a week in the life of pasta paulie

Well it’s been one of those weeks. I was only writing a few days ago about how pleased we were with the extensive repairs to the extension and how good the house was now looking. Then earlier this week I noticed that a crack, albeit slight, had reappeared on both sides of the extension. Groan. It may be just settlement but we’ll see. Knowing our luck we’ll wake up one morning with the dining room in the pool.

Speaking of which, I left the thing uncleaned for one day when we were really busy earlier this week. Overnight the pool was filled with algae. I’ve been 4 days trying to get it all filtered out again. Slowly but surely it’s clearing but i’ve run out of algicide (we used tons of it when we returned from Ireland a few weeks ago). I’d hoped not to have to replenish our chemicals stock before season’s end but I think we’ll have to go and shell out for some more now. More groans.

This wouldn’t be so bad if we were still using the pool but also this week we’ve seen the weather change. After weeks (nay months)  of clear blue skies and temperatures consistently in the mid 30’s, it’s become overcast and rainy and the temperature’s dropped at least 10 degrees. It’s most noticeable in the evenings. We’ve started donning jumpers at night-time and the two fans we’ve had on permanently during the night in the bedroom, have definitely been switched off.

The thing is it’s still warm during the day – usually around 23-25 degrees, which in the UK would count as a great day, especially this summer. However the kids over here have returned to school this last week which means that winter’s here in the minds of the locals. So two weeks ago everyone was walking around in skimpy clothes, now the Italians are wrapped up in the layers of clothing and jackets and scarves etc. It’s quite incredible how the dress sense changes come the new school year. I still walk around in T-shirts/shorts etc and I get smiled at and joshed about being a crazy Inglesi. You’d think the conditions were Arctic rather than Adriatic. Big girl’s blouses.

I think I mentioned in a recent blog that we’d been digging out all the tufts of grass and weedy roots in the garden. The upside is that everything’s looking neater and we’re getting close to having the landscaping done but our work has exposed the soil surface and the recent rain has turned the garden into a mudbath. It’s about a 25 yard walk down to the pool but by the time you’re down there I’m 3” taller with the mud on my flip flops. Cleaning the filters and filling the pool requires me to walk up and down the slopes several times. By the time I’m finished I look like that 7′ 6” Chinese basketball player, Leally Taur Paurie.

And those clods that we dug out …I have to admit that I was wondering where I could dump them. I didn’t really want them on our property but there was probably half a ton of material to get rid of. So I went and dumped them on a neighbour’s plot of land – I hadn’t seen anyone tending the property in years and figured that it would all bio-degrade before anyone came again. Wrong. The very next day the owner (I presume) turned up to start scything away at all the long grass and weeds surrounding his olive trees, presumably in preparation for picking the olives over the next few weeks. Fortunately his trees are all around  the perimeter of his land and I’d dumped the sods amidst the weeds in the centre of his plot. I think I may have gotten away with it – at least for now. He’ll be mighty pissed if he starts to clear the central area. I’ll go over and confess if he does. Promise.

Conversely the little old lady and her daughter who own the tumbledown rustico and little plot just next to us turned up the other evening to check out their few trees. We hadn’t seen them for ages. I strim her land whenever I’m doing my own just to save her a job. See, I can be neighbourly when I want to! I went out and had a nice chat with them. She’s quite a character. She was saying ruefully that another of our neighbour’s trees which have produced hardly any fruit in recent years (and about which we’ve often scoffed) are full of olives this year, whilst hers have a very poor yield. She was asking how mine were doing – I said they looked OK, maybe not quite as good as last year’s crop. She smiled and took me over to one of her trees and proudy pointed out that it had a whole 3 olives on it, and she laughed out loud. I really like her.

Finally on the subject of neighbours our English friend P is coming over for dinner tonight with her friend Deborah, who’s been here this week taking in the not so glorious weather. We’ll have a few glasses tonight to help take the pain away for her.

Work-wise it’s been a totally crap week. We’re chasing a contract with a Government  agency, following some good work last year, but it’s proving hard to nail down. Then I heard that the major opportunity I’d been approached about, and had numerous very positive discussions on, had turned into one of those ‘let’s review things in 3 months time’ decisions. Umm. And one of my clients has just asked to go on a commission-only arrangement going forward, which we can’t entertain.

Hey ho.

I can here you wondering if there’s been any respite from the unremitting gloom and there has, albeit totally frivolous. It’s another tribute to womanhood on Italian TV via Berlusconi’s Canale 5 programme Veline. This is quite an institution over here. The programme runs through the summer across the length and breadth of Italy searching for the new Veline – two highly attractive girls; one blonde, one dark-haired – who provide the sexy element in the programme Striscia la Notizia. This is a comedy sketch show which parodies the daily news and runs during the autumn/winter months. Both shows are hosted by the rather dashing Ezio Greggio who is the poor sap who gets to meet all these wonderful Italian girls who dance a bit (following his call to action uno, due, tre staccetto!), wearing very little – the girls that is. Tough gig.

Anyway it was the final this week and the winners were Federica Nargi and Costanza Carocciolo. They go on to be this year’s hostesses on the S la N show. For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been watching the progress of Veline most nights at 8.30pm and it’s been great fun to be honest requiring absolutely no intellectual input whatsoever. People might say that’s an essential attribute for Veline’s viewing audience – no brains, and is fairly typical for any programme on the Berlusconi-owned Canale 5. But I don’t care, we’ve quite enjoyed the show and the hosting skills of Greggio, the daft skits with his comedic side-kick, the awful singing skills of some of the girls and the breadth of female beauty in this wonderful country. The girls who won are truly stunning-looking. Federica in particular is the sheer definition of a classically beautiful young Italian woman. I’m sure there’s more to her than looks alone but the show doesn’t give much scope for us to find out. Check out the video below of one of her performances. I kind of hope that she doesn’t follow the normal route and become shacked up with some Roma FC footballer…

Bet she does though.



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