The whirling dervish from Vileda

My mum bought me a train when I was five, it had flashing lights and made a whoo whoooo sound. I was quite impressed with my present, mainly because it wasn’t another pair of mittens connected together with string. My mum was less than impressed with my train. She said: “The man at the market said it was supposed to move.” Picking the train up from the carpet, my mum carried it through to the kitchen and set it down. It immediately went Whooo whooo, screeched across the linoleum, swivelled around 3 times on its axis and came haring back towards me. Being a bright boy I had spotted the imminent danger and decided to go running back into the lounge screaming and shouting and looking for my dad.


Whoo whooo

Whoo whooo


I hid the monstrous train at the bottom of my wardrobe with my collection of mittens.


The usual present

Despite the string I usually managed to loose at least one of the mittens

Fast forward to present day and imagine my horror when Mrs Sensible arrives home with a battery powered hoover. Although it doesn’t have flashing lights or go whoo whoo, it does drive me mad. It is a fiendish gadget developed by Vileda, who, in my humble opinion, should stick to making mops.


Vileda Whirling Dervish

Vileda Whirling Dervish

Before my wife leaves for work (she leaves at stupid o’ clock in the morning) she switches the hoover on and lets it wander up and down the hall, thus saving either of us the task of cleaning the hall. This would have been a really wonderful idea, except I hate how just as I am halfway through a nice dream, the hoover bangs into the bedroom door and wakes me up; I just manage to drop off to sleep and engage in my dream just in time for the robot to travel down the hall and return to frantic crashes against the door. It doesn’t go whooo whoo, like my train, it goes mmeennnnhhuuummm, mmeennnnhhuuummm,  BANG, mmeennnnhhuuummm, mmeennnnhhuuummm, bang, bang, bang, mmeennnnhhuuummm.

Fortunately a couple of months ago it developed a fault: the stupid hoover forgot how to steer in a straight line; all it could manage was to swivel on its axis and clean a perfect circle. In my infinite wisdom I decided it was beyond repair and hid it at the back of the garage. Mrs Sensible did wonder if it was an act of sabotage.

Yesterday Mrs Sensible came home with the latest housewife cleaning aid: another battery powered hoover (notice I didn’t use the term house-husband). At least this one can only work when it is safely attached to Mrs Sensible’s hand.



Hand assisted mop

Mrs Sensible’s hand assisted mop


Just another Tuesday

Well… I am not sure what to write about today. I flicked a Euro in the air to help me decide and it rolled under the chair, never to be seen again. So, today I will only give you a little flavour of a day in the life of an Englishman living in Italy.

Bring back Sterling

Bring back Sterling

Mrs Sensible left the house in a happy mood this morning. She had just learnt that she had been awarded the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award by 1write way.wordpress. Personally, I am gob-smacked. I am not sure why she won the award, because this is my blog. Mrs Sensible is the cook and the woman that keeps me out of trouble, she doesn’t put ink to paper. A couple of months ago during a glass of fine wine, I did suggest to Mrs Sensible that she should start her own blog. She thought it was a good idea and started to discuss the possibilities of “Living with an Englishman” and “Living with the man who burns Pasta”. Fortunately, I managed to steer the conversation onto more pressing matters and away from a blog discussing her life with me.

Mrs Sensible's blog award

Mrs Sensible’s blog award.

(There will be a post about the award later…..) Massimo, the builder who had come to look at our roof and gutters, following the tornado that wandered through my garden, nearly fell off his ladder this morning. We, me and him, propped a rather large ladder against the side of the house and while I did the technical bit of putting my left foot against the bottom rung of the ladder, Massimo climbed to the top.

A rather long ladder

A rather long ladder

My conversation with Elsa (the landlady and daughter of Luigina) was abruptly interrupted by Massimo shouting a lot of rude words and waving both of his hands in the air. Damn fool I thought, he is supposed to be using one of his hands to hold on to the ladder. “Vespa!! Aiuto!! Porca miseria” he shouted as he waved his hands about. I calmly suggested that maybe he should descend the ladder before he fell off and squashed my pot plants. He took my advice and came to ground zero, sporting a few rather nice wasp stings to the side of his face.

I forgot to give him the can of Zig Zag until it was too late

I forgot to give him the can of Zig Zag until it was too late. The ammoniaca was for the stings

Oh!! I nearly forgot, earlier this year Mrs Sensible entered a national competition organised by the Italian government, (I wrote about this in March). The competition was to organise who would get full-time contracts within the Italian School system and who would continue on temporary contracts. The Government has decided that their competition is far  too complicated and they can’t add up who has won, so they will now announce the winners in September 2014. Fortunately Mrs Sensible has found a place for this year at the same school she taught at last year, so we will make it through another year. PS. I made lunch today,

Dog meat pasta

Dog meat pasta

I used onions from my vegetable patch, some cans of meat that resembled dog meat, but I am assured it is the Italian equivalent to corn beef (as I said dog meat) a clove of garlic, a bottle of wine (I always cook better with a glass in my hand) and some tomatoes. Through gritted teeth, Mrs Sensible said she enjoyed it. If you are lucky I might upload the menu.

Click oops!!

One of our neurotic hens woke me at 6 this morning, it was laying a remarkably large egg and decided to shout about it; this started Gilda, the remarkable fat, but short-legged dog barking. Between the two of them it became impossible to sleep. So I gave up all hopes of a Saturday morning snooze and spent 10 mins trawling my wordpress reader.

If it wakes me up again at the weekend we will have a talk over Sunday dinner

If it wakes me up again at the weekend we will have a talk over Sunday dinner

And I found a great photo titled The eye’s (or rather eye) have it By  THE NUMPTY WITH A CAMERA AND A LAPTOP  for the latest wordpress Photo Challenge.

I have a nice camera, in fact two years ago I bought myself a Canon 1000D. I carefully wrapped the prezzie in Christmas paper and added a tag with the words : Love from Mrs Sensible, thereby giving both of us a surprise on Christmas morning.

Unfortunately none of my photos are ever likely to match one of Steve Currry’s who is the master of photography.

However, today I have entered the wordpress photo challenge with the following photo, and after careful deliberation I have titled the photo Click oops!

Click, oops

Click, oops

Because, I was leaving the house with the camera in my hand, when the damn thing when off, nearly blinding me with the flash.

Bloggers European Bunfight

Montgomery Fest (that is the the couple that go around holding hands a lot) and Mrs Sensible and I are considering the possibility of organising a weekend meeting in Budapest for bloggers.

So we are testing the water to see if anyone is interested in joining us for a weekend of madness fun.

We are thinking of springtime

Spring flowers

This is the only picture that I could find of spring flowers

A fun Awards Ceremony

Awards we will try to get Charlize Theron

Awards we will try to get Charlize Theron

And either a dinner

A light lunch

A light lunch

and or a dance.

A little tea party

A little tea party

So if you think you might be interested either send me a message with how many people, using this form, or contact Montgomery Fest using this form

or stamp your feet and shout very loudly

Stamp your feet and shout

Stamp your feet and shout

We have created a second site where we will upload more details, as soon as we get some feedback and numbers. Please go to

It’s black frock time.

I am nearly at the end of my first year of blogging, It has been great fun and I have exchanged comments and e mails with some fantastic people. Last month I nearly stopped blogging, but thanks to a couple of e mails and the odd prod I am still here.

When Jennifer from My Sardinian life nominated me for the Affidable Blog Award, I was totally gobsmacked, and Mrs Sensible couldn’t believe it. So today I would like to nominate the following people for the Pecora Nera Award.

The Blacksheep Award

The Blacksheep Award

As always there are a few rules that you must follow and they are as follows:-

Give yourself a pat on the back. (you must stand on your left leg while you do this)

Don’t link back to this post. The award is just a thank you to you from Mrs Sensible and I.

Don’t nominate another 15 bloggers. It is a just my way of saying, thanks for the fun or your pictures are fantastic or even just for being a nice person.

So without further ado, here are the winners.

The crazy Irishwoman who lives in Latvia. Expat eye on Latvia

An American who writes about her childhood with Humour 1950 Suburban Adventures 

Lynne who takes wonderful pictures of England Lynne Revette Butler

Montgomery Fest who are obviously still in love and hold hands a lot Mongomery Fest

A new blog that looks like it will be good The Chef and the waitress

I wish my vegetable garden looked like Debb’s Digging wiv Debb

Another crazy woman I used to be indecisive

Pictures, really good ones  The Amateur Camera

A ginger minger Ginger Fights back

Yet another crazy woman, this one lives in France Multifarious Meanderings

A remarkable lady who turns items that have been thrown away into useful objects. Living Simply Free

Dean who blogs about life as a mother Little Steps

The Sicilian God Mother. You are probably already following this blog, if not why not Sicilian Godmother

Crazy woman in Croatia. Oh and she has a holiday home for rent Our Adventures in Croatia 

I am sure I have missed lots of great blogs out, but it is time for a glass of wine.

So thanks to all the great people who have taken the time to say hello to me, and all the people who spend time creating blogs for other people to read.

Ciao PN

As easy as ABC

Are you the type of person that burns a boiled egg? Then have no fear, you are in good company.

As easy as ABC

As easy as ABC

Mrs Sensible decided that today was my cookday and I was to cook spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino. My cookday? “It is easy” she said, “there are only 4 ingredients. Olive oil, garlic, chilli peppers and spaghetti”. This is fine, but I cook bacon, eggs, mushrooms and fried bread, that is when I have supplies of Bacon from the UK in the freezer. I don’t do Italian, even my Sicilian aunty turned her nose up at my tuna and pasta spaghetti concoction, and she loves me to bits, plus I laced it with wine. 

“Okay” I said to Mrs Sensible, “how do I cook it?” “Pan fry a little garlic in the small frying pan and a little chilli pepper. While you are doing this, cook some spaghetti when it is done add the spaghetti to the frying pan add a bit of water from the spaghetti, fry until it is done and serve.” she said as she watched her latest Inspector Morse DVD.

Easy peesy lemon squeezie!! What could go wrong?


I know that before putting any ingredient into a pan, it is important to open a bottle of wine. I chose a fine bottle of Sovrana from the cantina of Marco Bellero.


Sovrana by Marco Bellero

“How much spaghetti?”

“200 grams”

How much oil should I use?

Enough to cover the pan bottom, don’t burn the garlic !!

Uh huh!

Where is the spaghetti?

Bottom cupboard.

No it is not.

yes it is, I will come and get it for you.


The Spaghetti is here and you have burnt the garlic!!

Do I bin it?

Deep sigh, “Yes start again”.

So I started again, I fried a little garlic in a bit of olive oil and started to boil the spaghetti. When I thought the spaghetti was cooked, I wandered into the lounge with a bit of spaghetti hanging from a fork. Just as I waved it under  Mrs Sensible’s nose and said “Is this cooked? Inspector Morse shouted “You have killed her, you were his doctor”

“No” she said.

So I wandered back into the kitchen. The garlic looked a little too brown so I took it off the flame.

Mrs Sensible shouted from the lounge “Have you grated the cheese for the spaghetti”

Erh! No

So she came in to rescue me and the spaghetti.

As she chased the garlic around the pan she said “I have never seen garlic so well-burnt”

“Uh huh” I replied

She threw the spaghetti into the frying pan, added some water, fried it and served it into two plates.

What can I say… the wine was very good, however Mrs Sensible declared that she had eaten better pasta.

So here is the recipe if you want to try your hand.

Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino

Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chilli pepper (and a glass of wine)


Allegedly very easy

Preparation time

2 minutes

Cooking time

15 minutes



200 grams of spaghetti
1 small red chilli pepper – seeded & chopped
2 medium cloves of fresh garlic (squashed but unpeeled)
2 -3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to season the pasta and to throw over your left shoulder for good luck.

1 bottle of good wine to drink while you cook.

Specialist Equipment

A large frying pan

A deep pan

Sharp knife

A good cook

A glass for the wine

How to cook:

1) Discard the seeds from the chilli pepper and chop the pepper into small pieces.

2) Cook the pasta according to the pack instructions and season with salt. If there are no instructions, E mail Mrs Sensible.

3) In a shallow pan, place 4 tbsp of olive oil and heat until hot, then add the garlic and chilli pepper. Cook over a low to medium heat until the garlic starts to turn golden (do not allow to burn)

4) When the pasta is ready, drain & transfer pasta into the shallow pan with the oil, garlic and chilli. Toss together and allow to heat through for approx 2-4 minutes. Serve immediately.

If you try this and it works, let me know. If you try this and you fail, please do not feel bad it is a very difficult dish.

You have visitors coming? Ok, then I will huff and puff and blow your garden to bits.

Today started as any Monday morning… with a groan. I rolled out of bed, wandered into the kitchen and started to boil the kettle for a nice cup of tea. Just as I plugged the kettle in, a bolt of lightning and a crack of thunder shot across the sky. Mmm that was close, I told Mrs Sensible.

As I wandered into the bathroom, two more bolts of lightning lit up the bathroom and then the winds came. There is a Latin name for the winds that suddenly appear in Piedmont  something like bigggusti flatulantisti windusti. A strange howling sound came from the chimney, it sounded like a Scotsman struggling with a very bad set of bagpipes, Mrs Sensible and I looked at each other with horror, as we watched the lounge ceiling start to vibrate. As we stood watching, the ceiling cracked where it was supposed to be glued to the wall and lifted about 10 centimetres. That’s about 4 inches in real money.

As designed by Isabel

As designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and redesigned by a bit of wind. For you dedicated gardeners, can you spot my lemon tree?

We both, in a very calm British stiff upper lip way, decided that we should vacate the lounge and close the windows. The conversation and actions went something like this.

“What is the noise?”

“Don’t know”

“The roof is moving”


“Look, it is moving.”

“Move, run, now”

“The windows”

“Close them, oh Dio!”

We calmly walked ran around the house like headless chickens, shutting the windows as the wind blew and the mad Scotsman in the chimney played his bagpipes.

A strange sound came from the chimney

A strange sound came from the chimney. Was it Father Christmas, a mouse or a strange Scotsman with his bagpipes.

The crazy man who converted, what should have been a lovely 1800’s barn conversion into a modern American style office building house, installed swinging windows that are 1.5 metres square (Five feet in English). When the wind grabs them then can spin 180 degrees and smash into little pieces.

This photo does NOT do these stupid windows justice.

This photo does NOT do these stupid windows justice.

In Italy, we have a small problem that blights the country; now some of you will be thinking of the mafia and some of you might be thinking of the glorious Italian bureaucracy, however the real problem is the blasted mosquitoes. A ‘proper’ Italian house, designed and built by anyone with an IQ above 25 makes sure that it is easy to install anti mosquito nets. Unfortunately because a moron designed this house, it took me 12 months to devise a way of attaching nets to our huge, swinging windows. The end result took over 80 metres of gaffa tape (for you non-English blog readers, gaffa tape is like sellotape, but wide and very sticky, it has the remarkable property of sticking eyebrows to lips and fingers to windows) 10 packs of netting and a lot of swearing. The end result is mosquito nets, which hang from the windows, the same way my old grannies knickers used to hang from the washing line.

Big and baggy, just like grannies knickers

Big and baggy, just like grannies knickers

They nets do stop 97.5 % of all known mosquitoes, the remaining 2.5% still manage to get in and bite me at around two o’ clock in the morning;  but because of the masses of gaffa tape needed to secure the mesh, the windows no longer close properly. Now this is not normally a problem, except the wind was blowing a hooley and the rain was raining horizontally!! We stood and watched as the rooms slowly flooded. I ran around in circles while my wife ran for the mop and some mats to soak up the water.

When the wind and the rain stopped, we surveyed the devastation. Apart from the three new ponds in the bedrooms, the destroyed shed, various roofs that had detached themselves from the chicken shed etc.; what most upset Mrs Sensible was she and to a lesser extent I, had spent the previous couple of days cleaning and tidying the house ready for our visitors.

I will huff and puff and blow your shed away.

I will huff and puff and blow your shed away.

We checked to make sure Luagina, our neighbour had survived the storm and then we started the clean up operation, so that we would be ready for our visitors arriving from the UK. Hopefully bearing gifts like piccalilli and HP brown sauce.