The thighs have it.

You are no doubt asking yourself what Tatiana Kashirina the Olympic weightlifting has to do with Italy, well let me tell you, it’s her thighs. Now before you all start jumping up and down and sending messages to Mrs Sensible about her errant husband, let me explain.

Tatiana Kashirina

Tatiana Kashirina

Before I moved to here, I thought living in Italy would be very similar to living in Great Britain, just without the rain and a decent bacon sandwich, but I was in for a huge culture shock. To start with they don’t go to the bathroom the same way we do.  I promise you it is true, so stop giggling. In England we sit on the loo, ponder life for a bit, clean up using a bit of Andrex toilet paper and then as our mothers taught us, we wash our hands. Nice and simple, in Italy nothing is simple, including going to the loo.

Andrex Puppy and loo roll

Andrex Puppy and loo roll

To start with we have an additional piece of pottery in our bathrooms, it is called a BIDET, it is like a toilet but it has taps on it and no it is not for washing your feet ….. its for washing your , well your bits in.  You see the Italians have decided cleaning your bum after a number 2 with toilet paper, even using expensive soft stuff like Andrex is not good enough (number 1 is a wee and number 2 is, well a number 2), so all good Italians use a bidet to wash their bits after a number 2 or even a number 1.

A bidet is not for washing your feet in.

A bidet is not for washing your feet in.  www.emiliehope.wordpress.com

 

When Mrs Sensible lived in the UK she was astonished and horrified to learn that most homes didn’t have a bidet fitted and the people who did have a bidet fitted, used it for anything but washing their bums. I am not going to go into how to use a bidet, there is a useful link here for those of you who are interested, but I will add just one word of warning, make sure you get the temperature of the water just right or it will bring tears to your eyes.

Our UK house didn't have a Bidet so Mrs Sensible had to improvise.

Our UK house didn’t have a Bidet so Mrs Sensible had to improvise.

Before you ask, Tatiana Kashirina has absolutely nothing to do with Bidets. But she has everything to do with the Italians fascination with Turkish toilets. A Turkish toilet is as close in design to an English toilet as a pizza is, to a big juicy bacon sandwich with egg, mushrooms and if you are lucky a dollop of tomatoes thrown on. A Turkish toilet is a toilet without any super structure, it how a minalist would design a  toilet if he was asked. Basically it is a hole that you squat over and this is where  Tatiana Kashirina thighs come into play, because if you don’t have well developed thighs you are likely to collapse and fall down the hole.

A Turkish Toilet

A Turkish Toilet

While I was writing this I got to thinking why the Turkish toilet never caught on in the UK and you are free to disagree with me here, but I think there are two main reasons. 1) It would be impossible to read a book or the Sunday Paper whilst trying to balance over the hole and 2) The English like to go drinking in pubs in the evening and alcohol and good balance rarely go hand in hand.

I stole this from Gingerfightback so go and have a look at his site

I stole this from Gingerfightback so go and have a look at his site http://www.gingerfightback.com

Now before you go off in search of humorous pictures of bidets or Turkish toilets please spare a thought to how you would manage, if you needed to spend a penny* when you had your best evening frock on, or even a pair of dungarees.

If you slip whilst using a Turkish Toilet you will get wet. (Maria Grazia Cucinotta star of Il Postino)

If you slip whilst using a Turkish Toilet you will get wet. (Maria Grazia Cucinotta star of Il Postino)

To spend a penny is a polite English expression to say you need to go and pee.

 

Please go and have a look at what the other COSI group members think about the loo in Italy

Does this stuff really happen!!!

I received an e mail asking me, what inspires me to write my posts and does this stuff really happen or do I just have an over active imagination. So let me take this opportunity to put the record straight. Much to Mrs Sensible’s dismay, my blog is as it happens here. Mrs Sensible wouldn’t allow me to tell lies or exaggerate. If I did she would hit me with a wet wooden spoon.

Mrs Sensible is deadly with a wet wooden spoon.

Mrs Sensible is deadly with a wet wooden spoon.

How do I decide what to write about?  Well let me give you an example.

Two weeks ago my reading glasses were sitting on my face at a funny angle, so I took them off and tried to straighten them. I heard a little snap and ended up with two monocles, one for each eye.  Mrs Sensible just looked at me as my glasses fell apart in my hands. “What have you done now?” she asked. Nothing I replied as I tried to hide my glasses in my pocket.

A monocle for each eye.

A monocle for each eye.

Breaking my glasses is not a huge problem as I also wear contact lenses. Unfortunately I lost several boxes of contact lenses when we moved house. I can find my corkscrew and my bottles of wine. We have eventually found the kettle, but my lenses are still in a box…. Probably marked Christmas decorations!!

Are they in the box marked Christmas?

Are they in the box marked Christmas decorations?

Like everyone else I have two eyes, my right eye does all the work and my left eye… well it is there only for decoration, it is called a lazy eye. It looks normal but it just refuses to work. When I went for my eye examination for my Italian driving licence, the doctor gave me a paddle to cover my left eye as he tested my right eye. Everything was OK, however when he asked me to cover my right eye and read the letters on the wall, I was tempted to ask him “what wall?” I managed to get around this slight difficulty by removing the paddle and having a quick look at the letters before the doctor turned around and asked me what he had just pointed at.

What do you mean, where has the wall gone

What do you mean, where has the wall gone?

So what inspired me to write this post? Well last week we had the COSI on-line discussion and I was sat in a bar with a glass of wine, squinting at my laptop. I couldn’t find any more contact lenses, my reading glasses are broken so my solution was to wear my normal glasses and over the top of those I put on a pair of Mrs Sensible’s reading glasses, with the double magnification and providing I partially closed my left eye I could read my laptop almost perfectly.

With my multiple sets of glasses I looked quite sexy

With my multiple sets of glasses I looked quite sexy

After a couple of glasses of wine I forgot that I was wearing two sets of glasses. When the waitress who delivered my third glass of wine, looked at me funnily I immediately checked to make sure my fly was zipped up.

The COSI webcam was a bit chaotic, but I enjoyed it. I sat there with a glass of wine in one hand, an ear phone plugged into my right ear and my finger stuck into my left ear to block out the noise of the bar, oh and two sets of glasses on. I think ‘M’ from Married to Italy sent me a message and said Pecora “ your webcam is on we can see you” I didn’t worry too much until I realised what I must look like, after all I was already getting strange looks from the people in the bar.

So do I make this stuff up? No this is life as I know it in Italy

Smelling like Auntie Hilda

When Mrs Sensible and I moved to Italy (against her better judgement) we decided to rent a house. This was for three reasons. 1) We knew we would ultimately move to Sicily and we didn’t want to get caught up in the nightmare of buying and selling Italian houses. 2) We couldn’t sell our house in the UK because the Americans cocked up the financial markets, when their sub-prime mortgages crashed (please no hate mail from you nice Americans)  and the 3rd reason is, I forgot but there was a third reason, there always is a third reason in life.

 

There was another reason.

There was another reason.

I should do a post on the differences between renting a house in Italy and renting a house in the UK but if you get me started on my little house in the UK, and the people who rent it I will get very angry, burst into tears and head for the grappa bottle. (See always three things)

 

Grappa, I love this stuff

Grappa, I love this stuff

In Italy we have tried not to acquire too much furniture, as Mrs S says, in a couple of years we will have to cart it down south so why bother. We have some really good friends up here, who have loaned Mrs S and I some nice furniture which we use to fill in empty corners, now here is the problem.

We have been given a very nice chest of draws, it is solid wood, lined with paper and smells of lavender. Not a nice fresh smell of lavender ; but more the strong, wiffy  smell of lavender. You know the smell I mean, the one you smell when Auntie Hilda opens her purse to give you a sixpence. Mrs S gave the chest of draws a good clean and left all the draws open to air. Each day I give it a sniff and it still smells of old ladies handbags. In fact I am worried that the smell is permeating our bedroom. I find I am sniffing my arms to see if I have started to smell like Auntie Hilda.

 

Ok, I admit it, I stole this photo from Google. I was going to take a photo of our chest of draws but the smell of lavender put me off

Ok, I admit it, I stole this photo from Google. I was going to take a photo of our chest of draws but the smell of lavender put me off getting too close with my camera

Mrs Sensible has said I am not allowed to bleach the draws, leave them out in the rain or to put them in the cellar. Last night it did cross my mind to accidentally drop some firewood in the draws and accidentally drop a match in them. So please give me some help what can I do to get rid of the smell of Auntie Hilda?

 

PS. Mrs Sensible will fly home around the 27th of August, so if you suggest any treatments that she might not approve of, send your ideas now so I can try them before she gets back

Ferragosto

According to my pocket Italian / English dictionary, the definition for Ferragosto is:-

Ferragosto takes place in Italy anywhere between the 1st and the 31th of August,  plumbers, electricians, butchers and anybody else that you need on a day to day basis or may need in a crisis, leave town and either head to the mountains or the seaside for 1 to 31 days. It is not uncommon for towns and villages to become temporary ghost towns.

 

Ferieagosto

Ferragosto

Last year on the 17th of August our boiler decided to go into meltdown. Mrs Sensible contacted our landlord and asked if she could organise a plumber. Ten minutes later, the landlady phoned back and told us the plumber was on holiday until the 28th of August, she added is Pecora Nera any good with boilers.

Mrs S asked me if I knew anything about boilers, I said, I understood they blow up if you don’t know what you are doing and poke around inside them. Mrs S then broke the news to me that we would be taking cold showers for the rest of the month; unless I knew how to fix the boiler. So armed with a screwdriver a large hammer and wearing some overalls I went to have a look at our boiler.

Boiler suit for messing with boilers

Safety overalls for use when messing with boilers

I stuck one finger in one ear and holding my screwdriver at arms length I poked and played with things I really didn’t have a clue about. After 30 minutes of cursing the boiler and the plumber who was sat on some beach drinking pina colada I gave up. Mrs S phoned the landlady and said I had failed miserably and was there any other plumbers in Italy? The landlady said she would send her husband. It was at this point that I decided I needed to be somewhere else, maybe at my favorite bar which I had calculated would be outside the blast range or maybe better still on a flight to England.

My favorite bar is outside the blast range

My favorite bar is outside the blast range

The landlady’s husband turned up with his own screwdriver and an even bigger hammer than the one I was holding. He poked about inside the boiler, he hit delicate bits of pipe with his hammer and explained to me what he thought was wrong with the boiler. I didn’t understand a word he was saying, not only because I don’t understand Italian but by this time I was stood with fingers in both of my ears just in case the boiler decided to go boom.

 

When at risk of blowing up, always place your fingers in your ears

When at risk of blowing up, always place your fingers in your ears

And then miraculously, the boiler hissed, farted and started working. We decided to celebrate by drinking a glass or two of grappa.

 

So if your boiler breaks down, or your cooker starts smoking during August drop me a line and I will send you the landlady’s husband.

The boiler expert saying hello to Donna our workaway from last year or was it the year before

The boiler expert saying hello to Donna our workaway from last year or was it the year before

I have been informed that our crazy group of expats bloggers (COSI Group), are having a Google Hangout Q&A session at 13:00 EST, 19:00 in Italy on Sunday the 3rd of August.  I haven’t a clue how to do this but I will try to be there with a glass of wine in my hand.

Please go to my COSI  page and follow the links to other bloggers from COSI who are uploading their thoughts on Ferragosto