Note 23…Spring Flowers and A Mixed Bag of Waffle…Plastic not Acceptable…

It’s funny how people chat about the weather and the seasons and the time of year.

Lower Ash Farm Flowers

Beautiful Spring Flowers at Higher Ash Farm. A public footpath goes right through the farmyard…how lovely to see this display for walkers to appreciate. 

“Clocks will soon be going forward,” says one. “Can’t wait for the lighter evenings.” says another. “Have you seen all the Spring flower out? They’re amazing. Makes one feel good.”

Yes, it does make you feel good to see the daffodils, primroses, snowdrops in the hedgerows and in the gardens too. I’m loving England right now. I’m missing the warmer days that are probably around in Italy at the moment but there’s nothing like an English Spring day when  sun comes out.

If only everybody could love the countryside as I do and please stop throwing rubbish out of windows or deliberately dropping waste paper or litter out of their pockets onto the road. There is much publicity at the moment about the plastic being dumped into our seas and oceans but what about the stuff that is strewn everywhere. This habit of chucking stuff out isn’t confined to the countryside, the towns and cities are as bad. The only difference is there is perhaps more wildlife in country areas than urban, who could be affected by the crap people dispose of in any way they wish.

I have been collecting from the side of the road but sometimes I can’t reach a plastic cup or can when it’s been chucked out of a lorry window because it’s too high for me to reach.

Why do we have we need to use so much plastic? Why can’t we go back to paper bags for food and glass bottles for drinks. I particularly hate the fast food containers, those yellow polystyrene burger boxes and massive plastic beakers with lids and plastic straws through a hole in the top.

I hate these containers 

When I was younger, I used to love it in the American films when people went to the grocery store they carried it all home in a brown paper bag which they held in their arms. I thought that looked so cool. Now, everyone is laden down with several plastic carrier bags. Even me! I try to remember to take my ‘bag for life’ into the shop with me but so often I forget them and leave them in the car.

woman with shopping bag copy

NEW RESOLUTION – If I forget the bags I will put everything back in the trolley or the basket, take it to the car and pack it there.

Please can we go back to wrapping the Fish and Chips in Newspaper. Return to glass bottles that you pay a deposit for and then return. Food that you can buy and wrap up in paper, not pre-wrapped in, impossible-to-open, hard plastic. That goes for other commodities too, practically everything you purchase is impenetrably packed, in a completely sealed unit that you need some implement not yet invented to release the said article before it can be used…phew!

Oh…I’ve only just started on this…I feel a few bullet points coming on…

  1. Why do many magazines have to be put into clear plastic bags?
  2.  What’s the point of screws and nails being sold in packets of 50 or 100, bring back the old hardware shops.
  3. Ban take-away foods – no – on second thoughts just ban the ghastly packaging.
  4. Ban all plastic packaging
  5. Ban plastic plates, knives and forks…who needs them anyway?
  6. What’s wrong with using proper cutlery and crockery when you go out for a picnic? As a matter of fact the Italians are the worst culprits, they will serve up a complete meal on a plastic plates; pasta, meat and finishing with desserts. That’s three plastic plates for every person attending, tut tut.
  7. (I suppose we could go back to paper plates).
  8. Why is that we cannot put black plastic containers in the recycling bin? (in West Dorset that is).
  9. Ban mega stores, bring back rural bus routes, village shops and town-centre shopping…

Okay, I’m going off the point now. Time to stop waffling and have a cup of tea. I’ll be moaning about dog walkers next time…

Spot the Tomato…

Spot the Tomato!

Spot the Tomato!

At the back of our house is a little bit of waste ground that nobody bothers about so The Man decided he would make it a project and set about improving the look of it. He made terraces using some wooden beams taken from the roof when we made a roof terrace and arranged a wine press ( an old one that we don’t use) in an artistic way, threw in a couple of green vintage wine demijohns (even more artistic) – put down some paving and gravel. The Man generally made a rather good job of it and proudly announces to everyone, ‘I did all this without spending hardly any money, only hard labour and all the materials are recycled. I only spent €10 on screws!’

garden

I was in charge of filling the beds so I bought lots of rosemary plants, lavender, sage and other herbs. Then I decided to put in a couple of tomato plants. Yeah what a good idea. I thought I’d bought those cherry ones and looked forward to lots of little red jewels to put on our salad.

Everyone grows tomatoes here without any problem. I watered and fed them and they grew like triffids…amazing! They grew huge and are taking over the whole of the area but they are devoid of tomatoes – or are they? I have now spotted one or two but they are the buffalo variety – shock horror – where are my dainty little gems? Sadly they are taking a long time to get to anything like the right size for picking and as for going red…hmm – I think I’ll be making a lot of green tomato chutney this autumn.

Spotted one tomato...

Spotted! One tomato…

I had also put in some strawberry plants which did quite well and look as though they’re spreading well so next year there should be a better crop – if only I can stop the cat and dog using that particular area as their toilet. Not sure if it improves the taste of the strawberries as I was rather put off trying them…

On a brighter note, my flowers have done extremely well this year and I’m very proud of my cascading petunias, a wonderful burst of colour – aren’t I clever?

Petunia you adorable lady, well done!

Petunia – you adorable lady, well done!

And – I hope I don’t speak too soon – I have six oranges on my little tree, with a bit of luck they’ll be ready for Christmas!

Oranges...(or greens as they are at the moment)

Oranges…(or greens as they are at the moment)

Dining, Dancing, Doting Nonna…..

Viareggio

Viareggio in the Evening Sun

Long time no blog. That’s because Olivespastavino has been travelling – a lot!

In the middle of March we drove up to the North of Italy, first to Viareggio inTuscany, then on to Apricale in Liguria and finally a visit to Gubbio in Umbria. It was fabulous. We absolutely loved each place and plan to visit Gubbio again in June, specifically the Relais Ducale. Another Blog post with more info to follow next week.

Apricale

Apricale Piazza

Gubbio

Gubbio Hotel Relais Ducale

At the very end of March I jumped on a flight to the UK to meet up with my lovely daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter, they live in New York so this was an opportunity to meet up. Sadly they were visiting the UK because of bereavement on my son-in-law’s side of the family.

The weather was fabulous and despite a sickness bug (for them not me) we managed to have a wonderful time. A visit to Hampton Court Palace Gardens was the highlight. A truly English experience. Spring flowers, shrubs, trees, foot paths and all beside the river Thames.

flowershcp

Spring Flowers in Hampton Court Palace Gardens

Wide Pathways and Beautiful Trees Hampton Court Palace Gardens

Wide Pathways and Beautiful Trees Hampton Court Palace Gardens

It really is truly wonderful being a grandmother, Nonna in Italian.  I love it! Of course I have got the most beautiful granddaughter in the whole world…who hasn’t? Every moment spent with her is precious, she lives so far away.

Nonna and Grandchild

Nonna and Grandchild

I returned to Italy for just one week and then went off again. This time to Northern Ireland for a grand dinner and knees up…splendid do, The Man polished up quite well for this and he was a lot better than the dog at selfies!

3photo

From Belfast we travelled over to Bristol where again the sun shone. After visiting Cardiff for family business The Man and I went our separate ways for a few days, him to London and I stayed in Bristol where I suddenly got the fitness bug!

My friend Jan took me to the gym, I don’t often like them but this one was rather lovely…Bristol Health and Fitness I did ten minutes on the bike, ten minutes on the running machine and then five minutes on a machine for toning biceps and triceps, it was a bit like riding a bicycle with my arms. Think I only covered a few metres though. We then had a swim, me in the slow lane and Jan in the fast. I never was any good at swimming.

This is Jan not me!

This is Jan not me!

Jan gave me some of her old gym clothing and I invested in a good sports bra – very necessary! The very next day I borrowed a pair of trainers and I went for a run, yes a RUN – well a walk with a bit of jogging thrown in for good measure. It took me half an hour, up the road and round the park.  I felt very proud of myself.

Back in Italy I am determined to carry on what I have started but so far the bra has only had one outing and I’ve yet to buy the running shoes. BUT – today I collected a registration form from the local gym in Valmir. Not quite up to the Bannatyne standard but what the heck. Watch this space.

Hope you all had a good Easter, our Sunday lunch was taken at Parco Galeano again this year, 33 euro for a meal of several delicious courses, wine, coffee and liqueurs thrown in! No wonder I need the gym!

Easter Sunday Lunch

Easter Sunday Lunch

 

easterlunch2

Thanks for the photos Ivo!

Markets

vegetables

Last Sunday we went to the market in Rubianello, a small valley town about 5k from Petritoli. The sun was shining and I wanted to buy another pair of cheap comfy trousers to keep me going until the summer comes at which point I can’t bear to wear anything but a loose fitting lightweight dress.

The market people travel from place to place so you often see the same stalls in different towns. The stalls are varied; don’t think food with tempting pastries, pasta and other delights. These markets are functional, mostly clothes, household items, fruit and vegetables, flowers, shoes, haberdashery.

It’s a time for all the locals to passeggiare stroll and chattare chat to friends, take a coffee and browse the stalls. There’s lots of laughter and of course a great deal of gesticulating. It often seems when the Italians speak that they are in the throws of a massive argument as voices are raised and hands fly in every direction but usually it’s friendly banter, probably about football or husbands.

We bumped into a couple of people we know and did our own bit of chatting and we saw ‘our honey man’ from Petritoli. His small table was heavy with boxes of miele in favo honeycomb, several jars of different varieties of miele, honey, also beeswax and small jars of pollen. I’m not at all sure what you’re supposed to do with pollen it looks like a jar of Dijon mustard.
honeyman

We wandered over to the fruit and vegetable stall as I spied some rather delicious looking strawberries from Sicily. They were only €1 a punnet. The stallholder then cajoled us into buying some red oranges; actually, he cajoled The Man as I am never easily persuaded to part with my money. It always seems when The Man comes shopping we spend twice as much and come home with too many treats!

fruit

The flowers looked fantastic, so many bright colours, mostly pansies and primulas but there were a few early geraniums. We bought half a dozen daisy things to put in the pots outside the front door. It cheers up the place so much and it really feels as though Spring has arrived!

Flowers

Markets in Italy are well supported by vendors and buyers, I hope they continue to thrive even though there are now more out of town hypermarkets opening up. I love strolling down to our local market twice a month, chatting with locals, buying my honey and taking a coffee or two. It’s a great pace of life here in Le Marche. No hurry, there’s always tomorrow.

NOTE: I haven’t blogged for over two weeks…my ribs have been hurting, they’re much better now but that’s not the only reason I haven’t posted a blog. I am inundated with emails telling me that there is a [New post] from Bladiblabla – blog or whatagreatwriterIam – blog…Sometimes as many as three times a week! I think if you post too many times people get turned off but maybe I’m just jealous because I don’t seem to be able to blog regularly even once a week and on occasion not even once a month! Oh, It’s Wednesday again so teaching this afternoon, better put a bottle of wine in the fridge to cool ready for when I get back. 🙂

Delicious oranges and strawberries

Delicious oranges and strawberries