bob’s genes and cooking.

Something tends to happens to men between the ages of 42 and 50. In my case, from being an independently-minded guy with distinctive and individual tastes and interests I started to morph into my father Bob. I don’t just mean that people could spot some similarities between us, I’m talking about turning into him. Take a look at these pictures and bear in mind Bob’s over 20 years older than me. We look like bloody twins…


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what’s the italian for birdcrap?

Well we’re just back from our first visit to Italy since May. We were desperate to get some time there before the summer was over – they’ve been having a heatwave and in England it’s been just rubbish weather all summer. Apart from that we needed to check all was ok with the house etc plus we were taking our grandson S for some quality time with him. It was quite a visit….

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bad day at the ufficio

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

Every single day we’ve spent in Italy has been better than today. I woke to the sound of knocking at the door. C was visiting the girls in London and for once I’d overslept and forgotten that Carlo was due to empty the septic tank. I dashed downstairs in my sloppy stuff and greeted him. He explained that he couldn’t get his huge slurry lorry down the driveway as our car was in the way. I of course couldn’t get it out of the driveway because of his lorry so I had to park it further down our garden slope in the middle of our olive trees, churning up what little lawn we had in the process. I had a feeling this was going to be one of those days….

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festivals a l’italia

This posting originally formed part of an e-mail to friends in August 2006.

I’ve written earlier about the chestnut festivals which are big round here. But they aren’t the only harvest-type festivals celebrated in this part of Italy. In the early summer we had the strawberry festivals and then a flurry of birra and polenta/pasta events in all the surrounding villages. I like the fact that every town and village has its own festival of local produce climaxed with a short but brilliant fireworks display. From our bedroom balcony we get a private viewing of the displays all down our valley throughout the summer nights. There is a real sense of community and celebration, local pride and socialising. Nothing as engaging as this seems to take place in the UK or at least in Buckingham, where the whole town turns out, supports, eats, drinks and gets merry. And now we’ve come across the Godfather of local shows.

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working like a paesano

This message was originally sent as an e-mail to friends in July 2006. I’d been working hard in the garden for days on end and was starting to miss ‘normal’ life. This piece also contained the first reference to ‘pasta paulie’, a handle I’m kind of stuck with now.

The scenery along our little valley is just wonderful; rolling hills, hilltop towns, tiny fields all cultivated with a dazzling profusion of crops, vines and other fruit tress. Every bit of space is put to use. I imagine the English countryside must have looked like this 30 years ago before they started ripping out the field hedges and tearing down the dry stone walls, just to create the English version of the prairies. Anyway the type of farming here hasn’t changed much, probably since medieaval times – and the landscape bears that timeless quality. I still find myself standing alone in the garden just staring out on these incredible views.

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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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telecom italia

This message was originally sent as part of an e-mail to friends in July 2006.

I think most people would have got the message that I had left BT at the end of April 2006, figuring that after 30 years with one company it was time to show some ambition. The plan was a) to spend the summer getting our new home in Italy sorted and b) to establish my marketing consultancy to allow me to work online and earn some money, maybe. The Paul Leonard Consultancy ( is at long last a reality but it took several months of increasingly frustrating contacts with Telecom Italia to get our phone and online links realised. Had I found a more unloved telecomms organisation than BT….?

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