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!

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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!

Anyone for Walkies? Brooklynites Love Pooches

Walkies?

Walkies?

It seems to me that in Brooklyn one in ten people own a dog. This means that walking down the street you meet every known variety of pooch. Little ones, medium size and great big things, hairy mutts, smooth coated, well behaved, bouncy, aggressive and passive. The varieties of breed, character, size and shape are endless.

Waiting on the Stoop

Waiting on the Stoop

We have a dog in this house and she needs her walkies like every other four-legged friend. So off we go in the mornings, poop bag (or three) in the pocket and walk 20 minutes to the park. You have to be in the park between seven and nine in the morning if you want to let your dog off the leash, notice the American leash… not lead, I’m getting very good at the local lingo. On the way to the park we meet other people walking or jogging with their little canine companions by their sides and then once we arrive, well, it’s doggy mayhem! There are hundreds of dogs, honestly! Well fifty at least at one time. There is one area in the park which is big, square and sandy, it looks like a doggy football pitch with no goals. Dog owners stand around here with coffee ‘to go’ in their fists chatting to other doggie owners about, dog behaviour, dog habits, dog excrement, dog foibles, etc., (May be I’m being harsh, perhaps they’re discussing politics and world news). Meanwhile, the dogs race around, sniff each other (as they do) charge at each other, bark, howl and go about their daily business and have the occasional scrap. I hurry quickly past this area, slalom around the joggers and head for a quieter corner if I can find one.

Big Dog

Big Dog

Little Dog

Little Dog

Tree Meeting

Tree Meeting

Our dog likes us to throw a ball for her, which she returns to our feet, when she feels like it and allows us to throw it again. Lots of the other owners throw balls for their dogs too and the most amazing thing is, that on the whole, the dogs stick to their own balls, if you get my meaning! There is no doggy thieving or attempt to score or take possession of a different ball, not so far as I’ve witnessed.

It is not unusual to hire a dog-walker. You can see them everywhere, walking the dogs (obviously). You just know they are dog-walkers and not owners because often they hold a big bunch of keys and sometimes the dogs are a little reluctant to walk. We saw a bull dog living up to his name, sitting stubbornly on the pavement and refusing to move at all. It’s a serious business dog walking, financially rewarding and there are plenty of punters here in Brooklyn who make use of the service. The duty walker comes in, takes your dog out for half an hour, and leaves them back home again. They write a little report for the owner with the time of the walk and any relevant information, for example: –

‘1.30pm. We had a lovely happy walk for half an hour. Five pees and a poop. She picked up a piece of bread on the road and ate it, (naughty thing!) but otherwise she walked well on the leash and was very well behaved. One treat given.’

Gotta go, it’s time to take the dog around a block or two. We have to stop at every tree and every earthy, interesting patch, so it takes a while.

Whoops, don’t forget the poop bag!

Okay, this is MY tree guys.

Okay, this is MY tree guys.

An Unusually Quiet Corner of Prospect Park

An Unusually Quiet Corner of Prospect Park