Sunday, 31 October 2010


Perhaps I've seen the Godfather too many times (sshh....I know, there can never be too many times) but there is something about the small towns of Italy that make it feel like they should always be represented in sepia or black and white.

Everything just seems hushed and elegant, as if you've stepped into the set of a film noir classic....
...or could stumble upon Luca Brasi at any moment.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Four days...

...of peace and quiet in our favourite place in the world does wonders for the head, heart and soul.
I've decided that autumn in Italy is my new favourite thing. The colours, the food, the wine, the cold but beautiful days, the quality of the light. I think from now on I will insist that we only ever go when the vines are golden and the chestnuts on the market stalls in abundance.

I feel calmer, happier and healthier than I have in a very long time.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

They grow up so fast.

Three years old, and four months old this week.

They grow up so fast our little kitties.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Damsel in distress (...or; Operation Extraction)

Monday was not a good day. It started off well enough. A trip to the pet shop for cat food, some productive housework, but it went down hill rapidly from there.

First, I put my back out. I have no idea how I did it, but I have a feeling it was whilst reaching for something on a high shelf and simultaneously trying to turn round to find out what antics Gatto was up to. All I know is that suddenly whilst moving round the house things were difficult and painful. Sitting was okay, standing was okay, but anything between the two pretty excruciating. Not good.

But I decided to soldier on, there was washing to be done, and hung, and it was a glorious day. It seemed a shame to waste it.
WRONG! What followed were an unfortunate and hilarious series of events.

I unloaded the washing machine, looked at the sunshine and decided to hang the washing out in the garden. Taking advantage of what might be the last bit of autumnal sunshine of the year.
In order to hang out the washing, I needed to shut Gatto somewhere in the house so that he couldn't make a break for freedom (he's still too little to be outside). Normally I would just shut him in the living room, but for some unknown reason I decided to shut the dining room door instead, giving him the run of the upstairs as well. Rookie error!

So I shut the door. Properly shut it rather than just pushing too. The doors in our house, like the house itself, are old, and stick in their frames. Normally this would be enough to hold a little kitten at bay, but for some reason I got it into my head that the wind might manage to dislodge the door, and Gatto would escape, we'd never find him and I'd be inconsolable. So I pushed the door into the frame, made sure it shut properly and pottered out into the garden with the washing and a smile, knowing that Gatto was safely running about the house with the commonwealth games for company while I enjoyed a bit of fresh air and sunshine.

And all was well. For about twenty minutes, until I came back into the house and discovered that I couldn't get the door open. Nothing I tried worked, force, grumbling, pushing and pulling at the door, getting hysterical with it. Nothing. It just wouldn't budge.

So I looked around in panic. Phone and laptop in the other part of the house. Kitten in other part of the house probably panicking (yeah. right.) and making an attempt to claw his way up the curtains to the slightly ajar window. And me, stuck in the dining room. Then I discovered that the house phone was in it's dock and N's number was (thank goodness) programmed into it. Cue a rather unusual voicemail from a woman trying to sound both sheepish and not at all hysterical. "Hi, it's me, er, could you call me...on the house phone...I have a DIY question. er, as soon as you get this? bye"

Only about five minutes passed before he returned the call, but in that five minutes I'd hammered at the door, rattled the handle, cursed the house and sat in a heap on the floor. (a very painful heap as my back was not enjoying all this sudden activity).

N phoned. I enquired, as calmly as possible, if unscrewing a door handle would allow access to the mechanism in order to spring it open. N replied yes, this might work, and why on earth was I asking such a question, and come to think of it, why was I on the house phone and not my mobile (a number he would have picked up immediately). At this point I think the hysteria really kicked in, as I remember laughing manically whilst trying to explain that I was trapped in the dining room! He asked if I had a screwdriver. Of course I didn't. All the tools were in a room upstairs and I couldn't get to them. It was okay, I'm a resourseful woman, I retorted. I'll use a blunt knife, no problem, I'd be out in mere moments, not to worry, thanks for the advice. He hung up laughing.

I unscrewed the door handle. The lock mechanism fell apart! Panic! What followed were twenty frantic minutes of me trying everything to get the door mechanism working again, using every and any possible tool I could find. (For the record, a nutcracker is a useful tool to have on hand, but won't actually help in the slightlest in this situation, all you end up with is a broken nutcracker!)

N phones back to find out why I haven't texted him with joy at my escape. To which I have to admit to the potentailly broken door handle, and my continued imprisonment. He can't stop laughing. He is laughing and I am alternately laughing and crying.

N has to come home from work in order to let me out of the dining room! I am the laughing stock of his office!

An hour and a half later I am freed from captivity by a very giggly N, who, with the aid of the tools from upstairs, is able, with my help with a pallet knife on the other side, to spring the mechanism, push the door and free his damsel in distress.

damsel |ˈdamzəl|
noun archaic or poetic/literary
a young unmarried woman.
damsel in distress often a humorous young woman in trouble (with the implication that the woman needs to be rescued, as by a prince in a fairy tale).
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French dameisele, damisele, based on Latin domina ‘mistress.’

I couldn't resist the above definition. I am definitely a humorous young woman! At least I was on Monday when as N opened the door I wasn't able to rush into the arms of my prince, instead I hobbled across the dining room due to my bad back! He laughed harder, so did I and we both had a strong cup of tea before he headed out to the local locksmith to get a new door handle!

Operation Extraction was a success. We watched a western in celebration, and I have promised never to shut a door again, unless I am carrying my phone, laptop, cats and toolbox!

p.s. It goes without saying that Gatto clearly found this whole incident hilarious, especially when his dad appeared home from work in the middle of the day to play with a door. Brilliant!

Sunday, 10 October 2010


I heard on the Today Programme this week that the tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year is supposed to be pretty special. Numerologists, meteorologists and other such important people that deal in ology were predicting that it would be not only a very lucky day, but the last true day of the English summer.

It is of course also 42 day.

N and I decided to take advantage of what was a truly glorious day with a long lazy walk through the country lanes and fields, in search of the perfect pub lunch and pint.

One of the first things we did after moving into the area was take a trip to a large and well-stocked bookshop in search of two things: firstly, an ordinance survey map of the area, and secondly, a guide to pubs within walking distance. We lucked out as not only did we find several good maps of the area, but also a book dedicated to country walks between pubs. Could an English(w0)man ask for anything better?!

However, today we set off with simply a map and N's memory of a nice village pub about a mile and a half away.

The day was awash with sunshine. Not weak autumnal light, but the still-strong remains of summer sunshine. It made walking with a jumper on too warm, but was measured with a strong breeze to remind us that the cooler wetter weather of just a few days previously was quite soon going to become the norm.

But all of the gloom of the beginning of the week was forgotten as we ambled along shady sun-dappled lanes, until we stumbled upon this:

A pint and fish and chips, enjoyed outside in front of the pub, overlooking a local cricket pitch, that a few weeks ago was probably filled with green-knee-ed eager men in whites. Indeed the scoreboard still held the remains of a previous match.

It couldn't have been more stereotypically English, and we were loving every minute.

We had originally decided to head back home the same way, but the sunshine was too difficult to pass up, and so we strode off, with our full bellies, in an entirely different direction.

I can still hardly believe that all of this is pretty much on my doorstep. Today was definitely a very lucky day indeed.
We arrived home with aching knees (we're a bit out of practice!), five miles of new countryside explored and the feeling that if this is the last day of summer, we spent it well.

Bring on autumn

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Some things that change, some things that don't.

Last night I sent a rather unusual text message to my Mum. I needed to ask how long to boil and egg for in order to produce dippy eggs and soldiers. She was stunned. And rightly so. This from the child who has never been near eggs. Who mocks those who choose to make them not only a significant, but any part of a meal. Who can only just face making her lovely boyfriend scrabbled eggs at the weekend, and often wishes she could make them with her eyes closed.

For some reason over the past few months I have been craving them! Nothing about the slimey whites interests me, but I wanted to dip my toasted, salted butter soaked pecan and cranberry bread into rich organic runny yolks.
I've changed.

Or at least I did for this morning. I had them for breakfast, and think I've got it out of my system. The yolk was fine, but those quivering whites turned my stomach. Might as well try anything once. Just once.During these days of change, while I get used to a new house that is in a place so quiet that I have been sleeping all the way through the night for the first time since I moved down south, and used to a new commute, and generally the new rhythms of life, it is reassuring to know that in the midst of it all cats will still be cats.
Yes, this is Sniff sleeping on the one place he shouldn't; a freshly finished, blocking lace shawl.

And I'm still a big softie and can't bring myself to turf him off as he looked so comfortable!

Some things will never change!