Note Number 28…Visitors, Visitors, Visitors…

I’ve put pen to paper again with a poem. I hope you readers all know me well enough to realise that it’s all tongue in cheek and that actually I love being a hostess and that I am a sociable, gregarious person.  We were visited by a few of our good friends, all of whom we first met while we were living in Italy.

Visitors…

We’ve had visitors to stay in April and I had to get things straight
They came and went like fleas on their hols, from morning until late
I had to do the housework proper, not flick around light with the duster
Dig deep into my domestic soul, find some enthusiasm to muster

I splashed the extra strong germ killer, gave the bathroom a jolly good scrub
I added a bit of fragrance so it smelt like a flowering shrub
The sheets were done, the bed was made, the food all bought and stored
The wine and beer safe in the fridge. I hoped they wouldn’t get bored

The first lot came for only one night, we packed much in before they fled
To much better pastures; a hotel, en-suite with a king size bed
A quick turnaround at our end to welcome the next lucky pair
They hung around for two nights… more than enough to bear

On to the final couple…a collection at dawn o’clock!
From the airport seventy miles away – my body’s still in shock
They redeemed themselves, a gift of smoked salmon, certainly Ireland’s best
Then ruined it all, with several demands to complete a tough, tourist quest

Off to see Lenny’s farm shop and Broadchurch’s death-cliff height
The town pub was too smelly, and the Guinness, bejaysus was shite!
They live in Italy, so he wanted to go to a typical, thatched local Inn
I found one, he liked it, but the beer wasn’t good, bloody hell, I just could not win

We’d got rid of the lot and had settled right down, to recoup our lost get-up-and-go
When a knock on the door. No! Another fine pair, wanting glasses of cold Prosecco
They stayed long enough, to scoff all the nuts, the dip, the breadsticks and wine
Then up they both jumped, thank goodness, they had somewhere much better to dine!

Ninette Hartley ©

broadchurch

West Bay…the location for the Broadchurch TV series. Only a ten minute drive from our cottage.

lennyhenry copy

Washingpool Farm Shop…another location for Broadchurch

Walking the dog with our visitors

ilchester arms copy

The Ilchester Arms at Symondsbury…thatched Inn, beer not good aparently…(gin and tonic was great though) 

Note Number 17…January’s Over…(warning post not suitable for vegetarians or vegans…)

Today the snowdrops are showing their pretty white heads in the garden, it’s such a lovely sight…Spring is on its way and it’s only about seven and a half weeks before the clocks change…

img_3064

January 2017 is over – it was a dry January for some but for me only demi-sec, I did have some Prosecco, a gin and tonic or two and a few glasses of red, few glasses of white, but overall, I was good.  The weight is staying off and if I can lose another half-stone, then I will indeed be a happy bunny. I’ve been walking as much as possible and the first part of January was pretty dry but the end of it and the first two days of February have been mega wet and windy and more to come over the weekend for those of us in the southwest.

Wet days walking in the fields, dog with her hi-vis jacket on…

As we live in the countryside, country things happen and during January I was given a brace of pheasants.  I gladly accepted, it would have been rude had I declined. I didn’t shoot them, not do I wish to, but in my opinion, they’ve had a better life than the chicken I buy, even an organic free range one. The problem with the pheasant is they don’t come plucked, gutted and oven ready.  We hung them just for a couple of days and then I had to face the music and roll up my sleeves. I’d done it before but a long time ago so I googled it and youtube showed me how. Except, it was to skin them and not pluck them. Well, I have to say, it was pretty easy although a bit gory and taking off the feathers along with the skin was just like taking its coat off. Very weird. Vegetarians and vegans, turn away now….I’ve left out the really gory photos out…

A Brace of Pheasant Hanging outside the Front Door …then in preparation. 

img_1301

I know, I know… I look like a big game hunter but honestly I didn’t shoot them…Also, had my gilet on under my apron so look over large…can’t see that half-stone I’ve lost. 

In January, thoughts turn to holidays and sunshine. My next postings will be from Madeira,  I’m looking forward to it as I’ve not visited it previously. Before I booked our ten days away, I tried to find out where the good weather would be within a short distance from the UK, also we wanted to fly from Bristol and not any of the London airports. One website came up with the five best places being, Sicily, Malta, The Canary Islands, Cyprus and Madeira and we chose the last one. I’ve looked at the forecast as it does seem we might have some rain but the temperatures are up in the late teens, so I’ll be content with that…there’s always a glass of madeira to sup!

See you in Madeira folks.

And…here we are in Dorset…

beautiful morning

Wonderful crisp morning walk in the fields 

Olivespastavino is taking time out in England. You might wonder why I would choose to come to England at this time of year when the sun is shining in Le Marche, Italy and people are flocking to the beaches for lunch (but no ice-cream as it isn’t the season for it). The Man is also wondering why he’s here, as his most favourite thing to do is ride his road bike and since being in England the weather has been…shall we say…challenging?

I have enjoyed frosty morning walks with Jpeg who is getting to grips with the England language, rain, narrow muddy roads, horses, badger sets and sea gulls. I am getting a great deal of use out of my Wellington boots acquired on our last visit back in October and I’ve had to add a pair of waterproof trousers to my wardrobe.

Since I’ve been here I have rediscovered the joys of the English pub lunch, pub quiz and pub darts. I have not seen a single pasta meal on any pub menu, but pies, fish and chips or curry are regular daily specials on the chalkboard.

cottagepie

Cottage Pie…good English pub grub

I’ve enjoyed visiting the farm shops, Felicity’s Farm Shop   and Washingpool Farm Shop and buying fresh farm grown vegetables, organic meat, eggs, milk etc.,

Bridport, our closest town is thriving, it has a market twice a week, lots of book shops, antique and second hand shops, cafes pubs and more.  The Man thinks the town stays busy because there is no ‘out-of-town’ shopping mall (thank goodness). More about Bridport on the next blog post.

The banks are full of daffodils and wild primroses. It makes me smile to see them.

daffodils

Italy and England are diverse in terms of climate, culture and cuisine…

The people in Dorset have welcomed us with smiles and encouraging words, they couldn’t be more helpful…and it was the same when we arrived in Italy some years back…the only difference is I don’t have to a phrase book here.

The coastline here is fantastic…the Jurassic Coast, where you can find a fossil with every footstep you take. It was a bit windy the day we went…

wildsea

Rough sea. A bracing walk along the beach.

I have enjoyed the close proximity to London – well not that close but two hours and fifteen minutes on the train.  About the same time it takes to fly from Ancona to Stansted, but then there’s a lot of hanging about and checking in, boarding, walking, customs, passports etc., etc., it’s much easier to hop on a train.  Our closest station is Crewkerne, it’s a country station which could be used as a film set for the Victorian era with only a few alterations.  I love it.  There’s only one platform in use, so it’s impossible to get lost but I suppose you could get on a train going in the wrong direction if you’ve left your sense of direction at home.

crewkernestation

And finally, The Man has a shed in which to keep his bike when it’s not in use, which seems to be most of the time right now. That’s a bit mean of me, he did go out today for an hour and a half, in search of a Roman road which sadly he didn’t find – he did bring back enough mud on the bike to pot up a few plants though, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.

thenewshed

I haven’t turned my back on Italy – far from it, but when I go back (which will be often) I want to be a tourist.

Trip to England…family…friends…fabulous…

Beautiful English Countryside

Beautiful English Countryside

I know you’ve all been dying to know how we got on with the cat and the dog on our drive to England from Italy.
Well…it is not something that I would wish to repeat – at least not with the cat who miaowed for most of the 1200 miles (poor chap) but took less than twenty-four hours to settle in his new home in Essex where he is being thoroughly spoilt!

Mickey, settled in Leigh on sea, looks as though he's been there forever!

Mickey, settled in Leigh on sea. He looks as though he’s been there forever!

We were full up with luggage and at one point Jpeg did try to get on top of it all so that she could be closer to us!

Our little polo packed full...only a tiny space left for Jpeg

Our little polo packed full…only a tiny space left for Jpeg

Jpeg on top of the luggage...poor dog

Jpeg on top of the luggage…poor dog

Most of the stress of the trip was caused by the fact that our Italian vet wrote the wrong date on the animal passports for their last check and the dog’s worm tablet which had to be no less than 24 hours before entering the UK and no more than120 hours, a big enough margin but of course he had to make a balls up of it – and he also omitted to put in the time but wrote next year’s date instead! Goodness knows why. When I realised his mistake I called him and he just said, ‘change it, it’s no problem.’ But of course I did think it was a problem and I was convinced that the dog and cat would be impounded at Calais because I had tampered with the passports. I couldn’t sleep a wink the night before we left and had little rest on our two nights en route. First night in Aosta, second in St Quentin.

Mickey taking it easy with The Man in our hotel in San Quentin

Mickey taking it easy with The Man in our hotel in St Quentin

As it happened everything went well at Calais, but I was so nervous I couldn’t get the scanner to work and read the animal’s microchips, particularly the cat who was absolutely terrified when I lifted off the lid of his box and a stupid man with a huge black Labrador allowed said Labrador to put his humungous nose up the cat’s bottom!‘I’ve got a cat here!’ I shouted but he was an ignorant self-important man who ignored my obvious distress and went about his own business not caring what happened to me or my cat. The French animal immigration lady tried to remain calm but obviously thought she was dealing with an idiot (me) so she spoke loudly and slowly,
‘You are doing eet wrong. You must make ze circle movement over ze shoulders of ze animal, you are not following my instruction!’  I bloody well was following her instructions – I needed help, where was The Man when needed? Thankfully, he was close by and able to   hold the dog while I got the hang of the scanning machine.

Relaxing at Calais after arduous scanning at 'animal passport control'

Relaxing at Calais after arduous scanning at ‘animal passport control’

Travelling with the cat and the dog was bad enough, but imagine taking a ferret?  It must be quite a popular animal to take abroad because they even have a tick box dedicated to them on the pass for your car window. We didn’t see a single ferret – or horse for that matter, but they would be a little difficult to smuggle in one would imagine.

1 dog, 1 cat, no ferret (although you could be forgiven for thinking the ferret box had a positive tick!)

1 dog, 1 cat, no ferret (although you could be forgiven for thinking the ferret box had a positive tick!)

The dog was as good as gold throughout the whole of the journey, jumping in and out of the car no problem.  She seemed to loved England, all those different smells and no problem with the language.  During October she slept in several different locations and as long as she had her bed, her food and we were close by she never made any fuss. For five days we left her with friends in Bristol and we were told that she behaved impeccably – although when we went to collect her there was no way she was going to  let us out of her sight or out of any door without her!

Picnic at Ashton Court Bristol - Jpeg loved it!

Picnic at Ashton Court Bristol – Jpeg loved it!

Jpeg's friend Luca in Devon

Jpeg’s friend Luca in Devon (and his owner Caroline)

It was wonderful to be back in England seeing friends and family. We visited, Dorset, Devon, Bristol and of course Essex where we left Mickey the cat. Although travelling around for nearly 4 weeks, I didn’t manage to catch up with everyone – it’s impossible. But we’re hoping to be back again in early 2016.

The Edge of the Cliff in Dorset - The Jurassic Coast

The Edge of the Cliff in Dorset – The Jurassic Coast

The Man enjoying the Coastal Path

The Man enjoying the Coastal Path

We drove all over dorset and couldn’t believe how many public footpaths there were.  In Italy you are free to roam almost anywhere but I think the walks in Devon, Dorset and probably most of the West Country, might take a lot of beating.

Dorset Pigs seen on our walk along a public footpath

Dorset Pigs seen on our walk along a public footpath

Of the small towns we visited Beaminster (pronounced Bemster) was one of our favourites – and I discovered my cousin lives there so we met up with him and his wife for lunch in Bridport, a lovely Dorset town full of bookshops, antique shops, craft shops and tea shops!

The Square in Beaminster

The Square in Beaminster

Some of the other things we did in England…

  1. Went to the cinema to see live screening of Giselle by the Bolshoi.
  2. Ate pub lunches.
  3. Walked miles down public footpaths.
  4. Went to a two-book launch in Exeter,  Sophie Duffy‘s Bright Stars and Cathie Hartigan’s  Secret of the Song. Have read Sophie’s and can highly recommend it-great read. Have only just started on Cathie’s so will let you know how it goes – it’s a good beginning anyway!
  5. Went to London and saw Sarah Mayhew and Sadie Hasler (Old Trunk Theatre Co) in their production ‘Pramkicker’ – fantastic! Superb script and brilliant acting from two very talented actors.
  6. Met my brother and his wife  for dinner in London – we’re managing it almost yearly now!
  7. Also met up with my sister in Thames Ditton…she had been poorly and in hospital so a timely visit. She’s better now though…at least she’s supporting the bar at the local pub again so she must be okay!

I hope you like this small collections of photographs from our visit. Whilst in England I celebrated my 65th birthday with family and friends, naturally my lovely granddaughter  (all the way from New York!) had to blow out the candles on my cup cakes. (Why didn’t anyone tell me I had a silly tuft of hair sticking up on the top of my head?)

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candles

On a more poignant note, our family came together from around the world and one morning we scattered the ashes of my lovely son Tosh who died in 2011 in a tragic accident. Now there is somewhere for his extended family and his friends to pay their respects if they wish. A beautiful plaque in the garden of remembrance two, in Arnos Grove Cemetery, Bristol. I’m looking forward to visiting it often.

Tosh Plaque

It’s olive picking time again in Italy so plenty to get on with now we’re back and…the sun is shining! Yeah!