Posts Tagged With: spring

Making paper, earthquake update and flower power…

Buongiorno,

How is everyone? I’m thrilled to report that in this blog post there are no deaths to report or indeed bad news of any kind 🙂 I knew this day would come!

There’s not too much to report on since the last post. It’s been glorious weather so I’ve been out and about in the sun. The flowers are out and it’s lovely to see.

The cats are enjoying the sunshine too and bringing in the world’s supply of ticks (thankfully they’re not biting them but hitching lifts – neither me or the cats are enjoying the tick eradication sessions when they come in of an evening).

The main thing of interest this week has been a workshop with the lovely Natan and Catharina of Nightcloud Studio in the hills around Amandola for an all-day paper-making workshop. Like many of us, they were unfortunately hit quite badly by the earthquake in 2016 but their studio has remained in full working order!

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Natan and Catharina make paper out of almost everything – it’s a great way of recycling and when things don’t get made into paper, they get used in other ways! This was their blue bottle fence surrounding the veggie patch.

It was a great day out – they started off giving us an overview of the history of paper and showing us some examples of papers made from different materials. It turns out you can make paper from almost anything: nettles, grass, jeans, t-shirts, wheat. I’d always had in mind, probably like most people, that paper is something that you write, draw or paint on but the papers we were leafing through there were pieces of art in their own right.

Since the workshop I’ve been seeing the world in a different way – everything I come across I’ve been wondering whether I could turn into paper! It’s a wonderful way of recycling things. Natan and Catharina have clearly experimented loads with lots of different techniques and their workshop is full to the brim with artwork and papers. They have an exhibition in Amandola in May.

In other exciting news I saw the apartment in Sarnano that I will be moving into at some point courtesy of the government following the earthquake. It’s not finished yet – there aren’t any doors and the electrical points and plumbing all need to be finished but it’s good to finally see it. It’s a reasonable size with a couple of good-sized bedrooms, a terrace and an open plan living room and kitchen. In Sarnano we’re lucky that we’ve been offered the possibility of these apartments – other areas aren’t quite so lucky.

That’s about it from me. Until next time!

x

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Barns, bags of spiders and lake dolphins…

Buongiorno a tutti!

How is everyone? All good here. Various bits and pieces going on but I still feel like I’m missing a life plan! Anyway, updates below but I’ll start off with a bit of real estate…

Who would like to buy this lovely barn?!

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I don’t know if the sweetcorn comes with it but I think it makes for a lovely rustic room divider/fly screen!

As you can see it’s a bit rustic and requires a bit of work but it would make a lovely home once renovated and it has an amazing view of Sarnano and the mountains. It’s in a peaceful, rural little area called Colleciccangelo just on the outskirts of Sarnano. There’s actually two buildings and an adjoining courtyard included in the price (40,000 euros, negotiable). There’s lots of potential and if anyone is interested, there’s even a proposed plan for the property. Great investment potential. For anyone wishing to see more photos and/or to test their Italian, have a look at the advert here!

In other news, SPRING IS HERE!!!!! It’s been lovely. I’m so pleased! I’ve been a bit more inspired to go out and take some photos too. I have attached proof of “Spring” below…

 

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I’ve discovered a lovely little restaurant called Il Sigillo in Camporotondo with a newly discovered ex-pat too. It was a really nice little restaurant in a quaint little town and it was surprisingly empty. They do a vegetarian tasting menu so I’m hoping to try that one day. Interestingly, the word the Italian’s use for “tasting” in their menus is degustazione which to me, sounds too similar to disgust to make it an attractive option. In a similar way, I find it very difficult to buy a packet of arachidi which means peanuts, but sounds like you’re buying a bag of spiders. Still, I’m glad I’ve found a new restaurant to supplement my tried and tested “Scherzi a Parte” which  all my guests get taken to at one time or another.

I’ve been cycling almost every day and at the weekend I cycled 16km! SIXTEEN! Which I know many of you will probably be thinking is absolutely nothing but it’s akin to a marathon for me! And it’s very hilly where I live. This whole exercise debacle means I’m permanently aching from head to toe but I think I’m getting better.

In other successful news, I also discovered that you can walk all the way around Lago di Fiastra (the biggest reservoir in Le Marche), a feat I’d previously thought was impossible because of lack of pathways. Despite going off the beaten track a couple of times, it’s not impossible by any means. The lake is beautiful. It’s crystal clear and I used to enjoy swimming in it up until earlier in the week when my friend told me that it’s dangerous, full of whirlpools and there are nameless things the size of dolphins in there. I have googled and I can’t find any evidence of these claims. Nevertheless, it seems less of an inviting prospect now!!! I did take some photos though.

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I would just like to say how annoying I find power lines in this country. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, and they stick power lines everywhere.

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Another highlight of the week was “Occhi negli occhi”, a piano and string quartet concert that was held in San Ginesio’s theatre (San Ginesio is one of the nearest towns to Sarnano where I live). The pianist and composer was Fabio Capponi. The music was brilliant, as were all of the musicians. Click here for one of the songs that I think was recorded whilst I was there. I was inspired enough to buy the CD and now I’m annoyed that I can’t find the sheet music anywhere to be able to play it myself! I’m hoping he’ll be famous soon so it will be downloadable. San Ginesio’s theatre was beautiful too – a lovely venue. As a “Sarnanese” (someone from Sarnano), I’m supposed to hate San Ginesio, a tradition going back to when all little towns in Italy seemed to be at war against all the other little towns, but I must say, their theatre definitely wins the “Dinky and cute and nicely decorated” award!

I think that about sums things up here. I hope everyone else had a good week 🙂

A presto,

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

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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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Hunting for houses, implementing my new motto, and latest art updates

Ciao a tutti,

Well, well, well! These last couple of weeks have been challenging somewhat! I can understand why house hunting is called that now and not simply house finding. I include below an illustrated account of just some of the house hunting hurdles here in Italy…

  • House Hunting Hurdle number 1: Estate agents rarely put prices of apartments/houses in their windows. They’re also rarely in the office so you can’t even ask them. If you email them to ask, well, suffice to say I have NEVER received a response from them.
  • HHH number 2: I’ve been using www.subito.it, a general buying/selling stuff website. People don’t put even the most basic information on their advert. Some of them just say “phone me”. Why? Why would I do that?! Is it a mansion you’re letting or a bedsit and where even is it?! WHY WOULD I PHONE YOU TO FIND OUT???
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Or maybe it’s a bird house they’re letting. Who indeed knows.

  • HHH number 3: Well let me tell you why you would phone them to find out. It’s because people seem to have a morbid fear of email and will not respond. Or if they respond then it’s to ask you to phone them. I don’t like talking to people on the phone at the best of times (I’m more of a face to face person rather than an unsociable person). I especially don’t like phoning people when I’m still terrible at speaking Italian! Charades does not work on the phone!
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Erm. Perhaps not the most realistic sketch of a terrified person. (I’ve drawn him in a sleeping bag jacket though so that’s at least true to life)

  • HHH number 4: The photos on the adverts – you should SEEEEE them (that’s if there are any, there aren’t often!). To sell and rent their houses, they put up photos of their moth-eaten 10 year old sofa, a wall, sometimes a scooter, perhaps a kitchen table covered in the remnants of their last meal… It’s a very rare occasion indeed they’ll put a picture of their actual house/flat up there! And the estate agents themselves are no better. I think there’d be a market for an estate agent who took decent pictures of the ACTUAL house/apartment and then, you know, RESPONDED to people who were interested in it.
  • HHH number 5: Everything is about square meters here. I can’t picture things in square meters. I want a two double bedroom place, not a 80 square foot place. Still – I’m actually getting used to the meters now and it is admittedly useful. It would just be more useful if they described how it was divided up too!
  • HHH number 6: When they say something is unfurnished, and half of them are, they literally mean it’s an empty shell. Nothing. Just rooms with some pipes sticking out of the wall. In any circumstances I think that’s insane, I particularly think it’s insane when you’re renting. It seems crazy to get a kitchen fitted complete with work surfaces and everything and then take it with you into a new place with undoubtedly an entirely different layout. C.R.A.Z.Y.

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  • HHH number 7: Once you’ve located a place that’s furnished, well, I don’t wish to be picky or anything, but OH MY WORD! Suffice to say that modern looking furniture does not seem to be the style here.
  • HHH number 8: Hardly anyone seems to have a bath anymore. And yet they all have bidets! You can’t relax with a glass of wine and candles on a bidet!!!   I WANT A BATH!!!
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I imagine this is what I will be reduced to doing shortly…

So, we’ve seen lots of places (I’ve a friend staying with me at the moment) and there’s one place that doesn’t seem so bad but it’s next door to huge oil refinery. It’s only going to be for 6 months or so whilst I hopefully find somewhere to buy here. In terms of buying,  I can’t get much for my money in any of the towns. I’m now thinking of venturing further into the countryside which could get a bit lonely but I think I’d prefer a nice house and some potential to make some money as a B&B or doing something with the land too in the long run.

Teaching, teaching, teaching

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks – it might be because there’s an end in sight. I’ve got 6 weeks left! I lost my rag at the Evil Class last week again and told them I’m only going to do colouring in with them from now on (which I think they’re all thrilled about). I told the teacher that too. She said that I shouldn’t lose hope and that she thinks that on some very deep, deep, deeeeeeeep level they might have actually been listening. Ha!

I do have a lovely bunch of adults that I’m teaching though so that’s good!

Art progress

I should stop making stuff now and get on with putting it online to see. I’m still struggling to find some decent deep frames and now some packing material so that I can send stuff to people. I think that will be this week’s task. And I need to try and take some decent pictures of these things too – how I’d love to have a proper studio!

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Driftwood Harbour

Village harbour

Driftwood home sign – now all I need is to find a home!!!

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Driftwood Hamlet

 

Spring is in the air…

In other news, spring is definitely in the air and it’s lovely! The daisies are out, the jasmine is blooming (I’m back to sneaking “cuttings” off the local jasmine bushes to bring back to the flat because it smells so nice!) and I’ve seen a few poppies now too. I can’t wait until I’ve stopped teaching and can get out and enjoy it a bit more!

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Looks almost snowy!

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UK Tour, Best Self Controlled Teacher Award and Appropriate Clothing…

Ciao a tutti!

How is everyone? Well, I hope! I’m sorry for the silence. I’ve been out and about doing a speedy tour around the UK.

So, the tour started a week ago last Wednesday and I headed up to the Lakes to spend some time with a good friend and her new baby (well new to me at least), then onto Harrogate in Yorkshire for an annual “girls weekend” and had a great time. Then I headed down south to see friends and family in Hampshire and then a flying visit to London before coming back to Italy on Sunday.

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Harrogate – that’s Betty’s Tea Room on the corner. It’s a bit pricey but absolutely lovely!

Meanwhile, I put in an offer for a house in Portsmouth which was rejected (pah!). Why are you buying there and not Italy I hear you ask? Well, I have a cunning plan which involves buying a house to rent out in the UK so I get some more rental income coming in every month and then I can retire from my much loved teaching career.

Much loved teaching career

ARGH I HATE IT!!! One 6 year old swore at me yesterday. I think he was hoping I didn’t know what it meant. Little did he know that I have an Italian friend here obsessed with learning English swear words which has resulted in me acquiring a reasonable grounding in the Italian equivalents. Anyway, in the last 6 months, I haven’t seen this child without ‘disgustingness’ encrusted around his nose. I’ve tried being nice to him which does work occasionally but when he’s actually punching me, it’s a struggle to be nice. I don’t want to ‘big myself up’ at all but I should definitely, DEFINITELY be nominated for some sort of prize for not punching him back (I’ve just checked – there are genuine Teacher Awards. Who knew? I think you have to be nominated by your pupils. Booooo!). I only have 10 weeks there left. I’ve informed the school who contract me out that the mental torture isn’t worth the money and I’m not doing it next year. They seem to have been alright with it and even offered me another teaching job every Thursday to “young adults” which I’ve accepted. It doesn’t sound quite so emotionally draining and apparently there’s a syllabus (not that I’ve seen it, still plenty of time before this Thursday eh?!). These young adults will be working in hotels and restaurants so I really hope this means cheap/free food and drink over the summer period. I’ve another private regular teaching job coming up too.

Fermo

I’m going to Fermo (a region in Le Marche further south than where I am now) on Friday for a couple of days to catch up with a friend of mine and to see the local area. I can’t wait! I don’t think I’ve been there before and it’ll be great to see some new towns and get a feel for a new area. My friend is then coming back  here with me so I’ve been trying to make the flat look acceptable. Another friend has very rudely dubbed my spare room the “sh*t tip” because of a rather large collection of driftwood and various beach-found materials stored there for artistic purposes. Pah! However, all the great artists were misunderstood and unappreciated when they were alive aren’t they? I suspect it’s just not my time yet 😉

Spring is here!

The weather has been amazing since I got back – hot and sunny. The flowers are out and everything is green and pretty. People had been asking last week whether I was looking forward to going back to Italy and I have to admit that I wasn’t that fussed this time because it meant going back to work! However, I’m thrilled to report that I still love being here. I was on the beach the last couple of lunchtimes and it’s difficult to imagine a nicer place, for me at least (mainly because I’m surrounded by seaglass and interesting rocks and shells for the artwork!).

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Look how nice and sunny it is around Monte Conero!

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And the nice sunsets are back too 🙂 This is from my balcony.

Artwork

Well, let me tell you. Nobody (that I saw at least) is using dry brush as a technique for portrait painting in London. They seem to be using charcoal. So the new plan is to do that. I still need a lot of practice on the portrait drawing front. My friend in Harrogate was stroppy for a whole hour after my portrait of her (nobody ever poses for me – they’re always watching TV, or looking at their laptop so everyone always looks a bit gormless. ON THEIR OWN HEADS BE IT!). I need to get better at making everyone look pretty. There’s not been much else going on unfortunately on the art front because I’ve been out of the country but hoping to do some more next week.

What’s a bit odd?

It’s been a while since I’ve had a “what’s a bit odd!”. This one cropped up when I got here last year but it’s worth a repeat because it’s such a weird cultural difference. You can ALWAYS pick out a foreigner here. Today, it was 21 degrees. A beautiful warm and sunny day. I even got a bit of a tan. I, Ms English, was wearing a vest top, cotton trousers and some slip-on shoes. To sum up, I was wearing weather-appropriate clothing. The Italians, also wear a vest top. But on top of that they might wear a long sleeved t-shirt, a jumper and then to all intents and purposes, a sleeping bag. They’ll also probably have heavy jeans/trousers, definitely a scarf, sometimes a hat, and a large percentage will have big boots on. And let me tell you why – it’s simply because it’s not June yet. In Spring and Autumn, the Italian’s wear jeans and jumpers and sleeping-bag-coats REGARDLESS OF THE ACTUAL WEATHER. We English folk will look outside at the weather, see that it’s sunny and warm and go immediately to a beach/park and strip off, lest we completely miss “Summer”.

So, I struggle with this one – I generally try my best to fit in with the Italian culture (mainly by eating pasta, pizza and drinking wine all the time) but I think I would just expire if I attempted to wear the excessive level of clothes that an Italian does. The weirdest thing of all, is that they genuinely don’t seem to realise that it’s hot. It’s not like watching dogs trapped in cars in the summer – they’re not panting and there’s no visible sweat marks (I suppose you’d never see it through the sleeping bag anyway). I think they’re actually just built differently.

Ok, onwards and upwards. Have a good rest of week everybody!

xxx

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