Note Number 39…Home and Away…

Jpeg in the shade of an olive tree

Jpeg back in her home country…I actually think she prefers England…but who knows? 

We returned to the place in Italy where we lived for eight years and it was a strange experience. Full of mixed emotions and a short journey of discovery about the impossibility of turning back the clock. We had a wonderful time when we lived there. We loved the weather and made good friends, but folks move on and things change. For four weeks, we stayed in a lovely house in Montevidon Combatte, about 4 kilometres away from Petritoli, our Italian ‘home town’. We were meant to be on holiday but it never felt like that to me. It was as if I still lived there. The consequence of which meant that I couln’t be bothered to go sightseeing – in fact I couldn’t be bothered to do anything which is not only silly it was a waste of time. I must admit I did enjoy lazing in the sun by the pool

We had a fabulous pool and the surrounding Marche countryside was as lovely as ever. 

I tried, unsuccessfully, to write. I managed to produce four poems whilst staying near Lucca in the apartment on my own with the dog. The Man cycled from Rimini to Pisa with his mates from More Adventure … but after that short period of time, the muse disappeared – stage left.

Now, we are home in Dorset, the weather on Thursday was beautiful and welcoming after our long drive back. We stayed in two different places this time on our return journey. The first stop was Asti where we had a brilliant apartment, close to the centre, with secure parking and it was seriously dog friendly. Fabio (the owner) was most welcoming and couldn’t do enough for us and Jpeg, which went over her head of course. She travels quite well but after six hours in the back of the car she’s had enough. We do stop every now and then for short breaks, not just for the dog to stretch her legs but for us too – and to change drivers.

Our excellent accommodation in Asti

Asti did not grab me, there was no ‘wow’ factor to it, except for the enormous car-park in the centre, the biggest town centre car park I have ever seen. It is used for the annual Palio (horse race). I didn’t realise they had one so something I must read up on. I’m not sure the photo does the size of the car-park justice…but it was a whopper!

Asti Central Car Park

An average meal was taken at the Tartufo D’Oro and the man overcharged us… we paid for someone else’s pizza and bottle of water as well as our own food. Should have checked the bill more carefully GB! We paid cash so no chance of a refund. Anyway, I think I’m at the end of the line with Italian food. I love it, but the menu does not vary from place to place…I don’t care if I never see another slice of prociutto crudo (Parma ham perhaps to you), accompanied by formaggio (cheese) and melon…for at least ten years.

Next stop was Bourges, (which I kept calling Bruges, much to The Man’s amusement)…
I am in love…

i love bourges

We arrived somewhat harassed as the trip from Asti took much longer that we expected with traffic hold-ups etc., fortunately we had started early in the morning (09.45) so got to our accommodation before dark. I had chosen the hotel Chatueau De Lazenay because the room had a little kitchenette which would allow me to cook. Sadly, it was lacking in utensils of any kind and although Eric, at reception said we could ring down for anything we wanted and they would bring it up. I couldn’t be bothered. My enthusiasm for cooking up a delicious meal flew out of the window to join the aforementioned muse.

The best thing about the hotel was the situation. It was beside a beautiful lake with a path surrounding it for walking, running and cycling of 6k. (Actually, I’m not sure about the cycling). I took the dog out as the light began to fade and she had a wonderful walk, as did I. Following her supper, she gave a big sigh as she finally got into her bed and realised she was out of the car…at least for the time being.  She is so good and always relaxes fully in any B&B, hotel room or apartment that we rent, allowing us to go out and eat without any fuss.

The lake and the pathway and Jpeg (she’s not too keen on the water but was fascinated by the birdlife) 

We took a taxi into town for an extortionate €20 to the restaurant Gargouille….  A great meal was had, French cuisine is always excellent and it was a welcome change from Italian. I had decided to embark on #soberoctober so no wine or champagne for me on this trip but I did have a delicious glass of lemonade. The Man had vegetable soup, steak, and lemon meringue pie. I had fish and chips followed by pannacotta with bourbon biscuits and forest fruits, served in a kilner jar. No photos I’m afraid. I became irrationally embarrassed at the thought of photographing my food with my Iphone…but I did photograph the drinks!


I cannot wait to go back to Bourges next year when we plan a longer trip around France. I want to explore this beautiful town and all it has to offer. We are in fact, going to take lessons to improve our French beyond O’ level standard…at the moment, whenever I open my mouth to speak French, Italian comes out!

A little taste of Bourges…

Learning Language and Laughing…


Last Thursday I took my Italian Language examination at level A2, I got 98 out of 100 and I should think so! A2 is not a very high level considering I’ve been here for six years. However, I wanted to go back to lessons and the next level up wasn’t available. The teacher was very helpful, even during the exam. It would have been difficult for anyone to fail.

The first question on the paper was to match up questions and answers. We all dutifully waited to begin and he put on the tape recorder. I looked around the class and everyone was perplexed as the track that was playing seemed to have no relevance at all to question number one. I slowly put up my hand and asked the question.

Chemistry Teacher with Students in Class

‘Teacher, what has this to do with question one?’

‘Oh,’ he said, then laughed. ‘Turn over your page this is question three.’

The exam went on a bit like that,the teacher wandering round the class looking over certain shoulders and coughing, letting his hand point vaguely in the direction of any mistake that might have been made. Farcical really but hey, he was such a nice man. I just have to point out here that I didn’t need any help. As each person finished he marked their papers. I’m not exactly sure why I lost two marks but it appeared to be for missing a lesson during the course.

I think it’s really important to learn the language of the country you choose to live in. In Le Marche there is little English spoken and I see no reason for me to expect them to learn my language. I can understand most of the time now except when the locals start speaking in dialect (dialetto) or when they speak too quickly. Italy has only been speaking Italian for a relatively short time, (I’m sure The Man will comment on this and put us straight as to exactly how long). Previously the different provinces, towns, regions all had languages of their own and today some of the older citizens can still only speak their dialetto. In Petritoli they speak dialetto from Fermo and in Carassai, (a town about 6 kilometres away) they speak Ascoli Piceno dialetto.

The Italian language is derived from the Tuscan dialect, ostensibly from Dante Alighieri. I’m no expert on this so don’t shoot me down if I’ve got it wrong.


Learning a foreign language is not easy when you are older, (the wrong side of 60) but I enjoy the interaction of the classroom and it is so much better to be taught by a real person rather than all this long distance, internet virtual stuff that’s readily available now.

I can’t wait for September, to get stuck into B2 the next level, and hope that by then I haven’t forgotten every single thing I learnt this term. I can get by in most circumstances and everyone understands me and the Italians give plenty of help with corrections, but it is so satisfying to actually format my sentences and verbs correctly, the basic stuff anyway!

Why ‘Laughing’ in the title of this week’s post’?
Well, isn’t it wonderful that laughing is universal. We don’t have to learn how to do it in a foreign language. ‘Smile and the world smiles with you,’ I think that’s the expression.

Boys Telling Secrets

The Man is going to think there’s something up this morning now I’m talking soppy. ☺