Posts Tagged With: Easter

Hibernation, Wholewheat and Action Planning…

Buongiorno a tutti,

How is everyone? I’ve been quiet, I know!

I’ve been suffering from a lack of inspiration and general loss of motivation. The weather in Italy for the first half of March was unbearable, in fact, reminiscent of the UK 😉 I think I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder although that doesn’t seem quite accurate. It’s more Dreariness Affective Disorder. I can cope with weather if it’s “proper” weather – rain is fine if it’s raining properly, but if it’s grey outside and there’s a general life-sapping drizzle, then I would rather just stay in bed until the sun comes out.

So I hibernated for at least a couple of weeks but it wasn’t a complete write-off. My lovely Italian friends came to visit one weekend which cheered me up.  They’re big walkers so we went on a couple of nice long walks and the weather for that weekend was positively beautiful!

I even managed to have lunch on my terrace for the first time this year just before I left so I think my hibernation phase can finish as Summer is coming (in direct contrast to the situation in Game of Thrones for anyone that watches that).

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Exhibit A: Proof that I had lunch outside.

In other successful news, I managed to locate wholewheat flour; somewhat of a difficult substance to find in the shops here (or at least, at a reasonable price). Instead the shops are stocked with thousands of different brands of white flour. There’s a mulino (mill) in Gualdo, the town up the road, which sells wholewheat flour and semi-wholewheat and it makes for tasty bread so I’m pleased about that. The shopkeeper seemed equally pleased to have a “beautiful” new client!!!  I conducted many bread making experiments and now the freezer is full.

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I also made some hot cross buns 🙂

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And this was the wholewheat loaf…

Just before I left to come back to the UK for Easter, my poor cat got an infected leg. I entirely blame his father who chases him every time he leaves the house. If he’s been inside, I have to give him a lift to a secret location before I put him down otherwise he’s set upon immediately. It appears traditional local methods of curing an infected cat’s leg involve smothering him with a towel and poking his leg with a sharp implement whilst he screams in agony (who knew cats could scream?!). This methodology didn’t prove to be effective (hmm) and I ended up almost as traumatised as my poor cat. He was issued with antibiotics in the end but as I’ve been back in the UK, I’m slightly concerned the antibiotic regime has taken a knock. Anyway, I’m very much hoping that I return to a full operational four-legged cat.

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This is Batfink the cat feeling sorry for himself on an upturned box I was trying to air.

I always look forward to coming back to the UK to see everyone and it refreshes the batteries a bit. I return to Italy each time with a list as long as my arm of things I want to get on with. Here’s a cut-down sneak preview for the next couple of months:

  • Join Cai – the local walking association. They go out every Sunday in the mountains but I think it’s probably still a bit too early in the year. I did get invited to a local cycling club meet as well, I came across them at the top of a mountain. I think they overestimated my abilities. Before I left, I could just about make it to Sarnano and back without having to get off and push the bike like I have been!
  • Join a watercolour painting class – my new ex-pat local friend has introduced me to a teacher and I’m hoping to start lessons later this month.
  • Start swimming lessons or join the aqua gym class.
  • I’ve also been inspired to make more effort with my cooking following a stay at my friend’s house. I feel a bit stunted on ingredients in Italy. Italians do Italian food excellently of course but if you’re trying to make anything else then it’s more of a challenge.

    Dinner

    Lovely dinner!

 

  • I started a “Human Origins” free online course a couple of weeks ago. It’s actually very interesting and I think I’ll be able to impress everyone with my extensive knowledge of fossil dating and paleoanthropology. I would like to finish that but it is a bit heavy going, I must say! It’s only a 6 week course. There are loads of other courses on http://www.edx.org if anyone is interested.
  • Take more pics! Now the weather has improved I’m hoping to get out a bit more to take some photos. There’s a few big touristy places in Le Marche I’ve not been to yet and I’m keen to go soon!
  • I’m also hoping to become a bit more green-fingered. I want to turn the front bit of my garden into a drive and get a few flowers for the terrace. The problem is, my gardening efforts will be very much on public display. I imagine the neighbours will set up chairs outside to watch and provide helpful instruction (“Why don’t you get a man in to do this?”.

Now let’s see if I actually do any of it! I’ll report back of course.

Meanwhile, I hope you all have an excellent week.

x

 

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The Arrival of Spring, Easter Processions and Painting the Forth Bridge …

Ciao a tutti,

How is everyone? It’s been a lovely couple of weeks here. I’m pleased to say that Spring has finally arrived! Not only have the clocks sprung forward, I present you with other convincing evidence:

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Exhibit 1: Primrose or Primula in Italian

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Exhibit 2: Another spring flower but I don’t know what it is – any ideas? Very pretty though.

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Exhibit 3: Iced Coffee laced with Mistra the local aniseed spirit only to be enjoyed from the Spring onwards.

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Exhibit 4: The fridge magnet thermometer never lies… Hot hot hot 🙂

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Exhibit 5: Klaus the Scorpion has made his first appearance. I think I’ve blocked off a potential scorpion entry way though so we’ll see how that goes.

As always in Spring, I struggle with clothing. Italians continue to wear coats, scarves, hats, gloves etc. regardless of the weather/temperature outside. They are quick to point out that if you’re not wearing any of these essential items of clothing, that you are likely to be immediately overcome with bronchitis. Oh the Italians and their oddities…  Anyway, the other day whilst out walking in brilliant sunshine and 28 degrees, I dared to take off my coat and jumper to the open-mouthed gawps of the occasional wrapped up passer-by. On a completely separate and unrelated note, I now seem to have something akin to bronchitis :-s

Walkies

I’ve been charged with looking after the neighbour’s dog whilst she’s at work. It’s quite a responsibility as the dog is an experienced escapologist, particularly at the moment whilst all the female dogs are on heat. Anyway, it’s been quite good because it means I’ve been on lots of walks and I also managed to re-find one of my favourite walks in the area.

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Could there by a more idyllic picnic spot? It’s right next to a treacherous looking footbridge so as long as you can make it across yourself, you can have your lunch and have hours of entertainment watching other people brave the crossing as well! Not that it’s a particularly busy picnic spot by any means.

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Beautiful scenery…

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….and friendly horses to feed.

San Benedetto

My neighbour also took me to see San Benedetto, a seaside town known for it’s prolific palm trees which make it look quite exotic and nothing like the other beach towns in the area.

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San Benedetto has a nice long shallow beach that goes on for miles…

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And cool fountains…

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And long straight sea front roads complete with flash cars and the occasional rollerblader.

Pasqua (Easter)

This week has been quite full on with the Easter festivities. I’m not religious at all and it’s been a long time since I was in a church to do anything other than look at the artwork so it was all quite fascinating to see. It’s going to be very easy for me to make a mistake in this section so apologies in advance for any incorrect terminology or information that’s wrong! On Thursday (“Giovedi Santo”) people honor Jesus by keeping him company (it’s the night of the Last Supper) until midnight. Almost all the churches are open all evening and my neighbour took me on a tour of what seemed like all of them.  The churches were all filled with flowers and grain (they seem to plant the grain in pots and then keep it in a dark humid place so that it’s clear and short…it must be representative of something but I’m not sure what!). In some churches there was a priest leading some kind of sermon and in others people were just sat in quiet contemplation. Others again, were doing a similar church tour to us so it was quite busy out and about.

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This is the church of Santa Maria in Sarnano.

On Friday, to acknowledge Jesus being crucified and finally dying at 3pm there was a procession in the evening starting from the main church in Sarnano and going around all the back streets before ending up in a church towards the bottom of the hill (Sarnano is a hill town). Again, it was really interesting to see (and to accidentally take part in!!!).

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This cross looked incredibly heavy! Some poor man had to carry it for a good half hour or so (in fact, I hope someone swapped with him part way down)

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There were a lot of men wearing brown all over, including hoods over their faces (with handy eye slits), and wearing no shoes and chains around their feet. The women were wearing black all over and didn’t even have the eye slits to help them work out where to go! My neighbour explained what these people represented but my Italian Religious Dialect knowledge let me down. Feel free to fill me in anyone that knows about these things…

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A statue of the dead Jesus was brought down during the procession.

On Easter Monday or “Pasquetta” as it’s known here (which means “Little Easter” as opposed to presumably the big Easter the day before), I saw some friends in Ancona and Jesi and learnt about some traditional Italian and Le Marche food. I can confirm that a Pizza Formaggio is not simply a pizza with cheese but a round loaf with cheese inside which they eat usually for breakfast – very nice! And I’m also thrilled to have discovered Colomba di Pasqua (Dove of Easter), a lovely light cake with chocolate goo in the middle in the shape of nothing at all like a dove. Combined with a wonderful Easter Care Package received through the post from one of my best friends and a rucksack full of chocolate from Pane Caldo following his flying Easter visit, I shall need to diet for the next two months.

So that about sums up my Easter… Pretty good really. An idea mix of culture and chocolate 🙂

Theatre

Last time I wrote I was about to head to the theatre. I’m pleased to report that it was a good little amateur production of something similar to the Emperors’ New Clothes and thankfully it wasn’t in dialect so I understood a reasonable amount.. It was nice to see the theatre in Sarnano too – it was my first time there.

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DIY progress

DIY progress is progressing! I painted the kitchen and hung up some of my artwork around the house so it feels like it’s got a bit more personality now. I’ve been trying to finish off all the niggly bits of DIY that could easily end up being left. It does feel like painting the forth bridge though. In fact, one of my earlier DIY attempts needs another overhaul (note: do not use wood as beading around the bath tub – no matter how many layers of paint and varnish and sealant you use, it will always look rubbish).

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Kitchen progress…

Right, I think that about sums up my week. I’m hoping to introduce a new “Property of the Week” section of local houses shortly so look out for that. Have a good week all.

x

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Easter Anomolies, Moving House and the Rip-off Notaio…

Ciao!

Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter!). Good news this week – I’ve found an apartment to rent! It’s in Falconara – which is a bit further north than I am now, just past Ancona. It’s closer to the airport but also unfortunately closer to a massive oil refinery. It’s been such a challenge finding anything suitable. This place has two bedrooms, is ok decorated, has three balconies and is a couple of minutes walk from the beach. It seems like a lively enough area which might make a nice change. However, I’m so sad to be leaving Camerano. It’ll have been my home for almost a year and there’s so much about it that I love. In summer it’s fantastic with things to do and weird traditions (see The Big Tray Race post), the view is fantastic and it’s close to all the places I like. Alas, there are new students coming into the language school here so it’s time to make space for them.

The Big Move Date is 2nd May. So now I’ve found somewhere the stress is off a little but a new string of bureaucracy will start! Every time you move, you need to tell the Comune where you’re moving to (I’m going to place a bet that it will take at least 2 months and 7 visits to fill out the necessary paperwork)!

The other exciting news of course is that it’s Easter! So I’ve discovered some things about Easter over in here in Italy:

  • The kids have a disappointing number of days off. They don’t have 2 weeks off like in the UK. They have 4 school days off. RUBBISH! And they don’t have half terms. They do, however, have a seemingly endless summer holiday (from the end of May to something like mid September). I’m not sure whose approach I like best. It’s nice to have a proper break in the summer but it does seem a bit relentless during term time.
  • The Easter eggs are not wrapped for efficient packing. They’re all in these big wrappers – they look quite glamorous but they’re expensive! Seem to start from around 6 Euros.
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There were aisles and aisles of these… Very impressive display but see what I mean about the packaging?

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This is the one I wanted…

  •  On the Thursday before Good Friday, and I’m not sure if this is just Ancona or whether it spreads further afield, but there seems to be a tradition to visit an odd number of churches (not just one – I checked!). Having said that, I couldn’t find any information about it and I was teaching my adult group unfortunately so didn’t get a chance to experience this one.
  • On Good Friday, something odd happened! Everyone put candles on their balconies and then just after 10pm, there was a procession of people singing a very mournful song along the streets. Quite moving really. I saw on the news that they’d done a similar thing in Rome led by the Pope so I assume that might be a “thing” across Italy.
  • They call Easter Monday “La Pasquetta” – means “little Easter”. Cute!

 

RIP Off Merchant / Notaio

I have other good news this week. I had an offer accepted on a house in Portsmouth so that seems to be going ahead, albeit at a snail’s pace.  I had to get my identity confirmed by a solicitor or a notary (notaio). For that, they needed to fill in a one page form and sign a photocopy of my passport. A whopping 5 minutes work. So I eventually found a notaio that could speak English (my local one refused on the basis that she couldn’t sign off an English document if she didn’t understand it), in Osimo. I asked how much this would cost and she said “just come along and we’ll discuss it”. So they led me into a room and then the Notaio came in, signed off the bits of paper and then said “that’ll be 120 Euros please”. 120 Euros. I could fly back to the UK and get the thing signed off by my own solicitor for less!!! I haven’t paid them yet. On moaning about the extortionate price, he did drop it down to 100 Euros. That’s 20 Euros a minute. I should totally become a Notaio.

Teaching

Well, I’ve been taught a lesson in responsibility this week. My actions have come back to haunt me. I had no idea that by calling in sick or going on holiday, that it meant I didn’t actually get out of going to work and that I had to make up the time! It’s not like calling in sick at my old work – they never made me go in on a Saturday or at Christmas to make up for it!!! This depressing turn of events unfortunately means I have to make up 2 hours with the Class of Evilness. Ugh. UGH.

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Not ALL the kids at school are evil though… 🙂

What’s a bit odd?

Last week I mentioned about some of the challenges of finding a house to rent/buy, in particular, locating decent pictures of the houses. I retract it all…

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This picture of a jug was complimented by two pictures of doors and a further two pictures of ceiling lights, thereby covering all of the essential features that I look for in buying a house.

Ok, over and out! Buona Pasqua tutti 🙂

xxx

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