Monday, 9 September 2019

If you say it loud enough

We took part yesterday in a village church event,  I’ll post more details soon.  As on similar occasions we’ve attended it seemed acceptable to wander in and out of the venue, let your phone ring and to chat quietly during proceedings so it wasn’t too surprising when a young boy,  about 10, tapped Mr FF on the shoulder and asked if we were English.  He seemed delighted that we were and confirmed this to the friend who appeared beside him.
They obviously wanted to practice what they knew, starting off with hello, they proceeded to do you like pasta, a few things we didn’t understand and they told us their names, all with huge smiles on their handsome little faces.  I asked them if they knew the children of some of our friends, yes they did and asked me how to say best, they were best friends.  The conversation turned to them asking me how to say various things until they had me stuck at supercalafragelisticexpialidocious.  It’s the same I said, e lo stresso, we say supercalafragelisticexpialidocious too.  Yes they said, but how do you say it in English.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Stone Age Man

Now the terrace is finished Mr FF is constructing a new path in our orchard.  The ground there slopes and it’s always difficult for me getting to the veggie department in my flip flops so a flat path will be great.  It’s also a good way of getting rid of the remaining rubble, currently in bags, from when we renewed the front garden paths, we waste nothing.
The little stone retaining wall is sweet and much in keeping with the large wall.  Mr FF is becoming quite skilled at this type of work, who knows he may have missed out on a brilliant career as a bricklayer.

Monday, 26 August 2019

Then it rained

Be careful what you wish for,  I was longing for some rain to wash us clean, sweep away the dust and give the garden a good water.  Instead we had a couple of days with terrific electrical storms, high winds and hailstones the size of grapes.  The latter gave everything a good bashing, took the leaves and flowers off my plants, brought down a lot of olives and filled the pool with debris.  There has been a lot of sweeping up and cutting back.  It’s disappointing that plants I’d been nurturing and were just about to flower were cut down but I’m confident they will eventually recover and I’ve collected a lot of the broken pieces to try to root them.

Strangely the storm seems to have cleared away the migraine that and been bothering me for several days, I must be more sensitive than I imagined.  It is a bit cooler now but not much and no mosquitoes seem to have been harmed in the storm, pity.
Here are the hailstones that collected on our sunshades before we got them down and a little video of the event.

Friday, 23 August 2019


Me and the garden have been a bit frazzled of late, the heat has continued and it’s been impossible to work outside without being attacked by mosquitoes.  Collecting the copious crop of tomatoes is painful, I rather fancy one of those full cover bee keepers outfits to protect me.
One of my current favourite plants is a white datura I grew from seed.  Strangely it flowers overnight, opening up at the end of the day and throwing out a heady perfume that attracts a frenzy of bees before the sun goes down.  The flowers which almost glow in the dark last for only 24 hours but there are always more.  All parts of the plant are poisonous possibly why it has the the name devils trumpets.  Here it is together with a few other garden glimpses.

Monday, 12 August 2019

It’s a whopper

Not a conversation you have every day but Mr FF asked me this morning if I’d posted his salami on my blog, happy to oblige that’s what I’m doing,
Last week we went with our Danish friends to talent show in their village, organised by a friend in our village.  It was held at the sports ground, there was food and wine, it was a lot of fun and we sat up on the terraces to watch the show.  There was a raffle, Mr FF bought three tickets for 5 euro and was lucky enough to have the winning number for the second prize.  He got a bottle of wine and a voucher for salami from a local shop.  For some childish reason I and my female danish friend found this very amusing, the chat in the car on the way home was smutty to say the least, we laughed so much acting like 17 year olds though we are both beyond 70.
Mr FF and I collected the prize next day, well he sent me into the shop saying he had to keep an eye on the car as we had no change for the meter.  Here it is, surprisingly large, Mr FF was impressed when he saw it.  I posted a photo to my friend and refrained from further comment though several came to mind.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Sorry I’m not sorry (rant)

Watching the news today I saw that British Airways cancelled a lot of flights because of IT problems.  However they apologised to customers and were offering them the opportunity to rebook on a different day.  Opportunity -  an occasion or situation that makes it possible to do something that you want to do or have to do.   BA contrive to make it appear they are doing their customers a favour, a one time only sale ends Sunday offer, enabling them to completely rejig their plans.  No mention of holidays ruined, appointments missed, life just messed up. No, they are offering an opportunity, dream on BA.
I recently raised a complaint against the company we employ to manage our apartment building, as owners we pay them to do this.  I had raised some queries with the Director who is our property manager, waited 3 months and reminded her twice before I got the response that she would not be responding and there would be no further correspondence on the matter.  In other words shut up.
So I lodged an official complaint, not holding out much hope as the investigation was to be carried out by a fellow Director of the company.  The complaints procedure, available on the website, states within 7 days of my complaint I would receive a summary of their understanding of the issues and within 14 their findings.  Apart from an acknowledgement I heard nothing for 43 days and then only after I chased them.
Regarding the 3 month silence I was told they could only apologise and when I questioned the delay in investigating my complaint I was told they had wanted to ensure they had all the detail.  It’s a joke, they just don’t give a toss.  I told them in no uncertain terms that this shocking customer service is endemic in the company and they can do a lot more than only apologise, leading my example would be a good start.
I don’t imagine customer service will ever improve, even phoning our property managers we go through the push buttons and hold for ages procedure, usually before being connected to an answering machine.  It’s the norm nowadays but on the positive side I had to speak to my solicitor recently.  She was in holiday but I was given a contact in a different office who was helpful and kind.  I’m taking him a bottle of our local Italian wine as a thank you, sadly I can only apologise that I won’t be delivering one to our property manager but I can offer her the opportunity to do without,

Monday, 5 August 2019

More for me then

Last year the single plum tree in our orchard had only a couple of fruits.  Both Mr FF and Mario told me to chop it down. Men do that, they love the slash and burn gardening and they are impatient.  A perfectly nice tree, not taking up needed space, providing greenery, I gave it a tidying up prune, some feed and left it alone
This year I saw it was flowering, watched and hoped as the fruit set and not so long ago I picked plenty of plums.  Enough to stew and serve with mascapone and crushed amarettos.  I told Mr FF he shouldn’t have any as he’d wanted the tree chopped down.  He has no faith but he did get some pudding.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019


It’s amazing how a good downpour refreshes the garden in a way no amount of irrigation can.  Everything looks clean and bright, the paths are washed down, the pool is overflowing, it’s worth a day stuck indoors for all this renewal.
I have rather over filled my new raised bed with cuttings and plants grown from seed. Some haven’t behaved as I expected like the cosmos I placed near the front that have grown metres high and are yet to flower.  There are some real thugs in there, like the nasturtiums covering Mr FF’s lovely travertine and hiding a little begonia but I am pleased with the lush jungle and next year I shall know better.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Wet wet wet

Its taken a welcome wet day in Italy for me to update you.  Yes we are back, it’s been extremely hot, we’ve had friends to stay for a few days and finally the heat has put hard labour on hold, though Mr FF was briefly caught bashing rubble for a new orchard path yesterday.  He’s done enough with the pool and terrace for now, let’s relax and enjoy
It’s high summer, the village is filling up as families escape the heat of Rome, festas are held every weekend in the squares, too many tomatoes in the garden, another fantastic Tour de France and 28 deg in our bedroom most evenings.  It’s all predictable and wonderful.
The rain started early morning, I was out at 3 am calling Grigio when it got heavy, she was delighted to be inside and is beside me now sleeping through the thunder and lightning.  Mr FF is still in bed also sleeping through the storm after a late night at the village wine and pasta festa.
Tonight we’ll watch 22 year old Egan Bernal take the Tour trophy, be a little sad that it’s over for another year but look forward to more hot lazy days and for a while no watering.

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.