Monday, 15 June 2015

Home, the other one

That was a brilliant week in Copenhagen, I really recommend it for a city break but do take plenty of money it is extremely expensive and very good quality.   I only bought a few postcards whilst lusting for gorgeous designer household items.  We managed a day on borrowed bicycles, a brilliant way to get around with sensible and wide bike paths, beautiful coastline and massive forests.
So we are back in Lazio, back to gardening and home maintenance, struggling for Internet connection, listening to early morning strimmers working in the fields, by early morning I mean around 4 am, and wondering why I always have such dusty feet.  I am busy creating a new border in the garden, it was full of ivy and wild flowers, some might call them weeds.  I want to make something colourful and permanent, a sort of Engkish style herbaceous area if I can.   So back to it, I'll try to keep you updated and I'm sorry I can't post any photos at present but I am taking lots and knitting a little and feeding our two cats, Theo and Lisa, so life is back to normal.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen

I was quite excited to come to Copenhagen especially after our trials in Italy but I hadn't expected it would be love at first sight.  Our Alitalia flight on Friday morning from Rome was calm, quiet and efficient, as someone regularly coerced into travelling Ryanair by a Yorkshire husband, I was delighted not to be pestersed by constant selling announcements or listening to self satisfied statistics about in time flights.  We all know that Ryanair set their flight times extra long so that even with departure delays they can pretend they arrive on schedule.  
Copenhagen airport is small and beautiful, so is the city, so is our friend's apartment that they have kindly handed over to us for the week.  People are friendly and happy, there is good coffee, even better cake,  in fact I adore all the food, the sun is shining, we can walk to the sea and look across to Sweden passing beautiful architecture including a gorgeous 1930s Arne Jacobsen white  block of flats facing the water.  Tell me what's not to like.
Last night we attended our friends golden wedding party held in a building in the middle of a large deer park.  We started at 6 pm and got home around 2 am having enjoyed the company of so many wonderful friendly people.  I am beginning of think Copenhagen must be the Ilkley of Denmark and I haven't even been to the shops yet.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Incidents in Italy

After a horrid drive to Dover,  heavy rain, heavy traffic, mist and accidents followed by a choppy ferry crossing where we struggled to keep our lunch on our plates and then in our tummies, we had a lovely drive to Italy with interesting stops and excellent overnights.  My brother and sister in law were great company and we were all delighted to get to our friends house in Tuscany for a few days.  That's when things started to go wrong.
We arrived late afternoon to find the keys we had been given did not work, well one of the four opened the garage but that was it.  Phone calls to Scotland and Mr FF was directed to the house of someone in the village who kept a spare,  unfortunately the man wasn't home till 8 that night and his wife had no idea where the key was.  He did actually turn up just before 8, after which we had to unpack, turn on the services etc, make up beds and find some dinner, not a good start but we survived.
Our next episode was after a trip to Pisa, Mr FF wanted some electrical items and suggested dropping the rest of us in Lucca.  I wasn't so keen as this can involve a lot of waiting, ie he is usually late but at the last minute driving past the city walls he suggested we go into town for an hour and he would meet us  pointing to a tower within the town.  We had to jump out of the car quickly as there was a lot of traffic, of the impatient Italian persuasion, and I just grabbed my purse.  We had a pleasant walk, found the tower and settled in a nearby bar expecting Mr FF to appear at 6.30.  By 7.30 I was worried, without my phone and not exactly sure of his number.  I asked to use a phone in the bar but obviously the number wasn't right,  by 8.30 I sent an email from a borrowed mobile as I was sure of the address, by 9 it was getting dark and the bar staff, who were really kind, said it was too late for a bus back to the village and offered to call a taxi.  By 10 and 100 euro lighter we were back at our friends house, my brother and I walked in the dark to the key holders house, he was a little tetchy and said he had no more keys to give us.   Back at the house  Mr FF appeared at 11 having waited 3 hours at another tower then phoned the police who checked the hospitals.  It seems there are several of towers in Lucca but once inside the narrow streets it's not possible  to see any of them until you come upon one.
We got to our house in Lazio finally and after a few days took my brother and his wife to Naples airport for their flight home.  I won't go on about Mr FF's shortcut through the centre of Naples that took 2 hours to move 6 miles, I will say I've never seen traffic like it or so much washing hanging from windows.
We had a really good day out last Friday at the local market where I bought plants for the garden, geraniums, tomatoes, herbs etc followed by a nice lunch in a pretty country bar with a beautiful garden.  Then driving home we had an accident, a boy fell of his motorbike coming towards us, he slid down the road slightly but the bike kept coming and slammed into our car, which was by this time stopped. There was damage to the wheel and the steering, plus dints and scratches to the bodywork.  The car wasn't driveable, the road was blocked, everyone came out of their houses and then a terrific rainstorm started.   We had to call the police but fortunately the biker was insured and admitted responsibility, he wasn't hurt and his parents took control.  We got the steering fixed in a couple of days by a local mechanic, a man with a shed and a mangey dog to be exact, but it was an awful experience that could have been a lot worse.
So Italy hadn't been that good to us so far.  On Friday we are off to Copenhagen for a week to attend the golden wedding of our friends and stay on to spend time with them.  I am looking forward to this, I just hope our run of misfortune is over otherwise I might be heading back to Ilkley sooner rather than later.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Oh the stress

I mentioned in my last post that things have been a little hectic here in the penthouse as we prepare to leave on Monday to drive out to Italy for what was to be an indefinite time.  
We arranged early last week to have two new radiators fitted, a steel and chrome towel radiator in our bathroom and a swanky brushed steel long thin one in the hall.  The plumbers arrived on Tuesday, I had expected with a screwdriver and maybe a spanner, no they carried mountains of kit into the penthouse and quickly covered the floors in dust sheets (there was a clue there).  I had no idea the work would involve emptying out our bedroom fitted wardrobes, most of the utility room and the hall cupboards to gain access to the walls.  We ended up with clothes everywhere, which as it turned out wasn't such a bad thing as eventually everything got a good sort into take/leave/chuck out piles.  
To add to the fun Mr FF decided whilst the guys where here and because they were so hard working, efficient and respectful, it would be a good idea for them to do some cabling networking stuff that I just don't understand.  Cue more drilling of walls, climbing about in the loft, the work took 4 days and only on Saturday were we able to think about cleaning, putting things back, getting sorted.
The new radiators are smart and stylish though I think I might move away the large gold framed print next to the hall one.   Our en suite seems so much bigger now and because that radiator is duel fuel, ie has an electric element as well as being connected to the central heating we are never without warm dry towels. 
Meantime I heard that the little pink cardy was a bit tight on Amelia and she kindly said her little sister Esme could have it, so I felt I had to knit a bigger one.  It was all going so well until I got to the yoke and the pattern went haywire, if there's one thing I hate more than knitting on a circular needle it's unpicking on one.   This cardy may become known as the Italian job, if it ever does get finished.
To further add to the fun I foolishly embarked on a new library book during the week but didn't make the progress I expected.  It had to returned by 5 pm on Saturday, by Friday night I had 200 pages to read but fortunately I woke at 6.30 the next morning and phew finished it.
Weeks ago I booked in for a hair cut and a facial in our pre holiday week, I asked my hairdresser to give me a cut that might last maybe 3 months and she did her best.  The facial was lovely but I was so uptight it was rather wasted on me.  I plan to have another when I get back as I should be more receptive then.
Then of course there's been the Tour de Yorkshire to follow.

I wouldn't let the boys pass by without giving them a cheer and Ilkley turned out in force offering a sprint down the main street which we watched and a mountain stage up to the Cow and Calf rocks.

At least we now know that we are coming back in about 3 months as Mr FF has a couple of dental appointments so the packing doesn't have to be so comprehensive.  We hope that if we get some good design ideas while we are in Italy we will get the guys to come back maybe next year to refit our second bathroom, the one with the horrid black bath,  now that will be fun up on the third floor won't it.   I thought it was going to be so easy living in and going away from a lock up and leave, dream on Mrs FF.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Two Good Reads Tag

Photo 30-04-2015 18 21 46

I don't usually join in these tag posts but Caroline at Mrs M's Meanderings who I consider a good friend though we have never met gave me such a glowing write up and lovely surprise this morning that I had to respond. Her tag couldn't have come at a better time (joke) since we leave on Monday for an unspecified stay in Italy, long enough to need socks I don't know, meanwhile we have the plumbers in the penthouse and it is chaos.  I had no idea we'd need to empty our wardrobes to fit a new towel radiator in our bathroom, a rant may follow.
Anyway to the job in hand, I need to give you two blogs that I love to read and while Caroline's would have been one because I love all her posts, car booting, upgrading her beautiful new house, holidays, more recently interesting beauty vlogs,  I expect that's against the rules and you need others so.

Liz at Love those Cupcakes writes such a sweet interesting blog, she lives in the north of England where I spent many happy years.  She travels extensively bringing back the most beautiful photographs to accompany detailed and interesting posts of extra ordinary places, also she shares my sense of humour. 

Josie at The Woolly Adventures of Josie Kitten is a knitter extraordinaire and an inspiration, indeed much more adventurous with the needles that I shall ever be.  Unlike me who has also attended lessons she actually learnt to spin producing some wonderful fibres and is now dabbling with writing her own patterns.  Her cat Flo is adorable too.

Liz and Josie if they wish to take part have to 

  1. Copy the tag logo from the top of this post if you like
  2. Link back to the person who tagged you
  3. Write a post recommending two blogs you enjoy reading and tag your recommended bloggers to do the same

So thanks Caroline for a great idea, sorry this is such a quickly typed up post but I hope it meets the criteria.  I too look forward to discovering new blogs but not as much as I look forward to having the walls replastered, the dust sheets gone and being able to find my holiday clothes under the mountain of garments on our spare bed.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

My fetish for fragrance

I am having a bit of a fragranced candle fest at the moment.  I like to light a candle every day in the apartment, usually late afternoon and often when I am cooking, but my stock has rather built up thanks to a few offers and gifts.
Vetivert is one of my favourite scents, this candle from John Lewis was a Christmas gift that I never want to end.  The smell is delicious and I like the simple labelling on the jar.
On the right is a beefayre candle that I bought myself, they use natural wax, a percentage from each sale is paid towards bee conservation and the jar is so pretty and reusable.  The scent is B Happy a mix of orange and jasmine that actually doesn't smell very strong when its burning so is a little disappointing. The Neom organic candle, Happiness a mix of white neroli, mimosa and lemon was a moving in gift from the estate agents when we bought our apartment.  I'd been wanting to try these candles for a while, the head office of the company is not so far away in Harrogate and the co founder is a Yorkshire lass.   There was also a selection of Ilkley beers and a nice glass in the agents' gift pack so Mr FF was happy and it was pleasing that they had shopped locally.
These two were half price at Waitrose, at only £2.50 each a bargain.  They are a good size, each has 35 hours burn time, smell great, particularly the fruity one though vanilla is always a favourite with me and I like the reusable coloured jars.
I've had quite a few Lily Flame candles in tins, this one was a gift a while back and is almost finished, the label suggests 30 to 35 hours burn time.  Such a pretty tin it's currently sitting in our bedroom, though I never light it at bed time in case I fall asleep.  It has a very heady scent that you notice even when its not lit, in fact I have only been burning it for short periods of time because it is so intense and I may just keep the dregs to perfume the room.  
And finally my latest purchase from my local Clintons Cards, they have a surprisingly large stock of candles including Yankee.  These double wick jars are currently half price at £6 for 50 hours burn time and they are excellent, burning evenly with a good perfume.  Pomegranate and pineapple is as you would expect fresh and fruity, a good scent for springtime,  I am tempted to go back and try a few more while they are reduced if only I can find the space.

Monday, 20 April 2015

There has been knitting

After disappointing sales at the craft fair and considering my large stock of socks I decided some knitting for the little ones was the way to stash reduction.
I looked for a shrug or bolero pattern to knit for Amelia but eventually chose Wonder Wave a short sleeved cardigan from Drops Design and some Sublime organic cotton dk in this pretty pale pink that was waiting to be used.   The body is produced in one piece to the arm holes, the sleeves on circular or double pointed needles then everything transferred to a circular needle to knit the yoke.  
I really don't like working with circular needles but there was no way to get all the stitches and the tubular sleeves onto a straight needle so I went with a circular needle until the stitches were reduced enough and I was sufficiently beyond the sleeves that I could manage on straights.   The wavy pattern is a 4 row repeat that is easy to memorise and apart from the faff of the circular needle it was an enjoyable knit, in fact it was worth the effort because there was hardly any stitching up to do just a little under the arms.  I would say however that the pattern isn't for a beginner because it didn't go into great detail and certainly required some knitting knowledge.  
I should have taken a photograph after I'd blocked, sewn on the buttons and when I wasn't casting a shadow,  but for some reason I didn't and the parcel is now on its way to Amelia.  I have a slight concern that it isn't big enough for her though the finished size agreed with the pattern for age 5 to 7.  If it has to go to her little sister I am prepared to take an order for a larger size of if there is sibling envy I will make a smaller one for Esme.  Of course they may both detest it, I am waiting to hear.