Wednesday 27 June 2012

One step forwards two steps backwards

I didn't tell you that during our previous trip to Italy in March Mr FF got chatting to an English man in an electrical shop who had lived in Italy for 30 years and told Mr FF that he was able to receive UK tv on a 1.2 m satellite dish including BBC.  Mr FF was obviously intrigued by this and when we were back in Italy in May he managed to purchase on eBay Italia a similar dish that was delivered to our house.  Suffice it to say that we didn't receive any more stations on the tv than we were getting with our existing two dishes.  He rigged up the new larger dish on the terrace as a temporary measure but there was no increase in our available watching choices.  
Still nothing wasted, as I remarked at the time the dish makes an acceptable sunshade if you positioned a chair underneath it.  Mr FF dismantled the contraption before we left.
Yesterday he was back on eBay UK and has now purchased another 1.2 m dish that he tells me is a much better specification and will probably do the trick.  We have to travel up to Stirling to collect it and transport it out to Italy, assuming it and we and our luggage can all fit in the car.  
On a more positive note I have finished and delivered to her Gran the two little cardigans for Millie.
And not quite so positively in light of my last downsizing post, I have purchased a selection of unnecessary plastic items from the Ikea sale, twice as much as shown in the photograph, the other half together with a set of salad servers is destined for Italy car space permitting, . Nothing cost more than 20p so how could I refuse.  Peppers are the models own or should that be a serving suggestion. 

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Dreams of downsizing

I've been retired almost 4 years now, Mr FF a year, and we've both come to the conclusion that we have far too much 'stuff' and particularly too many work related clothes. I'm not a hoarder, I have plenty of clear surfaces in the house but sometimes feel overwhelmed by the amount of possessions we have accumulated over 42 years of marriage. We want to spend more time in Italy so we've started to consider moving to a smaller lock up and leave property that is close to shops and services, though not just yet please. We love our house and garden here and can't contemplate living in an apartment with perhaps a balcony but no real outside space.  Where would we keep our bikes, what about all the things in the workshop, our extensive stock of wine, my stash of knitting yarn. We'd miss our lovely wood burning stove, the greenhouse, our view of the hills, everything.  We have to tell ourselves we'd still have most of these things in Italy including a garden to which we could devote more time and grow lots of interesting plants, like outdoor tomatoes.  It all feels very scary so I've adopted a policy of downsizing gradually, like reading from my stock of books then taking them to the charity shops without bringing more home.  
Mr FF has entered into the spirit of things and had a good sort out in his wardrobe.  I think he was a bit surprised to rediscover unworn clothes and actually shocked at the number of business suits he owns and will never wear again. 
We sorted items into three departments - charity shop, textile bank and family, by the time we finished there were twice as many bags as these.
I finally parted with these gorgeous pink suede shoes, they are so lovely but so painful 
and turned one of my jumpers into a cover for an existing cushion on our bedroom window seat
Tiny steps and to be honest they haven't made much difference physically or mentally so we might end up shipping everything to Italy, plenty of room for it all there.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Knitting now

This is an unfinished articles post, I'm blaming my lack of knitting progress on Euro 2012, the bloomin football is on tv every evening at the moment.  Mr FF is managing to watch two matches per night and although we have more than one tv because the weather is so awful we are both sitting in front of the stove in the family room neither prepared to move away from the heat.  So I'm not settling down as normal and not doing much knitting.
I did produce a couple of pairs of socks while we were in Italy, patterns and yarns I've used before so you don't need to see them.
Since we returned I've made this little wrap top for Pam's latest grandchild who was born on Sunday 03 June, the day of the Jubilee celebrations on the River Thames.  I suggested the little girl be called Pageant but apparently they have gone for Millie.  I need to stitch it up but that's not my favourite part of knitting, I've been spoilt by socks, so I've  started a little bolero top for the baby too.
Meantime Mr FF hasn't been well, suffering the same kind of bladder infection as Prince Philip, though sadly Princes Harry and William haven't been here to visit.  I was at the dentist this morning, Mr FF said he would like a run out, he's not driving at the moment as one of his symptoms, in addition to moaning a lot, is dizzy spells.  He seems to enjoy being driven round, says he sees a lot more and today there were only 3 criticisms of my driving as opposed to 4 when we went out on Sunday.  After my visit to the dentist, no treatment needed, we went to New Lanark, a lovely UNESCO world heritage village that Andamento wrote so well about recently with some great photos, I of course forgot my camera.  
After a coffee and scone each in the cafe, gorgeous industrial architecture,  we achieved the main purpose of our visit, to buy some yarn to knit Mr FF a new jumper.  I really like supporting New Lanark, their yarn is lovely, using British wool and traditional methods and its as economic for us to visit as pay postage plus we get a nice trip out. 
Mr FF chose the graphite dk with 10% silk he had for his last jumper, said he wanted exactly the same plain round neck he had before, simple.
Wouldn't it be nice to sit down of an evening in front of the fire and watch some gripping drama whilst knitting away but oh no, apparently we are not much more than half way through the two matches per night stage of the competition, that boy might have a long wait for his new jumper.

Friday 8 June 2012

Time for a rant

So we have this lovely house in Italy and I'm really grateful that we do but I have such mixed feelings about renting it out.  I'd be so happy to leave my clothes in the wardrobe, find everything where we left it when we return and not have to worry about keeping up standards generally. However, letting the property out to holiday guests does bring in money to pay the bills, community charge, tax, water, refuse collection (even though the door to door collection recently introduced is not coming up our road because the electric vehicle can't manage the climb so we end up taking the rubbish to the tip or isola ecologica as it prefers to be called ourselves while still paying full whack).  I also think its better for the village generally that the house is occupied, it must bring in some income for the local shops and services and our neighbours who look after the property for us love having guests around. So that's what we do, the guests book direct with us, no agency or middle man, Mario lets the people in and explains whats what, Lina does the cleaning and laundry, to an exceptionally high standard I'm pleased to say.
However, the last time we went to the house Lina hadn't been too well so she had simply stripped the beds and not done any cleaning.  What an eye opener  that was.  The only guests, 5 adults, had been in the house 5 days and the place was filthy, old food and wrappers on the kitchen floor, fag packets under the bed and lets not talk about the state of the toilets.  I got stuck in and cleaned the place, fair enough, but what really annoyed me was the way pans and crockery had been put away dirty, the coffee maker put back in the cupboard still with the old grounds in it.  
Even my pretty oil cloth, that matches the bigger one so that both outside tables go together, had been put away in this condition, totally ruined which made me very cross indeed.  Everything was mixed up, I know its hard to remember where you got things from but logical to keep similar glasses or plates together.
I try to provide nice things in the house, I've stayed in places where its been hard to find a tea cup that wasn't cracked, but I have a tea pot (with a cosy)
I have good quality equipment. 
Originally we provided playing cards and an assortment of jigsaws till we went back once and I found cards in the garden ruined by the rain and pieces of jigsaw blowing around from goodness knows which box. We take a small security deposit but this wouldn't cover a major breakage so really we are working on trust.  Obviously its impossible during a short changeover time to check everything and few people admit to breakages hoping they won't be noticed.  
The great  majority of our guests are lovely, give us useful feedback and have been known to leave small gifts for the house, herb plants, candles, little bits of pottery, all of which I really appreciate.  I don't want to stop renting the house, I don't want to lower the standards but I do want people to realise it is actually our home they are staying in, our personal items they are using and treat it all with respect.  Not too much to ask surely.

Saturday 2 June 2012

God Save the Queen

I know we are celebrating this weekend the Queen's succession to the throne and that the coronation took place a year later, but I just couldn't wait to show you this photograph.  Here I am 59 years ago, which explains the state of the photo,  just about to enter the village hall,  known then as the reading room, actually the old school and now a private house.  There was a tea to celebrate the Queen's coronation in my North Yorkshire village and I assume all the children were in fancy dress.  I was the Queen of Hearts I believe, it says Happy and Glorious on the brim of my bonnet,  my brother standing beside me was a Royal Trumpeter and my dear Gran is on the left.  I don't recall much about the day, I was 4.5 years old my brother 2.5, but I do remember my lovely dress, made by my Gran as was my brother's outfit.  I also remember that my brother absolutely refused to blow his royal bugle, my Gran was probably trying to persuade him to have a go while the photograph was taken.  I can remember having a good blast on the trumpet myself and my brother probably played a right royal fanfare after the event.  
There is no village tea here in Scotland for the diamond jubilee but a beacon will be lit on the highest hill, Black Mount, at 10 pm on Monday.  
If I'm still blogging next year I can show you my 1953 Coronation mug, every child in the village got one and in 1977 I returned to stay on the farm with my parents for the silver jubilee weekend.  Mr FF and I decorated the road through the village with home made bunting, cutting up old fertiliser bags into triangles and stapling them to agricultural twine, we must have made miles which we fastened to telegraph poles.  At the village tea all the children received a mug and as a surprise and thanks for the decoration I got one too, I still have both my mugs on display. 
To mark the occasion I've fished out my Emma Bridgewater patriotic shopper. enjoy your royal weekend.