Note Number 33…When The Man’s Away…

It’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve not had time to write much (not on my blog anyway). Poor excuse I know but The Man rode his bicycle for a week in the Alsace (Vosges)  and then instead of coming home on the 25th June he took the opportunity to cycle four epic climbs in The Alps and the Pyrenees. I am so proud of him!

Check out the Slide Show!

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I made the most of his absence by tidying up the garden and painting the garden furniture. It all looks fabulous. Paint used was Ronseal Garden paint and I can highly recommend it. We had some great weather in June…no complaints from me.

painted garden stuff

Newly Painted Garden Furniture

border

Splendid Work on the Herbaceous Border 

Other things I did while The Man was away.

  1. I attended my third Black Venn Poetry workshop in Lyme Regis. I find these highly stimulating and never fail to produce a piece of work of which to be proud. I’ve even entered one for a competition, I’ll let you know how it goes.
  2. I entered a 2700 word short story for a competition run by the Literary Trust…It had to be a modern version of a fairy story. I chose Little Red Riding Hood, (I’m sure a few others will have done the same). I will let you know what happens, if anything, later in the year. I was pleased with it but don’t hold out too much hope as there will be plenty of brilliant entries I’m sure.
  3. I went to Bristol and to Weston Super Mare for my grand daughter’s first playgroup outing. It was…err…memorable. The day before it had been 30 degrees but the day of the outing, the rain clouds came in and the temperature dropped over 10 degrees the wind got up…

    So the sand ended up in everything, not just our sandwiches but in our hair and underwear. (think there’s a poem there somewhere). The baby ate the sand and the four-year-old got it in her eyes. But she still managed a donkey ride and an ice-cream before we beat a hasty retreat back to Bristol for a cup of tea and a piece of cake!

  4. I deep cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom in our cottage.
  5. I watched Poldark on Sunday evening.
  6. I have started doing Driving for the Disabled with the Forde Abbey Driving Group. Driving is a branch of Riding for the Disabled but we have ponies pulling carriages which are able to take wheelchairs if necessary.
    DRIVING

    Driving through the Arboretum at Forde Abbey

    I joined the group at the end of last year and so far, for many reasons, I have missed several sessions but I’m back on track now. It’s something I did for years when I lived in Devon and had my own pony, Ginger. Lovely he was. I don’t feel the need to get another pony but I am enjoying other people’s. I have to be re-assessed as a Coach Driver – more form filling and courses to attend. More learning and stuff to remember, for my poor brain to cope with. Hoping it won’t take long.

  7. I went to the ballet in Bridport and saw  Ballet Central. It was an excellent performance of several short pieces. The company is made up from students in their final year. By the look of things some of them will go far. Thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. How they managed to adapt to the small stage,without loss of performance, was quite remarkable. Well done all! 
  8. I read a few books, some better than others, but I enjoyed them all. The last one was My Animals and other Family by Clare Balding. I loved it, a beautifully written memoir of her childhood up to her twentieth year when she went to Cambridge University. I don’t know much about horse racing but I do love horses and dogs and that is the basis of her book. It’s written honestly and openly.

I think that’s most of the important stuff covered. Oh I did fall over and graze arm and knee pretty badly and when there’s no-one at home and even the neighbours are away you just have to get on with it don’t you?

It got worse before it got better but thankfully nothing broken…Oh wait a minute, I broke my tooth the following day. That’s three things then…no more to come, hopefully. 

Gubbio for R&R…

Our Hotel in front of the main square

Our Hotel in front of the main square

The Man and I were feeling a tad fed up so we thought we would spend a couple of nights in one of our favourite Italian towns – Gubbio. If you remember we visited there last year and were pretty impressed and promised that we would return. We had hoped to go back in June 2014 but it didn’t happen so this June (2015), finding ourselves in need of a little R&R we toddled off in the VW Polo just after lunch on a rather miserable Wednesday last week. Jpeg and Mickey (the dog and the cat respectively – you should all know them by now) were given strict instructions to behave themselves while we were away, Jpeg was left in charge – it was her turn. A kind neighbour was going to pop in several times over the two days to deal with food and exercise etc.,

Oh the freedom of the open road and no responsibilities – for a short while anyway – it recharges the batteries like nothing else can. By the time we arrived the clouds had cleared away revealing blue skies and a warm evening.

TheManRelaxing

The Man Relaxing with a cuppa after a two and a half hour drive – By the way, I did the driving!

Our choice of hotel was the Relais Ducale – same as last time but a better room than before – a suite no less and with a the private terrace with stunning view. If you’re going to stay in a hotel for a couple of nights for a break then I think it’s a good idea to go for the best.

View from Terrace and Me!

View from Terrace and Me!

The first evening we went to the Taverno Del Lupo restaurant, we’d visited it before and found the ambience pleasing, if a little old fashioned and the food excellent. We were not disappointed for our second visit. The lamb was as good as ever.

Taverna del Lupo

During the day on Thursday we took in the town, it doesn’t take long – beautiful architecture and The Man has a fascination with the doors – which meant I had to take lots of ‘door photos’ with my iPhone as The Man doesn’t have a camera and has an old fashioned brick for a mobile – which by the way he never carries on him!

GubbioDoors

A selection of Doors – Interesting – maybe

tinystreet

Beautiful little Alleyway with Flower pot in the centre

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view from main square

The view from the main piazza looking down over the town and into the distance.

Gubbio has a Funivia – a cable way is the direct translation but one could expect a cable car or chair lift. What this is actually is a cage which holds two people and maybe a child but you have to stand up. We watched the ‘cages’ coming down and round and there seemed no time at all to get on or off. We agreed to give it a miss this time and save it for the next. I’m not good on those sorts of things but know that I must do it sometime. I blamed the windy weather this time, not the sort of thing to do in a force 10. (Sorry no photo but you can google it to see one!)

Roman Theatre

Roman Theatre

Our second night found us wandering around and leaving the city walls for a look at the Roman theatre. There’s not much of it left but enough to imagine a few Roman actors strutting their stuff.

On our way back up to the town we came across a restaurant we’d not seen before – it was the Officina dei Sapori (Workshop of Flavours although I prefer to translate it as the Flavour Garage). It was a real find. We were treated well, shown our seats and immediately given a glass of sparkling rosé and the menu card, which reminded me of an old telephone numbers pad we had in leather when I was a kid. You run your finger down the index and flip up the course you wanted to see – interesting.

Restaurant

Restaurant

Menu Card

Menu Card

We are spoilt for local restaurants back in Petritoli but this had just that something different. Modern décor, unusual menu, good food and excellent service. Three courses and wine (which was organic) for a total of 67 euro. Wonderful – we’ll be visiting there again! Although not many people were there when we arrived at an early 7.30pm by the time we left they were queuing for tables.

On Friday morning we made our way back to Petritoli but made a stop in Jesi something The Man had wanted to do for a long while. I’ll blog about that next week but here’s a photo for a taster.

Jesi - Anyone know the name of the square?

Jesi – Anyone know the name of the square?

Italian Drivers? – We Love ‘Em !

The weather here has been, changeable, I think the word is. The temperature has ranged from 20 degrees last weekend to -1 degree this morning. We have had sunshine, showers, snow, hail, clouds and blue skies.

I have been to Ancona airport twice this week, once on Monday to drop off and once on Wednesday to pick up. It’s a three-hour round trip, but I don’t mind because it gives me the opportunity to think up lots of writing ideas during the phase of the journey when I’m alone in the car, or to listen to a CD or radio programme of my choice, although most Italian radio is hard to follow. A ‘listening book’ is always a good option.

Anyway, on my way back on the Monday, I had to negotiate a massive hailstorm, it was so bad that even the Italian drivers slowed down and put on their hazard warning lights. For those of you who are not au fait with Italian drivers, they always drive very fast on all types of roads and road surfaces and in all kinds of weather conditions. They overtake on bends; they drive in the centre or the wrong side of the road, so that it is common to meet a car hurtling towards you on your side of the road just after you go round a corner or even on the straight!  They are always on their mobile phones, they have children sitting on their laps on the front seats, flash their lights when they are ‘coming though’ and not intending to stop. They drive only a metre’s length behind your boot on the motorway, tailgating until you move over, which, by the way, you are expected to do immediately even if you are half way through passing a lorry! They also have a colossal number of hand gestures, which are often self-explanatory! Mind you, I have learnt a few of those myself…..

carparking

Then there is PARKING…well….I’m not sure I have the vocabulary at my command to express my true feelings about Italian parking! I have no idea why they bother with parking bays, because they are completely ignored. Double parking is totally accepted, especially while the guilty person enjoys his cup of coffee and croissant, reads the paper and leisurely passes the time of day with the patron of the bar! Parking on the pavement, parking right in front of the supermarket door, parking across two bays, parking in the middle of the road, parking very close so that you have to squeeze yourself flat to get back into your car which, by the way, you had left parked with ample space for others each side.

Fiat Panda 4x4Having mentioned the high speeds at which the Italians drive I should also point out the other end of the scale which involves drivers who go extremely slowly, less than 20k an hour. These drivers are often elderly and do not have mobile phones but, they are always deep in conversation with their passenger, engaging with them eye to eye and not watching the road. They are usually driving an ancient Fiat Punto 4×4 with thin wheels. We have wondered if these little cars are given out by the Government for retired people over 85 and speculate what the criteria might be to qualify.

Feel free to share your Italian driving and parking experiences with me!