I hope your Christmas was good and you are still relaxing and relishing all your gifts. You are probably wondering how Mr FF and I fared this year with our £5 Christmas stocking scheme. Well, I was hopeless, we were in Italy, when we came home the weather was awful and then I got listless so I really didn't find much for him. His selection included some sock yarn that I was given so that didn't eat into the £5, I just never got round to knitting the socks but Mr FF got the idea when he unwrapped that parcel, some chocolate and a jar of locally made Indian chutney. As I said I'd gone a bit listless. Mr FF on the other hand did really well, here's what I receivedFirstly this lovely little Filofax mini, which he intended to label my iPad2 knowing my feelings about that gadget and my love of tangible paper items. It's so pretty, Italian leather, with pockets and places,I've already ordered a diary and address pages to pop in. A pair of silver (coloured) candle holders, I don't have any square candles but managed to force these in for demonstration purposes.Finally four charity shop books, which I actually had a hand in selecting, 4 for them all, splendid value. I couldn't be happier with my gifts and since I underspent on Mr FF and get the yarn back to knit his socks I'm a winner all round. This very pretty silver plated toast rack, I love toast racks and already have quiet a few, this one is so sweet, perfect for a lady enjoying a light breakfast.
I adore cats, we've always had at least one and sometimes three but after we lost Cleo a couple of years ago we decided that it wouldn't be fair to keep cats and spend long periods away from them in Italy, which was our plan for retirement. There are always feral cats round our house in Lazio and when we are there we are happy to feed them. This summer word must have got round, we started off feeding one and ended up at most having 7 cats come round for dinner. They were all in good condition and friendly, obviously doing the rounds, so I bought dried food regularly and sometimes cooked extra pasta which was always well received. Before we left most of the cats had moved on and we were only seeing two kittens and their mother, but it was heartbreaking to part after we'd spent so many weeks enjoying their company. The little ones sometimes slept on a folded up padded garden chair, a comfy and safe place, but we had to put that away for the winter. So My FF constructed a bed for them in the wood store beside our outdoor pizza oven using some of the old carpet from the bedroom. He introduced them to the new place by posting them into it and actually went out late at night with a torch to make sure they were tucked in, they were. We left food in the garage to that Mario could feed them when he called to check the house and have heard that they are still around and doing well, in fact our neighbours who feed them when they are at their holiday house sent us a photograph recently which made us both happy and sad. Part of me hopes they'll still be there next year when we go back, part of me wants them to find a better home. Then while we were at my brother's on our way back from Italy, he told us that four cats had turned up at the farm, two Siamese and two black and whites, all healthy and obviously all recently neutered as their fur hadn't grown back on the operation site. I saw them about, beautiful healthy creatures but quite timid. I know that there are organisations that round up feral cats, have them doctored and release them again but I can't understand how expensive pedigree Siamese cats could become feral. So I was delighted to receive this belated birthday gift from Pam, a knit your own cat book. It made me smile, I'd love a window cill full of kitties, at least those I wouldn't have to worry about when I was away.
The second day of our drive home from Italy was long and stressful. Mr FF, Yorkshire through and through was reluctant to pay the road tolls so we spent a lot of time travelling through villages averaging 40 mph until he agreed that we were getting no where and he was devastated at having to fork out 37 euro to use the Mont Blanc tunnel spectacular as it was. We hadn't booked accommodation for that evening as we had quite an ambitious schedule but we pressed on to Reims our intended stop and arrived around 9.30 pm. Driving round looking for a hotel, Mr FF stopped the car right in the town centre and told me to go and ask the way to the Holiday Inn Express. I panicked and in my haste to get out whilst trying to switch my brain from Italian to schoolgirl French I stood on my knitting and snapped two of my precious Knitpro needles. I only had one spare with me. In the end Mr FF had to go and get directions as I was far too emotional, the Holiday Inn Express was dire and we couldn't get anything to eat except a plate of sandwiches. Miserable at the thought of not being able to knit for the next three days and all that travelling still to do I went on line that night and found Shiela who kindly posted a new set of Knitpros to my brother's house, they arrived safely next day and I can't thank her enough for helping me out.
It wasn't all bad in Reims however, we had a decent breakfast, a walk round the Christmas market and later I found a Phildar shop, bought a pair of metal 2.5 dps and used one of them to keep me going through the tunnel and up to Yorkshire. I also found this lovely sock yarn, sometimes life is fair.
Phew. That journey home was exhausting and our time back in Scotland has been hectic. We left Lazio on the Sunday, had an overnight near Genoa that was brilliant and included a delicious meal with our hosts, their family and friends that in true Italian style was full of conversation and laughter. After a long drive we had a night in Reims, two nights with my brother in Yorkshire and got back to Scotland on Thursday.
Saturday we were at Joanne's wedding, a gorgeous event and a long overdue get together with my old work colleagues. Yesterday I had a stall at a local craft market which was a great success though the hall was baltic as the doors were kept open to encourage the punters in.
Today I am hoping to return to some sort of normality, domestic duties, knitting and of course a bit more regular blogging. It must be a sign of old age that I don't bounce back so well but there is nothing planned for a while and looking out of the window we won't be venturing far. Lazio seems a long way off, we are missing our Italian outdoor lifestyle and wondering when we will return.