Toilet cleaner

This afternoon I was working in the living room whilst OH was in the kitchen washing up the lunch dishes, I was deciding between altering the sentence I was working on and replacing the comma with a semi-colon: heady stuff this writing lark, when there’s a call from the kitchen. “This new washing-up liquid you’ve got isn’t very good, there’s hardly any bubbles.” I stop my deliberating and leave the laptop and go into the kitchen to investigate. I’m hit by the aroma of tea tree oil and instantly know what has happened. “Look,” says OH “there’s hardly any bubbles.” my reply is, “That’s because it’s toilet cleaner not washing-up liquid.” I’m leaving the kitchen when I turn to say, “Well at least you only made that mistake once, now you know.” “No, this isn’t the first time I’ve used it, just never thought to mention it before.”

This reminds me of another conversation with OH, where I end up shaking my head, to read this on my old blog, Click here 

I don’t have any photos of toilet cleaner so here’s a view taken from Torino di Sangro.



In 1971, singer David Gates sang the lyric, ‘If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?’  The song written by Paul Heaton, Scott Shields and Martin Paul Slattery was made famous by Gates’ band, Bread and its popularity cemented the phrase within the public consciousness. So famous is the line, it soon become a cliché. But is this a bad thing?

Not in my opinion, because if by becoming a cliché its saved it from being copied and used by less talented writers.

A few days ago a photograph landed in my inbox and upon opening the attachment the lyric came to mind instantly.


The photo, by Graham Ward, was taken one evening after we had eaten dinner at our favourite local restaurant, from the roadside at Selva Piana looking up at the town of Casoli. The three-quarter moon looks like someone has cut a slice away and the soft ochre coloured lights of the town give the castle a welcoming hue. The fact that only two pictures were taken before the camera battery died makes them even more special. I could go on enthusing about the majesty of the image, but what’s the point. This is an image that paints its own one-thousand words and sums up just why this part of Italy is a special place to live.

Driving Barefoot

I’m lucky. Yes, really lucky. I haven’t won a lottery or found a pot of gold under a rainbow. I haven’t received some prestigious award or managed to fix myself up with a date with Tiziano Ferro: more’s the pity. So why am I lucky?

I was driving to the small fruit and veg shop that I prefer to use, as most of the produce is local, the sun was shining and the iPod was playing, Duchess, by the Stranglers, the drag of cool air through the open window kept the afternoon heat at bay as the countryside passed in a blur. Unlike other shops that close at 13.00 for an extended lunch, this one stays open all day. I’m greeted with a cheery “Salve’” from the assistant at the counter cutting open a watermelon. I mooch around, filling my basket with fresh produce, when she says, “Melone?” She’s offering me a slice of red melon, which is a refreshing on such a warm afternoon. We chat and she picks some celery, carrots and onion and drops them into a carrier bag. “Soffrito, per te, gratis.”  Soffrito is the Italian version of a mirepoix, or the holy trinity. The assistant enquires how the house restoration is going and after relieving me of €4,00 she packs the sofrito ingredients into my carrier bag and wishes me a good afternoon. (Where else can you get free produce as a thank you for your custom?)

I’m driving home with Kate Bush singing, Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbreak, recorded live at the Hammersmith from her only live tour which took place in 1979, (2 April – 13 May.) Contadini are out working their land, the buzz of strimmers and the chugging of tractors drift into the car as i drive past. The landscape at this time of year is a mix of green and ochre, as dried grass is rolled up for feed during the winter, and regimented sweet corn reaches for the sky.


I’m passing a field where two workers sleep in the shade of their trailer, a half empty bottle of wine nestles in the undergrowth at the side of one of the men, when I realise that my life here is so different than it was in the UK. For instance, I don’t buy everything I need in a huge faceless supermarket, I get served with petrol by the pump attendant, rather than having to fill, queue and pay and on days like this I drive barefoot.


I’m lucky, because I can work from home and to live comfortably here I only have to produce half of what I’d need to write in England: This said I have more work piling up on my desk than I’ve ever had before.

I’m lucky, because I live in a beautiful part of Italy and have some wonderful friends out here and so far being here has eclipsed my expectations.

I’m lucky, because I can drive a mere eighteen minutes in one direction and can be swimming in the sea and twenty-five minutes in another direction and I can be in the mountains.


I know I’m fortunate to have this lifestyle at just 51, but its not because of luck, it’s the result of hard work and sacrifice over the years and holding on to the dream.