Thursday 27 July 2023

A timely reminder

I am aware of the problems of fast fashion, cheap buys from the Far East etc, I don’t shop with Amazon for these reasons and also because of the ugly enormous facility they built in the valley below our house in Italy, an out of town building to which all the zero contract minimum wage workers have to travel and not a solar panel in sight on the vast acreage of flat roof.

When we returned from Italy my kitchen clock had stopped working, MrFF said it was finished and I’d need a new one.  That was disappointing as I like the clock very much, so he thought again and said he would try to find a new mechanism for it. However such mechanism was to come from Temu, an online vendor that I believe is in China and gets bad press because it’s suppliers may use child and slave labour, at the prices they definitely aren’t paying them much or investing in their welfare.   However he ordered the product for less than £2 delivered, it seemed from the despatch updates to travel by plane.  It took a while to arrive badly packaged with the plastic wrapping pierced by part of the mechanism but nothing broken.

MrFF had the old mechanism and pointers removed and the new ones installed in a flash, my clock works again and it looks great, I like the new blunt pointers and the addition of a red second hand.  I am delighted and telling myself that a repair is better then the whole clock heading to landfill but I also feel guilty about using such a disreputable company whenever I check the time.

Saturday 22 July 2023

On Tour

This years Tour de France has been one of extremes, I have never known one like it.  It’s been thrilling from the start and each day since, long hard stages, big climbs, scary descents, fierce competition, amazing racing.

I was devastated, but also much calmer as I no longer have to worry about him, when my favourite ever rider Mark Cavendish crashed and had to abandon with a complicated collar bone fracture.  He was riding so well till the accident, it remains to be seen whether he will after all sign up for one more year in an attempt break the record for the most Tour stage wins.  Currently he is equal with the great Eddy Merckx which for me is good enough.  I had lovely visions of him riding the final day of his final Tour through Paris, high 5ing his loyal fans and possibly even taking the last sprint, moving us all to tears himself included.  He is such a likeable man, when he won the final stage in Rome of this year’s Giro d’Italia, having been generously lead out by Geraint Thomas who is in a rival team, he had to embrace not just his teammates and G but every single Giro rider and many of the support staff.

MrFF and I are glued to the telly every afternoon, some days it’s impossible to knit and watch. Friends called by one day and were forced to view the sprint finish with us.  Even today the penultimate day there was tension and emotion, the French fans lining the climb of the Petite Ballon in their thousands to say goodbye and thanks to retiring Thibout Pinot who was at that stage leading the race, a dream scenario.

Tomorrow will be a relaxed procession into Paris, a final sprint and the presentations. The tour will be over for another year, I will feel the loss.  It wasn’t my ideal outcome, I suppose the British twins Simon and Adam Yates finishing joint first was a lot to ask, but they finished third and fourth.  Next year maybe.

Wednesday 19 July 2023

A week in Yorkshire

I continue to be delighted to be back in Yorkshire.  We were told several times before we left Italy that the UK weather would be awful and we would have a miserable summer.  Given the choice of manageable temperatures, a mix of sun and soft refreshing rain or scorching 40 degrees plus and scorched earth I am happy where I am.  We have since we returned had the balcony doors open from early morning until bedtime, we sleep well with our bedrooms windows open under a single linen sheet, I wear my flip flops and cropped trousers or shorts daily, it’s like being on holiday without mosquitoes.

We’ve stocked up with provisions, enjoyed fish and chips and been out for a delicious breakfast.  I’ve had my haircut, been to the dentist, borrowed new books from the library (all visited on foot, the car has been used only once since our return).  I have taken a walk to see my favourite alpaca across the valley and check the progress of some beautiful gardens.  I am loving this green and leafy place.  

It was definitely the right decision to come back, not they we had a choice with the 90 days in 180 stay in the EU (Schengen) rule.  I’ve had a very happy week, ilkley feels like our holiday destination, maybe because there is no ongoing maintenance or home improvement project.  But don’t worry, when we left Italy we discovered a water leak, what changes.  MrFF thinks the improved water pressure might have discovered a weakness that gradually got worse and manifested in the boiler room.  Despite some investigation we didn’t find the fault, it could be in the garden, we turned everything off and left.  Something to do when we go back, for now the holiday continues.  I can thoroughly recommend this destination, the food is great, people are friendly, the accommodation is superb.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Happy to be home

Day two of our journey was long.  MrFF was desperate to take our new car over the Saint Bernard pass and it was the perfect day to do so.  This added a lot of time to the drive but it was so beautiful, I tried not to think of the opening scenes of The Italian Job as we switchbacked our way up and down.  We stopped at the top, breathed in the clean mountain air and walked a little, here’s the view 

The french stop over was glorious, in the chateau with a delicious dinner taken outside, usually it’s November when we stay, we liked the summer holiday feel and found time to walk round the extensive grounds.   After almost 10 hours in the car I am not sure we fully appreciated our stay but we slept well with the three large windows of our corner room wide open, it was almost like sleeping outside.   

Now we are back in our green and pleasant land.  More sleep catch up is required but I was awake and making tea by six delighted to be here, loving the cool calm penthouse and most definitely the lack of maintenance projects for a while, maybe this is really our holiday house.


Monday 10 July 2023

On the road again

Back at the lovely hotel in the Aosta valley, different view this time.  A long journey, 36 degrees in places it’s hard work.  Tonight we should be almost in sight of the channel and England.


Wednesday 5 July 2023

Still here

The much improved patio is almost finished, the tiling has been handed over to the cleaner, me, with just some edging to sort.

The grand depart didn’t happen last weekend, MrFF still had (and always will have) things to do so he moved our leaving date until Wednesday. On Monday he said Wednesday was off and that we will leave on Sunday.  Of course I’d emptied the freezer and run down food stocks, now we live day to day with early evening walks to the village for essentials which is fine.

I had moved all the terrace pots ready to be collected and enjoyed over the summer by a friend, I’ve asked if I can keep them a little longer.  

MrFF just keeps finding jobs, I’d say his work life balance is wrong but there is precious little other than work and sleep.  So while I am disappointed, according to the first plan I’d be back in Yorkshire now, I am keeping calm and having a few quiet days knowing it’s pointless doing much more gardening or cleaning.  I am appreciating being here to see more of the my lovely flowers appear, enjoying a good book, the sun and the beauty around me.

We are eating dinner outside every night, loving the cool and the moonlight, it’s not a bad place to spend an extra week no more time with the cats.

There is little chance we won’t leave on Sunday because out hotel for the first night is booked and paid for, the Yorkshireman isn’t going to lose that money.