Posts Tagged With: Teaching

Exploring Venice, Drawing Nudes and My Terrible Affliction…

Buonasera a tutti,

How is everyone? I’ve had a successful week here, slightly more productive than recent weeks at least! Here’s an update going from the least to the most exciting.

Teaching

I have a terrible affliction. I am unable to say ‘no’ to people that want lessons. If you’re new to this blog, just to fill you in, I do not like teaching, particularly children. I don’t wish to sound ungrateful by any means, I’m incredibly fortunate to be in a position where work finds me rather than vice versa. But it’s a lot of effort, not so much the class itself but all the preparation that goes into it for so little reward. The pay is awful (and the children are mean to me and they don’t listen. It’s literally just like being back at school again!!!!) Interviews are non existent – the only qualification required is that I’m English. My interviews in the UK used to be “can you explain to me what the critical path of a project is and how you’d highlight what that is using x software?”. Now my interviews consist of only “when can you start?”. Last week the local school phoned me up to see if I could do some teaching and we organised a catch up. It went thusly:

School: Great. So what hours can you do?

Me: Meh. You know, I really don’t like teaching. Let’s say, the minimum number of hours possible and even then I’m not sure I want to do it. Maximum of maybe 3 hours a week.

School: Ok. What about 8 hours a week?

Me: Ugh. I really don’t like teaching. Did I mention that?

School: Huh. Well what do you want to do?

Me: I want to be a rich and successful artist.

School: <laughing/odd looks> Ok. How about we say, like 6 hours a week?

Me: <sigh> I guess.

School: How much is your usual hourly rate?

Me: Hmmm 25 Euros…

School: Great.

Me: But no, hang on. If I’m teaching a bunch of people and they’re all paying you x, I want at least half of everything you get to take the edge off.

So that’s that. In January, I shall be teaching a mix of children (ugh) and adults (not at the same time unfortunately).

Infinity TV

My Italian speaking went considerably downhill when I stopped watching CSI New York (an american police drama series for the uninitiated) which was for an hour and a half or so each weekday. Watching TV may SOUND lazy but when you’re learning a new language it’s really quite helpful, particularly when it’s dubbed and subtitled in Italian. I stopped watching it when they moved to CSI Miami as I can’t stand David Caruso (I’m sorry if you’re reading this David. It’s nothing personal but for goodness me, you don’t have to spend the entire programme talking to people but looking meaningfully elsewhere). Anyway, since then I’ve not found any other decent TV programmes. To the discerning English eye (mine at least), Italian TV can be summarised largely by back-to-back sexist drivel. However, I have discovered “Infinity TV”! I can’t tell you how chuffed I am! You pay just under 5 euros a month and you can watch an unlimited amount of different series and films, many with subtitles both in English and Italian and have the audio in their original language if you want. So in summary, my Italian language comprehension and vocabulary practice has just got a lot less boring.

Drawing Course

My nudey drawing class has started! It’s for one day a week. So far so good. I think I naturally err to the more traditional sort of art techniques and this course is more about exploring different mediums so it’ll be interesting learning new techniques!

Chioggia and Venezia

My favourite part of last week by far though was a quick trip to Venice and a town called Chioggia nearby to it. I drove up with my friend Pablo (I allowed him to select his own blog nickname and he’s chosen “Pablo” after Pablo Escobar, the Mexican Drug Kingpin. I don’t, however, believe he has any drug cartel connections to speak of). Saturday night we explored Chioggia, a little village on the seafront, 40 minutes drive to the south of Venice. It was nice but probably needs a bit more time to explore to get the best out of it.

This is Chioggia at night...

This is Chioggia at night…

Then we headed to Venice. Venice is one of my favourite places and its nice in the autumn as it’s slightly less busy than usual. Here are some photos…

Venezia (10 of 137) Venezia (118 of 137) Venezia (120 of 137) Venezia (132 of 137) Venezia (134 of 137) Venezia (18 of 137) Venezia (19 of 137) Venezia (55 of 137)And then we went to a cute little island called Burano that you have to get a ferry to. It specialises in lace making and has some really lovely unique clothes etc. The thing of note when you go there though are the houses – all different colours. It’s a very pretty place!
Venezia (79 of 137) Venezia (86 of 137) Venezia (92 of 137) Venezia (95 of 137)

I think that about sums up my week. I hope you’re all well 🙂

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The Throat of Hell, unique ways of procrastinating and what to do with an abundance of chestnuts…

Buongiorno a tutti,

How is everyone? It’s been a lovely here the last few days which has been a nice change from what has felt like constant rain lately! It was beginning to feel like I was still in the UK 😉

So things to update here are as follows…

Teaching & Procrastinating

I’ve been doing a bit of teaching again which has been good. Teaching adults is far less traumatic! I’ve also got a new local “language exchange” buddy which I’m pleased about.

I have not been editing my book. I have been procrastinating. Instead of editing, I have learnt how to do the Cups song from the film Pitch Perfect and I decided I should learn a new song on the guitar (which I have not played for years). Soon my art course will start so I’ll have less editing time. I’m very annoyed with myself!

Chestnutting

I’m still trying to do some thing with the mountain of chestnuts I collected. I have made: Chestnut Butter (it’s impossibly rich), Chestnutella (chocolatey chestnut spread which turned out alright only I use the term “spread” very loosely, because it basically doesn’t) and Marron Glacé  (which are candied chestnuts. These are nice but I think just one is equivalent to my recommended calorie intake for the week).

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This is my version of “Maron Glace”. I don’t think they will win any awards for their presentation.

Festa-ing

I have been ‘festa-ing’! I am usually cursed when it comes to festa’s. They’re often cancelled, I’ve just missed them by seconds, or they just don’t exist. I tried to go to one in Sarnano last weekend but that one had been cancelled without any apparent word. I don’t understand why I was the only person wandering around wondering where it was. It appears key festa information is beamed directly into the heads of the locals. The following day I tried to go to another festa and the car broke down, however I did manage to make that one in the end.

At this time of year there are lots of these festas focused on chestnuts, truffles, wine, or polenta. This one was in Morrovalle, a little village towards the coast, and was a general autumnal festa. It was rather small as festa’s go but cute none the less.

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The main piazza in Morrovalle

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This was a group called La Raganella from Belvedere Ostrense… Very good folk style music! http://www.laraganella.com/

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And this was another band in the main square, also very good with some very specific dance steps involving red scarves!

Then this weekend there was a lovely festa in Montemonaco in honour of chestnuts.

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The views from Montemonaco are spectacular.

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And the owner of this quaint little house was lovely! In fact, it seems quaint and small at the front but actually goes back quite far!

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Beautiful little street in Montemonaco

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They had 5 or so of these tin barrels roasting chestnuts… It was a great smell!

The thing that’s so nice about these events is that everyone is so friendly, it’s always a very good atmosphere and the stall owners are always eager to chat. We must have been talking for half an hour to a local about the state of politics and Italy in the war!

Walking into the Throat of Hell!

I had some friends staying this weekend and we went to the Gola dell’Infernaccio, the Throat of Hell. It’s a misleading name, it’s an absolutely stunning walk, particularly at this time of year. It’s a walk I’ve been meaning to do for ages.  Once parked you walk along a river through a canyon and then up to an “Eremo” (Hermitage) to San Leonardo. It was rebuilt almost single-handedly by a guy who lived there for several years. It’s very impressive. He sadly died earlier this year. From the hermitage you can walk to “La Cascata Nascosta”  (the hidden waterfall) which was a bit hazardous towards the end, I won’t lie! Too much rain has made the path into a rocky/muddy landslide. You basically have to swing from tree root to tree root like Tarzan (perhaps not quite like Tarzan because he swang from vines and wasn’t dressed for autumn temperatures). Anyway, here are some photos. I was quite taken with it!!!

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If anyone is interested in several other million autumnal tree pictures, let me know 🙂

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…

Jug

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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Places to see in Le Marche, the Trials and Tribulations of aperitivos and the delights of iced coffee

Ciao!

Sorry I’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks – it’s been a bit non-stop here for a while!

This week I bring you more places to see in Le Marche, the trials and tribulations of having an aperitivo and the delights of iced coffee.

Investigating Southern “Le Marche”

Last weekend I went to stay in a new friend’s house in Curetta, a little village by the Sibillini Mountains (still in Le Marche). The house is absolutely gorgeous and set in beautiful countryside with rolling hills, a snowy mountainous backdrop and little villages to look out onto.

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Look what a beautiful vista there was from the house…

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Nice little patio area for eating

On the way, I stopped off at Civitanova. I’d heard it’s quite good to go out there in the evenings but from what I’ve seen, I’m not convinced. Having said that, everything by the beaches is always dead before June so I’ll go back before making a final judgement on it. On the plus side, the beach was excellent for long flat pieces of driftwood 🙂 I suspect I could map out quite a few beaches now in Le Marche in terms of their beachcombing value!

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Church tower in Civitanova

INTERLUDE TO PONDER ABOUT THE ITALIAN APERITIVO

We had an aperitivo and dinner in a local town I can’t remember the name of. Almost a year into my living here, I’m still completely flummoxed by the notion of an aperitivo. WHAT ON EARTH IS IT?!  Is it a drink? Is it a drink with snacks? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? (sorry, that felt like a Superman moment). So, here are my various experiences of having an “aperitivo”:

  • You order a drink, you get loads of nice little nibbly treats given to you with your drink. Not just crisps and nuts, but olives, little pastry things, some salads and other bits and pieces etc. The price you pay is for the drink alone. All this extra stuff is free.
  • You order your drink and then you can get some extra nibbly treats from the bar like a buffet and sometimes you end up paying a couple of euros more. You can obviously choose what you have if it’s on the bar.
  • You order your drink and you just get a drink. This is oddest one for me – if you go somewhere and you ask for an “aperitivo” – surely it should mean something more than just a drink otherwise you’d go in and just ask for a drink?!

It’s completely hit and miss what you get. If it’s the first option where you get given a plate of food, then they’ll often bring out a selection of dead animals. I’m vegetarian so that doesn’t work out well for me and I feel rude leaving things that they’ve prepared on my plate untouched. However, I feel ruder asking them “er, will you be providing me a selection of free food and if so, could you go one step further and provide me a vegetarian selection?”. Though I love having free food with my drinks, I do find the whole thing a bit stressful! I’m so caught up on the food element that when they ask “what would you like?”, I start blabbering about being a vegetarian when they actually want to know what I’d like to drink! ARGH!

Anyway, I digress. This “aperitivo” ended up being just a drink. He asked what we’d like, I plumped for wine. This bar, however, didn’t have wine (a bar not having wine?! A bar in ITALY not having wine?!?!). Only prosecco. I hadn’t realised I’d sort of opted for prosecco for my friends too. And then the guy brought out an entire bottle. Does that mean we were now paying for the whole bottle? Anyway – it turned out that’s exactly what it meant. We were the only people in this bar apart from the barman and an old lady (his mother it turns out) who both came to stare at us, standing a foot away open-mouthed and aghast for what must have been about two minutes before saying “you don’t come from ‘round here” (in Italian).  That was my oddest aperitivo experience so far! Lovely prosecco though.

Southern Le Marche continued…

Then we popped into a local trattoria for dinner and headed back. No scary experiences there. The next day, I helped out a bit in the garden. My host had a couple of gardeners in to help maintain the land a bit. They were a husband and wife team – a lovely guy called Fabio and his wife (with an unpronounceable name that sounds like a sneeze). A thoroughly lovely and incredibly generous couple. I ended up taking home lettuce, fennel and home-made oil that they’d given to us. They come from Albania. I definitely want to go to Albania now after speaking to them. Every sentence started with “In Albania, we have the best <insert food, wine, grappa, countryside, coastline here>. He bought along some Albanian grappa for us to try on the last day. Very sweet of him and everything but he insisted we try it as soon as he got there – 8am! I generally maintain a “not before noon” alcohol policy. I certainly don’t think I’ve ever done shots before I’ve even had breakfast. And goodness was it potent… I wouldn’t like to be up a precariously placed ladder operating a chainsaw after that – but yet he was!

Whilst I was there, I did some exploring of the local area. First stop was Monte San Martino which we could see from the house. Very cute and quaint but not much to do there.

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Excellent views from Monte San Martino

Next up was Amandola which was positively bustling in comparison and had quite a lot of young people around (that tends to stick out in these hill top villages – usually there are just gangs of old men!). Quite pretty little roads, just narrow enough to fit a small car, which were cute although became considerably less cute as my sat nav kept leading me around and around them!

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The square in Amandola…

Then there was Servigliano which was actually not a hill top village – more a valley village. It had an interesting layout, one that I’ve not seen before. It sort of had village “walls” and then some quaint little terraces inside with a big square. Nice to wander around and I hear it’s nice at Christmas as well so I quite fancy going back there then.

 

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Here’s a pic of some of the houses surrounding the square…

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And here’s the square.

My friend came back with me on Sunday to check out my own patch around Camerano. We went via Porto San Giorgio – a new beach for me, on the way back there.

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The Le Marche stretches of coastline, apart from my own Monte Conero area, seem to be much of a muchness. Large stretches of coastline varying between shingle and sandy beaches and in the summer, covered in umbrellas and sun loungers. Seeing other beaches always makes me appreciate my own local beaches which, because we’ve got Monte Conero, offer I think a more interesting coastline with bays and woodland and because some of them are difficult to get to, end up being a lot less commercialised.

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San Michele, one of my favourite local beaches

And we found a new bit of Portonovo whilst we were walking around… Makes a nice circular walk…

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The coastline around Portonovo

House hunting

My parents have been doing a sterling job at investigating houses for me to let out back home and I’ve been putting in offers and getting them turned down! Pah! Meanwhile, I’ve been investigating some new areas around here for houses which I hope might be a bit cheaper than Camerano. I’m currently looking at Polverigi and Offagna. We went into a couple of estate agents and organised a couple of viewings which took place on Thursday. Visiting them made me reconsider my requirements! The most I seem to be able to get for my money around this area seems to be a small 2 bed flat with little outside space. Selling houses here seems to take years so I don’t want to buy something that I can’t see myself living in for the next 10 years at least. The flats were all very well but not my “dream” home by any means. I either need to change area or amend my criteria a bit to something that requires work but could eventually end up being the place I want to live in. So, I’ve asked to see a couple of other places a bit further south which is a cheaper area and perhaps now I’ll look at more of a “country house” type of property.

Meanwhile, I’m going to be homeless come end of May so I need to try and find another property to rent whilst I find something more long term. I’ve got some feelers out but it’s a bit unsettling and I’ve grown to quite like this place!

Iced Coffee

In other news, I quite like iced coffee! I’ve discovered a less faffy way of making it based on this enthusiast’s recipe… It’s very nice and very refreshing! I think I’ll have to take some to school with me to keep me awake 🙂

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Iced coffee on my newly acquired driftwood stool/table…(one can never have enough driftwood eh?)

Ok, onwards and upwards. This week is another busy week with school – in fact, tomorrow is a nightmare 12 hour day extravaganza. 12 hours of teaching. ARGH!

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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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Liquor, Ice Pool of Death & Planning

Ciaooooooo,

Come stai everyone? Not much to update on this week and nothing particularly Italy related either but here’s what’s been going on:

Liquor progress

The liquor is going well I think. Alcohol is an amazing preservative. I thought the corbezzoli would be all mushy and horrid by now but they’re pretty much exactly the same as when they went in (I wonder if I spent my life immersed in alcohol whether it would prevent me aging/becoming mushy and horrid). The colour from the corbezzoli has gone into the alcohol now though. They’ve got another 15 days or so to be soaked and then I need to make some syrup thing and mix it together. EXCITING.

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Next up: steep myself in alcohol to test its anti-aging properties…

Teaching “progress”

Well Monday went marginally better than it did last week – the one nightmare class was only a bad dream compared to normal nightmare levels. I’ve learnt to use “colouring in” and threatening them with not playing “Simon Says” if they don’t stop being horrible. It partially works.  They like Simon Says and Colouring in.

When I was at school, the adults around me would say “kids don’t have common sense these days”. Well, I’ve discovered something. Kids THESE days don’t have any either. And, what’s more is that I think my common sense levels are ok so, I’ve come to the conclusion that it probably comes with age in fact. As an example of their common sense deficiency levels:  one of the activities I get them doing is to produce a table which has their friends names in and a column for various food stuffs. They have to ask if their friends like the various food stuffs and put yes/no in the boxes. I draw the table on the board for them so they can see what it should look like but if I don’t stipulate exactly how many little squares in their exercise books they should use, they allow about 2mm to write their friends names in. When they start writing the names down, they don’t seem to think “hmm. I have totally underestimated how much space I’ll need” and instead write microscopically. Excellent for paper saving but I will need to buy a magnifying glass if this continues. Honestly, you should see the “wordsearches” that I have them doing – it puts a new perspective on it. Before you even get to the words you have to search for the thing in the first place! I might try and take a photo next time (hmm that should probably be something for the anonymous teaching blog).

Today I got a bracelet with a flower on from one of the kids though. That was cute. I actually got a kiss on the cheek from one girl today.

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My bracelet…

We’ve started singing my revised We Wish You a Merry Christmas song. I really do need to start using a capo (for non guitar players – it’s a sort of gadget thing you put on the guitar to raise the tone) – as it is, the song is either insanely high or insanely low. I have a perpetually husky voice at the moment due to a never-ending cold so though I can do somewhere approaching insanely high, I’m much better at doing insanely low but the kids can’t sing at insanely low levels (I think basically it’s just me with my cold and Barry White that can sing that low) and well, can I get them singing insanely high whilst I sing insanely low? No, no…it makes for a very painful lesson and it’s probably why my voice remains husky. I need to rest my voice – I always thought pop stars were being wimpy when they said that but no, it turns out it’s true! I am EXACTLY like a pop star.

Car

My car is acting suspiciously. When it rains and if I’m on a hill and I want to turn a corner, it judders and seems to try and go in a different direction or just goes back down the hill. It has a mind of its own. It’s either the tires (it doesn’t look like it’s the tires), or the clutch (I’ve just had a new one – how could that be?), or it’s haunted. I hope it’s haunted – it would be cheaper and less daunting. I’m going to ask the friendly but slightly pervy man (he has naked women calendars up in his office) at the local garage if he could put new “four season” tires on for me.

Apartment

The apartment is FREEZING. FREEEEEEEEEEEZING. This could be another factor in my cold never going. I was hoping to conduct an experiment into money saving by not turning the heating on. I was scared off by an old student telling me that it cost her something like 80 Euros a week for heating this flat. Others have also confirmed heating is extortionate here. So I did what any other miser would do – I decided that I’d live like we did in the old days and not use heating. However, on further reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t think of any “old days” that didn’t involve some form of heat. Even cave men had fires surely? I’ve decided I don’t want to provoke the “natural selection” process and kill myself off by freezing to death so I’ll probably turn the heating on and live with the consequences.

Meanwhile there’s supposed to be hot water. However, the hot water isn’t even tepid and takes approximately 45 minutes to rise to not-even-tepid and I swear it’s getting worse. The bath is massive, metal and seems to have liquid nitrogen properties; freezing anything that comes into contact with it be it water or skin. I used to look forward to having a bath (particularly given the shower has one of those flesh clinging shower curtains) but it’s just unbearable now – I’m going to start calling it The Ice Pool of Death instead.

So this week’s task will be to work out how to put the heating on and to raise the matter of The Ice Pool of Death with the Landlord.

Planning

I’ve been doing some planning for next year – I will NOT be teaching at state schools again. No-sir-ee. Instead, I’ve worked out I can have a reasonable frivolity fund if I do 4 private lessons a week. I want to sell some paintings, and I want to sell some articles to magazines, and I want to do some portrait drawing. I’ve set myself what I think are reasonable targets and hopefully I’ll supersede them e.g. become author of a bestselling series of novels which are subsequently turned into blockbusting movies. However, I am keeping expectations and budget setting in check (i.e. one bestselling novel and blockbusting movie in the first year).

In other planning news, I shall be doing snowboarding locally in January/February. I shall be doing some travelling in June. I will be driving the Haunted Car back in August for it’s MOT. I shall be buying a house of some sort here in Autumn. I shall be making money doing something that does not make me want to jump off the balcony and that concludes my planning…

Ok. Onwards and upwards. The Ice Pool of Death awaits <sigh>.

Have good weeks!

X

Ps. News in Slow Italian – it’s great! www.newsinslowitalian.com. It disappointingly costs money. You can get some free stuff. I might have a go at that and if I keep it up, then I’ll pay for a subscription ($44.90 for 6 months for a basic membership which I think would do for me)

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Visits, Raw Pig Butt and Navigational Challenges…

Ciao!

Well hello!!!! How is everyone?! Apologies for the radio silence – I’ve had an influx of visitors coming to see me which has been great so many thanks to the following for coming out to see me 🙂

  • “Ms Meaty”: She wanted a pseudonym – she’ll probably regret that.  Anyway, she’s so-called because she spent a good portion of our time in restaurants trying to find carcasses to eat  ;-)) and…
  • Jackie and Pete:  No pseudonyms required – they seem more confident I wont be harsh…

The Tourist Trail

I almost look like I know what I’m doing driving around – I can successfully get to my favourite local places without Tom (my completely untrustworthy Sat Nav – I really must check that I’ve not got some kind of “tractors only” setting on). I still haven’t discovered ALL of the sleeping policeman in order to impose speed rectification measures/avoid launching myself into the air like a stunt driver. To be honest though, I don’t think the Italian’s even know that they’re supposed to reduce their speed when they go over them, in the same way that they appear unaware what the white lines in the middle of the road are for  (any Italian’s reading this – they’re not lines that you’re supposed to drive on).

Anyway, Ms Meaty arrived first and she came with me to do some teaching on Tuesday with the little kids (3-5yr olds) which was EXCELLENT timing as I’d all but lost my voice on the Monday shouting at children (shouting + cold = rapid voice deterioration) which for Ms Meaty meant the start of her blossoming singing and dancing career. So, I played “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” on the guitar whilst she sang, danced and trained the troupes to do the same. We have a Christmas play to do on the 13th December. It’s a shame that Ms Meaty wont be here 😦  By the end of it, she was shouting at them in Italian like a pro.

It was a fairly relaxed week and we spent Thursday doing “Sue’s Favourite Places Tour” where we learnt that the angels didn’t really fly what I thought was Mary’s house from Palestine to Loreto but only flew the bricks. There’s a massive marble surround that was in fact built there after to protect it… Fortunate really, as if it was there to begin with, I imagine health and safety regulations for flying such an unwieldy heavy object would have impeded the angel’s progress.

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Mary’s Marble Surround. The original brick walls for her house are inside.

Alas, by Friday, Ms Meaty had contracted the man-flu strain of my cold which I felt horrible about (but on the plus side, a problem shared is a problem halved and mine felt a LOT better).

In a whirlwind change of guests, I was sad to drop Ms Meaty off at the airport but pleased to pick up Jackie and Pete. We had a lovely dinner in Camerano (Bar Maffy) where I think we probably decided that my Italian/English translations when it comes to meat produce could probably do with more work. Surprisingly, Jackie STILL decided to have the Raw Pig Butt Pasta.

Then we headed to see a band that I felt sure would be cancelled because it was raining. However, they were playing under the Comune in a very atmospheric, er… cellar I think it is.  I was pleased about that – makes Camerano look a bit more hip and happening than it usually is.

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All very talented musicians but I must say, the bass player’s hair was a distraction. So silky smooth and flowing. I wonder where he buys his conditioner. The conditioner here seems to require something akin to acid to rinse out. Since coming here, my hair can happily stay in whatever position I put it in.

I included Osimo in the “Sue’s Favourite Places Tour” the following day which was good as I’d only been there once before.

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The statues here do not have heads. The Osimo inhabitants are thus called “without head” apparently. Poor inhabitants.

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You can take a little railway from some of the parking at the bottom to the town at the top. Cute 🙂

The following day we found a Chocolate Festival in Ancona and did a bit of sightseeing.

Camera 360

MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Teaching Traumas Continued…

I haven’t made any children cry yet this week. I feel like I’ve let myself down. I did almost give them an impromptu lesson in English angry swear words after the squillienth time of telling them to “sit down please” and to stop hitting classmates. I exercised patience I think previously unbeknownst to mankind. I should really get a medal.

Anyway, let me tell you about school children here. They are OBSESSED with One Direction.  They ask me if I like them and because they use the correct English I reward them with a “yes, I like One Direction” but then alas, they ask me more questions like “What is your favourite one?” to which, I have no idea but vaguely remember that one is called Dane so go with that. It turns out Dane is not a member of One Direction. I should do some One Direction research to bond with the kiddies.

I’ve taught all the school children that felt tip pens are called felptip pens. They’ve written it in their exercise books and everything. I thought it was! I’ve been saying felptip pens for years!  Admittedly, I should have seen that one coming. I don’t know what felp even is, let alone what a tip of felp might look like. Next week I’ll tell them they’ve all made mistakes and they should really pay better attention when I write things on the board in future. I wonder if they have detention here.

In other teaching news, I’ll never be able to go out anywhere again without seeing children I now know – at the cinema the other day I think there was about 5 I saw. Admittedly, we’d gone to see Despicable Me 2. Perhaps I’ll have to start getting into the horror genre.

What’s a bit odd

Often offices don’t have a house/building number – ok, that is sometimes the case in the UK as well. So you think “Fine, FINE, I suppose I’ll just drive up and down the road and hopefully something will indicate where I’m supposed to be”. Maybe the postcode will help? No no, there will be no postcode. So you try and find the road in the Sat Nav. This is where the next challenge lies: the address you’re trying to find will invariably look something like this: “Via D. Mizoni”. Sometimes Sat Nav makes a point of making you put “via” in and sometimes it doesn’t. In fact, the only common factor I’ve found is that it’s whatever you’ve not tried first. And what on earth do you do with a full stop after D?! You try and put the full stop in after D but of course, there’s nothing – it’s an initial for something. It doesn’t work without the full stop. “Minzoni” on it’s own doesn’t work. So what to do? Is there a way of finding out what the D stands for? No. No there is not. The Italians, not even on their road signs, maps, formal addresses, “how to find us” sections on websites will include the full name of their road. People here must be born with this knowledge of road names. So, imagining you’ve been in Italy long enough to notice that there appear to be hundreds of Via and Piazza Don Minzoni’s within the area, you might try that. Success! But not for long. Then it asks the town, which is a challenge in itself because it could be any town within a 5 km area and then, because there ARE so many Via D. Minzoni’s, it could be any one of a dozen roads. My advice? Allow at least 3 hours to just locate the address on Sat Nav before even attempting your trip!!!

Right, I think that’s all of my ranting done today. Hope you’re all having an excellent Monday.

x

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