A Sunny New Week – Una nuova settimana di sole

Just when you think you can’t possibly find more beautiful views…you do!

A new week begins, let it be a good one. Let it bring long walks, bike rides and perfect sunsets.

We visited a friend in Cellino Attanasio on Monday! The photos above were taken from her home. Aren’t they beautiful. It amazes me that Abruzzo stays hidden from tourism. It seems to be Italy’s best kept secret, and selfishly, I’d like it to stay that way. Abruzzo has the beauty of Tuscany, along with delicious food and outstanding wine, but it remains peaceful and free of crowds.

On Monday afternoon, I indulged myself and bought a new rose for our the garden. It wasn’t planned, but the colour caught my eye, almost luminous orange. How could I resist?

Tuesday started busy, I woke up in a “Lets get things done” mood! I had a physio appointment in the afternoon, and managed to fit in some shopping before and after. I paid a trip to the Assassin of Ascoli again…you know how I like a bargain, and boy did I find one today. I found a beautiful little bistro table, with matching chairs, at a great price. It’s perfect for the little patio area we made, and just the right size for a bottle of wine and two glasses.

My outside area is getting better all of the time.

Sunshine, small birds, and good friends – Sole, uccellini e buoni amici

Thursday’s sunset was calm and soothing. A perfect end to a busy day.

The locals tell me that 2023 has brought the wettest spring in over twenty years. It’s certainly nice to feel the warmth of the sun again.

On Friday my day was interrupted by a very young swallow that seems to have fallen from its nest. Hubby said it was hopping around on the path on Thursday too. It hadn’t learned to fly, and as the day progressed, it got visibly weaker. Because it was a very hot day, I tried to figure out how to give it some water. Eventually I managed to get it to drink drips of water from the end of my finger. Its little beak opened and it gobbled the water down, opening up again for more. I carefully placed it in a safe, shaded place in the garden, and kept checking it was OK. The water seemed to revive it a little and soon it began chirping at some birds close by, hopefully they were family. Poor little mite, I wasn’t sure what else I could do.

Bird report – I walked around the garden early Saturday morning, looking for my little friend! A swallow landed on the garden wall close by, chirping loudly. I went across to where it sat. It chirped a few more times, and then flew away. It was very tiny, and I truly hope it was the one I helped the previous day, but I’ll never really know.

On Saturday afternoon we met, and had lunch, with our great friends Thora and Hlynur. They live in Reykjavik, but are staying in their holiday home in Colledimezzo. So much fun to catch up. We only get to do this once a year, so have to make the most of it. So much to talk about, I wish they lived closer. Lovely afternoon. We had a delicious lunch and chatted up a storm, we always have so much to talk about. We’ll have to plan another get together soon.

While in Chieti, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of one of the local Carabinieri! Their uniforms make such a fashion statement. Italian style!

Here comes the sun – Ecco che arriva il sole

So happy the weather has settled into a nice warm pattern. On Tuesday morning I took advantage of it and went for a bike ride. It was beautiful. I had a near miss with a sleepy snake that decided to surprise me, but no harm done to either of us. Not a big snake fan!

Wednesday was so warm we decided to visit the coast. We wandered around the colourful market in Martinsicuro, before strolling by the beach. People were swimming and sunbathing, it felt like summer. The driftwood that had accumulated over the winter was being scooped up by huge machines. The seafront at Martinsicuro has had a lot of work done, and is gorgeous. Nice to see it before the tourists arrive. We were going to stay for lunch, until we noticed ugly thunderheads looming over the mountains. This made me a little nervous and reminded me of a severe hail storm we got caught in last July, when we first visited Martinsicuro. Climate change brings all sorts of surprises. Not wanting to tempt fate, we headed home early. The storm didn’t materialise, but better safe than sorry. My daughter called us while we were on the way home. She was at the airport, waiting for a flight back from Kentucky. So lovely to hear from her. I miss her so much.

Unfortunately I had a gloomy hour in my afternoon, due to a long call with the Social Security Administration in the US. They decided to reduce my pension because of some information they didn’t receive. It takes mail a long time to travel between Italy and the US, and sometimes that can be a problem. The gentleman on the phone was very nice and told me to give it time, and it would be fixed. Time and patience right!

Patience is not my strong point, but I’m trying.

Feeling Tropical at Villa Joanna – Sentirsi tropicali a Villa Joanna

The hot sun, combined with the recent rains, made Sunday positively steamy. I did a little gardening and was soon shedding garments. It’s been a while since it was this warm. Raking the shale to level the driveway gave me a great workout, and soon I was ready to sit on the terrace to enjoy the view across Le Marche. Hubby joined me and we remembered why we moved here.
“Just another day in Paradise”, was his favourite saying when we first moved to Gabbiano and enjoyed our al fresco lunches every day. Food is something else I want to talk about, but in another blog.

This house is going to keep us busy in our retirement. We’ll always be stacking wood for the winter, cutting the grass and pottering in the garden, just like the locals. While we’re out there working, someone always stops by to chat, and because they’re a little nosy and want to see what we’re doing. We still have a fairly big landscaping project to tackle at the back of the house, but I’ve come to realise that this is what we were looking for in retirement, something to keep us busy. We travelled Italy extensively before we moved here, and visited most of the places on our bucket list. There are one or two places we’d still like to see. Sicily, and maybe Sardinia, but there are so many places to explore here in northern Abruzzo/southern Le Marche, that I’m not too bothered about going much further. Italy has always called to hubby and I, and we answered it’s call, by retiring here. Traveling isn’t a priority now, other than visiting our daughter in the US. I wish she was closer.

Retirement means different things to different people. Some retirees are on one long vacation, relaxing, reading, traveling, but everyone is different. To us it is becoming part of a community, enjoying and sharing our home, and making it a place we want to return too. I think we got it right this time.

Our home!

Wish you were here? A moving story! – Vorrei che tu fossi qui? Una storia commovente!

It was a marvellous walk on Friday. Green and beautiful! The Italian countryside at its best. Lets hope the rainy days are over for a while.

Thank heavens I walked on Friday because Saturday dawned gloomy and wet! The rainy days certainly weren’t over. I’d hoped to work in the garden, but even if the rain stopped, it would be much too wet. I baked instead.

I cooked a rainy day lunch of lamb braised in red wine and then baked a lemon pound cake. Finally, I sat down to write. Below is a snippet from the first chapter of my book.

One chilly afternoon, in March 1994, my nine-year-old daughter and I were watching a TV show called “Wish You Were Here” hosted by the well-travelled Judith Chalmers. That particular episode was was about a train journey through the Rocky Mountains between Canada and Colorado. The scenery along the way was breathtaking.  Joanna, my daughter, was unusually silent and couldn’t take her eyes away from the television. Finally, she spoke, and her words changed the direction of our life.

“Mum, the Rocky Mountains look like a really good place to have an adventure, can we move there?”

In a nutshell, we moved from the south of England, to the US, because our daughter watched a travel show and put the idea in our heads. We aren’t crazy…just a little insane, but look how much fun we’ve had along the way.

Judith Rosemary Locke Chalmers OBE (born 10 October 1935) is a British television presenter who is best known for presenting the travel programme Wish You Were Here…? from 1974 to 2003.

Time may change me – Il tempo può cambiarmi

Time may change me, but I can’t trace time. Yes, its a lyric from a David Bowie song. I know lots of them by heart. I thought about this one as I watched hubby eating his breakfast this morning. We’ve been married for almost forty six years…where did the time go? How we’ve changed. It’s not just the wrinkles (laugh lines), but as we age, we think a little differently. Things that were important, no longer are. When I was a teenager I struggled to establish an identity, eager to be a little different, but also needing to fit in. My teenage years were difficult, emotional years. I’d spend hours and hours in my room, playing music and trying to fathom things out. I don’t think I ever really did. There’s no doubt in my my mind that David Bowie helped me through those years. He was definitely different, but he also fitted in. He was part of that era, and helped shape music…and me. One of my favourite Bowie songs is on his Hunky Dory album, and called “Kooks”. If you haven’t heard it, go look it up, I still remember all of the words.

Now time is winding down for me. I’m the wrong side of sixty five and no longer struggle to find my identity. I know just who I am, and where I’m going (it’s unavoidable). I feel as though I’ve been on the worlds fastest roller coaster, and suddenly it stopped…in old age.

I still have one more big thing to do, and that is finish my last book. I’d better get a move on!

Here comes the rain again – Ecco che arriva di nuovo la pioggia

The wet weather is attracting all sorts of visitors. This monster was on the outside of our bug screen on Monday morning. Luckily the window was closed. Gave me quite a start! Never seen a slug that big before. I did manage to sit outside and have a glass of wine this evening…but under the cover of our porch. It rained all day!

Tuesday was dark, gloomy and rainy! The sun peeped through briefly, and I do mean BRIEFLY. It obviously didn’t like what it saw and hid behind the clouds again.

I shook hands and bade farewell to the bug guys just before noon and then our work began. For a six hours we toiled, cleaning, putting things back where they belong, hanging drapes…hunting for things that we knew we’d put in a safe place, but couldn’t remember where. I’m sure you all know that feeling. At six fifteen we called it a day, both way too tired to do anymore. On Wednesday we should be able to move back upstairs again. This silly old gal is actually looking forward to cooking. (I know…very sad). Yes, I can cook again on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning I enjoyed my cappuccino, but after that…full steam ahead until our upper floor was back to normal. The day was a blur of putting things away, cleaning, organising and…yeah, cooking again. Roasted chicken, roasted carrots and potatoes, and spinach, wilted with garlic and nutmeg. It tasted so good, even if I say so myself. After nine hours of running up and down stairs, arms laden, we were finished.

And now, I’m sitting by the little log burner, enjoying the normality of it all. Who’d of thought we’d still need to light a fire in May.

Going to do my sun dance now.

Dancing in the rain – Danzare sotto la pioggia

Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters, got stuck in my head on Monday morning. I didn’t wake up to rain, but there were heavy mists and a little drizzle. I’m not going to let it get me down though. Rain is a good thing…and it has to stop sometime. The flowers will be gorgeous for the rest of the year.

The Bug Guys returned on Monday morning…two more days and they’ll be done. They promise to finish at lunch time on Tuesday.
“Domani finiamo le ultime stanze, le puliamo e partiamo all’ora di pranzo.”
Then the work really begins for us. Hubby has to climb onto scaffolding to put the light fittings back up on the ceiling. There is a new TV cabinet to be assembled. It will be like moving in all over again…but we’re up for it. As you can see the weather forecast isn’t good, so what else could we do? I can’t wait for life to go back to normal. The last ten months have been a whirlwind of making the house the way we want it. Almost done! It has been a lot of work, but we’ve enjoyed it, and the house has become home. Even the garden is looking good. And we’re making new, and interesting friends in the area. Everything takes time.

Oh dear, look at Tuesday’s weather. Thankfully, I don’t have to go anywhere. A long time ago, when my daughter was still a child, we got rain like this in Colorado. It was very unusual, and much needed. We were so happy to see it that we went outside and danced in the rain. I don’t think I’ll be dancing in the rain today. Hopefully, from around noon, I’ll begin putting the upper rooms of our house back together…I can only hope.

I don’t want to wish my life away…but roll on June!

A food celebration for Mothers Day weekend – Una festa gastronomica per il weekend della festa della mamma

It was nice to wake up on Saturday morning with the house to ourselves. The gentlemen from Siva (commonly known as the bug guys), left Friday afternoon and returned to Florence. They are probably happy to leave the wild weather of Abruzzo behind. What a spring this is turning out to be. Rain, hail, thunderstorms…what are we being punished for? The mornings all start with bright sunshine, but by noon the clouds roll in and the rain returns.

We took a trip to Pescara on Saturday, in search of a new cabinet for our television. I’m not a big IKEA fan, it overwhelms me by its sheer size, but after searching various other places on line, it seemed to have the best selection. We found what we were looking for pretty quickly, and got out as soon as we could. Next stop OBI…in and out quickly again. Then down to the serious job of lunch. We found a fish restaurant in Spoltere. It is going to the top of my list as one of the best fish restaurant I’ve ever visited. The restaurant is called Hostaria del Mare, and it definitely scratched our seafood itch. A fantastic hot and cold fish appetiser, (the plates of fresh delicious fish just kept coming), followed by grilled sea bass. Wonderful! A good reward for getting in and out of IKEA while keeping hubby in a good mood.

Sunday May 14th, Mothers Day! What on earth has happened to the weather? I should be waking up to sunshine, May has always been one of my favourite months, but it’s miserable. No sign of the sun, and it looks like it rained all night. If we’d moved here from England, this may not have affected us, but we lived in Colorado for thirty years. Not used to the rain. I wish it would stop, I think we’ve had enough.

I have a nice lunch to look forward to, thanks to my daughter. I wish she could be here, but I’ll talk to her later. For now…I’ll think about Phoebe Ethel Newman, my mum who has been gone for over twenty years, and enjoy mothers day.

To the mother’s who aren’t with us anymore.

Projects and politics – Progetti e politica

Thursday morning was just lovely. A little humid, but warm, so we made the most of it and worked on another project. This time in the garden. We created a pretty area to put a table and chairs, for personal use, and for B&B guests. It is positioned so it has a little privacy, but has a great view of the valley. It will be a lovely place to sit and enjoy a warm summer evening. What makes this area more beautiful is…it cost us absolutely nothing except time, and a little hard work. We used marble that was dumped on the side of the road, and the shale we’re using as a filler is stone that crumbles from the mountains. It will look lovely with a table and four chairs on it. I’m even thinking a vine arbor may add a nice finishing touch. Very pleased with our mornings work.

Our work gave us an appetite, so we drove up the mountain a little way to our favourite restaurant, Cubinato Bailon, for lunch. I may have had a couple of glasses of wine too many, but it had been a busy morning. It felt good to relax. The food, as usual, was delicious. On the way home we saw hail accumulated at the side of the road, quite deep in some places. There were also little waterfalls cascading down the mountainside and splashing across the road. We’d missed a pretty bad rain/hail storm. What a very strange spring this is.

Friday, and market day in Villa Lempa. Beautiful morning, but the clouds started creeping down the mountainside in the afternoon. The market was packed up pretty quickly in anticipation of another storm…I hope not, I’m ready for a full day of sunshine. Hubby and I were looking forward to porchetta for lunch, but alas, the porchetta van had sold out. We had pizza instead, which as just as good, with black olives, mushrooms, truffles and sausage. Now lets see what the rest of the day brings.

And finally, this afternoon I went for a walk, but didn’t get past the bar. We have a local election happening this weekend, and some one grabbed me to campaign for their chosen candidate. The candidate they wanted me to vote for funded, and sanctioned our local bar, which was built after the previous bar was made unsafe in an earthquake. Anyway…I had to call hubby, because the candidate made arrangements to come and talk to us. Made for an interesting afternoon. Met some fun people too.

I hope you noticed the bar had motorcycles parked outside…not quite the Stagecoach in Franktown, but there are similarities.

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