Tuesday, 6 December 2016

It's time for a seasonal rant

I still have some pain after I had two teeth extracted a week ago so it's quite easy for me to be irritable at the moment but two things are really getting on my nerves.  Technology and tinsel, let me explain.
Mr FF loves to keep us up to date with the latest innovations, he's upgraded his mobile phone twice in the last few years and always hands me his old one. I don't use a mobile phone, I carry one for emergency use and since I never (touch wood) have an emergency the money I put on the phone has in the past expired before I can use it.  So I never become familiar with different phones and although he tells me I can do wonderful life enhancing things with them I don't switch on.  Nothing infuriates me more than to be with friends who are all heads down looking at their phones while I sit like a lemon, I should take my knitting or a book to occupy me during these periods of silence but of course taking out a book to read whilst in company would be considered rude, flicking through mail and apps apparently is not.  
I had a radio in the kitchen so I could listen to Radio 4 and the Archers whilst cooking.  It was simple, already tuned into the right station I switched it on and switched it off as required.  Now we have a Bose something system, touch sound maybe, basically box like devices in various rooms with practically no controls on them at all.  
These not only provide Radio 4 but other stations and music.  If I want to change the music it has to be done via the computer, Mr FF tells me I can also do this via my phone.  I'd like a system where you select a CD from the enormous stack we have gathering dust and stick it in the slot, or maybe even have my radio back.  Now all the music in the world is available to me, if I could figure out how, it's too much.
This week Mr FF has ordered a HIVE system to control the central heating,  in the our apartment, again I'll be able to do that via my phone, tablet or laptop, ha ha.  We'll be able to check what the temperature is in the penthouse when we are away, big deal. Actually I'm not worried too much about this upgrade as we hardly ever need the central heating on in our cosy penthouse, presumably I can still just turn it on if its needed.
And the tinsel business.  I'm just sick of reading all over the place about how to prepare for the perfect Christmas and particularly decorations.  
I see photos of presents wrapped with too many ribbons then dressed with sprigs of greenery and baubles, why would you give someone that, surely the foliage would die before the present was opened and how would you transport such fragile parcels in a car packed with gifts on your Santa run.  I think the value should be in the gift not wrappings that are to be thrown away.  
Perfect table settings are another irritant, give me strength. 
I like candles, I light a candle every day but I don't intend strewing my dining table with them and baubles and more greenery and plants, there's hardly room for the gravy.  The perfect wreath seems to retail at around £100 and even pine cones you can pick up in the woods sell for about £12.  No wonder people like me who teeter on the edge of bah humbug are pushed over. OK that's an exaggeration, I went over years ago, we had fish cakes for Christmas dinner last year and yes Mr FF and I will still operate our £5 limit on gifts to each other, despite the falling value of the £.  

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A full body service

I feel like some old car that's had an MOT and needs patching up at the garage. In the two weeks since I got back from Italy I've had my hair cut and my eyebrows tinted, they'd practically disappeared as many are white and the sun bleached the rest to oblivion.   My hair is still fairly dark with some white so I seem to get away with darkish eyebrows and I do like not having to pencil them in every day, when I remember.
I've made an appointment for my three yearly breast scan, I missed my turn whilst I was away and been to the doctors about the dizzy spells I've experienced recently.   My doctor thinks they are probably a type of migraine.  I suffered with debilitating migraines when I was working and thought they'd stopped, it seems they just take a different and when they happen rather scary form. We are monitoring the situation but at least I feel reassured that I probably don't have some life threatening condition.  
Most dramatic of all I've been to the dentist and had two adjacent crowned teeth taken out in preparation for dental implants.  I won't go into the graphic details but getting one of them out was traumatic.  My dentist was friendly and gentle, he almost moved me to tears with his kindness though I admit I was feeling vulnerable and emotional at the time.  Now I have to wait six weeks for healing to take place before the next of seven appointments.   I am still in a little pain on the third day, hating having to rinse my mouth frequently with salt water and hoping it's all going to be worthwhile and a good use of my savings. At 68 I don't want a mouth full of brilliant white and perfect teeth but I do want to laugh without displaying gaps.

So that's a lot of interventions in two weeks, I would say I shall take it easy now but there is of course the dreaded Christmas.  I've decided not to make a cake this year as we had half of last years still on the go beyond Easter.  As usual I have no idea what we shall eat on the 25 but at least I shall be going into the festive season pretty sure that I'm in good working order and that I should keep motoring along for another year or so.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Window dressing

We've settled easily into our Yorkshire life, it's always lovely to get back to the apartment and renew acquaintances with the inmates. We've already been to neighbours for drinks and tonight are next door for dinner so we feel very welcome.
And now we have new curtains.  We selected them before we went to Italy four months ago and they were made up ready when we got back. 
Unfortunately they couldn't be hung for a few days so despite the lovely day time view it wasn't exactly cosy in the penthouse at night with a large expanse of glass but well worth the wait. 
The special tape produces a wave pattern that gives dramatic pleats and works well as our track had to be hung from the ceiling to fit into the alcove for the doors.  Calculating the fabric dimensions, hook spacings etc was a challenge for the engineer, of course they fit perfectly.
So the penthouse is looking smarter and smarter,  now with lovely views inside and out.
Both make me very happy but maybe the outside one is still the winner.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Home again

We've been back in Ilkley a couple of days and now it's snowing so I'm grateful we managed our long journey home in decent weather.  We had good stop offs, the ferry from Calais to Dover was practically empty if a bit choppy and the drive back to the north of England wasn't too bad.
So lets have some kitten photographs.
Crema, female, Rosso, male and Grigio female.

 They were soon introduced to my knitting bag
and appreciated a decent quality yarn
 Although who can resist an empty box
This is Marzio our kitten from last year,  now a rather infrequent and grumpy visitor but a very beautiful young man
The coloured one is Lisa, the mother, the black one Theo the uncle and of course the kitties.  They all liked to sleep on the terrace through the summer but moved into their apartment before we left.
So we miss them terribly and are of course a little worried but Marzio survived six months without us.  These three are older and stronger so we are just hoping for the best and plan to get back to them as soon as spring arrives. 

Saturday, 12 November 2016


We leave our house in Lazio  tomorrow and start the long journey home to Ilkley.  I hate this part, packing the house, saying goodbye to friends, anticipating long days in the road and worst of all leaving our three kittens, now six months old.  Crema, Rosso and Grigio have all been sterilised and are doing so well.  There are 15 large assorted bags of food for Mario to top up their feeder, two pillows in the insulated cat apartment, I really hope they will stay around until we return.  Whatever happens they've had a good start in life and we won't be coming back to more kittens from the two females.
My brother and sister in law arrived two weeks ago and helped us pick the olives.  Not so many this year but despite half the crop of last year we had an amazing yield and came home from the mill with 25 litres of really tasty oil.  Friends and neighbours are amazed and I forgave the people at the mill who told us the oil would be ready at 4 after we dropped off our harvest at 9.30.  We returned around 4.30 and we'd actually moved back in the queue.  The process eventually started around 6 and though we didn't really have enough olives to qualify for our own run they didn't mix us with anyone else and you should have seen our smiles when the oil just kept coming.  10 litres are already packed in the car.
So once I'm back I'll share some photos, cats mostly, meantime we are out tonight for one last pizza before an early start tomorrow for Piedmonte, our first overnight and our last day in Italy this year.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Back to the post office

I called in at our village post office thinking I'd stock up on stamps to avoid the incident in my previous blog post.  I waited patiently and when my turn came I asked for five one euro stamps. No no said the man, we have no stamps, no stamps at all I asked, not of any other value.  No he said.  Where can I buy stamps I asked, try the tobacconist he suggested.  Of course the tobacconist had none, the lady suggested I try the post office.
Later in the mini market a lady who has seen me in the post office asked if I'd found stamps, no I replied, we are a village without stamps.  She suggested I try the main post office at Anangi, about 10 miles away, actually I think I might invest in a pigeon.

Monday, 24 October 2016

At the post office

Friday we were in the little spa town of Fiuggi where I bought a postcard to send to Amelia my great niece as I'd missed her seventh birthday.  We had time to kill so wandered around and slightly out of the town where I came upon the post office and decided to get stamps.  I intend to send Esme a card later for her birthday.
I fathomed out which counter I needed, no 4 for stamps and general posting, the others for banking, bill paying etc and took a number for no 4.  There were a couple of people before me so I decided to start writing the card, post boxes being few and far between in these parts.
When it was my turn I asked in my best Italian for two stamps for postcards to England, tap tap on the computer for a while till she told me it was a euro each.  Give me the card said the lady and I handed it over, half written and with no address.  She looked at it and I said I hadn't finished, finish it she said rather abruptly tossing it back with a pen.  So I stood at the counter hastily penning a few words and finding the addresss from my diary, not daring to look round at the queue building behind me.  I handed the card over, much more tapping of the computer, then the lady said give me the other card.  I explained I hadn't bought it yet. I wanted the stamp to take away.  I realised at this stage that she intended to frank my completed card rather than give me two stamps.  She looked at me then shouted down the line of counters, she wants a stamp to take away as if I was some kind of freak Eventually an assistant from another till went into the back room and came out with the requested stamp, with a lengthy code written on it in pencil that had to be tapped into the computer. At this stage I was reminded of the days when you took your building society pass book to pay in a couple of pounds and all the tapping that involved.
Finally I got my single stamp, my completed card was thrown on top of the printer and the lady looked down her nose at it, maybe she was pretending to read it.  I never saw it franked,  I have no idea if it will ever arrive, I wish they had stamp vending machines in Italy.