Sunday, 14 July 2019

Five rise locks

Continuing our Yorkshire staycation we had my brother and sister in law to stay for a few days, always a good reason for us all to get out and enjoy the local attractions.  On the second day we had lunch out then visited the glorious engineering feat that is the five rise locks in Bingley.  Situated on the Leeds Liverpool canal it’s a series of locks that raises, or lowers, boats, a beautiful watery staircase.  We chatted to a barge owner passing through the locks and then to the lock keeper who answered our questions and let the boys help him open and close the gates.  The locks, which are all manually operated, have been in continuous use for over 200 years, originally to transport goods and now mostly for leisure boaters
I’m sorry the photo isn’t great and that I cannot give you a link to relevant websites, I am as always struggling with the iPad but do a search for more information or even better visit them yourself.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

We are on holiday

in the penthouse in Ilkley.  We haven't spent a summer in Yorkshire for the last 4 years, how stupid are we.  Its fantastic, such lovely weather that we are able to show off our tans and continue to wear very little yet sleep comfortably at night.  
There's a lot going on in the town, we had an arts trail, a food festival, there is live music every weekend at the bandstand, and its all within walking distance.  We got my little yellow car back on the road but we haven't used it once.
We've had neighbours round for drinks, visits from friends and family.   I've almost forgotten the dreadful rail journey from Manchester airport and I'm pretending I don't have to do it in reverse at some stage.  
Best of all we've had the balcony doors wide open every day, we've spent a lot of time out there.  We are really getting our moneys worth from this place, just look

Saturday, 29 June 2019

As it all starts happening

we leave.  We are back in Ilkley, where the weather is gorgeous, no mosquitoes and the nights are cool enough for us to sleep well.  It feels like we are on holiday, sampling all the wonderful food, picnicing by the river, lazing on our balcony,  wearing nice clothes instead of our usual working garb, its such a treat not to have a major project on the go.
It was very hot in Lazio when we left, exceptional for June, in fact this weekend there is a red warning for heat and I heard from a friend in the village its impossible to be in the sun.  
The terrace is finished apart from some painting of new render,  the balcony pots were all moved there to be under the irrigation.

The garden was looking great with plenty of flowers blooming.
The vegetables were starting to crop, we had a couple of pickings of beans, quite a lot of courgettes, a handful of peas, the apricots were not quite ripe.  We left them all but hope Mario will help himself so that they keep cropping.
Mr FF didn’t get the chimney breast reinstated, we never thought he would did we, but he made some progress and the framing is in place ready for the plasterboard.
We wont be in the UK that long, just enough time for dental and doctors appointments, haircuts and check in with family but its so very nice.  Yes we are missing Grigio but lately she'd turned into such an outdoor creature that I am hopeful she will be fine and a few week isn't a long time compared to the winters she's survived.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

The whole of Lazio must be strimmed

It feels hot enough to be August but of course it’s June, it’s strimming time. We wake early to the sound of the machines, people like to start work as soon as it’s light and still relatively cool.  We eat dinner outside to the same sound as work starts again late afternoon.  Lots of rain then heat has produced knee high growth that must be cut, by law, to reduce the risk of wild fires.  Some farmers plough between their olive trees to clear the land but on the mountain slopes it’s definitely work for heavy duty brush cutters.
Before he completely mows our orchard area Mr FF likes to cut a series of paths through the wild flowers and for a few days we and the cats enjoy a stroll through beautiful meadows before they  disappear for another year.


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Glorious weather

The terrace is almost finished, Mr FF is strimming the orchard as I type.  It’s so hot now we start our jobs early and chill in the heat of the day.  Some of us have taken to just chilling.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Summer at last

The weather for our al fresco lunch on Wednesday was very acceptable,we had a nice time.

Now the sunshine is here big time, suddenly the temperature has doubled, Mr FF is finding it hard going laying the pavings, I need to get the light duvet off our bed and replace it with just a sheet.

These are the days I love, this is what we signed up for.
Blogger is as always giving me lots of hassle, I can’t format my posts,  even this mishmash takes ages to produce and I can only leave comments in a few of your blogs.  If you are not hearing from me be assured I am still following you.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

It could go either way

Hoping the sun will come out before our lunch guests arrive,  at the moment we have half a view and a cloudy sky.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Things to do on a wet day

The weather is still awful, it rains every day, it’s cold, the garden is at a standstill, thank goodness we still have plenty of Yorkshire tea or I’d be on the next flight home.
Because he couldn’t make progress outside Mr FF decided to demolish the chimney breast in the lounge, as you do. It had come away from the wall slightly and did need attention but you can imagine my delight.  Everything had 
to be covered in dust sheets or moved into the dining room so we had no where to sit or eat.  We had bags of rubble to shift and spent a full day cleaning.  Now the lounge looks slightly less than beautiful
Then he ordered the materials to finish the terrace, so now he has 132 paving slabs to move, 12 bags of cement and a lot of sand.  The lounge is on hold.  

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Sleeping with strangers

This morning when Mr FF got out of bed and went into the bathroom I threw back the duvet to make the bed.  This was crawling around on the bottom sheet.  In my previous post I thought Grigio was living dangerously, it seems we all are.

Post post note - I should have said it’s a scorpion, now an ex scorpion

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Life on the edge

We provide three cosy cat outside sleeping areas, the door into the house is open but Grigio chooses to sleep on the edge of the porch roof.  I’ve explained she could roll over in her sleep and plummet to the ground, she says health and safety doesn’t apply to cats.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

an unexpected tappa

Having told anyone who would listen that we weren’t going to watch the Giro d’Italia this year, Mr FF announced yesterday morning we could catch the days stage that ended in Frascati by driving not too far.  So late afternoon we set off searching for a road that crossed the route.  I thought we were travelling blind but credit where it’s due we reached a T junction that was closed by one rather glamorous lady police officer, long dyed hair and dangly diamond earrings.  
I’d say that 50% of the people waiting were cross because the road was closed, one lady got very agitated shouting that she needed to get through as she had children at home and despite spectators offering alternative routes I think she expected the Giro to halt and let her by.  The police woman did a great job explaining and calming the situation, then two Carabiniere arrived, in their smart uniforms complete with pistols and everyone started to behave.
It’s so exiting waiting for the boys, people were following the race on their phones, updating us all, one man even had the tv on his phone.  You know the race is near when the helicopter hovers above.   First there was a breakaway of two, then a single rider and finally the glorious peloton swept down towards us and quickly by, so beautiful.
We heard later there had been a crash towards the end taking time out of the main contenders, fortunately Simon Yates wasn’t seriously hurt and retains his second place in the GC.  I did give him a shout out as you can hear on this video Mr FF made for me.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Good morning

we currently have snow on our mountain, it makes a change after two days of rain.  I am pinning all my hopes on that blue sky.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

The work goes on

Solar shower and raised bed.  I am having a lot of fun stocking the latter, not convinced  Mr FF is totally enamoured with the work he has to do.
For some reasons I cannot respond to your comments, Cathy the shower water goes into the orchard as does the water from the washing machine.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

A shower

Of wisteria beside our solar shower, which Mr FF is using on sunny days and we are getting more of those
 And a wonderful display from the other wisteria in the lower part of the garden which is a slightly different shade

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Spot the difference

Between Sunday and Tuesday

Sunday, 14 April 2019

A spell of winter

Yesterday morning was pleasant, the washing was out on the line early and dry in a few hours.   Mid afternoon it rained, late afternoon there was snow on the mountain behind us.  We talked to the man at our local agricultural store, he said the veggies we have planted out will be set back by this cold spell and never grow properly, we should always wait until 25 April to put them in the ground.  But all is not lost because he then sold us some fertiliser made specially for this problem, with regular feeding our tomatoes and aubergines will recover and flourish.  Unfortunately the remedy cost more than all the plants it will cure, we should have just started again - on the 25.
Enjoy your Sunday, I’m off for firewood and later plan to watch the Paris Roubaix cycle race on tv.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Indicative votes

Today I could sit out in the sun and knit while it is not too hot to do so
I could go downstairs and start cleaning the lounge we never use
Please note, results will not be binding - are they ever.

Monday, 1 April 2019

In the garden

When we arrive at our Italian house my main priority is always the garden.  I have to check what has survived the winter, what might be flowering and what has died.  This year it’s been a pleasure to see how well everything is and to crack on with creating this year’s display of pots and mixed beds
The front garden has improved a lot over the years, I don’t often see the bergenia in flower I just get to deadhead them when I arrive.
 My rosemary is in full flower too

I’ve sown a variety of seeds, it’s great to experiment with plants I couldn’t consider in the UK, Passion flower, Cobaea Scandens,  the cup and saucer plant, as well as wild flower selections, dahlia and chrysanthemums.
And who could resist a selection of climbers, or as we call them here fiori rampicanti which sounds a lot more fun.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Song for the summer

Every summer in Italy we have a special song. Generally it’s one we hear on the radio,  sometimes when we are driving out, sometimes after we arrive.  Sometimes it’s a song in English, sometimes not.  Whatever it is we mostly hear it in the car and we always sing along.  One year it was Coldplay’s Viva la Vida which I still love.
Our 2019 happy tune is George Ezra’s Shotgun, we heard it on the road to Dover and in our French hotel.
I’ll be riding shotgun
underneath a hot sun
feeling like a some one
knitting till the yarns done
I made that last line up but I did ride shotgun as Mr FFs drove us across Europe and I did knit and we  sang along and as you can see it was beautiful.

Friday, 22 March 2019

More cat news

Grigio has hardly left my side since we were reunited, she is beside me now on the sofa, it’s delightful to have her here.  She is plumping up nicely and her coat is sleek and shiney after so much stroking.
This afternoon we, humans and cat, were post lunch enjoying the sun on our terrace when Enrico appeared.  He is the timid feral tiger stripe we fed last year.  He was hungry, took food and water then settled down on the terrace with us.  Grigio was pleased to see him, they rubbed noses in greeting.  Now she will have some cat company.
We’ve been working steadily in the garden and I have finally finished unpacking.   There is cleaning still to do but not while the sun shines, the temperatures are in the low 20s, a perfect spring.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Good news and sad news

We arrived at our house around 6 last night and despite calling her and checking the garden until we went to bed there was no sign of our cat Grigio.  It was such a beautiful sunny morning that both of us were out tidying the garden after breakfast, ignoring the dust and unpacking in the house.  Around 11 Grigio arrived, a little thin but healthy and delighted to see is,  she hasn’t stopped chattering all day, except when she’s been eating.
Just before lunch Mario arrived and we thanked him lots for caring for Grigio but he had to tell us that her sister Crema had been killed on the road outside his house.  We’d worried for months about Grigio and whether we’d see her again, we never imagined Crema was at risk.  Mario told us he’d brought her back to our house where she was born and buried her in our orchard among the olive trees.
So while we are overjoyed to have Grigio here we are so sad for Crema and also as Mario told us his elderly ginger cat, who sometimes used to walk up to us and stay a day or so, had also died.
It was last year while we were in the UK that Crema decided to move down to Marios and she was well cared for there,  We used to see her quite often last summer, stopping for a cuddle if we were out walking past the house,  we will miss her as will Mario and his family.  She was a beautiful cat.
Grigio is beside me now on the sofa, it’s like we’ve never been apart though she hardly let’s me out of her sight,  don’t worry we are here for at least three months Brexit or not, and hopefully until the end of the year.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Good morning from switzerland

This is the view from our room, or should I say suite.  We got upgraded at our hotel from the economy room we booked to a suite with two balconies and a beautiful lounge.  I stayed up late last night it was so beautiful watching the lights in the town and on the mountains.  Mr FF had to go and lie down as our two course dinner, with one beer and one glass of wine, cost twice as much as we paid for the room.  He’s tried to recoup some of the expense by swimming a lot in the indoor pool.
Today it’s a long drive to our house but we are within spitting distance of Italy if not Lazio.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Why did we imagine it would be simple

A while back we made the application to our comune in Lazio to be allowed to stay long term in Italy and advised them when we intended to be in our house for the police to visit and check us out, part of the process.  We then delayed our departure by a few days and advised them of the new eta.  OK, good, everything in order ready to be finalised when we arrive.
This morning we got an email to say the police had been to visit us at the house there was no one there so they have scraped out application.
Give me strength.  Life is hard enough when we are preparing to change residences, all that packing and preparation, hotels to find, without this extra and totally unnecessary hassle.  Don't they read emails, do they enjoy the extra admin, they obviously relish winding us up.
Its dire outside today, after torrential rain we have major flooding in the town, the water was over the top of my boots when I crossed the main street and the ceiling in the chemist was about to fall in from roof leaks.  Now the road out of town is closed, the river has burst its banks.
Life just gets better and better and of course we are all much clearer now on what is happening with Brexit, not. At least we may still have time to reapply to stay before we leave the EU but Italy you are on a warning, sometimes you push me too far.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Who knows

Like many hundreds of people with property on the continent, Mr FF and I would like to be at our house in Italy before Brexit.  Not that we are deserting Yorkshire of course but if we are to leave the EU on 29 March it would make things easier for us to organise permission for long stays if were were still citizens of the EU when we did this.  We won't be any wiser about our situation than we are now until the parliamentary votes that are due to take place next week but we have tentative plans to leave for Italy next weekend.  Mr FF has organised the possibly necessary green card and international driving licence.  It could all be a waste of time but like others we are making provision.  Goodness knows what businesses are doing, the ports and customs, exporters, importers, we are all in the dark all hedging our bets and playing a waiting game.  
We hope to stay in Italy for about 3 months and then come back to Yorkshire for a few weeks depending on the political situation.  2.5 years since we voted to leave the EU and its down to the wire.  No doubt the country will make its feelings clear about this madness when we have our next general election.
Nothing is booked but boxes of essentials are packed and clogging up the spare bedroom. I don't feel we have been back in Yorkshire very long but I know a little grey cat who might think otherwise.  We haven't had any news of Grigio for a while and the weather in Lazio has been awful, lets just hope she is still around and her sister Crema is still living with Mario.  Here they are as little kitties, bless their hearts.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

My Funny Valentine

This is how Valentine's day works in Gods own country.
I buy myself a pretty bouquet of flowers on 15 February, they are reduced by 75%, whats a day late with that great saving.
I am happy that they brighten up the penthouse, Mr FF is happy that he didn't have to do anything, I have spent very little and we have marked the day appropriately.
Romance Yorkshire style, you have to be born here.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

More reductions

This week we have mainly been downsizing.  Yes it continues, whilst I think we are living a reasonably pared down life in the penthouse there is always room for improvement.
So Mr FF with my permission, I haven't used them for years, put my cross country skis, complete with sticks and boots on eBay and sold them to a nice lady in Cumbria.  He advertised them as collection only but the lady wanted them couriered which turned out to be expensive but acceptable to the buyer.  I don't know if you've ever tried to wrap skis etc, its not easy but the engineer was not defeated (although he did moan a lot during the process).  They are now in our hall awaiting courier collection.
Selling Mr FF's skis will be a different matter a they are definitely too long to be couriered.  
I've been doing my bit knitting up leftovers from the stash.  I made fingerless gloves, cowls, scarves and a couple of pairs of baby socks.  All labelled up I delivered them to a local charity shop and since I'm registered there I should receive notification of how much they raise.  I shall be interested to see how they sell and probably call by next week to check if they are out on display, so not completely letting go yet. 
This pair of gloves however had to stay home, taupe goes with everything.
When we lived in Scotland I had three stash locations, two chests and the bottom of the airing cupboard, now I can see that by the end of the year I could be down to just one, unless you count the stash in Italy but why would you.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Fired up for February

As every I am delighted that January is over, I’m calling last month dry cough January because of the awful virus that laid me low for 3 weeks and the fact that as a result I stopped drinking alcohol on 02 January. So far so dry, it’s not a life changing decision, I shall in moderation be knocking back the local vino in Italy but for now I’m not missing the hard stuff at all.
Much as I wanted January to be over I was rather apprehensive as on 01 February I had an appointment at the dentist for 3 new crowns,  I had agreed to get these all done at once, two at the back on the right one up one down and one at the back on the lower left.
It was an uncomfortable and lengthy experience but my dentist and his nurse were so kind and thoughtful, the worst is over.  I go back in 2 weeks to have my permanent crowns fitted and will be almost £2,000 lighter.  I may also be lighter myself as I am more or less on a soft food diet and its taking me so long to carefully chew anything I am eating less.    
This morning Mr FF and I went to the Industrial Museum in Bradford which apart from being very interesting in itself was having a wool event with stalls, demonstrations, even some alpacas. 
Delightful as the yarns were I resisted bringing any home but I was totally inspired by the beautiful knits on display and enthused to knit with British yarn.  Fortunately the wonderful West Yorkshire Spinners are not so far away and produce yarns reared sheared and spun within spitting distance of the penthouse.

On one stall I found myself standing beside a lady admiring some colourful and lacy fingerless gloves.  'I'd love to be able to make these' she said, I replied that I was sure she would be able to do so, they didn't look that difficult.  'But I can't knit' she replied, 'I'm cack handed'.  Such a wonderful and bluntly northern expression that means clumsy. 
The museum has a vast collection of old machinery from the days when West Yorkshire was the centre of the wool industry, some of it still operational through not productive.
You really got an impression of what it must have been like to be employed in the mills, children started around the age of 12, in dusty, noisy and dangerous conditions working long hours to hand over most of their wages at the end of the week to support the family.
Much of the equipment was manufactured at local foundries, so much industry and employment now all gone.  Note the yarn bombing, it was everywhere.
And it wouldn't have been a Yorkshire event without a brass band.  All this for free though we were more than happy to make a donation to this brilliant museum.   

Thursday, 24 January 2019

We need to talk about earrings

I had my ears pierced when I was 18 at a jewellers in York.   I still remember because I passed out probably from fear as the process was painless. I then had to bathe my lobes with salt water every night for a week or two and turn the studs every day.  I was terrified and when it finally came to taking the earrings out for the first time it took me hours to ease off the butterfly backs and remove the studs.  Even now if I don't wear earrings for a while the holes start to close, but I do try to put earrings in every day though they have to be taken out for sleep.
You can imagine over 50+ years I have amassed a good selection of earrings, quality and not great quality.   I just had a new year sort out, identified at least 12 pairs that can move on and wondered why I had so many many pairs of silver hoops and circles.
The ones above were a gift Mr FF brought me back from Chile and the ones below are Georg Jensen that I treated myself to from a lovely jewellery shop in town where I spend many happy hours with my nose pressed against the display window.  
I tell myself that at my age I should reduce my earring wardrobe to a few quality pieces but I know that is never going to happen.  I have a lovely pair of diamond studs that Mr FF bought me for my 50th birthday, I'd be surprised if I've worn them more than a dozen times I'm so worried about loosing one.  And yes I did have a lot of single earrings from loss, I've got rid of those too.  None of which is a great step forward but a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Panic buying

I saw on the news last night that a company in Leeds is producing Brexit survival boxes, £300 worth of freeze dried food that is said to usable for 25 years, fire starting gel and water purifiers in case of shortages after Brexit.  Why would we not have clean water and power after we leave the EU, the whole situation is ridiculous scaremongering.   
However I have done a bit of panic buying myself.  I don't have much sock yarn here in Yorkshire, I have a lot in Italy, but the penthouse was rather deplete so I've made a purchase.
I ordered from Hobbii, a very nice Danish company that doesn't charge too much for shipping, despatches quickly and keeps you up to date on progress.  We'd expect no less from the Vikings and while I'm not contemplating a sock yarn shortage after Brexit it might be more difficult to buy from the EU.  Not a problem as I will be able to support our local West Yorkshire Spinners, my very favourite sock yarn, but I thought I'd give Denmark a last shot and pick up some cheap yarn.   
First of all I selected these 4 balls of (none EU) Siberia which was reduced from £7.99 to £3.90 per 100 g.
Then I opted for a lucky bag, 5 x 100 g balls of EU yarn for £25.  It's not quite the same not knowing what you are going to get, but I was more than pleased with the selection I was sent.  All the yarn is 75% wool 4 ply.

There was even a little heart shaped chocolate, how kind, they must be thinking we won't have treats any more after Brexit.
I've already stocked up on my toiletries for Italy as Boots were having a 3 for 2 plus a massively reduced price on the No 7 cleansers I use.   I was paying less for 3 bottles than I'd normally pay for 1 plus I get loyalty points. 
I think I've got my priorities right, wool and toiletries, and whatever happens after tonight's vote I won't be food hoarding, I'm not that crazy. 
Thank you for all the get well wishes I received, by phone, email and through comments.  I think I've turned the corner, I am now able to sleep laying down though still waking a few times coughing.  I am still snorting steroids but life feels more normal.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Medical update

Midweek I finally contacted the health centre who arranged for my doctor to phone me.  We had a discussion about my ailments, he said he had had the very same virus himself and was sympathetic.  He prescribed a steroid nasal spray to stop the mucus from my nose forming and collecting at the back of my throat causing irritation and thus coughing.  He said I should be feeling better within a week or so, he must have heard the disappointment in my voice because he revised that to possibly by the weekend.
The weekend is here and I am just the same, only now the bags under my watery and puffy eyes are bigger, I am worried that my 70 year old skin isn't going to bounce back from this, just as well I am fully stocked with face creams.
My appetite is small and limited, I cannot tolerate anything sweet like jam on my toast, I cannot drink a full cup of coffee, a lot of food seems tasteless, none of this helped by the sensation of having something stuck at the back of my throat.  
I am still sleeping sitting up not that I'm sleeping much.  Every night I am padding round the penthouse, making honey and lemon drinks or inhaling steam.  Sometimes I try to sleep on the sofa for a while to give Mr FF a break but that doesn't work so well and creeping back into the cold side of bed is horrible.  I could move into the spare bedroom but I have always hated having two bedrooms on the go.
So I am shooting steroids up my nose every day, which I guess could be affecting my taste buds and thus my appetite.  I've told Mr FF that if I get enough into me I shall be guaranteed a place in this years Tour de France.
Let's hope the coughing stops soon, its still the only symptom I have.  According to the doctor it could be any time now and not a minute too soon.  I don't pick up colds and germs very often but when I do I do it big style.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Mrs Flipflops is not completely fine

This is such a bad start to the year, we will laugh about this in the summer when its all a distant memory but for now I feel wretched.  I have the most 
debilitating dry cough that is worse in the night and allows me an average of two hours sleep.  Its 5.30 am and I have made tea and taken a pain killer
I have tried all sorts of remedies
Cough suppressant that does not do what it says on the bottle
Hot water with honey and lemon
A spoonful of honey
Hot water with grated ginger
Gargling with salt water which is awful for someone who never uses salt 
Throat soothers
Sleeping sitting up
Steam inhalation via bowls of water and the bathroom steam cabinet
I am drinking lots of water and fruit juice, no alcohol 
Some days I walk out for fresh air, it makes no difference, some days I just lay on the sofa and moan quietly
I have no appetite or enthusiasm
I checked on the NHS website which suggested if the symptoms persist for 3 weeks I should contact the doctor, Ive had this for 10 days, I might do so sooner though I hate taking antibiotics they really mess up my system.
I am the worlds worst patient, I need help.