Tuesday 30 July 2013

Not snapping

I am still without a camera which is no surprise as I have made no effort whatsoever to source a new one.  My last camera was a Canon PowerShot A430, it was fine but I'd like something that is a bit better for close ups whilst equally simple to use, I have no great interest in reading any manuals.  So any suggestions would be very welcome and I can check out the quality of your snaps on your blog.  Equally you can check mine and see the problem I'm having, some photos don't come out at all and these are sort of bleached out. 

Our terrace furniture in the rain 
and the stash busting cotton cushion cover I am currently knitting, a pattern I've used many times from an old Rowan Denim book.
We are enjoying sunshine and torrential rain, I am gardening when possible, the painter is painting and Mr FF is generally maintaining.   Despite Mr FF telling me that once the weather broke I'd be heading back to Lazio and the fact I have had to put my socks back on,  so far I am still very happy here in Scotland and I'm not leaving without a functioning camera.

Sunday 21 July 2013

What's not to like

Unless you are the maintenance manager that is. 
The weather back in Scotland has been fantastic and better than Italy in some ways as here we have the benefit of long hours of daylight, I don't even get to burn any outside candles in the evening as there is absolutely no need.  
view from the back door
I am loving having the doors and windows are open wide, I live in shorts and t shirts and of course the flip flops get a good Scottish airing.   The garden is happy too and so far not distressed by lack of rain.  I've noticed our water pressure goes down in the evening, in fact it went off completely for half an hour or so the other day, must be lots of panic watering going on.  
However Mr FF has been rather busy, hot and dusty.  He's been cleaning off the paving slabs on the patio, re-levelling some that have gone out of kilter and re-grouting.  I have to say it looks fantastic, I am delighted and even more so now the outdoor furniture and a few pots of plants can go back to their rightful places.  
On the front balcony we've had some of the handrail replaced, this was quite a job not just as the poor carpenter was working in full sun for most of the day, unlike me isn't of the sun loving lizard persuasion, but it was technically challenging to fit all existing posts into the new top rail. Fortunately, Andrew was good natured and conscientious, I kept him hydrated with tea and lent him a hat, the job is finished.  
On Monday the painter arrives for two weeks to redecorate the whole of the outside of the house including the new rail.  
We are going to look amazing, if temperatures continue in the high 20s will I want to get back on the plane to Rome next month, at least I have time to think about that and keep checking the forecast.  

Monday 15 July 2013

Sunny gardening

It's been lovely returning from Italy to glorious hot weather here in Scotland, lots of eating outdoors and plenty of gardening as the place has run riot while we've been away. There may have been some mumbling about spending a lot of time getting one garden up to scratch while the other is neglected but I do feel I'm going to get this one looking decent fairly quickly if the weather holds as it is forecast. 
During our first visit to Italy in April I'd put in some sunflower seeds, fairly randomly, so I wasn't expecting great results, wasn't even sure if they would survive. When we got back in June I was delighted to see at least 20 large and sturdy plants in various parts of the garden. 
Even better, while we were there they started flowering so I did get some benefit, unlike the broad beans here in Scotland that are bound to crop while we are away.  
My nasturtium seeds had also done well happily flowering in the heat. my tomatoes had all survived and were just about to ripen when we left and the geraniums are so happy, I never get these results back in the UK.
Mr FF did some more work on the garden where we took out some trees last year, he managed to remove more of the root and put down new soil and lawn seed to cover the patch. 

However, the ants had other ideas and by the next day they'd collected all the seed and were busy taking it into their nest.
We couldn't be too cross as it was fascinating to watch their organised system, some rushing round each bringing one seed to the heap while others dragged the treasure into the nest in the ground, teamwork indeed.
I don't have many more Italian photos to show you as my camera is not working, I may have to use the iPad to take snaps for a while but I'll do my best and hopefully get sorted before we fly back to Italy.  Have a sunny week.

Saturday 6 July 2013


I'm really into my Italian stride now, fully settled into life here just when we'll be leaving in Wednesday. I feel relaxed, despite Mr FF spending the morning driving down to the builders yard and depositing about a dozen sacks of sand and gravel and cement at the back door for later use. I'm sleeping really well, at least 8 hours plus sometimes a little post luncheon nap. We had a great week, friends round to us for an al fresco lunch on Wednesday. Thursday we had lunch in Ostia Antica in a beautiful little restaurant right in the centre of the old part, gorgeous traffic free cobbled streets full of flowers and lounging cats, complete with a fairy tale castle, if only I'd take my camera. Prior to lunch we had a swim in the large pool at our friend's condominium, it's an amazing facility for the residents and their guests though we practically had the water to ourselves. Just a couple of adults ploughing up and down and some tiny tots who swam like dolphins and put us to shame. If I lived there I'd be at the pool most of the day, take my lunch, my book and my knitting I'd camp out under an umbrella, one of which the lifeguard offered to put up for us. So nice. Lunch was delicious, pasta with ricotta and peppers, a portion of herby chicken with crispy potatoes and tiramisu for me, served by a handsome young waiter who I felt compelled to flirt with. My seat at the window looked into the narrow street bedecked with geraniums and a strategically placed pink bicycle while the inside of the restaurant was equally beautiful with a brick vaulted roof and frescos. The scene was finished off by a table of three elegant older ladies who obviously knew how to lunch, dress and chat. Afterwards we went back to our friends apartment, he had a lie down and Mr FF took a snooze on a lounger on the balcony. I'd tell you more but there's a festa down in the village tonight, pasta and wine to celebrate the election of our new mayor and apparently we are invited. This is the second such celebration, intended for those who couldn't attend the first, but Mario our neighbour and his family are going again. Have a good weekend, we hear the UK weather is not bad at all so let's hope it lasts, a bit of sunshine might help me cope with the next change of country and culture. Post party note - not just pasta and wine, we also enjoyed sausages with fagioli and many delicious cakes. There was dancing and once again it was my duty to demonstrate the correct actions to YMCA. This new mayor certainly understands what's important, he gets my vote.

Tuesday 2 July 2013


We usually settle straight back into our Italian life as soon as we arrive here but this time has been different.   We were only back in Scotland about five weeks since our last visit, its not as if we've been away for months.  Perhaps we didn't rest properly after our long drive, maybe we started to socialise too quickly or the change from chilly Scotland to temperatures in the 30s was too much, maybe we are just getting old.  We return to our own house, our own things and lots of friends nothing new at all but somehow we seemed to need a period of settling in before we properly relaxed.  I know this sounds incredibly spoilt, it's hard to put a finger in what was wrong, whatever it was is fixed now.  And its a bit cooler, mid 20s, so we are cracking on as usual with house maintenance and gardening, a trip to the beach, long lunches with friends and lots of time outdoors.  And of course we are watching the Tour de France, how beautiful was Corsica.
However we are flying back to Scotland next week for a while, for goodness sake lets hope I don't get all restless again, I hardly know whether I'm coming or going but at least there isn't time to get homesick for either place.