Posts Tagged With: neighbours

Distractions, Opera and Carnivale…

Ciao a tutti!

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

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

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

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

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Pretending to be an innocent non-biting cat

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

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

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

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

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

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Carnivale in Castignano

 

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

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

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

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

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

xxx

 

 

 

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New house, new neighbours and Klaus the unwanted house guest…

Ciao!

Well! It wasn’t all a con as I suspected, it turns out I have an actual house! 🙂

The house - in fact, our bit of the house. It's split into 3 abodes in a rather odd and random fashion.

The house! I should say “Our bit of the house”. It’s split into 3 abodes in a rather odd and random fashion.

`Moving in` day was Tuesday last week and it was a bit full on. I say moving in day but we’ve got the flat in Falconara for another couple of months still so it’s going to be a gradual move.

Tuesday morning we headed to Gualdo, a little town close to the new house, to finally meet my lawyer. My fears of being conned weren’t helped by the fact that she’d forgotten to bring us the keys. However, a quick call later and it was arranged that we pick them up from a Tabaccheria in another local town.

On successfully locating the keys, it was time to locate the house. We had a house number and a road name to go by but Sat Nav didn’t recognise either so we navigated ourselves to the house using only our sixth sense. “Erm, does that patch of grass look familiar?” “That hill rings a bell eh?”, “We didn’t pass a farm before did we?”, “Were there this many pot holes last time?” (I swear one of the pot holes on our road is big enough to swallow the entire car if approached incorrectly. It might even be one of the natural sink hole phenomena). Still, after several wrong turns we went straight to it.

So we parked up and headed in and the place looks pretty much as we were expecting but for some reason rather than excitement, I was just overwhelmingly daunted! I think I was expecting to feel instantly at home and it’s well, not very homely at the moment. However, the house is habitable and in fact came fully furnished which was handy given I have no furniture in Italy.

The first day there consisted of cleaning things and sort of getting our bearings. There are odd little characteristics we hadn’t spotted before, including a sign on the plug socket saying that it shouldn’t be used under any circumstances. I really, REALLY want to see what happens when you plug something in. (If you don’t hear from me again, you’ll know what’s happened).

Anyway, let me show you around…

Main floor (ground floor)

It’s not really a `ground` floor but it’s the floor that you walk into. You actually go up some steps at the front of the house to enter it and you walk into the kitchen.

Kitchen: The oven and hob run off an eyebrow scorching gas cylinder, the fridge / freezer which we spent ages cleaning suddenly stopped working (fuse?), and the sink leaks. There is a fireplace that takes up half the kitchen. A whole new kitchen needs to be put in and I hate to say it but I think I’m going to get rid of the fireplace.  

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That cooker on the right hand side has a tendency to burn your eyebrows off.

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The other side of the kitchen looking towards a wall which will not be there for much longer! The fireplace on the left takes up half the kitchen wall!

Living room: Small at the moment (hoping to knock down a wall to make it bigger) and  it has chairs I can’t bring myself to touch with my bare flesh.

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Chairs….

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Other side of the living room… Bit basic you see.

Random other area: This is where the `stairs` to the upstairs is. By stairs I mean perilous wooden steps.

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Warning: Alcohol & these stairs do not mix. In the bottom right corner is the wood burning stove. And I’m going to do something exciting to that wooden table. Mwahahaha.

Bathroom:  The bathroom is small and a bit ugly and it’s so dark at night in the shower that I have to sing to myself to not be scared. Better for everyone’s sakes if I have a shower in the morning I think. Or get a decent light. I’m planning to overhaul this bathroom as a priority – why does everyone these days get rid of their bath!!!

The bathroom... it doesn't look bad here actually. There's a shower next to the bidet, behind the camera.

The bathroom… it doesn’t look bad here actually. There’s a shower next to the bidet, behind the camera. The cistern takes roughly 5 hours to fill up (slight exaggeration. Maybe like 4.5 hours).

Upstairs `Soffitto`

There are two bedrooms, a bathroom and the terrace up there. The two bedrooms are technically doubles but very small. I forgot to take photos! One has a very slanted roof. It would be nice to put in a couple of bay windows up there so that one could actually stand up in the slanted roof bedroom and in the bathroom.  I think my favourite thing about the house is the terrace. It’s only small, and slants and has a leaking gutter right next to it causing a little stream of water to flow across it when it rains (water feature?), but I love eating out in the open and I love our view.

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View from the terrace to next door’s place.

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This is the terrace with a very pretty view…

Downstairs `Cantina`

This is quite a big space – there’s potential to create a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom down here. However, I break out into a cold sweat every time I think about amount of work required! I think we’ll tackle that one after the other floors have been done.

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Garden

We have two garden spaces – a front garden which is opposite the house. I reckon you could fit maybe 6 cars on it (we haven’t measured it) and there’s a back garden which is about two cars big. Pane Caldo has been very enthusiastically planning it – we’re going to have a forest, orchard, lake and picnic area.

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours…….

We were introduced to the neighbours. Our immediate next door neighbour is possibly the nicest person ever. She paraded us up and down the hamlet shouting “look what beautiful young neighbours we have!!!” until one by one everyone within a 5 mile radius came out and said hello. Everyone is very friendly. We have enough vegetables from their gardens to start a small grocery business.

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The vegetables happy in their new home…

I made shortbread for them…

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They actually came out exactly like shortbread. That never happens!

My favourite thing about the next door neighbour is she has kittens! And she offered to give us one. I think that means I can say hello to a specific kitten when we occasionally see it. I imagine the neighbour would think I’d gone insane if I let the kitten inside the house.

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Two of the cats – they were having a cuddle on the drive. Awwww.

And then, there are the OTHER neighbours……… housemates if you will.

I now completely understand why the previous owner had a net over the bed and on all the windows. Mosquito’s are the last of our worries. After spotting this on the way to the bathroom……

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Klaus the Scorpion (less scary with a name eh?)

… on our first night we did a bit of research. There are indeed scorpions in Italy. Boooooo! Mostly they only sting one month of the year. Yaay! August. Boooooooooooooooooo! And they like warm bedding apparently. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

The next day the neighbours knocked (and came straight in) and wondered why we’d been shut up inside all day. I reported back about Klaus the Scorpion and said from now on access to the house would be closely guarded – no more open unsupervised doors and windows. In fact, I might build a moat as well. The neighbours laughed and said that we had just been unlucky, that they don’t really make an appearance ever and it was just because the place had been shut up for a while and we should have just trodden on him. What we actually did was to put a glass over him. Neither of us could cope with moving him so we left him there until we were feeling more emotionally resilient the following morning (note: emotional resilience is not improved following a night of scorpion infested nightmares). The next morning we were both feeling sad and guilty because Klaus had died….

But it was a trick! A trick I tell you! Scheming scorpion! We splashed a bit of water on him and bam! Back to life! Never trust a scorpion. He was subsequently released into the wilds of the front garden.

Anyway. I realise the scorpion fear is irrational. Why do I like these…

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Aw, cutie. He was only the size of my thumb. See, he doesn’t even need a name, he’s so cute.

But not these….

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Argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was a dead one that just sort of appeared on the terrace out of nowhere. I think I’m just as worried about what killed it as the thing itself!

But I have grand plans to address the problem….

Now I know why the previous owner had a random golf club in the cantina.

Now I know why the previous owner had a random golf club in the cantina.

So I have mixed feelings on the house – there are good bits and bad bits. We’re back there today after a trip to Ikea. I’m excited about that – it will be the first time I’ve been `extravagant` since I stopped working (if extravagance includes buying saucepans and crockery). I’m hoping to bond with it more in the next week or so when it starts to become more homely and after we’ve re-homed some of the wildlife.

Tune in soon for more an update on how it’s going and some photo’s from the very cool Summer Jamboree in Senigallia.

Have good weeks!

x

ps. Apologies for any spelling/ grammatical mistakes – my editor is on holiday! Pfft!

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