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.

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.

Good Friday and The Pork Pie – Venerdì Santo e The Pork Pie

Huge snow flakes floated from the sky on Wednesday morning, but not enough to cover the ground. There was certainly a chill in the air. I resigned myself to staying indoors all day, and started on chores. The afternoon brightened up a little and inspired me to walk. Glad I did. The colours were beautiful.

On Wednesday my friend, Gabriella, reminded me we were going into Ascoli Piceno the following morning, so she could introduce me to the Physiotherapist/Masseuse she used. I say she reminded me…I’d somehow managed not to pick up on this part of a conversation we’d had earlier in the day, so it was actually news to me. Oh well, we’d been talking about hospital appointments and various other things, so it got lost in the mix.

My trip with Gabriella was a huge success. I now have an appointment for a well needed massage next Tuesday. Next stop was the hospital, and we managed to get an appointment for an x-ray on April 24th. Great result! As usual my trip included a guided tour of areas in Ascoli Piceno I hadn’t seen before.

Hubby was hard at work stacking logs when I got home, and making a pretty good job of it too. Not sure if his wood shed is big enough for our huge pile of logs, but he can also stack them at the side. I was only home for a few minutes before heading out again for my weekly shopping. Busy day! I bought of geraniums to add to the colour in our outside space…I’m getting there. Now the evening has turned chilly, so the fire is on, and we’re about to settle down. Boy did this day fly by.

Today is Good Friday, which always makes me think about my mum. What a character she was. Hubby and I hadn’t been married long when mum and dad visited us for Easter. We took them out for the day on Good Friday, and ended up at Exelbury Gardens, which is in the New Forest, near Beaulieu. What a beautiful place. I have some lovely photos and even better memories. We spent a long time wandering around those gardens and worked up an appetite for a good pub lunch. It was pork pies, chips and peas all round. My mum took her first bite of the pork pie and looked instantly dismayed. Her mouth remained full of pie, which she seemed unable to swallow.
“Mum, are you alright, whats wrong?”
She swallowed reluctantly and looked like she was about to cry.
“Ethel, what’a the matter?” My dad asked.
“I’m eating a pork pie.”
My dad looked perplexed, but suddenly it dawned on me.
“It’s Good Friday.” I said, “We should be eating fish.”
Neither mum or I had ever eaten anything other than fish on a Good Friday, but we’d completely forgotten what day it was.
“What shall we do?”I said, feeling sorry for my mum because after over sixty years, she’d broken the Good Friday rule.
She pulled a funny face (the one I used to call a witchy face when I was a child) and began to devour her pie with gusto…”We’ve paid for it now, and it tastes good too good to waste!”
We all laughed at her and followed suit. They were extremely good pies.
This little scene pops into my head every year on Good Friday. I miss my mum and dad. The years go by so quickly.

Have a good Easter everyone.

What makes us Happy – Cosa ci rende felici

On Saturday I got back on my bike. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous every time I braked but I needed to ride, if only to get my confidence back. My short ten kilometre trip was fun, and by the end of it, I relaxed. Yes, my ribs still hurt a little, but they’re getting better. Is Spring finally here for good? I certainly hope so. We were able to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine on Saturday afternoon. Here’s to a wonderful long summer!

I woke up a little bleary eyed on Sunday morning because of the “Spring Forward” time change, but Sunrise brought amazing colours so it was worth it. I used to love the view of the Rocky Mountains from the west side of our home in Colorado. Those views made me happy for almost thirty years. I don’t think I have thirty years left now, but this view will certainly make me smile for a few years to come. I definitely have a lot to be thankful for. Doubts and regrets? Yes, everyone has those, but life isn’t perfect. My happy place is sipping a glass of ice cold Prosecco on our terrace at the end of the day, enjoying the view, and remembering why we’re here.

Oh dear, Monday didn’t dawn well. Seems the muscle damage between my ribs is healing well, but a new sharp pain developed. Popped down to the doctor, but missed him, so hubby drove me to the Pronto Soccorso (Emergency room) in Ascoli Piceno Hospital. I needed to know what was going on because I could barely breathe. A very lovely nurse took my vitals, which were fine, and told I most likely had a fracture, which was causing the sharp pain. She gave me a choice…go back to the doctor tomorrow and get him to write a prescription for x-rays, or wait in line (which could take four hours) in the Emergency room. Guess which I chose?

And to top it all, Monday brought rain, hail and sleet!!!! What with all that, and it being the first Monday after our clocks changed…I’d say it was the Perfect Storm.

The day ended with daffodils – La giornata si è conclusa con i narcisi

Wednesday was quite a day! My bruised ribs were really hurting, so I moved carefully for a while. First stop Ascoli Piceno. Hubby needed wood for his construction project, and I was still looking for the perfect outside table and chairs. The first table I saw in Brico (Hardware Store) was exactly what I wanted. As I sat admiring it, a lady in an Arizona sweatshirt approached, and looked at the table next to me. She spoke to the gentleman with her…in English. Of course I had to speak to them and I’m very glad I did. They live in Ascoli Piceno, but moved here only a year ago from Arizona. Leith and Volker! I believe they’re actually German, but speak perfect English, can’t wait to meet up with them for lunch. Lovely couple.

Once we’d arranged delivery, and paid for our purchases we headed off to Villa Lempa for an early lunch at our favourite pizza bar. It was the first time we’d stopped there for a while. It still amazes me that we can buy a large pizza, and drinks, for €8. Makes hubby smile every time we eat there, he likes cheap. As always, the pizza was excellent. When we got home we worked outdoors, cutting down the blackberry bushes that have taken over the outside of our garden wall. I do like blackberries, but not climbing into my garden. Of course with the weather being so lovely we had to stop a lot to talk to passers by. Another job done!

Next I decided, with great determination, to finally tackle the flight to Denver. I keep putting it off, and flights only get more expensive, so I took the bull by the horns today. I managed to find, and book, a very reasonable flight on Kayak. Business and first class all of the way, for less than I was looking to pay for Premium Economy when booking directly with the airline. I don’t use booking aids very often, but with the way prices are right now, its the best way to go. I was redirected to the Airline booking site, so there is no “middle man” to worry about. Let’s see how it goes. Thinking back, I did book a flight with Expedia about five years ago, and everything went smoothly…fingers crossed.

With all of those jobs done, I decided to take advantage of the lovely day, and go for a walk. It was gorgeous, and nice to run into locals, who always love to stop and chat.

You’re probably all thinking…wait a minute, how are her bruised ribs going to feel after tackling thorn bushes…I’ll tell you tomorrow.

I do enjoy my craziness!


Oh those aching bones – Oh quelle ossa doloranti

The evenings are chilly, so we still need a fire, and mornings come with a little mist, but by the afternoon, it’s gorgeous.

I’m still struggling with bruised ribs from my bike accident, silly old girl I am. I need to be more careful. Old bodies take longer to heal. My thankless research of flights to Denver continues, leaving me gasping at the high prices. AirFrance seem like a good alternative at the moment, but they don’t have great customer reviews. I’ll spend a few more days looking for a bargain before biting the bullet.

I went for an afternoon walk after lunch on Tuesday, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Spring. When I got back, I did a little pottering in the garden, can’t resist it. Then, exhausted and aching, I sat in my favourite chair and instructed hubby how to bake shortbread biscuits (cookies, biscotti), because I just couldn’t do anymore. He did a good job considering it was his first attempt and also sounded pretty content while he was doing it.

The evening crept in and I watched the clouds slide down the mountain, blocking out the last rays of sunshine. Its pretty special living here with the Adriatic on one side, and the Apennines on the other. The Adriatic provides dramatic sunrises, and the mountains bring flaming red sunsets. A painters paradise.

Wednesday morning dawned, bright sunny and beautiful. Is Spring here to stay?

Here comes the Sun – Ecco che arriva il sole

Our natural gas was successfully connected (yeah), and to celebrate we ate lunch Locanda dei Faraoni (Inn of the Pharaohs) in Villa Mattoni. Locanda dei Faraoni is a gem of a restaurant that provides a delicious lunch to the local workforce. No written menu, a fixed antipasto, a choice from three primo (pasta) courses, and a choice from three secondo (meat courses), accompanied salad, potatoes, wine, water, dolce (dessert) and coffee. All of this is cooked to perfection and the cost is only fifteen euros per person. Unbeatable!

I’m happy to say that the sun returned on Saturday afternoon and I got to plant my lavender. I also managed to fit in an afternoon walk, and brought back a good bundle of kindling. I even found time to work on my book. Great day for me, I kept busy.

Saturday ended with soft, filtered sunlight and Sunday dawned bright and beautiful. I love waking up to days like this. I had lots to do, but the sun gives me energy.

Sunday passed in the blink of an eye. Busy sunny days are like that. Another weekend bites the dust! Wait…I’m retired, I don’t need to worry!

Hopeful for Sunshine – Speranza per il sole

The sun shone through a crack in my blinds on Saturday morning…bliss!
It didn’t last long, and before I’d washed and dressed, I heard the rain pattering on the roof again. I’m hopeful its just a shower. The sky looks promising!

Hubby and I were up and about early today because we were expecting Piero (our trusty expert on everything) along with a technician from the gas company. Saturday is D-Day for getting switched from LPG (PGL) to Natural Gas (Metano). Pipes are laid, meter installed…everything should be good to go. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Nothing happens according to plan in Italy. Why switch? PGL, is more expensive then natural gas, even in these uncertain Putin days. Also natural gas flows, we don’t have to depend on a delivery. Deliveries have been great, and always come the day after we request them, but there are more opportunities for things to go wrong, and if they can they will.

Some of the bulbs I planted in my new garden are peeping through the soil. Crocuses are in flower, with daffodils buds bursting to follow them. I have lavender to plant when the weather allows. It will be a magical garden. If the rain remains, and I can’t work in the garden today, I’ll write. I’m finally starting to find a rhythm with my new book (Escape to Italy?). After reading and re-writing the first hundred pages at least half a dozen times…I think I finally have it right. I want my readers to feel my happiness, sadness, passion and fear. This is most likely my last book, and written from the heart.

Have a lovely day everyone. Here is a nice smile to start your weekend.

Friday on my Mind – Venerdì nella mia mente

The photo on my left is my Friday morning view. Pretty gloomy! It didn’t get much better as the day progressed. Friday afternoon is the photo on my right. Both are beautiful views, and I’m very lucky to have them, but I much prefer sunshine.

When I awoke on Friday I thought…yea, its Friday, just like I used to when I was working. Crazy old bird aren’t I? It’s been a wet, miserable week. A couple of years ago, when we were living in Colledimezzo, we experienced rain and gloom like this and vowed we’d find somewhere sunnier to spend February. Last year was gorgeous, but, here we are again. It is a little warmer by the Adriatic, but at our elevation, it gets chilly.

I didn’t confine myself to the house because I needed to do my weekly shopping, and also decided to continue looking for some reasonably priced garden furniture. We need it for on the upper terrace as well as down in the garden. This fixed income pensioner is looking for a bargain! I shopped one of the big discount stores in Ascoli Piceno, and although I didn’t find garden furniture, I did find a few other bargains. We are in a fantastic area for shops, and shopping is one of my hobbies, so I feel quite at home here.

My next stop was the HUGE Oasi supermercato in Al Battente Mall. The food choices are surprisingly different in Ascoli Piceno (Le Marche) than they were in Lanciano, (Chieti Province) Abruzzo. Its fun, and interesting to see the change. Of course spring is coming and plants are appearing on the shelves too. I snapped up some lavender that was on offer. All in all a good day.

I’m foregoing my walk today…too cold. The fire is on, which means the radiators will soon be warm, so I’ll stay put and work on my book, which still has no name. I’m thinking I may just call it “Escape to Italy”, but I’m just not sure if its catchy enough. I have plenty of time to think about it…I have another couple of hundred pages to write yet!

Have fun and relaxing weekend everyone.

Active Mind/Aching Bones – Mente attiva/Ossa doloranti

On Friday, when I got out of bed, my body reminded me of my mountain hike on Wednesday, and strenuous gardening on Thursday. It creaked and complained for a good half hour before settling down. It ached a little too! Aging isn’t always fun, but I’m still standing.

Hubby made the most of the sunshine on Friday morning and went for a bike ride, so I decided to cook a big lunch. Roast (breast-less) chicken, roast potatoes, pan fried cabbage and zucchini and of course…a little white wine gravy. He certainly enjoyed it when he came back. He’d biked forty eight miles. Yes, over the years he’s looked after his body a lot better than I looked after mine. Pay heed all you youngsters!

My afternoon walk was short today, my legs were tired and didn’t want to cooperate. After a kilometre I let them win, and headed back home. I did snap some hints that spring is peeping through.

Have a wonderful weekend and dance while your body still allows!

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