I’ve mentioned our neighbours before; on a tiny rural Marche road with few houses there are 3 sets of English folk (including us of course) all hailing from Lancashire originally. What’s the chances eh? What’s more we all get on really well. It’s not like a dreadful ex-pat clique or anything, we’re all around the same age with similar ┬ábackgrounds and close family interests. And we all love Italy and its lifestyle, and the weather – especially in summer, when we’re often found dining al fresco at each other’s places. Not much chance of a BBQ at the moment though. Continue reading


This posting was originally an e-mail to friends in September 2006.

We’ve had lots of visitors this summer and what a blast it’s been. Towards summer’s end we fancied a short break and when we learned our very good friends G and M were having a holiday in Sicily we jumped at the chance to go and spend a weekend with them. It would be great to catch up with them and Sicily was one of the places we’d longed to visit, in my case since I’d first read about the island as a 13 year old in class 3S. The place had a fascinated me for years – the Strait of Messina – the narrow strip of water separating the island from the Calabrian coast of mainland Italy, famous for its treacherous waters and deadly whirlpools. These were immortalised in the Jason and the Argonauts stories from Greek mythology where he had to battle the Scylla monster and the Charybdis whirpool (is that the origin of the expression between a rock and a hard place?). Then there was Mt Etna, a real live and huge volcano dominating the SE corner of the island. Imagine living with that in your backgarden. Then the historical context of an island ruled by the Greeks, the Romans, Vandala, Goths, centuries of Arab rule and the Spanish – all of whom have left their mark before Italian unification. Then the mafia and the scenes from The Godfather I and II, surely the best twin films of all time. Well they are to me. I had to see the place but would we be disappointed or delighted?

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friends, family and food

Having a home in Italy has enabled us to catch up with loads of friends and family coming over for short breaks. I know there’s a lot of hooha in the media about the effects that cheap flights are having on CO2 levels etc. But I think the no frills concept has opened up international travel like never before. I can commute easily and often very cheaply between Italy and the UK and our lives have been transformed. A generation ago they used to think my father was mad when he worked in Blackpool and lived in the little town of Poulton-le-Fylde about 3 miles away. I’m not kidding but I tell you what was mad – me spending five and a half hours a day commuting by car between Buckingham and London for decades. What effect did that have on the atmosphere? Now our friends can catch a Ryanair flight and are having some prosecco and prosciutto with us 3 hours later. And they haven’t robbed a bank to do it. There’s something wrong with that…?

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bounteous overhang

This was originally posted as an e-mail message to friends in June 2006.

We have this huge pine tree 10 yards from our front door and 80 ft high. I can’t make up my mind if I like it or if it’s good for shade or a pain in the butt. We parked the car underneath it (reason 2) for several weeks until I realised it dripped unmoveable glutinous globules onto the body of the car. Nothing can remove this natural supergunge including diesel fuel. And then a huge branch suddenly started to crack away from the main trunk and was only caught from falling completely by a lesser branch. Even so it was 30′ up and needed removing before collapsing on the car or, worse, one of us or a member of the family or guest or Elisa, our lovely post woman or ….

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bloody sensor

This message was originally sent to friends as an e-mail in May 2006.

If you’ve read the ‘dizionari’ message you’ll know about our early problems with light fittings ie not having many. We’d bought a sensor to check for hidden wiring etc before I’d started drilling in to walls. Well the sensor had just two controls; on and off but could I get it to work correctly? Nope. My son-in-law on a visit to us, reckoned the cabling was sunk fairly deep into the plaster work so it was still difficult to judge where to drill the fixing points. Bugger. So I had to call up a local electrician, Emilio and attempted to ask him to come and help us out. He didn’t parli Inglese and my Italian was improving poco a poco (slower than snail’s pace). I think we agreed he’d come on Wednesday at 1pm.

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oh for a dizionari

This originally appeared as an e-mail to friends in April 2006.

We had been going to night school to study Italian for about a year before moving. C had made decent progress but i was missing classes because of work commitments. It’s probably my age but whilst I was doing fine in the class, I really struggled to remember what I’d been taught in the previous lesson. Short term memory recall eh. Where was I..oh yeh. By the time we’d moved to Italy my vocabulary extended to maybe 100 words and some basic phrases. Honestly I knew more Anglo-Saxon than Italian.

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