Top Three

Firstly, I have been asked by a few regular readers, why I haven’t posted anything new since December 6. The truth is I’ve been bogged down with a heavy workload so haven’t really had time to contribute to the blog, but things are settling down and I’ll be able to get back to more regular entries again… hopefully.

Well, what a year it’s been, we’ve almost finished restoring the house from an empty run down brick box into a home, it’s been fraught with ups and downs as mentioned before, but we’ve had some help from good friends like Seppe and Graham and it’s their help that’s outweighed the bad times and we’re looking forward to 2014 and hoping for less brick dust and more outings involving beach towels.

So here’s a handful of Top Three moments from the year, in no particular order:

Photos

My favourite three snaps of the year will be shared on this blog entry. They won’t be landscapes or arty shots, but the ones that make me smile and conjure up memories of happy times.

1011360_10151511656917187_1001873731_n

My mate Spike, his smile tells the world he’s having a good time in Abruzzo.

Fun Times,

1. Dancing in the street during the Casoli festa,

2. Fireworks during dinner in Palombaro

3. A history lesson and evening stroll around Civitella with Seppe.

New Things

1. This year I acquired two dogs, Olive and Alf.

2. A regular writing Job that means a reduction in pitching to editors.

3. Many new friends. (English and Italian)

941144_10151444912642187_1164231814_n-crop

Love these ladies, official opening at museum and not a single smile amongst them.

Shuffle

There’s been far too many songs that have shuffled throughout the year to mention, but here’s the stats.

1. The most played band this year has been A Flock of Seagulls (I’d never have guessed that).

2. The most played song has been That’s Life by Hazel O’Connor (sums up some of the year’s up and downs, and again I’d have never have guessed that).

3. The most played solo artist has been Tiziano Ferro (no surprise there).

1386010_10151642088307187_2053816226_n

The lovely Annie, our very own dancing queen.

Discoveries

1. A liking for fish. (The eaten variety as opposed to the in a bowl swimming around kind).

2. That they sell frozen Brussels sprouts in the Lidl at Pescara.

3. The Jasci and Marchesani winery in Vasto.

UK Things I Miss (friends and family not included)

1. Oddly enough, black pudding.

2. My Wednesday evening meetings with the Renegade Writers.

3. Billboards and shop posters written in English.

So with the final song playing, to record on my blog, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Metal Postcard (Mittageisen) , and with 2013 slipping away and 2014 ready to emerge, I’ll wish you all a happy new year and see you on the other side.100_8347

Women with Wheelbarrows

Sunday morning arrived last week with a welcome burst of sunshine and I headed off down the road to the communal fountain at Perano to get my five cents of ice cold, acqua frizzante. As I drive ELO come onto the iPod with It’s Over, I turn up the volume and the multi-layered, rock music spills out of my open window into the Abruzzi countryside. I’m just coming around a bend in Altino when I’m met by the sight of five women walking along the road pushing wheelbarrows. They’re obviously off to work in the fields, but where are the men? Another bend is navigated and I have my answer, I pass a bar where all the men are chatting and drinking coffee: No self-respecting contadino would contemplate a days toil without a helping of gossip and coffee.

Our builder has Sundays off so the house is quiet, I take opportunity to make some melanzane parmiaganni and a batch of pasta sauce for storing in the freezer. After lunch we decide to take a stroll along the beach front at Fossacesia, just twenty minutes in the car and we’re enjoying the breeze coming off the Adriatic. The beach has a few people lying upon towels soaking up the sun, but no one is in the sea. The Italians have a fear of dying from all manner of influenzas and fevers that will come from swimming in the sea before June. I’m now wishing I’d packed some shorts as I’d like a dip, even if only to see the women gasp in horror and tell me that I’ll be dead before the next phase of the moon.

100_6202

We continue strolling when we notice two buffed Italian men posing as they walk along the beachfront. Obviously enjoying the attention they are getting whether in admiration or the sniggering, they slow to a snails-pace. It’s an odd sight, as the Italians are still wearing jumpers and top coats, shorts and t-shirts aren’t given an airing until April has passed. We let the parading gym-bunnies continue on their way and drop into Lu Trabocche 3, for a cold Peroni. There’s a steady stream of people coming to eat, so we make a note and say we’ll give the menu a try one day soon.

100_6197

There must be an important football match on, (isn’t there always in Italia) as many men have small radios pressed to their ears. We see a family enjoying some al fresco dining, children are doing what children do best, making noise and women are chatting loudly and occasionally scolding an errant youngster. On the periphery of the group sits an old man with his radio, it’s stopped working and I watch as he takes out the batteries and replaces them again, but to no avail, he’s missing the football commentary, so resorts to hitting the radio, beating it into submission until the sound flickers on and he’s happy. It’s nice to see that despite all of our different creeds and cultures, wherever a man is in the world he’ll always revert to that universal method of repair; if in doubt, bash it.

On the way home, with the windows open Siouxsie and the Banshee’s play Cascade, from the live album, Nocturne and I’m singing along as we sail down the lane that runs parallel with the strada statale, as we cross a small roundabout, the music changes and the Bee Gees pop up with, You Should Be Dancing. Again I sing along, this time doing my best Gibb brother falsetto impression, much to the amusement of the men sat outside a restaurant drinking beer. I wave, they cheer and I continue on my merry way wondering if the women with the wheelbarrows are on their way home too.