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.

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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)

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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).

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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

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Dog in the Road

How many times have we heard people say, “If I won the lottery I’d leave here and go and live in paradise.” But nowhere on earth is perfect, even paradise will have its idiosyncrasies, its problems and its bugbears. Since I chose to live in Italy, and more importantly Abruzzo, people must think It’s my piece of paradise, and it is. That is, to say how I define paradise. In my wildest dreams it’d be somewhere with a great climate, endless activities to enjoy and I guess, as this is my dream, I’d have Tiziano Ferro as my live-in lover/personal crooner. But this isn’t a dream it’s reality and despite having a great climate and endless activities, Italy can be infuriating, but so can England, America or anywhere. So I like to think paradise is taking pleasure from the simple things and not dwelling upon the negatives.

After running a business and living in England, I’ve now started to enjoy those simple things. Things like popping to bread shop in the morning and passing the time of day with the locals as you buy some foccacia, or chatting to my neighbour about nothing of great importance and drinking an espresso standing at a bar with men in overalls… Ooer missus ! I like driving the short distance to the, fontano communale in Perano and getting a litre of ice-cold fizzy water for just five cents and talking of driving I like the fact that when I pull into a petrol station a human being serves me. I guess it’s a little like stepping back in time but with iPods, memory sticks and DVD box sets.

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One thing that has not been pleasurable is paying €1500 to obtain permissions from the comune (council) to work on our house. Back in the UK there’s choice. Choice of windows, doors, paint colours etc. Here you have to tow-the-line. We can only paint our house white or beige, (now how do you actually define beige). In other towns there are yellow, pink and pale green houses, but here in our little hamlet, it’s white or beige; any other choice of colour will require a fee for the comune to consider it and a man to come out to fill in forms in triplicate. Another idiosyncrasy that I find annoys me, is having to drive in daylight with your headlights switched on and don’t get me started on the inability of any young woman sat behind a cash register to smile.

Some pleasures are applicable only to where you are situated, I’m lucky, within twenty-minutes of my front-door I can be at the coast, within thirty, I can be in the mountains and if it grabbed my bag within sixty, at the ski slopes. Some pleasures don’t involve much effort and happen naturally. Take the other night for instance, I took a stroll around Civitella Messer Raimondo with Seppe and we chatted about the history of the town and looked at the views across the countryside. (There’ll be a separate blog posting about this within the coming days, so stay tuned for, Hanging Baskets and Cat Flaps, coming to a laptop near you Cat face.)

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One simple pleasure this week was the kind gift of ten beautiful white free range eggs, however one thing that certainly holds no pleasure for me is being sent to buy something our builder requires when my knowledge of construction has previously been obtained via stickle bricks and Lego, add to this the foreign name and you may as well ask me to broker a peace treaty between north and south Korea. However, would I swap this new life… Not a chance.

 

 

The original title to this blog posting was, Simple Pleasures. But today I saw something that I have to say touched me deeply. The Italian’s have a relaxed attitude to keeping dogs, they let them wander around unchecked, and many’s the time I’ve heard brakes screech as a dog wanders into the road. Coming out of Selva Altino is a small bar where locals have their coffee and every morning an old gentleman totters over with his small sandy coloured dog at his heels. Today would have been no different, had the dog not spotted another across the road and decided to walk over. The inevitable happened, the driver in front of me had no time to stop, thankfully death was instant. The saddest sight was the old man’s desperate efforts to get into the road, as the traffic continued moving on the left hand side. Seeing the man’s distress a lorry driver stopped allowing him to collect his companion from the middle of the road.

Makes those simple pleasures all the more special.