Posts Tagged With: Expat

Suspended armchairs, joining clubs and stormy skies…

Buonasera a tutti!

How is everyone? It’s been a busy couple of weeks here as ever it feels! The weather hasn’t been that great which has been good for the photography – stormy skies are definitely more dramatic than gorgeous blue cloudless ones! I apologise in advance for the abundance of photos in this week’s blog post 🙂

The ruin of UK roads…

I popped back to the UK for a whistle-stop tour. It was lovely to catch up with people that I managed to see, though this trip seemed shorter than ever. This visit included a journey up north to see my friend so there was also a fair bit of driving involved. I never thought I’d say this but I actually prefer driving in Italy. The number of variable average speed checks in the UK these days makes for very painful car journeys! Oh how times have changed from when I was so terrified of driving here that I used to message my parents to tell them that I was going to the shops in the car and, fearful I might not make it back alive, that I loved them.

IMPORTANT TIP FOR BIKE RIDERS!

I am also now fully equipped for bike riding! I have lights, a bag, a pump and a water bottle. I also discovered an interesting tip for bike riding: sometimes, one should pump up ones tires. Who knew?! (Yes yes, don’t be mean! For some reason it just never occurred to me). I have never pumped up my tires. Anyway, I’m pleased to confirm it goes like a dream now, though alas, I do not. It seems pumped up tires do improve things a bit but the whole experience is still unfortunately exhausting. I’m hoping to do my longest, highest ever bike ride in the next couple of weeks so I shall keep you posted on that. If I manage it, I might actually order myself some sort of medal.

Street Performers of Pennabilli

In the last few days there’s been a reasonably well-known festival called “Artisti in Piazza” in a little town called Pennabilli, in the Emilia-Romagna region. From Sarnano, where I live, it’s a bit of a trek but definitely worth a visit. The festival is very impressive – it runs for 5 days and street performers from around the world come to demonstrate their skills, whether that’s singing, acrobatics, comedy, magic, dance etc. It reminded me a bit of Covent Garden in London with the street performers – though these ones generally had a lot more apparatus. In London, you wouldn’t get an acrobatic performance complete with people doing handstands on suspended armchairs so there was definitely an extra dimension to the performances in Pennabilli. It was great to see performers from all over the world; it really was very international!

Unfortunately it rained for the first part of our visit but it didn’t spoil the atmosphere. People still stuck it out with their umbrellas!

Pennabilli and Sassotetto (5 of 35)

I think probably my favourite bit though was just Pennabilli itself – the town is lovely and set in the most beautiful countryside.  I could definitely live there!

Pennabilli and Sassotetto (15 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (16 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (17 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (14 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (12 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (10 of 35)

Club Alpino Italiano (CAI)  Membership!

I have joined a club! I like clubs! This one is a walking club. Club Alpino Italiano has lots of different offshoots across the country and I’ve joined the Sarnano one. They go walking every Sunday around the mountains. It’s great! Everyone seems really nice too.

About this time every year the mountains are covered in flowers and Sunday was a local “fioritura” (flowering) walk to learn more about them. Look at how pretty my local mountains are…Pennabilli and Sassotetto (27 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (28 of 35)

Pennabilli and Sassotetto (34 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (35 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (31 of 35)Pennabilli and Sassotetto (20 of 35)

We had a guide who told us about the flowers when we came across them and if they had any interesting features. One of my favourites can be set on fire and used as a torch whereas others you can use to poison people (beware those who cross me). Here are some of the flowers that are in the area at the moment…

In other news, I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago to see Niccolò Fabi perform in the theatre at Assisi. Niccolò is a local musician who’s made it reasonably big in Italy so the venue was completely packed out with almost everyone able to sing along to his songs. I think I stuck out like a sore thumb, I only knew the chorus of one of his songs! It’s a good one though with a nice sentiment. If you want to hear it, have a look here.

IMG_20160518_220701196

I think that about sums up the last few days. I hope you’ve all had good weeks too 🙂

The next update will be about by upcoming blog tour! I’ve been invited along to Hotel San Salvador in Bellaria Igea Marina to spend a few days checking out the hotel and the local area. I can’t wait. Watch this space!

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Why not to get a bike, being Indiana Jones and chocolate festivals…

Buongiorno a tutti!

How is everyone?

I hope you’re all well. I’m somewhat light on the photo front this week you might be pleased to know!

I had a flying visit to the UK last week. As usual it’s not ever quite enough time to get around everyone I’d like to but it was still lovely to see people. It wasn’t quite so persistently gloomy on the weather front either which was a nice change! In fact, when I left London it was gorgeous sunshine and when I arrived here it was raining… That never, ever happens! It’s always the opposite way around!

My cat Batfink (so named after the cartoon cat that had large ears… but he’s grown into his ears now and he’s a very handsome feline) seemed reasonably pleased to have me back. He’s hormonally active at the moment – I was told he was only supposed to have 3 weeks worth of err, hormones, but he seems to have fallen for his sister and they’re constantly hanging out together now. It would be quite cute if I wasn’t worried for the health of their future children. I was in charge of the neighbour’s dog today and we went for a walk up the road. Batfink came too, weaving in and out of my legs. I think I must look like a crazy cat lady to the locals.

I found an English language speaking group in Civitanova which I met up with on Friday. There was a good turnout with the majority being Italians wanting to practice their English and there was one other English girl. I’ll definitely go again, it’s just a shame it’s not a bit closer to Sarnano (it’s about a 50 minute drive).

Just before I left for the UK I bought a bike. It’s probably 20 years since I rode a bike (apart from one outing in Richmond Park). Anyway, let me tell you!!….. Buying a bike, when you live in the mountains and you live in a country known for the crazy drivers, is the silliest idea ever. I don’t know what possessed me. I have ridden up and down the road a few times on it which is absolutely exhausting and alas far less than a kilometer. Not to be defeated though, on Saturday I went to Abbadia di Fiastra, a lovely, large, flat (woohoo!) park and cycled for about 8km. It’s a great place to go to cycle because it’s all off-road so there’s no imminent danger of being hit by a car. However, I’m not used to cycling and by Saturday night, I felt like I’d been hit by a car anyway! Why do they make the seats so horribly uncomfortable?! I definitely bought the wrong bike – I want to be upright, with a basket on the front (and perhaps with a motor)! Still the deed is done so I better try and get a bit more in shape for it over the next few weeks.

On Saturday evening, I went to see my first play here in Italy. It was Madame Bovary at Civitanova Alta. I didn’t know quite what to expect. All the towns here have dinky little theatres. Having lived in London with the massive professional productions that often carry on for decades, I was expecting, well, less to be honest. However, it was anything but. It was very well performed, with excellent actors and a really creepy and original way of portraying Madame Bovary’s daughter. All-in-all, it was very impressive and I’m a bit sad that it was only being performed for one night, particularly after it must have taken months and months of hard work for them to prepare.

Sunday, rather than not get out of bed (everything ached!), I went for a walk around San Severino with a friend. San Severino is a lovely little town and it’s surrounded by hills (or rather mountains the size of Mount Everest for someone that is already aching everywhere). Walks in Italy are never straightforward. I had a book with me which described the walk, and we had downloaded a GPS map and there was also the occasional sign and yet still it wasn’t clear where we were supposed to be going! Still we made it back. The whole walk took about 5 hours. It was 19km with a climb of about 1km. As exhausting as it was, it was a really nice walk and it was good to see the Eremo di Sant’Eustachio, a monastery built in the 11th century that was partly carved out of the mountain. I felt a bit like Indiana Jones wandering around there. There’s also a lot of caves dotted around and the ruins of a mysterious round looking tower. On the whole, it was very interesting.

C360_2016-02-21-12-01-21-270

See what I mean about feeling a bit like Indiana Jones discovering some secret lost temple?!

C360_2016-02-21-12-01-47-323

This was the inside. There’s more rooms underneath and to the side of the Eremo, a cave that looks as if something interesting used to go on inside!

I think I must have burned off a reasonable number of calories over the weekend but after the walk, we discovered a chocolate festival in San Severino so the diet all went to pot. Still, I can highly recommend you all try white chocolate ice-cream and chocolate orange ice-cream 🙂

C360_2016-02-21-17-52-13-354

Mmmmmmmm chocolate…

 

In other exciting news, I’ve been invited along on another Blog Tour so I’m excited about that 🙂 More details to come as and when I get them but it’ll be in June. I’ve also got a few friends lined up to visit me later in the year which is going to be good.

And I’m famous! I’ve had an interview published on http://www.expatfinder.com – I wrote it probably over a year ago so it’s somewhat out of date but still, I’m famous! Click here for the interview.

Anyway, I hope you all have an excellent week.

Buonaserata!

x

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dog attacks, the abandoned village and gigs!

Buongiorno a tutti!

Well it’s been a very mixed couple of weeks here.

Generally I thoroughly recommend being an ex-pat. Living abroad and learning a different language and about a different culture is eye-opening. Every day is exciting because there’s always something new, something weird on the TV, a strange festival you’ve never heard of or a new phrase to learn. I don’t know whether that lets up at some point after years in the country, but at the moment I find it just as refreshing for the soul as ever almost three years on. However, being an ex-pat does come with its down sides. The most difficult thing by far is being away from friends and family and rather than it getting easier with time, it gets harder as everyone, including me rather depressingly gets older and frailer. It’s only a 2 hour flight to get back to the UK from where I live in Italy but it takes a full day by the time you take into account getting to and from airports etc. Then of course it’s difficult to drop everything in your new country because you’ve built a life there – work commitments etc. And herein lies the heart of the matter, deciding to live away from family and friends because the weather is nicer and it’s just more exciting, seems an inherently selfish choice! It becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile that choice when something bad happens at “home”. Last week, my grandmother died. So, it’s been a sad few days but I feel somewhat cheered that she fully supported my life over here. Despite being almost ninety she used to always read by blog and when I came home was full of questions.

On a far less depressing note…. I finally got to go to a place I’ve been meaning to for the last few months, Laturo. Laturo is a little village in the middle of the Abruzzi Mountains. In the 1950’s there were 50 families consisting of about 200 people living there. By the end of the 1970’s the last family had left and the village was left to go to ruin. It really is in the middle of nowhere, there are no roads to get there. I had attempted to come here with a group a couple of months back but I mistook directions. Now some of the houses have been bought, vegetable patches have been planted, a new church has been built and other aspects are all slowly being restored with the help of a group called Amici di Laturo (Friends of Laturo). We met a few other walkers/explorers whilst we were there and were offered a beer with them! I hate beer. I know that people’s tastes change over time and I’ve actually grown to like olives and coffee when before I would have thought I was being poisoned. So every so often, I try beer. Usually I’m left wondering why beer manufacturers go to such lengths to make the stuff when the dregs of my washing up water probably taste the same. Anyway, in Laturo, drinking with some random men, I discovered a beer I actually like. But it was a local artisan beer that the guy had bought with him that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to find it again! Anyway, what nice people you can meet out and about 🙂

Laturo (1 of 1)

Overlooking the  mountains…

I also went to see an Italian / Irish music band last week at a pub in Civitanova. You might remember a few weeks ago I went to see an Italian / American Country music band and was gobsmacked at how authentic the music and accents were. This time was the same – authentic even to the point of not understanding half of the words.  Anyway, that was a lovely night and I discovered that the pub does a good veggie burger meal!

C360_2016-01-08-23-00-54-465

The Green Mussels 🙂

IMG-20160109-WA0010

And my doodle of them on a place mat!

Weather wise it’s been a very interesting week! At the beginning of the week there was so much wind I’m surprised it wasn’t called a hurricane! One tree blew over by the house blocking one road and a big branch fell down blocking another. It’s been good for wood collecting though to top up my supplies which I’m a bit worried about to be honest! Yesterday we had our first snowfall and today it continues! Hopefully I’ll be able to get out and do some snowboarding this week.

In other news, I’m just in the process of getting house insurance. Buying insurance here isn’t a simple case of going online to one of the comparison sites. I can only think of one here and it gives you about 3 very expensive options.  You can go to specific companies and they might be able to give you a quote but even that’s rare. It seems an absolutely archaic way of going about things, actually having to SPEAK to someone! Still, I braced myself and contacted my Insurance Man who sold me the car insurance. I told him how much I paid last year and what the policy covered (that was an online thing but for stupid reasons, I couldn’t renew it this year) and he came back with a much cheaper and better policy. So perhaps this archaic way of going about things isn’t really all that bad.

I’m on a “making bread stocks” mission at the moment. I’ve just made several sourdough loaves and next up is pita bread, hamburger buns and pizza bases. I’ve also resolved to make a new recipe every week so working my way through my new Christmas recipe book as we speak (thank you Mum & Dad!).

C360_2016-01-16-10-45-00-250

And this morning I narrowly escaped (in my opinion!) being mauled to death by four angry dogs. There’s a breed here local to this part of Italy, Pastore Maremmano. They protect sheep flocks from wolves so they’re pretty vicious when they need to be. And very, very protective. I went for a walk this morning nearby. I could hear the gentle jingling of sheep bells but didn’t think much of it. When I turned a corner, two of these large dogs came running at me, teeth bared.  I thought that was the end of me! They slowed down and followed me up the road and then another one came running behind me barking. Then there was another one up ahead that had thankfully just veered off the road so I could at least head back home and then another one joined in at the side to ensure I was properly scared away (I was, I was!!). I shall not be walking here on my own for a while.

I think that about sums up the last couple of weeks here. I hope you’ve all had good weekends! I’ll leave you with a photo I took on the mountain above the Garulla Rifugio last week…

Laturo (9 of 9)

xxx

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Urban Forests, Snow shoes and “Newphews”!

Buongiorno!!!

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!
DSC04229

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!

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Italification, how to defeat curses and painting with oils…

Buongiorno a tutti,

How is everyone? Good few days here. Here’s the update…

Italification

Today, I took one more step towards driving like an Italian. I’m not proud of it. It’ll tell you what happened. I was waiting at temporary traffic lights at some roadworks. The lights went green and cars went through. Then came the amber light, as is customary with traffic lights, and the car in front of me sped through. Fair enough. Nothing illegal technically there really. And then they turned to red. Quick as a flash I weighed up the options. Did I have time to stop? I could see the road was clear and, although not proud of going through on red, I decided squeezing through was the safer option. I looked back. Would the man in the car behind me judge me for going through when they had turned red? I gave a snort of derision when I saw he’d also gone through. And then I laughed all the way home when I saw another 6 cars also go though after him! Rules are there to be broken is most definitely the motto here.

Painting

I’ve been doing a bit of painting in the last week or so – experimenting with oil paints which I’ve not done before. My nude-y drawing course is just getting going – it’s one afternoon a week. We have a male and a female model that will pose alternate weeks. It’s quite good having a model that is paid to stay in one position rather than asking a mate to begrudingly stay still! Anyway, my plan is to do many more oil paintings and be good enough to sell them online. However, I can’t bring myself to post up my first oil painting attempts so I think I’ll have to overcome that for my strategy to be effective!

How to defeat a Festa / Outing Curse

Last week I was invited on an organised walk by my friend, Il Polemico. Every time I go somewhere with him something tends to go wrong – I take the train to a station 2 hours in the opposite direction, I don’t bring lunch on an all day walk, I take us to a “festa” that consists of about 2 stalls… This time though, I read the walk instructions and I was well prepared. It was to start at 8.30 at the little church in Olmeto which was about two hours away. Fine I thought. I’ll wake up early and give myself plenty of time. I packed my bag and made a packed lunch the night before and headed off at ‘insane o’clock’ the following morning. Nobody was there but I was early. And then it was 8.30 and still nobody was there but that was still OK because I’m in Italy and everyone is always late. And then Il Polemico phoned to ask where I was as he was supposedly phoning from the same little church parking lot that I was in. I looked around and it was still empty. I knew then it was the wrong Olmeto – and indeed it was. There are two in Le Marche apparently – the one I wanted was 3 hours in the other direction.

Anyway, not wishing to waste the day, I went on a personalised tour of the region…

DSC03676

This was taking from near Olmeto where the walk was not taking place!

DSC03692

And then I headed to Asissi which was close-by. I really like Asissi but I didn’t do much looking around as I’d already been and there were other places on my tour that I hadn’t been to before.

DSC03696

And then there was Spello which is a lovely little hill top town.

DSC03716

Another view of Spello.

DSC03727

And this was taken in Foligno. Foligno has been on my list of places to go to for a long time so I was glad I went. It’s a bit more of a main town and less quaint than I was thinking it would be. And it’s not on a hill which is my favourite kind of town! But it did have small waterways running through it, a river running outside of it and a beautiful park so all in all, still a nice town.

DSC03740

Evidence of the river running outside Foligno.

Last year I went to a festa called Diamonte del Tavola in Amandola. It was very good – there were hundreds of people and the streets were packed with stalls selling truffles and wine and various local specialities. The thing is, I was with other people and my festa / outing hit rate is more successful when it’s not just me. Anyway, this year I went by myself. And it was not bustling. There was basically only a book stall and the streets were deserted. Tumbleweed blew across the town (it didn’t but it might as well have!) I think what had happened is that I had mentioned out loud that I was planning to go to the festival, and subsequently the stall owners and visitors subsequently disappeared. I imagine it’s like a surprise party where all the guests hide behind the sofas and in wardrobes but in this instance they just don’t come out until I’ve gone. Anyway, I bought some books so that’s good. And I assume it livened up a bit closer to lunch and dinner time.

And yesterday I went to Appassimenti Aperti in Serrapetrona with Pablo (and I also didn’t mention it out loud so people weren’t informed in advance to scarper). Appassimenti means “withering” in reference to the way they make their wine, known as Vernaccia. Aperti means “open” – a lot of the Cantinas where the wine is made in that immediate area are open to the public. It’s definitely worth a visit – the countryside is spectacular and the wine is good. They have an unusual production method  – they string up the grapes they’ve harvested and then leave them to well, wither, for a few months before they even start wine production. For the festa itself, you pay 4 euros for an empty  glass and a handy little carrier for it that goes around your neck. You are given 5 tokens which you can use at the various Cantina’s or at the stalls in the main town, to try whatever wine you’d like. There are free minibuses that take you to the Cantina’s from the main town. We only made it to one Cantina which has one of the best reputations, Alberto Quacquarini.

C360_2015-11-15-14-38-52-420

They hang up the grapes for a few months before making the wine. Interestingly, they didn’t seem completely riddled with flies. I wonder how they do that?

C360_2015-11-15-14-28-11-655

There were dozens of rows of these grapes…

IMG_20151115_145509618_HDR

And they had a pretty idyllic terrace as well…

C360_2015-11-15-14-43-44-658

…with amazing views.

I think that about sums up the last week or two here. I hope you all have good weeks wherever you are.

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Natale, Competition Update and Blog Rebirth!

Ciao a tutti!

Has everyone had a good Christmas? I’ve had (and I’m still having for that matter) a lovely break back in the UK. It’s a shame I’ve missed Christmas in Italy particularly when I’ve heard such odd sounding things about it from the Italian kids at school. I had a very long conversation with the infants about what name we call our Good Witch in the UK. I can think of a few potential witch candidates. However, on further discussion it’s nobody I know 😉 On the 6th January, the Good Witch known as La Befana pops around to the houses to fill the children’s stockings (as in Christmas stockings rather than those of the tights variety). TWO present giving days within the space of 12 days! I’m still in the UK on the morning of the 6th. I intend to leave my stocking out (probably the tights variety because my Christmas one is in the loft. They stretch so I think it’s a better strategy anyway) and hope she makes it to the UK.

Competition

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on the Expats Blog website article and the blog (to see the lovely comments, click here) – I was really touched by the number of them and the thoughtful things you said 🙂 Alas, I didn’t win. There were some great articles and Greg who won “Italy”, wrote a spot-on and very amusing article on “Top 10 Signs that confirm you’ve gone full Italian”.

But it’s OK because we had our Family Christmas Photography Competition and I submitted these, quite frankly, WINNING photos taken around Italy (click on the photos to see them in their full size STUNNING glory).

Image

The kid version of the Big Tray Race back in the Summer

Image

Pretty Poppies in Spring

Image

Summer in Abruzzo

Image

“Autumn” in Macerata (quotes due to the fact it was I think technically Winter)

Image

Winter in Camerano

And lost that too! Competitions schmompetitions 😉

Blogging

I love writing this blog. It’s an excellent way of venting! I got a couple of books on how to make money from blogging for Christmas (thank you SD and GD!) and so I’ve been reading up on those. I’ve decided to keep this blog going but set up a more serious “Le Marche” blog (Le Marche – for those that haven’t been paying attention, is the region of Italy where I live 😉 ).  I suspect the people following this blog aren’t waiting with baited breath to find out about how to buy train tickets over here or the best restaurants to go to so I might focus here just on the column aspect and use the other blog for Le Marche specific news.

For this other “Le Marche” blog – I think there’s a niche in the market. I’ve by no means travelled to all the regions in Italy (this year though I hope!), but I really think you couldn’t get a much better area. There’s great transport links between here and London, fabulous coastline, national parks, mountains for walking and skiing, quaint little hill top villages, architecture, history… But hardly anyone’s heard of the place back in the UK and there’s a distinct lack of information about the area. I’d like to promote the area a bit to the English-speaking folk (and the Italian’s to be honest but my language skills aren’t quite up to that yet!).

I’d like your thoughts and advice though! Bloggers make money from adverts primarily – who would want to advertise on either of the blogs? Any thoughts on what I should include or not? How could I improve this current blog? All comments welcome!

Happy New Year all!

x

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Competitions, Popstardom and Christmas

Ciao!

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…

I NEED YOU!

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.

Apps

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…

Image

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.

Christmas!

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

Image

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…

Image

Numana and the lights (and the ugly church)

Image

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).

Image

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.

Image

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…

x

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

Blog at WordPress.com.