then make some kind of syrup for it.  Yum.


Corbezzoli up close… I think they’re called strawberry something or other in English.


These are the corbezzoli being left with alcohol over them. I don’t really have anything other than a saucepan. Do you think I should move them into something glass? I have a big glass wine jar but then I’d need a funnel thing to get it in there or devise one out of something in the kitchen and I’m not sure I can be bothered unless I will actually poison myself by using the saucepan.

Roast dinner

I made my first roast dinner here at the weekend – there’s veggie meat alternatives here just like in the UK but slightly less variety. They’re alright. Nothing to write home about (she says, effectively writing home about them). Italian’s don’t seem to have gravy with is annoying. I need to bring back gravy granuals next time.  I bought this sort of gravy looking thing in a carton but it turns out it was stock, which I then tried to thicken with flour  and well, it just because a sickly looking white soupy goo. And they don’t eat Yorkshire Puddings. And they don’t make roast potatoes like we do. That’s all I have to say on roast dinners in Italy.


A bit unceremoniously dumped on the plate but there we go. A roast dinner in Italy.

What’s a bit odd?

Olive oil is GREEN when it’s just been pressed!!!! And it tastes LOVELY!!!!!!!!!! It’s like a sort of spicy apple-y delight. Who knew?!?! It’s a completely different species to regular oil. Apparently after a month or so it goes more the traditional colour. I don’t think mine will still be around in a month.

And red wine is FIZZY when it’s just been made!!!!! And it tastes LOVELY!!!!!!!! I can’t provide any more description unless I’m doing my person-knowledgeable-about-wine impression and then I can thrash around “oaky” and “fruity” with the best of them but in reality, I can tell you that it tastes like wine (but a really, really, nice wine). Apparently, it’s very “light” because it’s just been er, pressed/made/done and only has 10% alcohol and then after a bit of  time, erm, something about sugar, means that it’ll become more potent.


I have more visitors next week 🙂 The weather is set to be horrible – the area is much less attractive when it’s pouring down and grey. So I really hope the forecasters have made a terrible mistake. At the moment though, there’s a very spectacular thunder and lightning show from my balcony.

Ok, I’m off to analyse CSI subtitles. I’ve had a chance to do some Italian study for the first time in months so I’m pleased about that! At this rate, I estimate in 2040, I’ll be able to understand a whopping 65% of conversation!


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