Friday, 31 July 2015

In Ilkley

We are counting ourselves very lucky to be safely home with all the problems at the Channel.  We received an email on Sunday evening at our b&b about an hour from the port to say there would be no Calais sailings next day,  we were booked to depart at 11 am next morning, and that we should proceed to Dunkirk. We got up extra early anticipating problems, they started immediately when our sat nav wouldn't work and we drove round the little French villages looking for the auto route. We found the slip road but it was closed, more travelling in circles till we eventually got on our way.  
At Dunkirk we queued for around 1.5 hours to be told we needed to go to the office and rebook our crossing, what they actually meant was go outside the compound and back to the end of the queue to start again.  Mr FF, and don't try this yourself, decided to park the car and walk back, through lines of lorries, past security staff etc leaving me sitting in the car feeling very uneasy but it worked and saved a lot of time.
We were re-booked onto the 3 pm ferry that actually left at 4 pm, another 1.5 hours queue to check in, a jam packed boat and another choppy crossing but we arrived back in Dover relieved.  A good drive back to Yorkshire including a stop for fish and chips and relax.
I really can't contemplate the return journey to Italy at present, I need time here to enjoy the calm and cool.  
I have lots to tell you about the exceptionally hot weather, stages of the Giro and the Tour de France, the madness of trying to get things done, rants will follow, don't they always.  

And while you are waiting, here's a picture of our little Italian cats Theo on the left and Lisa on the right.  Still no sign of the kittens, we are being kept informed by guests who are staying in our house and taking good care of them both for us.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

In case you are wondering

Yes we are still in Italy though only for about 10 more days and next week will be all hell and no notion as we pack our personal items and prepare the house for renters before we drive back to Ilkley to get the motor repaired.
We don't seem to have done that much since we arrived in May, lunches and dinners with friends, a day on the beach, lots of gardening and preparation of an irrigation system to look after things while we are absent.  My youngest niece and her fiancĂ© came to stay for 6 days.  Our little cat Lisa is pregnant and may give birth while we are home.  The tomatoes are ready and delicious, likewise green beans.  The weather is mostly settled and mostly in the low 30s.  I am following the Tour de France on Rai Sport which can only be good for my language though the vocabulary will be a bit limited.  We are plagued by mosquitos, the worst we have ever known.  At the weekend around midnight the municipality sent round a vehicle that sprayed the roads with some killer chemical, we had to keep our windows closed.  The spray has made matters worse rather than better, it's possibly to swat about half a dozen at a time and the devils are here 24 hours a day.  Fortunately we don't react to the bites and never scratch them.
The freezer is broken and has been since we arrived, so we only get gelato when we go out and a G and T just doesn't hit the spot without ice.  Someone is supposed to be fixing it later this week, the third person to try, I do wonder why we didn't just buy a new one but we have a rather nice large steel fridge freezer that I'd be happy to keep.  We have a new sofa that complements the cream leather one nicely, expensive  Italian designer with Ikea cheap and cheerful seems to work.
So days of intense heat where we try to get things done early morning before resting in the shade. Lots of washing of sweaty clothes but no ironing, I cannot tackle that so the sheets get put back straight from the line and clothes are smoothed out to be worn.  Nights sitting out under the stars enjoying the cool.  It's all lovely but I am looking forward to being in Ilkley for a while and to having clean feet on a regular basis, flip flops for gardening are not a great idea.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Home, the other one

That was a brilliant week in Copenhagen, I really recommend it for a city break but do take plenty of money it is extremely expensive and very good quality.   I only bought a few postcards whilst lusting for gorgeous designer household items.  We managed a day on borrowed bicycles, a brilliant way to get around with sensible and wide bike paths, beautiful coastline and massive forests.
So we are back in Lazio, back to gardening and home maintenance, struggling for Internet connection, listening to early morning strimmers working in the fields, by early morning I mean around 4 am, and wondering why I always have such dusty feet.  I am busy creating a new border in the garden, it was full of ivy and wild flowers, some might call them weeds.  I want to make something colourful and permanent, a sort of Engkish style herbaceous area if I can.   So back to it, I'll try to keep you updated and I'm sorry I can't post any photos at present but I am taking lots and knitting a little and feeding our two cats, Theo and Lisa, so life is back to normal.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen

I was quite excited to come to Copenhagen especially after our trials in Italy but I hadn't expected it would be love at first sight.  Our Alitalia flight on Friday morning from Rome was calm, quiet and efficient, as someone regularly coerced into travelling Ryanair by a Yorkshire husband, I was delighted not to be pestersed by constant selling announcements or listening to self satisfied statistics about in time flights.  We all know that Ryanair set their flight times extra long so that even with departure delays they can pretend they arrive on schedule.  
Copenhagen airport is small and beautiful, so is the city, so is our friend's apartment that they have kindly handed over to us for the week.  People are friendly and happy, there is good coffee, even better cake,  in fact I adore all the food, the sun is shining, we can walk to the sea and look across to Sweden passing beautiful architecture including a gorgeous 1930s Arne Jacobsen white  block of flats facing the water.  Tell me what's not to like.
Last night we attended our friends golden wedding party held in a building in the middle of a large deer park.  We started at 6 pm and got home around 2 am having enjoyed the company of so many wonderful friendly people.  I am beginning of think Copenhagen must be the Ilkley of Denmark and I haven't even been to the shops yet.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Incidents in Italy

After a horrid drive to Dover,  heavy rain, heavy traffic, mist and accidents followed by a choppy ferry crossing where we struggled to keep our lunch on our plates and then in our tummies, we had a lovely drive to Italy with interesting stops and excellent overnights.  My brother and sister in law were great company and we were all delighted to get to our friends house in Tuscany for a few days.  That's when things started to go wrong.
We arrived late afternoon to find the keys we had been given did not work, well one of the four opened the garage but that was it.  Phone calls to Scotland and Mr FF was directed to the house of someone in the village who kept a spare,  unfortunately the man wasn't home till 8 that night and his wife had no idea where the key was.  He did actually turn up just before 8, after which we had to unpack, turn on the services etc, make up beds and find some dinner, not a good start but we survived.
Our next episode was after a trip to Pisa, Mr FF wanted some electrical items and suggested dropping the rest of us in Lucca.  I wasn't so keen as this can involve a lot of waiting, ie he is usually late but at the last minute driving past the city walls he suggested we go into town for an hour and he would meet us  pointing to a tower within the town.  We had to jump out of the car quickly as there was a lot of traffic, of the impatient Italian persuasion, and I just grabbed my purse.  We had a pleasant walk, found the tower and settled in a nearby bar expecting Mr FF to appear at 6.30.  By 7.30 I was worried, without my phone and not exactly sure of his number.  I asked to use a phone in the bar but obviously the number wasn't right,  by 8.30 I sent an email from a borrowed mobile as I was sure of the address, by 9 it was getting dark and the bar staff, who were really kind, said it was too late for a bus back to the village and offered to call a taxi.  By 10 and 100 euro lighter we were back at our friends house, my brother and I walked in the dark to the key holders house, he was a little tetchy and said he had no more keys to give us.   Back at the house  Mr FF appeared at 11 having waited 3 hours at another tower then phoned the police who checked the hospitals.  It seems there are several of towers in Lucca but once inside the narrow streets it's not possible  to see any of them until you come upon one.
We got to our house in Lazio finally and after a few days took my brother and his wife to Naples airport for their flight home.  I won't go on about Mr FF's shortcut through the centre of Naples that took 2 hours to move 6 miles, I will say I've never seen traffic like it or so much washing hanging from windows.
We had a really good day out last Friday at the local market where I bought plants for the garden, geraniums, tomatoes, herbs etc followed by a nice lunch in a pretty country bar with a beautiful garden.  Then driving home we had an accident, a boy fell of his motorbike coming towards us, he slid down the road slightly but the bike kept coming and slammed into our car, which was by this time stopped. There was damage to the wheel and the steering, plus dints and scratches to the bodywork.  The car wasn't driveable, the road was blocked, everyone came out of their houses and then a terrific rainstorm started.   We had to call the police but fortunately the biker was insured and admitted responsibility, he wasn't hurt and his parents took control.  We got the steering fixed in a couple of days by a local mechanic, a man with a shed and a mangey dog to be exact, but it was an awful experience that could have been a lot worse.
So Italy hadn't been that good to us so far.  On Friday we are off to Copenhagen for a week to attend the golden wedding of our friends and stay on to spend time with them.  I am looking forward to this, I just hope our run of misfortune is over otherwise I might be heading back to Ilkley sooner rather than later.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Oh the stress

I mentioned in my last post that things have been a little hectic here in the penthouse as we prepare to leave on Monday to drive out to Italy for what was to be an indefinite time.  
We arranged early last week to have two new radiators fitted, a steel and chrome towel radiator in our bathroom and a swanky brushed steel long thin one in the hall.  The plumbers arrived on Tuesday, I had expected with a screwdriver and maybe a spanner, no they carried mountains of kit into the penthouse and quickly covered the floors in dust sheets (there was a clue there).  I had no idea the work would involve emptying out our bedroom fitted wardrobes, most of the utility room and the hall cupboards to gain access to the walls.  We ended up with clothes everywhere, which as it turned out wasn't such a bad thing as eventually everything got a good sort into take/leave/chuck out piles.  
To add to the fun Mr FF decided whilst the guys where here and because they were so hard working, efficient and respectful, it would be a good idea for them to do some cabling networking stuff that I just don't understand.  Cue more drilling of walls, climbing about in the loft, the work took 4 days and only on Saturday were we able to think about cleaning, putting things back, getting sorted.
The new radiators are smart and stylish though I think I might move away the large gold framed print next to the hall one.   Our en suite seems so much bigger now and because that radiator is duel fuel, ie has an electric element as well as being connected to the central heating we are never without warm dry towels. 
Meantime I heard that the little pink cardy was a bit tight on Amelia and she kindly said her little sister Esme could have it, so I felt I had to knit a bigger one.  It was all going so well until I got to the yoke and the pattern went haywire, if there's one thing I hate more than knitting on a circular needle it's unpicking on one.   This cardy may become known as the Italian job, if it ever does get finished.
To further add to the fun I foolishly embarked on a new library book during the week but didn't make the progress I expected.  It had to returned by 5 pm on Saturday, by Friday night I had 200 pages to read but fortunately I woke at 6.30 the next morning and phew finished it.
Weeks ago I booked in for a hair cut and a facial in our pre holiday week, I asked my hairdresser to give me a cut that might last maybe 3 months and she did her best.  The facial was lovely but I was so uptight it was rather wasted on me.  I plan to have another when I get back as I should be more receptive then.
Then of course there's been the Tour de Yorkshire to follow.

I wouldn't let the boys pass by without giving them a cheer and Ilkley turned out in force offering a sprint down the main street which we watched and a mountain stage up to the Cow and Calf rocks.

At least we now know that we are coming back in about 3 months as Mr FF has a couple of dental appointments so the packing doesn't have to be so comprehensive.  We hope that if we get some good design ideas while we are in Italy we will get the guys to come back maybe next year to refit our second bathroom, the one with the horrid black bath,  now that will be fun up on the third floor won't it.   I thought it was going to be so easy living in and going away from a lock up and leave, dream on Mrs FF.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Two Good Reads Tag

Photo 30-04-2015 18 21 46

I don't usually join in these tag posts but Caroline at Mrs M's Meanderings who I consider a good friend though we have never met gave me such a glowing write up and lovely surprise this morning that I had to respond. Her tag couldn't have come at a better time (joke) since we leave on Monday for an unspecified stay in Italy, long enough to need socks I don't know, meanwhile we have the plumbers in the penthouse and it is chaos.  I had no idea we'd need to empty our wardrobes to fit a new towel radiator in our bathroom, a rant may follow.
Anyway to the job in hand, I need to give you two blogs that I love to read and while Caroline's would have been one because I love all her posts, car booting, upgrading her beautiful new house, holidays, more recently interesting beauty vlogs,  I expect that's against the rules and you need others so.

Liz at Love those Cupcakes writes such a sweet interesting blog, she lives in the north of England where I spent many happy years.  She travels extensively bringing back the most beautiful photographs to accompany detailed and interesting posts of extra ordinary places, also she shares my sense of humour. 

Josie at The Woolly Adventures of Josie Kitten is a knitter extraordinaire and an inspiration, indeed much more adventurous with the needles that I shall ever be.  Unlike me who has also attended lessons she actually learnt to spin producing some wonderful fibres and is now dabbling with writing her own patterns.  Her cat Flo is adorable too.

Liz and Josie if they wish to take part have to 

  1. Copy the tag logo from the top of this post if you like
  2. Link back to the person who tagged you
  3. Write a post recommending two blogs you enjoy reading and tag your recommended bloggers to do the same

So thanks Caroline for a great idea, sorry this is such a quickly typed up post but I hope it meets the criteria.  I too look forward to discovering new blogs but not as much as I look forward to having the walls replastered, the dust sheets gone and being able to find my holiday clothes under the mountain of garments on our spare bed.