Tuscany of the South

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Beautiful Abruzzo. I’m sharing my photos from our last trip. This is Roccoscalegna, a beautiful village close to our home in Colledimezzo. The castle is perched on a rock, and climbing to the top is much easier than it looks. Now our house is put together, we have more time to explore the Chieti province. There are three other provinces in Abruzzo, (Aquila, Teramo and Pescara). Once we’ve conquered those, the rest of the beautiful country is on our doorstep.

Let the dream begin.

Marina Piccola – Capri

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2017 took me to Capri for the first time. We stayed at a fabulous B&B Bettola del Re in the lovely little town of Ana Capri. I much prefer Ana Capri to the busy hustle bustle of its big sister.

After Capri we visited the Amalfi coast. It sealed the deal for us regarding retiring to Italy. No we couldn’t afford to buy a home on Capri, or the Amalfi coast, but it pushed me to explore other places, and that’s when we found Abruzzo.

I’m thinking of Capri today because this morning I made a sponge cake, and filled it with cream and jam. Why did this make me think of Capri? During our visit we ate at at a lovely restaurant Le Sirene overlooking the Marina Piccola, which in my opinion, is much more picturesque than Marina Grande. After stuffing ourselves with fish and pasta we thought we could eat no more, but we were wrong. Our waiter twisted our arm and we shared a piece of sponge cake (pronounced spongie cake).
My mamma, she a make it this morning
Maybe she did, it was the best spongie cake I’d ever tasted. I hope to eat there again sometime.

Italy – My Sleep Potion

dsc03515Sunday morning means sitting in front of my laptop paying bills. (It has to be done)

It also means blogging and working on my next book. Love doing that, wish I didn’t have to work, and could do it full-time, but bills have to be paid.

I’m sipping my second cappuccino (daren’t have more than two or I won’t sleep tonight), and thinking of Italy. It’s over a year since our last trip and less than a year before our next one. Can’t wait! Looking forward to retirement and wintering in Italy. Oh that will be so much fun. Wish I could have afforded it earlier in my life, or wish I could afford to retire now. Good things are worth waiting for though.

It also occurred to me, that when in Italy, I can drink as many cappuccino’s as I want, without causing sleep issues. Never after midday of course, that’s just not good etiquette! I wonder if I can get my doctor to write a prescription for me to retire early and live in Italy, isn’t it her job to heal my insomnia?

Home Away from Home

This post is part of the “Home Away from Home” project, a project that strives to make our cuddly friends feel at home, even when home is far away. This means something different to everyone, but “Home Away from Home” can be created by good people in a caring environment. To learn more about this project, go to DogVacay.com

I was born and raised in the North of England, a lovely part of the world, but I don’t yearn to go back. I moved to Colorado in January 1995. It’s where I call home. I love the space and the freedom. I enjoy waking up and looking at the Rocky Mountains. I relax on my deck in the evening, sometimes with a glass of wine, as I watch the sun set. Beautiful isn’t it!

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The view from my deck in Colorado

“Where is your home away from home?” you may ask. “How could you find anything better than this?”

One word. ITALY! I’m sure I lived in Italy in a previous life. When I first visited the Italy I was fifteen. It captured my heart. I have lost count of the number of times I have been back. I love the people, the food, the history, the family values and the way of life. Italy is fairly big, so how can I make a general statement that Italy is my home away from home? I can’t decide which city I like the best. I love Sorrento, Rome, Venice, Frascati, Rimini, Lido de Jesolo, Lake Garda, San Marino, San Leo, Verona,  Murano, Burano…….the list goes on. When I step off the plane and breathe Italian air, I feel like I have come home, simple as that. I suppose Rome may be my favorite, but only by a slight margin.

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The old City Walls in Rome

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A lively Restaurant

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A bored horse and card driver at the Spanish Steps

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Wandering the streets of Rome

I haven’t been back to my home away from home since 2010, but next year, I plan to visit for three weeks. A week on the Amalfi Coast, a week in Rome and a week in Tuscany. I absolutely can’t wait. Home away from home means different things to different people. To me it is a place to relax and feel comfortable surrounded by love and warmth.

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I dream of Tuscany

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I have visited Italy many times and hopefully will visit many more. I love Rome, was blown away with Verona. Venice and the small surrounding islands in the lagoon are gorgeous. Rimini, San MarinoFrascatiSorrentoPompeiiSan Leo, my love of Italy temps me to talk about it continually. However the one place I have not been is Tuscany, and I plan to remedy that in 2015. Why wait so long? This year is a busy one, I have a book to publish (lets hope its a best seller).

Next year will be taken up with wedding plans as my only daughter gets married in June, but the year after is mine. With a months sabbatical from work, I can take me time and explore. I am looking for a villa, maybe close to the coast, for at least ten people. Yes I think Tuscany is a place to share with friends. It’s on my bucket list!

Exciting!

Why I love the French – Paris – The City of Lights

My last (but not final) trip to France was in August of 2007. We celebrated our 35th Wedding Anniversary there. Our journey took a little longer this time as our home is now Colorado. It was worth the trip. We arrived early on a Saturday morning, dumped our cases in the hotel, before going for a walk until our room was ready. Our hotel was located on the left bank, our favorite area, and we wandered through the Saturday morning markets.

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We felt at home immediately as we rubbed shoulders with the locals. Happy, but exhausted from our overnight flight we returned to the hotel and went to bed where we went to bed where we slept for five hours. Our brains had no idea what time it was. We woke up refreshed and then off we went  to explore Paris untill well after midnight. Heavenly, beautiful Paris.

For the next two weeks we walked for miles, we shopped, ate, took photos, sat in local bars, ate in small cafe’s and stayed away from the tourist areas whenever possible. Of course we visited Versailles, and the Louvre, who wouldn’t? We ate in the Jules Verne Restaurant half way up the Eiffel Tower. We watched a show at the Moulin Rouge, visited Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, it was Paris, we had to.

 

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What did I like about Paris? The art, the museums, the buildings, the back streets, the restaurants, but most of all the people. The wonderful artistic, cultured French who made all of this. The last time I visited Paris was 2007, but I will be back.

Is Paris my favorite city, no it’s my second favorite because the most beautiful exciting city in the world is Rome. Paris comes a close second though.

 

 

EuroDisney 1992 – still loving the French – third visit was a charm.

In 1992, when my daughter was 8 years old, my husband and I visited France for the third time. We went to Disney World Paris. Our first Disney adventure. We LOVED it.

We took a bus tour from our home in Chatham, Kent. It was very exciting for my daughter, and for us. We stayed in a modest hotel on the outskirts of Paris. Our first meal was almost a disaster. My eight year old tasted creamed spinach for the first time, and almost couldn’t swallow it. Her face turned as green as the spinach and I held my breath, waiting for the green slime to come spurting out of her mouth like a scene from the exorcist.

Our hotel room was small, and very basic, but we didn’t spend much time in it. We walked for miles in the enchanted new Disney Park. My husband often left us and returned to the hotel after an overload of Mickey and friends, but my daughter and I stayed long into the night. We experienced the rides over and over again, our favorite being ‘The Pirates of the Caribbean‘. We watch Tinkerbell fly high above us after dark. It was my first visit to a Disney Park and it was truly magical.Disneyland Paris Magic Christmas Season Launch

Then there was Paris itself. We spent a wonderful hot day in the City of Lights. A boat trip on the Seine was the highlight of the day for me. Our overheated little girl joined the French children and ran through The Trocadero Fountains to keep cool. My husband climbed the Eiffel Tower, yes he took the stairs.

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We strolled along the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter and ate delicious food  in a wonderful lively restaurant. The day was perfect. It was perfect because of the wonderful, gracious, cultured and sometimes bashful French.

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My Love of the French (Part 2) Road trip to Port Grimaud!

My Dad died in 1988, and left my mother lonely and grieving so we included her on our road trip to the South of France. We drove to Dover from our home in Winchester, and spent the night there before taking the Ferry to Calais. It was a great adventure for our four-year old daughter, made even more special because she got to share a room with her grandma (Feeble Ekkel). My mum was called Phoebe Ethel, but Feeble Ekkel was my young daughter’s translation.

The car we had at the time was a brown Saab Turbo. We certainly put some miles on it during that trip.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We broke up our journey with two overnight stops, the first of which was Dijon. We stayed in an old castle.

Castle in DijonIt was a fun night and I could hear (Feeble Ekkel) and my young daughter,  laughing like two kids, enjoying each other’s company. Even breakfast was an event. We continued our journey the following day, spending the next night in Grenoble. What a beautiful area. The roads wound through the pine trees and mountains. Isn’t this spectacular.

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Finally, after three days on the road, we arrived on the Cote d’Azur. It was worth the trip. The dazzling blue Mediterranean took our breath away. We were staying in Port Grimaud which was gorgeous.Port Grimaud

We visited Cannes, Nice, St. Tropez, the small Island of St. Honorat and Monte Carlow while we were there. On our visit to St. Tropez, it was difficult to find parking, and when we eventually did, we found ourselves on a naturalist beach. The beach was beautifully kept, but the sunbathers were naked. When we broke this news to my 71-year-old mother she said

“I don’t mind, as long as you don’t expect me to take my clothes off too” st-tropez-images

Our two-week vacation was beautiful and memorable. My mum started on the road to recovery after my dad’s death and forged a close relationship with my daughter. She enjoyed food she wouldn’t normally eat and visited places she wouldn’t normally go. This was the second trip to France for my husband and I. We loved every minute of it and began to realize the people of France got a bad rap world-wide. The French are funny, helpful, sensitive, artistic, and very willing to please. They are quietly spoken and don’t like a fuss. They had a special place in my heart, right behind the people of Italy and I would visit again. I love the people of France.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yin and Yang a VENTING Post

I sit in my lovely warm home drinking a nice chilled glass of wine. I have just eaten a delicious meal ‘gumbo’ cooked by my husband. The house smells of cooking and scented candles. I am very lucky and I appreciate it.

I have a good job, as does my husband and we both have medical insurance. I count my blessings every single day.

I have a lovely smart daughter with a good man who cares for her.

With all of those things going for me I am now going to vent.

We all pay towards medical insurance, so between the three of us, that is a lot of money. I am not going to give the name of my Medical Insurance Provider, as I am guessing that they are all the same. They border on illegal practices and it makes me angry.

We get referrals from our doctors to get things like MRI’s, CAT scans etc. We wait until our insurance company approves the treatment. Once they do the hospital calls and schedules an appointment. Everything goes smoothly right!

WRONG!

You get a bill from the hospital that says your insurance company has not contributed to your treatment. You owe almost a thousand dollars and spend the next month or so straightening this out, by which time you are agitated, frustrated and disillusioned.

What to we pay for?

As I said earlier, I am lucky . I am also able to fight these people because I know they are wrong. They try to get as much money as they can, money they at is ours, not theirs.

Some families are not so fortunate and do not understand the border-line illegal practices of these large companies. They make payments and go without things they need in order to pay their bills and protect their credit. It sickens me.

It also sickens me that this country uses propaganda about the UK and Europe, as bad examples of medical coverage. I lived with ‘the National Health Service’ for 39 years and I never once waited for surgery or had a problem with a doctor. I never had to declare bankruptcy to pay my medical bills either. Contrary to popular belief I never had to pull out my own teeth with a pair of pliers. I have very good teeth.

Get real! Do your research and realize that OBAMACARE might actually work.

I am very tired of the petulant Republicans fighting to get their own way, just to throw a spanner in the works. Everyone needs to open their eyes and realize there is a world outside of the United States, and it is a modern, well-educated world.

Don’t get me wrong, I love America. I wouldn’t be living here if I didn’t, but I do get tired of people who don’t look beyond their own garden fence.