Sunday 29 August 2021

Give me strength

I cannot tell you what a relief it is finally to be able to put up a post here.  We have had nothing but IT problems in the penthouse since we returned and what should have been a wonderful calm week after our long journey has been total madness.  I wanted to order do so much online while we are home and contact so many people but we have very little internet despite MrFF making many visits to phone shops here and in other towns.  He has resorted to visiting the bowling club daily to download the newspaper, check various things and have a pint.  Somehow that doesn't stress him half as much as being so out of touch does me.  We don't have a landline phone either, which means no one at the front door can contact us on the intercom, we could be missing hundreds of visitors

I have an appointment for an eye test but cannot get a dentist appointment until well into September when we should be back in Italy.  I've booked for late November, it will be over 2 years since I've seen my dentist.

I spent a good hour on Friday looking for my George Forman grill to cook MrFF a belated birthday steak.  I've come to the conclusion I don't have one here, there is one in Italy which must have been here and I could swear I bought another for the penthouse, apparently not.  

So lets turns to the good things.  The apartment is lovely, Yorkshire is lovely and I am loving being cool.  We have visited family and caught up with my brother and his wife, my nieces and grand nieces, the youngest of whom has changed from a little baby to an adorable walking talking toddler.  We've done missed birthdays and Christmas, we returned to the penthouse with a mountain of gorgeous gifts and feeling so happy to have seen everyone after more than a year.    

We've heard that everything is fine in Italy, including our cats who we think of every day.   So I should be able to relax and enjoy being here but so far that hasn't happened.   Maybe it's the thought of the return journey, MrFF is keen to get back me not so much, I'd like a bit of quality time first and a better internet connection please.

Saturday 21 August 2021


We are home in Yorkshire, we did not perish in the heat of the car despite 38 degrees in the San Gottardo tunnel when we could hardly breathe. It’s delightfully cool here and we are recovering from another epic journey.

At present we have very limited internet so I just want to let you know all is well.  We have used our steamer, eaten pies, some of us more than others, and fish and chips.  Importantly we got the car back without incident, it now has an MOT test certificate and is taxed.

I’ve worked out where we keep things in the kitchen and discovered clothes I didn’t know I had.  I’m enjoying the cool and this morning light rain that won’t stop me taking a walk round the town later.  

Today we need to take and post at a priority post box, our day 2 covid tests.  The test package which cost almost £140 for the two of us arrived yesterday, in Italy we paid 40 euro for both to be tested at a clinic.  Anyway it’s all worked out and more than 13 months since we left we are back for a while.

Monday 16 August 2021

Good bad and ugly

We went this morning for our covid tests, it was amusing that the man applying the tampone as we call the probe up the nose was wearing his mask below his nose and smoking between customers.  Despite the woman before me making an big fuss, and having being told the sensation was like being stabbed in the brain, the process was completely painless.  We waited at the house of our Danish friends, shared a delicious relaxing breakfast of home baked rolls, salami, cheese and coffee provided by them and fresh croissants we brought from our local and favourite bar.  Afterwards we had a swim then returned to the clinic for our negative results in English, job done.

We had noticed on our drive to the clinic that the air conditioning in the car wasn’t working, it wasn’t working on the way back either, by which time it was mid day full on heat.  We were both drenched in sweat, I felt sick and the two garages where we stopped for help were both closed for the holidays.  

MrFF decided the best course of action will be to leave at 4 am tomorrow to get as far from sweltering Italy as possible as quickly as possible.  So we have uploaded our test results to our euro tunnel booking, found a hotel in France for tomorrow evening, visited three neighbours delivering tomatoes, saying arrivederci and asking them to look out for the cats.  At Giovanni’s we found Enrico reclining in the shade and discovered he is being fed there as well as at Anna’s, chicken and lamb last night with lots of water.  We’ve had the too much luggage, what’s in that case argument, it’s going to plan. 

We are worried about the wine and olive oil in our car, we are worried about ourselves too.  Years ago there was no air conditioning in cars, my 21 year old Lupo has none, in fact I can remember cars without heaters.  I’m sure we shall survive, I shall think of it as a mobile sauna, roll on tomorrow evening where the forecast is for 21 degrees and the hotel has a pool.

Thursday 12 August 2021

Moves are afoot

We are on an emotional roller coaster as we try to arrange our return to Yorkshire.  We’ve had so many possibilities mostly concerned with covid, like self testing before we leave then getting a test in France to meet the Spanish French English language requirement. Finding information on French testing facilities is a nightmare with limited information only in French and a phone number to call.  The French I learnt almost 60 years ago isn’t going to help me at all.

Now we think we’ve found a local place just down in the valley, after having to beg for a response, that will give us results in English but because of the August holidays they have limited opening times.  However it seems that the test no longer needs to be within 72 hours before we cross the channel it just needs to be in the 3 days before we do so. Yes I know that’s ambiguous but the government website says if you are travelling on Friday get the test Tuesday Wednesday or Thursday. So that could work but we need to ensure the test is to the necesssary standard. Everyone it seems has a responsibility to do this, wouldn’t it be better if all the laboratories simply offered a test that was to the standard.  We swing between despair and hope, interspersed with anger at lack of support.

All the pots need to be moved off the terrace so that they are under the irrigation with a few days to check that’s effective.  I’ve run down the contents of the freezer and stocked up on cat food.  The car has two new tyres and has been through a safety check.

This morning MrFF was up early and finished the wall repair which will be unveiled tomorrow, he just needs to reinstate what’s left of the wisteria and later in the year replace the old fence. Meantime the temperature just keeps rising, 34 degrees yesterday.  Our friends are on holiday in Sicily which yesterday recorded the highest ever temperature in Europe, 48.8C  119.8F.  Maybe 3 days in the air conditioned car followed by a few weeks cool down in England will be worth the current hassle then we can start it all again to come back.

Sunday 8 August 2021

Olympic manners

MrFF and I have enjoyed the Olympics much more than we expected to and are of course delighted with team GB’s array of medals.

But neither of us was impressed with British boxer Ben Whittaker who refused to wear his silver medal because he was disappointed with his performance.  It was much the same when many of the England football team at the Euros presentation immediately removed their runners up medals considering them a reminder of their failure to win the final.  I don’t generally watch football and I was surprised and confused to see this, a bit of research revealed that it often happens at football contests nowadays.

Well I think it’s bad sportsmanship and sets a really poor example, I hope England manager Gareth Southgate, who wore his medal, had a word with his lads afterwards and set them straight.  What happened to ‘it’s the taking part that counts’?

Whittaker said he hadn’t won silver he’d lost the gold.  I’m a cup half empty person myself but even I think he’s wrong and disrespectful to his fellow competitors.  Only three in every event win a medal, I imagine any one of those going home empty handed would be delighted to take his place.  Think of the 13 year old GB skate boarder Sky Brown winning bronze, she was rightly over the moon, would her British team mate Whittaker like to tell her she’d merely lost both silver and gold.

I love the final presentations on the cycling grand tours when the winners and runners up who have children take them onto the podium for the ceremony, small babies, toddlers, teenagers, because they are so proud whatever their placing.  Here are this years Tour de France first three, Pogacar the winner at only 22 hasn’t got round to having children but second and third were delighted to share the moment with theirs. 

Speaking of children Whittaker said he didn’t want to seem like a spoilt brat, why behave like one then.  I don’t know if he has children, or intends to, is he going to pretend to his kids this didn’t happen, will he share with them his ethos that life is all or nothing, winning is everything.  We can’t all be top dog but we can give it our best, be proud of our achievements and gracious in defeat alternatively we can be sulky silver medalists when life doesn’t quite go the way we want.

Thursday 5 August 2021

A few exotics

It’s interesting to be able to grow some unusual plants in our Mediterranean climate, especially now I am limited to a small balcony back in Yorkshire.   Let me show you few examples.

Ornuhogalum Saundersan, a sort of giant Star of Bethlehem.  I bought three bulbs that I put into a pot.  In the first year I have one flower which is finally opening and it’s delightful.  

Halicacabum cardiospermum, or as I prefer Love in a Puff.  Grown from seed, I now have two well established plants.  I read they can become invasive, I’m prepared to take the risk, how could something so delicate ever be a thug.

Passiflora.  My small supermarket buy a couple of years ago now covers the trellis in front of the fuel tank, its been flowering for weeks and some fruits have set.  I understand these are not the same species as those we buy at the greengrocers but they are edible when fully ripe.
I’m also excited that a cactus that was a birthday gift several years ago, and returns to the giver for care when we are not here, is flowering for the first time.  Just think I’d have missed all this if we were allowed to travel speaking of which, we may finally be.  Watch this space.

Sunday 1 August 2021

A cool cut

Last time I was at the hairdressers I said we were returning to England for a while and I’d see them when I got back.   Luckily I hadn’t promised them the usual Marks and Spencer biscuits because as you know our return hasn’t yet work out.  My hair was starting to annoy me and getting sweaty on my forehead so Friday I went back for another Italian cut, it was 38 degrees in the valley.  

At the salon they take photographs when they finish to refer to next time so you can have the same, what you had some time ago or search for new options on the web if you want a major change.  I’ve been very happy with my last few cuts so I asked for the same shape but shorter.  Giancarlo asked if I wanted my cut shorter at the back, I agreed and said also round my ears because it really irritates me when my hair starts to grown over my ears. 

He took me at my word, seeing the back of my head was a big surprise but I really like this, just the job for summer. 

When I got home and took a good look, including the two mirror back view, I was even happier and sent an email thanking them all for a lovely cut and a nice experience.  Below is the reply I had from Pasquale, son of my hairdresser Giancarlo, barber and front of house charmer.

 Jenny you are truly a special customer, your sweetness fills our hearts with joy. It is always a great pleasure to have you in our salon to give you a moment of relaxation .. thank you very much for the trust you place in us.