By Jove, we can’t have that

It would appear Theresa May, our beloved Prime Minister has decided to name herself Mrs Sensible.


Mrs Sensible and I are suffering from shock, our initial thoughts are, can we claim royalties from her and secondly how can anyone who is working for Brexit be considered ‘Sensible’

My application for Italian citizenship is moving very slowly and not necessarily in the right direction

Ooh I have loads to tell you, but at the moment I am sat in the garden waiting for Mario the woodman to arrive with our winter wood.


Audrey (our latest workaway) looking with apprehension as Mario loads his waggon

Funny kind of week

It’s been a funny kind of week, I made another batch of limoncello lollies and to be honest, I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but they were to die for.

I also tried to make some lollies using some cherries that had spent the last 12 months soaking in neat grappa, unfortunately the alcohol content was too great and they didn’t freeze, however they made great alcoholic slush puppies and the third batch did freeze. 

Mrs Sensible is less than impressed with my hobby of turning alcohol into fantastic lollies, to placate Mrs S I made some lollies using some apricots from the garden, Mrs S liked them but in my humble opinion they lacked something, namely a good shot of liqueur.

Also I came across an interesting article on the tinternet about a woman who hadn’t washed her golden tresses for 5 months….. allegedly she stopped using shampoo because it was expensive, not eco friendly and damaged her hair.

I have no idea how much shampoo costs, Mrs S is in charge of the shopping, but in the interests of science and because it has been a funny kind of week I decided to try going shampoo free.

Following the instructions on the tree hugger website, I put one tablespoon or was it one desert spoon of bicarbonate of soda in a bottle and added a cup of water. This was to be my eco friendly shampoo. I then took a bath and washed my hair.

The results were less than successful, my hair stood up on its own and I resembled Beaker from the Muppets show.

I will try the no shampoo experiment for another couple or days / weeks and I will  let you know how it goes.

The mysterious case of the missing pig.

Following the bungled burglary attempt at my house I decided to pay Mrs Sensible a surprised visit. She is spending the summer with her family in Sicily whilst I languish at home surviving on Corn Flakes and Wine.  

I filled my trusty Mini up with Petrol, waved goodbye to my scabby cats and set off on a 1500 Km drive in search of Mrs S and some decent food. To say she was surprised to see me is an understatement (note to self, do this more often).

  

Scabby cat waving goodbye (3 of Mishmash’s kittens)

 Earlier today Davide (the local carabinieri) who is built like Arnold Schwarzenegger came running down the driveway shouting ” Nuccio, Nuccio Where is Nuccio?

Mrs Sensible told him her father was out. Davide threw his hands in the air and lamented, my pig is missing.

 

Christmas dinner on four trotters


Davide keeps a herd of sheep, 2 horses and a little black pig in a field behind Nuccios land. Well, he used to have a little black pig.
Pigs are rather quite intelligent and this little black pig realised it had been invited to Davide’s Christmas lunch and made a break for freedom. 

Just before midday, a slightly stressed Davide reappeared with a friend of his. He told us the pig had managed to dig around and under the gate and finally pushed the gate open. They had spotted the pig down by the river but failed to catch it.

The local Carabinieri are trying to track the pig, so the little black pig will be safe for a while.

 

The carabinieri said the pig is definitely black

 
So if you are in Sicily and you hear a squeeeel or see a little black pig wandering around, can you please ask the pig to go home or send me a message. 

The Boys in Blue Arrive.

The Boys in Blue Arrive.

On Monday morning my internet connection with Tooway died, the modem just decided to stop working, none of the little blue lights were blinking. I think it has decided to go on holiday just like the rest of Italy, after all it is August and as we all know Italy closes for August.

I locked the house and left Killer in charge, with strict instructions not to let the big dog next door into the garden and to keep strangers away. I told Killer I would only be gone for an hour while I went to office no 2 in Fubine and send a message asking Tooway to send me a replacement modem . You may remember, I spent nearly 12 month drinking copious quantities of coffee while I used the cafes internet connection.

Killer was left in charge of security

Killer was left in charge of security

When I returned Mishmash my stupid cat was sat in the lounge making herself comfy on the settee, for a moment I was a little puzzled. I didn’t remember leaving a set of keys with Mishmash and besides I knew Killer wouldn’t have let Mishmash in the house.

Mishmash

Mishmash with one of her kittens

And then the smell struck me!! I knew I recognised the smell, but I couldn’t quite place it, a very acrid smell. My first reaction was to make sure I hadn’t left the gas on, but who needs gas when you are surviving on Corn Flakes and wine? The smell was drifting down the staircase and then I realised what the smell was, it was the smell when someone cuts metal with a grinder.

I ran up the stairs, very slowly and cautiously. In my haste to confront the burglars I had forgotten to pick up my baseball bat that is in the dinning-room or even Mrs Sensible’s wooden spoon that was still hanging in the kitchen. Bravely I shouted “release the hounds” and shouted BARK BARK BARK WOOF WOOF in a feeble attempt to scare off any intruders that were still in the house.

My Office

My Office They left footprints in the dust

The nasty horrible robbers, (I haven’t used any swear words because Mrs Sensible wouldn’t approve) had left a mess in my office, they had used a grinder to break into my wall safe. Which was a bit stupid really because the key was on the shelf and the only thing in the wall safe were some out of date credit cards and my passport.

The jewellery, that had been in my family for  the past 14 years, the items I had intended to hand down to my son, were carefully hidden in my bedside cabinet. I rushed through and saw that my bedroom had been ransacked, Yes they had stolen my gold plated cuff-links, our wedding rings, my broken watch and a gold chain. (Sorry son).

On our little lane are three houses, one is used as a weekend retreat and the other is owned by Miss Marples (Dottoressa Paula) so I walked down to her house and asked her if she could call the police for me.

The boys in Blue arrive

The boys in Blue arrived

In my wonderful Italian, I explain in great detail that I hadn’t touched anything, To preserve any evidence I hadn’t entered the crime scene. I was therefore a little astonished when the two Carabinieri, walked straight over to the safe and completely destroyed the footprints that had been left in the grinder dust by the villains. Hercule Poirot would be furious.

Look Hastings, the carabinierie don't wear gloves

Look Hastings, the carabinierie are destroying the evidence

While we were in the bedroom, Mrs Marples made an amazing discovery. She said the villains had entered through my bedroom window, she showed me the broken mosquito netting and the scrapes on the outside wall where they had climbed up the wall.  I looked at her in amazement, even the Carabinieri were suitably impressed, as the policeman reached to open the window, I implored him not to destroy the fingerprints on the window, he shrugged and said “they are Furbo they will have worn gloves” and with that he grasped the window handle and destroyed the fingerprints. I decided I needed to either fetch Mrs Sensible’s wooden spoon or fetch a glass of grappa.

Mrs Marples (AKA Doterressa Paula)

Mrs Marples (AKA Dottoressa Paula) Showing me her grandfathers sword, villains beware.

On the way to the police station we phoned Mrs Sensible and broke the news to her. Mrs S gave me a list of her jewelry which we added to the list. When Mrs Marples and I arrived at  the police station we made a complete statement. I told the policeman they were big men, I explained about the big footprints in the grey dust. Are they still there he asked excitedly. Unfortunately not, but there are lots of Carabinieri footprints.

There is some good news, I found Mrs Sensible’s gold chain that she was given on her 18th birthday and her broach. It was in a box that had  never been unpacked when we moved house.

Last but not least, Free to a good home, One cat trained to guard houses.

The Corn Flake and wine diet and the Expat blog of the month !!

On the 24th of July I devised a new diet plan, it was called the Corn Flakes and Wine Diet, over seven days I managed to lose nearly 3 kilos in weight. Everything was going wonderfully, until somebody who had read about my diet on Facebook, sent a message to Mrs Sensible and pointed out the Corn Flakes and Wine Diet didn’t appear to include any vegetables.

Corn Flakes and Wine Diet

Day one:  all you need is a nice bottle of wine and a box of Corn Flakes

Mrs Sensible is currently in Sicily, spending some quality time with her family, while I cook and fend for myself. I received  a quick phone call where Mrs S  pointed out I needed to add vegetables to my diet, or I would be in trouble.

This posed a significant problem. When I went shopping I bought only the essentials that I thought I would need, the shopping list included sausages and toilet roll but did not include vegetables.  So I hightailed it down to the local shop and bought some mushrooms and potatoes.

Sausages with vegatables

Day two: Sausages with vegetables

That following night I received another phone call from Mrs Sensible inquiring if I had included vegetables in my diet. I sent her the above photo and pointed out that not only had I included potatoes but I had also included mushrooms!!!!!

We then had a little debate to discuss if chips could be classified as vegetables and if they were healthy. I thought I was winning the argument debate until Mrs Sensible asked if I had eaten any fruit in the past couple of days.

FRUIT!!!

Fruit added to the diet

Day three: Fruit added to the diet

Under instruction from Mrs S I added an apple to my diet. Don’t worry, I didn’t go hungry because I snacked during the day on some Corn Flakes.

During the fourth day of surviving alone, I received an e mail from the nice people at the Expat-Blog web site, they said they had decided to make my little blog of madness their August blog of the month!!! They asked for a photo that reflected Italy and would I answer a few questions. I was genuinely surprised when they not only printed the photo I submitted, but also included my interview.

To celebrate I cooked a proper dinner,

Spaghetti, wine and the Godfather DVD

Spaghetti, wine and the Godfather DVD

This dish not only included tomatoes and mushrooms, there was also some prosciutto cotto and some salami chopped up and added, nicely washed down with a nice bottle of Marco Belleros wine which reminds me I need to tell you about Marco inviting me to help present his wine at the  London Tasting Seminar in May.

But back to the food, as I type this I have a chicken curry cooking on the hob, actually I checked it a minute ago and the juice has all boiled away, I have just added some more water from the kettle, but it looks a bit sad, so I might not upload a photo of it and I might be tempted to have Corn Flakes and wine tonight.

Just please don’t tell Mrs Sensible

Going To An Italian Wedding In Italy

One of our crazy C.O.S.I group attends an Italian wedding.

Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

Last week Francesco and I attended a friends wedding near Cassino, Italy in Frosinone. I’ve never been particularly fond of weddings, or at least I didn’t used to be, mostly because a lot of weddings involve bored guests who stare absently into the abyss throughout the short reception, praying for it to end so they can get wasted and take off their damn ties and high heels. I love weddings where the guests just go nuts, celebrate, and have a wonderful time by sloppily flailing themselves around a dance floor or giving embarrassing speeches about the brides history of contracting crabs or the grooms decade as a gigilo… You know, fun weddings. After all, weddings are about celebrating love, and two people fusing their lives together despite their sordid past or addiction to fruity tootsie rolls. It should be fun, right? Luckily for me weddings in the south of…

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A new novel by Veronica Di Grigoli – ‘The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife’

A new novel by Veronica Di Grigoli – ‘The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife’

A new novel from one of my favourite bloggers. A must read for all lovers of Italy and humour

The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife

Have you wondered exactly how I met Hubby and spent my first year in Sicily? I learned to iron white vests, I became a champion dodgem-car driver, I had a gigantic baby, and I even had my teapot torched by a gangster. This book is like the 100 funniest blog posts you haven’t read yet…

AN ENGLISH WOMAN TAKES ON PARENTHOOD, THE MAFIA AND A SICILIAN MOTHER-IN-LAW, ALL AT ONCE

Available on all Amazon websites worldwide, in paperback (and soon on Kindle too)

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

front cover

What happens when a London business consultant becomes a Sicilian housewife? 

Veronica has just dumped the world’s worst boyfriend and plans to become a career spinster. But when she flies to Sicily for a friend’s wedding, she accidentally falls in love with one of the groom’s three-hundred cousins.

She plucks up the courage to leave her family, friends, job, house, car and collection of seventies disco albums, and moves…

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A cautionary tale about waxing

During February Mrs Sensible was invited to go to a sauna in Liguria. I was not invited because it was an outing for her girlie school teacher friends. I protested about sex discrimination and Mrs S protested that the last time I visited a sauna I went Al naturali. It appears Italians wear swimming costumes in hot steamy saunas.

While Mrs S was deciding which swimsuit to wear, she also decided she required a bikini wax. When she suggested I help her, I pointed out my aversion to pain and suffering and declined to get involved in any way.

Laugh! I could have cried

It is sometimes quite difficult to refuse to help Mrs Sensible. In the past I have under protest, had to hang the washing, wash the car and even fold and put away my socks. So in February I found myself gritting my teeth and holding Mrs Sensible’s skin taut as she quickly applied and expertly  ripped away wax strips. Mrs S is made of stern stuff and she never flinched, it did however bring tears to my eyes.
So let’s now roll forward to yesterday. Mrs S announced we had been invited to the beach by her sister. She also told me she wanted a bikini wax and as the local beautician was fully booked I was once again drafted in as her waxing assistant. I took the opportunity to wander off to the bedroom and take a quick afternoon nap, in the hope the waxing was completed by the time I woke up.

I was rudely woken to the sound of Mrs S warming a waxing strip between her hands in the bedroom. This particular waxing strip didn’t look like the one we used last time, it looked more like something you might use to seal a puncture in a car tyre or maybe wrap around a leaking pipe.

Mrs Sensible’s waxing strips

As I held her skin taut Mrs S applied the waxing strip to her inner thigh. To make sure it was secure I gave it a little pat. It was at this point that I suddenly started to have doubts whether we would be able to remove it. Mrs S grabbed the corner of the waxing strip and gave it a tentative tug, it didn’t budge. So she gave it another pull and a small corner lifted off her skin. Grasping the corner and pulling she managed to slowly remove the strip, leaving all the wax and offending hair still well and truly stuck to her leg.
With a lot of tact I asked Mrs S where she had bought the waxing strip that was currently stuck firmly to three of my fingers and the little hairs on the back of my hand. I found it at the bottom of my make-up bag she told me, I think it might be out of date. As I stood, looked and pondered the problem of green wax stuck to Mrs Sensible’s leg, I realised I had seen less wax stuck around a Chianti bottle than was currently stuck to the top of Mrs S leg.

Less wax than on Mrs Sensible’s leg

Mrs S walked into the lounge (still with half a kilo of green wax stuck to her inner thigh) and sat down to phone her sister to tell her that we have a small crisis and might be a little delayed. When Mrs S put her phone down I suggested she should soak in a hot soapy bath and try to remove the wax. As she stood up she encountered another small problem, maybe even another small crisis. The wax had completely glued her thighs together.

There are times no matter how difficult it is, that it is important not to laugh at someone else’s misfortune no matter how funny it might seem, and I am alive today because I managed not to laugh or even grin as she waddled like a penguin in the general direction of the bathroom

Mrs S waddled to the bathroom

As we drove to her sisters, just a little later than we had planned. Mrs S turned to me and said “what are you thinking about” nothing I replied. You are she said I know you too well. Don’t for one minute think you are going to turn this into one of your blog posts.

As if!

What Makes Expats Grumpy?

In May I received a message from my contact page from a really nice lady called Rossi Thompson. She said she was writing an article for the Daily Telegraph on What makes Ex Pats Grumpy, she asked me if I would like to contribute..

Would I like to contribute!!!! I immediately reached for my muse (a glass of vino rosso).

An Englishman in Italy is in the news

An Englishman in Italy is in the news

As I sipped my glass of wine, I pondered what is it that makes me grumpy. I didn’t think not being able to find my flip flops would be earth shattering news, Nor would her readers be interested that being asked to cook the evening meal made me grumpy (I tried to get out of cooking by cremating everything, unfortunately Mrs Sensible soon cottoned on)

Chicken marinated in a light tomato sauce

Chicken marinated in a light tomato sauce.

With the deadline looming I asked Mrs S, what makes me grumpy. If you are married you will realise this is not a question you should ever ask your spouse. Out of the 487 items she listed before I suddenly switched off and went deaf I chose three items and if you want to read what they are please click this link.

I would like to thank Rossi for asking me to contribute and I would also like to thank the editor for not deleting my submission,.

Rossi Writes http://www.rossiwrites.com/

Rossi’s Facebook page

Telegraph Article

Furbizia

Furbizia. From furbo (“sly”) +‎ -izia (“-ness”) cunning, cleverness, sly, cheat. A barman who can give the wrong change and convince you that €20 minus €6 = €4

This Englishman loves living in Italy, but if Mrs Sensible had her way, we would be on a Ryanair British Airways plane back to the UK. I try not to complain too loudly about Italy, because I am afraid Mrs S will drag me kicking and screaming back home to England.

So why do I dare complain about Italian Furbi? Because over the past couple of weeks the C.O.S.I group have been swapping E-mails about a certain Florence apartment company who asked one of the C.O.S.I bloggers to promote their business and then welched on the deal. Not only didn’t they pay the fees, but they made the mistake of contacting another member of the C.O.S.I group to help promote their business!!!!

COSI Group

So why are Italians Furbi? I would like to blame the Italian taxation system which is pazzo.  Many Italian citizens, find ingenious ways to avoid paying their taxes. As more citizens avoid paying the taxes the higher the state raises the level of  tax. I am not condoning non payment of taxes, (I pay mine because if I didn’t Mrs Sensible would beat me with her wet wooden spoon) but when you look at the way the state uses our taxes and the huge salaries of Italian members of parliament or directors of state owned business, you kind of understand why some people try to avoid paying them.

Honest! You can trust me.

Honest! We don’t earn much.

Unfortunately no one is safe from the Furbi.

Gambrinus in Pisa managed to cheat Mrs S and I, when I took her on a romantic trip to Pisa, well it would have been romantic if I had listened to her advice and booked a hotel before we left home, instead we drove around the ring road for 2 & 1/2 hours looking for a place to stay.

After we found a grotty little B&B we walked hand in hand in pitch darkness to admire the leaning tower of Pisa, on the way back to our B&B we called into a bar to buy a bottle of water. With my much improved Italian I announced “I need bottle of water” the barman handed over a bottle and I turned to Mrs S and said “that has just cost me €4.00”, as I counted my change Mrs S realised the till receipt was illegal. As she started to explode with anger, I pushed her out the door to discuss the little problem on the street. Walking back to the B&B, this time not hand in hand Mrs S took out her mobile and phoned the finance police, which started a hilarious chain of events. (Chapter 27 of my book that I promise will be out this summer)

Mrs Sensible and Pecora Nera

Nearer home one of our local bars mistook me for a tourist after noticing I was wearing flip-flops with jeans and hearing my outrageous Italian accent.  Me a tourist, I have been here 7 years!!!!! The barman decided to take this golden opportunity to short change, even I was almost convinced that a brioche and cappuccino should cost €6.00 (normally €2.20 and the change from a €20.00 note should be €4.00 As I used my fingers and toes to work out how much change I was entitled to, the manager came over and asked me why I was still counting my pennies. Needless to say I don’t use the bar in the Cittadella Casale Monferato anymore.

Pecora Nera

Some Italian businesses try not to issue receipts, in this way the transaction does not appear in their accounts, and they pay less tax. Under Mrs S instruction I requested a receipt from the local garage, who promptly wrote €100 on a grubby post it note!! I refused to go back a second time even with the threats of Mrs Sensible ringing in my ears. Is there a moral to this story?

Yes, I think there is; if the statesmen of Italy acted in a responsible way and treat their citizens as adults instead of naughty children, the citizens might behave as adults.

berlusconi-eyyy_1489087c

Berlesconi in office for 9 years

The problem is Furbizia is as ingrained in the Italian culture, as fishing is in England and it is almost a national past time and will take a generations if ever to change the behaviour.

This post is part of the latest topic of our little blogger group, COSItaly, on how to be a good tourist/cool summer tips. Check out facebook page

Can I have a comb over please?

Can I have a comb over please?

Don’t you just love having your hair cut, and choosing which style to opt for? As I creep into middle age the number of styles I can choose from are slowly dwindling. Up until I was fourteen my dad tackled the problem of cutting my hair with a shaver he had brought back from Hong Kong. I was sixteen before I realised I could go to the barbers and he wouldn’t be offended, well not too offended.

I also remember waking up one morning with a  dreadful hangover and a full blown Michael Jackson Afro after I foolishly invited a hairstylist to attend one of my parties. The memories of Christmas 1981 when I was forced to attended several Christmas and New Year parties with the Afro has scarred me for life. My dad suggested I blow dry my hair flat, or he could cut it all off with his shaver. I tried the blow dry technique as I didn’t think the bald look would suit me.  If Joy is out there, I have forgiven you.

I woke up looking like this

I woke up looking like this

In search of a decent hairstylist I spotted the following  sign as I was driving through Cuccaro,  Earlier that morning Mrs Sensible had pointed out that with my flip flops and my hair I could almost pass for a mountain man. I wondered what Mrs S would say if I came home looking like the man in the poster.

Beard

Beard and Boris Johnson hair

My hair was long enough for the hairstyle but I might need a year or two to perfect the beard. I went in search of the X-Men in Fubine and pondered which style I could get away with, without sending Mrs S in search of her wet wooden spoon.

Should I maybe choose the mid-life comb over?

The middle aged comb over

I just love that tie and comb-over

Or maybe the mullet

The Mullet

Earl and his Mullet

I was saved from asking for a either, because my Italian only stretched as far as tagliare mio capelli per favore. Please cut my hair.

And so they set to work, the lovely assistant washed and towel dried my hair and Gotta styled my hair. They did such a good job that Mrs Sensible has told me that I should continue to go there.

The coolest of hair stylists

The coolest of hair stylists

The coolest of hairstylists can be found at Via Pietro Longo 13, Fubina (AL) or at his Face Book Page

Tips for the intrepid tourist

The Cosi Group are a pretty impressive group of sensible bloggers. I am still amazed that they invited this Pecora Nera (black sheep) to join them.  Their recent posts on travel tips for tourists visiting Italy was awesome. Here are my travel tips for the intrepid traveler to Italy.

There is an art to packing a suitcase, you will need to find space for your swimsuit (unless you are visiting Cinque Terre where there is a nudist beach) your summer frock for when you are visiting the pizzeria and of course if you are visiting me you will need to pack 2 family packs of Walkers crisps, a jar of Branston Pickle and some books.

Only pack essential items

Only pack essential items

You have probably used a couple of weeks of your holiday entitlement and spent part of your savings to visit Italy, and there is plenty in Italy to see, so on the run up to your holiday get as much rest as possible so that when you start your holiday you will have plenty of energy to enjoy the excitement of flying with Sleazyjet EasyJet.

Mrs Smedhurst of Bridlington fainted with the excitement of flying with Easy Jet

Mrs Smedhurst of Bridlington fainted with the excitement of flying with Easy Jet (Don’t worry she woke up when my camera went CLICK)

I am often asked if I use the low cost airlines for my trips to and from the UK and what are the differences between them. On Saturday I flew to Gatwick with Sleazyjet Easyjet and returned from East Midlands with Crying Air Ryanair. The big difference between the two airlines is, one uses orange planes and the other uses blue ones.

When flying with one of the low budget airlines, you must remember you will be sat cheek to jowl with  others who can’t afford British Airways who enjoy flying budget airlines. Space is very limited and so make sure you make yourself as comfortable as you can.

Make yourself as comfortable as you can, even if it makes others barf.

Make yourself as comfortable as you can, even if it makes others barf. (sorry for the blurred photo but I was giggling at the time)

When you land you will be ushered into the nearest cattle bus to transport you from the plane to the airport, please remember personal hygiene is a must. I have never considered Old-spice or Brut cologne to be nice, however there are times it smells 100 times better than 60 people who have just flown in a cramped airplane and are now crammed into a bus waiting in 35° heat on the airport tarmac.

Help

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to capture the woman who was suffocating in her winter coat.

When you finally arrive in Italy, please remember to sample the traditional local food. Don’t go wandering around looking for a fish and chip shop, there isn’t one. I know this because I have spent the past seven years trying to find one. Last weekend when I visited England I had a perfect opportunity to sample the delights of traditional English food.

I spent the weekend eating enjoying traditional English food, KFC, Tandori Chicken and this fine Chicken curry and rice

I spent the weekend eating enjoying traditional English food. KFC, tandori chicken and this fine chicken curry and rice

You will have read that Italy is the fashion capital of the world. We take fashion very seriously, whenever I leave the house in my flip-flops Mrs Sensible goes crazy and demands that I either wear proper shoes, change my jeans for shorts or stay at home. According to Mrs S, flip flops are suitable footwear for the beach or if you are wearing shorts. Wearing jeans and flip flops is a no-no. Obviously you can completely ignore this advice. (I do)

And man-bags are worn by lots of men, so if you want to get in touch with your feminine side, now is your chance. Obviously you need to be careful or you might end up featuring on somebodies blog as this poor man has.

How not to wear a man bag

How not to wear a man bag

As we have already pointed out, you have spent your hard earned cash to come to Italy and you expect to have a good time. In England wine, beer and cider are normally associated with having a good time, please try to get to the hotel room before you start celebrating your holiday.

Burp

At least he was wearing shorts with his flip flops

In Italy we can normally spot an English tourist because they are as white as freshly fallen snow, which then goes to a nice rosy red. Some of you may have used the local sun beds and will be a nice orange colour.  We have wall to wall sunshine, please use lots of suntan lotion or you will burn.

The following is a good example of before and after effects of suntanning.

White bits

White bits

And finally feel free to wear the clothes you are most comfortable in, after all it is your holiday

Be yourself

Be yourself

This post is part of the latest topic of our little blogger group, COSItaly, on how to be a good tourist/cool summer tips. Check out facebook page

And finally the first COSI Video…. I was too shy to add my old wrinkled face.

A quiet Easter Sunday in the home of Mrs Sensible and Pecora Nera

RUTHIE: I’m bored; I have spent the entire Easter chasing a walnut around the floor.

Mishmash: you’re bored! It’s your fault that we are grounded and not allowed out. If you had stuck to chasing walnuts and purring like a nice pussy cat we would be outside, but oh no you have to go, pruur pruur pruurring and try to shag the rug.

Ruthie: It’s not my fault, it’s my hormones.  One minute I want to hump the rug and as the fog of love clears, I find Ginger is all over me like a bad rash.

Ginger: You can leave me out of this, I’m stuck in here and I’m not even a girlie and besides you have been playing the hussy, sauntering
around pruur pruur pruurring with your tail in the air for the past three days.

Ruthie: Have you checked all the doors and windows?

Ginger: Yes, I even tried to make a bolt for it when Pecora Nera was carrying some wood in, if I hadn’t been laughing at the way he yelped and nearly fell over, I would be free.

Mishmash: I have an idea.

Ginger: Not another!

Mishmash: Ruthie!!! Leave the rug alone and come over here!!

Ruthie: Pruur pruur pruur.

Ginger: So what’s the big idea?

Mishmash: One of us drops a squidgy one under the table and when they open the window we make a run for it.

Ginger: Im looking at a dead cat!

Ruthie: You will never get away with it. As soon as you start to squat, Mrs Sensible will have you by the scruff and fire you into the smelly tray. And Pecora Nera will probably spray you with his blasted water pistol just for the fun of it.

Mishmash: Hang on! I never said I would do the squidgy thing!!! I thought up the plan, one of you will have to do the squidgy.

Ginger: Count me out, I’ve just been.

Mishmash: Looks like it’s you then Ruthie.

Ruthie: Pruur pruur pruur

Mishmash: Oh for heaven’s sake! Ginger, go and distract Mrs S while I sneak into the kitchen and do the magic.

Ginger: And what about PN? You can’t trust Ruthie to help; she is humping the rug again. Ok on three. One two ….

Mishmash: Wait, I can’t just poop to order. Give me a minute.

Ginger: Now! Go! This is the big chance, Mrs S is on her phone and I can distract Pecora Nera.

Ruthie: Pruur pruur pruur.

A couple of minutes pass.

Ruthie: Phew, there’s a bit of a pong from the kitchen.

Mishmash: Oh you’re back in the land of the living. Had a fall out with the rug have we?

Pecora Nera: Your cat has just wandered into the kitchen.

Mrs Sensible: Ruuuutthhiiee vieniiii.

Mishmash: You are one daft cat.

A couple of minutes pass..
.

Mrs Sensible: Can you smell that?

Pecora Nera: Smell what?

Mrs Sensible: You can’t smell it? I can smell poo!!

Pecora Nera: One of the cats will have farted… Mishmash where are you?

Mrs Sensible: Go and check the kitchen.

Pecora Nera: Oh my Lord!

Mrs Sensible: It’s your cat that did that.

Pecora Nera: No way, it was Ruthie. YOU called her from the kitchen, remember!

Mrs Sensible: Just open the window, while I clean it up.

Mishmash: Ready, steady… go

Ginger: Wait for me; hey, where are you two going?

Mishmash: Shagfest, up the lane with the big hairy tomcat
I have heard he is a bit of an Italian Stallion.

Ruthie: Pruur pruur pruur.

Pecora Nera: It was definitely your cat.

Mra Sensible: it was Mishmash, only your cat drops squidgy ones. By the way, where are they?

The Glorious Twelfth

The Glorious Twelfth

The glorious twelfth is a term used usually to refer to the 12th of April, the start of the hunting season in Italy for the common mosquito (Bitius Leggius) and to a lesser extent the tiger mosquito (aggressive-bitius).

Mosquito

Mosquito Latin name Bitius Leggius

Experienced mosquito hunters will have a preferred weapon of choice; from the low tech ‘attempting to hit them with the flat of the hand’ to the high tech use of modified squash rackets which release a thousand volt current when applied to a poor unsuspecting mosquito.

Midnight hunt for mosquitoes

Here we have an advanced mosquito hunter using the racket, note the clever use of a netting to catch a mosquito Credit www.oshonews.com

Hunting is not restricted to woodlands and gardens. Many households incorporate a number of ingenious devices to trap mosquitoes inside the house so that the family can hunt the mosquitoes at their leisure. They may include netting over the windows and doors or netting over a bed.

Hunting mosquitoes can also take place at night. To an Italian the pure joy of waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of the whining noise of a mosquito trapped in a bedroom can only be equaled to Italy winning the Six Nations Rugby Championship, which to date they have failed to do.

Look lads, this time next year we will win.

Look lads, this time next year we will win.

To ensure that there are sufficient mosquitoes to last from the Glorious Twelfth through to the 3rd of November;  which is not only the end of the hunting season but also my birthday, farmers are encouraged to flood low lying fields to provide adequate water for the mosquitoes to breed. A by-product of flooding the fields during the summer is the production of rice for risotto, which the farmers sell to supplement their income. Vercelli in Piemonte is the centre of mosquito and rice production.

Mosquito farmer checking the mosquitos will be ready for the start of the season

Mosquito farmer checking the mosquitoes will be ready for the Glorious Twelfth : Credit Thestar.com.my

In America hunters wear high visibility clothing to identify themselves to other hunters. In Italy we are a little more fashion conscience, Italian hunters therefore identify themselves by spraying their bodies with liberal doses of noxious smelling sprays. The most common odour is citronella.

David with Sprayer

David with his industrial sprayer: Credit Mosquito Squad

The monferrato area of Italy is world renown for not only the quality of its mosquitoes but also their quantity and size.

Mrs Sensible and I will be running residential courses through 2015 on:-

Safety whilst Hunting

First aid for mosquito bites

Taxidermy, the lost art of mounting a mosquito head

Wine and grappa will be served as refreshments. For more information please use our contact form

Finally a picture of Pecora Nera ☺

Mrs Sensible and I are a little shy, we haven’t posted any pictures of ourselves, well apart from that nude selfie that caused a little bit of a stir a year or two ago. The link can be found here for those perverts that missed it. It has taken over a year for Mrs Sensible to forgive me for posting our nude selfie.

On Tuesday afternoons, I visit a local primary school and spend a couple of hours with some fabulous chilblains children, helping them with their English. My motivation for helping at the school is completely selfish, I go because I get paid in smiles, little letters and drawings.

So for you entertainment here are a couple of pictures drawn by the children.

Aren't I a handsome fellow

Aren’t I a handsome fellow

As you can see there is not an inch of fat on my muscular body, the artist even managed to capture my designed stubble.

Black and white

Black and white

This artist is trying to minimalist the drawing to capture my radiant smile.

Slim

His name is Pecora Nera, he has got short brown hair and maybe he over did it with the diet.

As you can see, I smile a lot. I am also tall, slim and incredibly handsome. That diet paid off

This girl is very clever

This little girl was given A+++ for her accurate description.

What more can I add? I am tall, thin and very very beautiful.

Here is the teacher

Here is Anna the teacher

Here is a picture of Anna who is their teacher, this picture was obviously drawn at 9.00 am on a Monday morning, just look how calm and in control she is.

Anna On Friday

Anna On Friday

This picture was drawn at 4.30 on a Friday afternoon, can you see the way the artist has captured her slightly manic grin. If you look closely, you can see under the grin the artist had drawn a un-smiley face and then thought it was safer to give Anna a smiley face.

No children were hurt in the making of this post.

The penalties of not learning the language

I am always trying to improve my Italian language skills, every day week year I manage to add a couple of new words to my vocabulary. This summer we are going to spend a couple of months in Sicily with “The Family” this is the highlight of my year. Glorious sun, sea and two months of living in a house where the language effortlessly swaps between Italian and Sicilian dialect.

I can normally manage to impress my in-laws with my grasp of the Italian language by smiling at the correct moment and tutting when everybody else tuts. I have also found, that a lot of questions can be answered by shrugging my shoulders and saying cosi cosi (so so).

Because my language skills are so bad, I can empathise with anybody who is trying to learn or use a foreign language. So please excuse me for posting the following picture that I spotted in the local shop. The young woman was looking for work and tried to add a bit of English to her advert.

Baby Sister

Young woman with references searches for work as Help in the house, Looking after old people or as a baby sister

I suggested to Mrs Sensible that we should help this young women as I really could do with a young and beautiful niece  baby sister. The look I got told me that Mrs S didn’t think her references were good enough.

How authentic an Italian are you?

How authentic an Italian are you?

I asked Mrs Sensible if I could pass for an Italian, not a chance she said, you don’t dress like an Italian, you don’t think like an Italian and even the Italian words you know, sound funny when you use them. To prove her wrong I have put together the following test.

Driving

I know I could pass for an Italian when it comes to driving and parking. Driving on the wrong side of the road comes completely natural to me. In fact I have even managed to drive around the roundabout the wrong way; I would have got away with the mistake had Mrs S not been in the car at the time and decided to have a screaming fit. She made me do a three-point turn on the roundabout and go the correct way. The roundabout mistake has faded from my memory, Mrs S on the other hand still has the occasional nightmare.

I can also abandon  park a car just as competently as any Italian, I no longer feel any guilt if I park a car on a zebra crossing, pavement or block some poor souls exit.

Pecora’s rating 10

Photo taken yesterday by yours truly

Photo taken yesterday by yours truly. As you can see I was parked on the other side of the pedestrian crossing, and you can see in my mirror a car park that is half empty

Fashion

Only an Italian can turn up to a business meeting wearing, a pair of jeans, sunglasses, and a jacket with a scarf wrapped around his neck and of course a man bag slung across his shoulder. The Germans and the English will wear business suits; however the Italian will always look smarter. I asked Mrs S how the Italians manage to look so smart in jeans. She said “the jeans they are wearing probably cost more than your suit, shirt, tie and shoes put together.” Boh!

I love my flip-flops, from April till October I keep a spare pair in the car, so that I can put them on after Mrs Sensible has checked that I am leaving the house suitable dressed, so I score very badly.

Pecora’s rating -5

This is not me on holiday  Credit: Baroquesicily.com

It’s a man bag so he must be Italian NB: This is not me on holiday Credit: Baroquesicily.com

Helping in the  home

I would like to get a -10 rating for helping in the home, unfortunately Mrs S is very English in this respect and I am expected to help out in the house. Italians however, are trained from an early age that mamma will fetch, clean and carry for them. When I pick up Mrs S from her school, I am always amazed to watch children run down the street while their mamma or nonna struggle behind, carrying heavy school bags and possibly even the bicycle they brought with them in case young Mario wanted to cycle home.

To put this in perspective, on a visit to Sicily I went into the kitchen to help Mrs S wash the dishes. All of a sudden a huge argument erupted in the lounge, I asked Mrs Sensible what all the fuss was about, with a smile on her face she said “I will tell you later, just keep drying the plates” I later found out that my brother in-laws were getting shouted at by their respective Sicilian wives, because they don’t do anything in their houses. Much to the delight of Mrs S

Wiki help file on how to get your husband to help around the house LINK

Pecora’s rating a dismal minus 10

Man-in-marigolds-with-mop

Cards

I have “grande culo*” when it comes to playing scopa, scopone  or even briscola*. I win, not because I am skilful but because I am lucky. Mrs Sensible is good at playing scopa, but to make sure we stay married and that I am allowed to sleep in the bed and not on the sofa, we rarely play against each other.

Marco, who is a cousin and a great scopone player, was having a game with friends.  When Mrs S and I arrived, he asked me if I wanted a game and if I knew how to play. I replied that I knew the rules but he might have to help me. Ok, I will partner with the Englishman and give him some help, he told his friends.

We wiped the floor with them, is was so funny. What Marco’s friends didn’t know was I had been taught by Sicilian experts and had played countless games with Marco.

* Grande culo literally translates to big arse, but it is used to describe somebody who is very lucky.

* If you go over to http://www.siciliangodmother.com you can buy a brilliant book all about Sicilian games of cards Link

Pecora’s rating 10+

scopa

Communicating

Ok, I am ashamed to say I rate poorly here, I have mastered the waving of the hands, I know enough Italian to buy wine and other alcoholic drinks and that is about it. I do know quite a few Italian swear words for when I am driving. Honestly it is not because I am pigro*, it is because the gene that controls language development was never turned on.

* pigro. Italian for lazy, I know this word because I have heard Mrs S use it.

Pecora’s rating -10

The great Marcel Marceau credit: Telegraph news

I communicate with mime The great Marcel Marceau credit: Telegraph news

Drinking

I thought I would score high here, but Italians don’t really drink much. They like their wine and a cool beer but in moderation* I on the other hand, love grappa, white wine, red wine, beer, limoncello, masala. In fact I like any drink that contains alcoholic, although I do draw the line at methylated spirits and rubbing alcohol . I also score low because I will drink a cappuccino after midday, which is a complete no no in Italy

* moderation. I had to google this word.

Pecora’s rating 6

schermata-10-2456940-alle-01.33.43

Grappa from pralapa.com

Queuing

Just before the winter, Mrs Sensible and I were stuck in a queue at the local supermarket. There were about eight shoppers in front of us. Fortunately I spotted a shop assistant getting ready to open the till next to ours, so I grabbed Mrs Sensible by the arm and dragged her over to the now open till. This is normal practice in Italy, you need to be fast on your feet and be able to make strategic use of your shopping trolley to inhibit other shoppers. There is none of this, excuse me I think they are opening a new till and you are before me…. oh no, we just run.

As we reached the till, I heard in perfect English “darling, they were behind us and now they are in front of us!!!” I was amazed, an English couple in our village during the winter!!! and just when I decide to behave like an Italian!! Mrs S was not impressed with me. I spent the next 10 minutes apologising to the English shoppers who were obviously lost and to Mrs S for my behaviour.

Pecora’s rating a cool 10+ (minus 8 for getting caught)

Italian shopping trolley

Italian shopping trolley

I hope this guide to living as a true Italian has been helpful to you, and I hope you score higher than I did.

 

* The brilliant photo of the hunk in the pink budgie smugglers and orange man bag was taken by Jann Huizenga from www.baroquesicily.com please visit the site for some excellent photos of Sicily

 

Thanks to the COSI group for suggesting the post title and if you go to the COSI page you can catch up on their posts or follow the links

So here are the rest of the posts from the alliance of expat in Italy bloggers:

    1. from our fabulous COSÌ group:

      from our new friends at Italy Blogger Roundtable:

A Catastrophic Error

Mrs Sensible has a Shakespearean dilemma – ‘To spit or not to spit?’

image

The nice lady at Secret Sicily invited me to write a guest post for her blog. If you want to read about when Mrs Sensible was a Miss and made a Catastrophic error please go to Secret Sicily

Special Offer Fish 48p a Kilo!!!

Special Offer Fish 48p a Kilo!!!

Last week Mrs Sensible and I were doing the weekly shop. We are very organised when it comes to shopping, I add all the necessary groceries for our well being, for example biscuits, chocolates and beer and Mrs Sensible adds mundane things like toilet rolls, food and at the same time removes some of the items I have added.

As we walked down the aisle (I tried to hide some biscuits under the toilet rolls) Mrs S asked me if I preferred meat or fish for dinner. Obviously I suggested meat, fish never seems appealing to me as they lay on the counter staring at me with glassy eyes. We bought some meat to keep me happy and then we headed to the dreaded fish counter.

Mrs Sensible spotted some fish on special offer it was priced at 66 cents a kilo or in real money £0.48 a kilo !!!!!!  To me it looked like a fish head and some scraps, Mrs S said it will be perfect for our manky cats. I relaxed a little and went back in search of more useful things like wine.

For the cats

For the cats

On Fridays Mrs Sensible and I both finish work at midday, I phoned Mrs S and asked her if I could prepare a quick lunch for us…..

Mrs S: Sure make a quick sauce and use the fish that is in the fridge, make it the way you make a tuna pasta but use the fish.

Me: Fish? Which Fish?

Mrs S: We bought it yesterday.

Me: The fish we bought for the manky cats?

Mrs S: See how much fish is on the bone, there will be enough for a pasta dish.

Me: (less than enthusiastically) uhhuh

Me: Do I take it off the bone before it goes in the sauce?

Mrs S Pecora! you need to steam the fish and then take it off the bone, look I am on the way home just chop some onions.

Me: Ok, chop onions, I can do that 🙂

I can chop onions

I can chop onions

So I chopped the onions and put the fish in the steamer. There is a knack to frying onions, the heat has to be just right or the onions go crispy and burn. If you check the photo you can see there are only a few black and crispy onions.

Only a few crispy ones 10%

Only a few crispy ones

Having managed 2 tasks I decided it was time to phone Mrs S and ask for further instructions.

Me: Hi honey, the garlic and onions are done the fish looks a nice white colour so I think it is ready, what next?

Hurburt the fish in the steamer

Huburt the fish in the steamer

Mrs S Fetch the radicchio from the fridge and chop it into little pieces, then quickly fry it with the onions.

Me: Radicchio?

Mrs S: (with only a noticeable sigh) it looks like red cabbage. Use a large one because I have invited Paula to lunch.

Me: You have invited Paula!!! I am cooking Fish Head Pasta and you invite friends!!!!

Mrs S: (slightly more noticeable sigh) PN I will be home soon….

It was at this point that I decided that Fish Head Pasta needed an additional ingredient. So I went off in search of a cork screw and a bottle of wine.

Red stuff chopped and wine within reach

Red stuff chopped and wine within reach

The wine relaxed me a little and I proceeded to chop the red cabbage radicchio and throw it in the pan. Just as I opened the lid of the steamer to check on Hubert the fish, Mrs S arrived and I was suddenly reduced from the rank of Head Chef all the way down to Minion.

I may be a minion, but I can cook fish head pasta

I may be a minion, but I can cook fish head pasta

Mrs S (all at the same time) de-boned the fish, boiled some pasta, added the fish to the onions (that I had cooked) and  found some plates to serve the meal on. meanwhile I set the table and drank another glass of wine.

capers

capers

Fish Head Pasta on a plate, what does it taste like? Delicious. We produced 3 meals for less than €2.50 The wine that I was slowly quaffing cost me €12.50 but it was worth every penny.

Fish Head Pasta

Fish Head Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Pecora Nera wooed Mrs Sensible or a Valentines Post ♥ ♥♥

Mrs Sensible is often asked why she married me, this normally happens when her friends notice I am wearing my beloved flip-flops, instead of some very expensive designed shoes. Today I will tell you how I met Mrs Sensible.

Nice but I l prefer my flip flops

Nice but I l prefer my flip flops

On Monday 17th February 2003 * I walked into Maso Italian Restaurant in Sheffield and guess who our waitress was, none other than the beautiful Mrs Sensible. I was dinning with friends from work and so I was on my best behavior.  The food was great, but I hardly noticed the grilled salmon with king prawns, followed by pana cotta or the glass of tobato that accompanied the meal, because I infatuated with our waitress.

So infatuated, that I returned the following day to the restaurant and ordered peppered steak with a side salad of greens, gelato for desert and of course a glass of tobato. The delightful Mrs Sensible was once again my waitress. As I dreamily gazed across the restaurant and watched Mrs Sensible clear a table or serve somebody else, I decided to ask her out on a date, maybe not tonight but definitely as soon as I had plucked up enough courage. … The following night was a complete disaster, the food as always was wonderful, the wine was great and the owner introduced me to the pleasure of Grappa, but  Mrs Sensible was nowhere to be seen, it was her day off .

Sorry Pecora Nera, Mrs Sensible is washing her hair.

Pecora Nera is devastated that Mrs S in not working

Over the following three weeks I managed to accomplish a number of things, 1) I had eaten every possible combination of dishes from the menu. 2) I had worked out the staff rota and booked a table only when I knew Mrs sensible was working. 3) I almost plucked up enough courage to ask her out.

Eventually I asked Mrs S out on a date, as I waited with bated breath for her reply, she told me it wasn’t possible as she needed to wash her hair.

Mrs Sensible at home washing her hair

Mrs Sensible at home washing her hair

Later that week I tried again and asked her to come for a meal with some friends of mine, she didn’t know that I had asked my friend to arrange the meal with the sole purpose of inviting Mrs S. The meal was great, the wine was fantastic and as I sat talking with my friends, Mrs S was sat at her house, once again washing her hair……   I knew this situation could not continue. Eating at Maso Restaurant 3 to 4 times a week was playing havoc with my bank balance and my waist line.

One evening Mrs S told me she was flying back to Sicily, nice I said, when are you going and more importantly when will you return? She told me she was leaving at the end of the month and she didn’t think she would return…….. I had less than thirty days to woo Mrs Sensible and the clock was ticking.

Pecora Nera had 30 days to woo Mrs Sensible

Pecora Nera had 27 days to woo Mrs Sensible

When Mrs S brought me my glass of grappa, I once again asked her to go out for a meal with me, I explained that she was leaving in less than 27 days and taking her for a meal was just my way of saying goodbye. Amazingly Mrs S agreed, she told me she missed pizza cooked in a wood fired oven, if I could find a pizzeria that has a wood fired oven she would eat there with me.

A proper pizza oven

A proper pizza oven

Over the next 24 hours I phoned every pizzeria in Sheffield and Rotherham. Everyone said, no we use gas / electric but our pizza is great. I widened my search to include Leeds, Chesterfield, Barnsley, York, Hull and Grimsby all to no avail. In desperation I drove to Maso and told Mario about my quest. He laughed and laughed and laughed some more.  As we shared a bottle of Ichnusa (one of the finest bottled beers) he explained that wood burning pizza ovens are illegal in the UK and Mrs Sensible knew!

I wore out many

Have you any idea, how many Pizzerias there are in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Linconshire, that don’t have wood burning ovens?

Appealing to Mrs Sensible’s better nature, I declared the quest null and void and told her she had cheated. Eventually with 25 days before she flew home, I managed to convinced Mrs S to have a meal with me at a fantastic traditional Italian restaurant. I explained that all the staff were Italian and although the ovens were gas-fired, the food was wonderful.

Finally after three months of wooing Mrs Sensible we were finally on our first date, as Mrs Sensible talked to the waiter in Italian, I ask my dad to pass the wine. I caught the tail end of the waiters conversation with Mrs S, it went something like this “ no no I am Spaniard, the owner is Spanish, we are all Spanish, the food is Italian but we are all Spaniards.

Did I forget to mention that Mrs Sensible brought a chaperon to the restaurant and I had to phone my dad to see if he would make up a foursome……

* Mrs Sensible told me the date.

This is a C.O.S.I post, each month the COSI group choose a subject to write about. Please follow the links and check out their marvelous posts.

If you want to join in the fun, use our hashtag #COSItaly

Mrs Sensible, Peggy Sue and Billy Brown

My singing has the ability to make Mrs Sensible weep; she becomes very emotional as I attempt to sing in tune, my spectacular warbling ability and the way I drift from one note to another has often left her in tears of anguish.

This morning I awoke to a glorious sunny day rainy overcast day, as I stepped into the shower, the hit song Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly just floated into my mind and I started to sing, not just sing but with amazing gusto.

Peggy Sue image Wiki

Peggy Sue  image Wiki

Meanwhile Mrs S was in the bathroom on the top floor probably crying into her face cloth and trying to drown out my singing. I don’t know if you remember Peggy Sue, but the lyrics go something like this.

♪, ♫ Peggy Sue Peggy Sue, Peggy Peggy Peggy Peggy Peggy Sue ♪, ♫

Oooh hooo Peggy, ♪, ♫ my Peggy Sue  ooo hoo hoo ooooo.♪, ♫

This above is repeated as many times as you like, however it is advisable to stop when Mrs S starts to brandish her wet wooden spoon.

Let’s quickly back track to ten years ago, when  Mrs Sensible took me to her church in Sicily. While I was finding a parking space for her car, she had found a space in the front pew with her friends, as she told them her news from England, I was left to find a place to sit by myself further back in the church. Part way through the service the congregation stood to sing a hymn, I naturally stood with them and as they started to sing I hummed along with them. It was at this point that a kind gentleman, who was stood behind me, passed me his Italian hymn book.

I have been known to empty churches with my singing

I have been known to empty churches with my singing

Now please try to picture the scene, I am completely tone-deaf and at that point in my life, my Italian language skills had reached the dizzying heights of Si, Non, Grazie and Ciao. But in for a penny in for a pound, I sang with Gusto. I felt completely uplifted and at one with the rest of the congregation.  It was only when three young girls who were sitting in the pew in front, turned around with looks of complete astonishment and amusement that I realised that I had completely murdered the hymn. However I gamely sang on, swapping to the English version of the hymn when I knew I had no chance at pronouncing the words in the Hymn book. It is a lucky thing that forgiveness plays a large part of the Christian faith.

I knew from the look of shock

I knew from the look of shock, that my singing needed a little improvement.

Back to this morning, as I drove Mrs S to work, once again the song Peggy Sue entered my mind and there is nothing more satisfying than driving down winding Italian country roads, singing your favourite song with the love of your life sat next to you, even if she does have her fingers in her ears.

Mrs Sensible told me, that while she was in the bathroom, my singing had reminded her of another song, but by the Beatles, alas she couldn’t remember how the song went.  I immediately burst into an impromptu melody of Beatles songs and even added a verse or two from Oh Billy Brown by Mika. None of this helped to stir Mrs Sensible’s memory.

After dropping Mrs Sensible at her school where she is teaching her chilblains English and how not to pick their noses while in her class,  I drove off to  my office situated at the Bar in Fubine, After I booted my laptop I quickly googled Peggy and Beatles, amazingly Paul Mc Cartney did a cover version of Peggy Sue. This surely must be the song Mrs S was thinking about. As I drink my cappuccino I can only wonder why my cover version of Peggy Sue didn’t jog her memory.

If you too can’t hold a tune, this link may help you

On the 13th of this month I will upload a valentines post, Entitled Mrs Sensible and the Pizza oven, this is part of the joint blogging posts with the C.O.S.I group and if I get time I will also upload the latest installment on the Telecom Italia fiasco.

Je Suis Charlie

Drawing one of these cartoons will get you killed.

Charlie

2

Jesus

cartoon0902

charlie-hebdo-shooting-tribute-illustrators-cartoonists-11

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

The little house of horrors

Please have a look at this blog….

Oh Woe

I received an e mail from my tenants to say they were moving out, so I hot footed it back to the UK to have a look at my little house, to say I gnashed my teeth and pulled my hair would be an understatement. I don’t want to embarrass Mr Jamie Kimpton and Miss Sarah Hudson so I will give them both an alias, so lets use the names Mucker 1 and Mucker 2

Jamie Kimpton Jamie yngzeb Kimpton sarah Hudson Sarah Kimpton The Muckers

As I walked through my little house, my emotions changed from sadness to anger and finally to utter disbelief. let me fast forward to my bedroom. Originally it was decorated in white and magnolia, and had some nice solid wood bedroom furniture.

Jamie Kimpton Sarah Hudson Jamie yngzeb kimpton Sarah Kimpton The wardrobe, taken from the video I made prior to them moving in.

Jamie Kimpton Sarah Hudson Jamie yngzeb kimpton Sarah Kimpton My boring but sensible wall.

Now I know not everybody likes magnolia paint and wooden furniture, but can…

View original post 178 more words

Don’t hold your breath but…………

Mrs Sensible is full of very sensible advice, this advice normally goes in my right ear and exits out my left ear and unfortunately doesn’t spend much time in the space in-between my ears.

In one ear and out the other

Mrs Sensible’s advice normally has a huge impact on my behavior

Occasionally I am reminded of her wonderful advice, times like when I entered the house with an armful of logs for the fire wearing my flip flops, skidded across the floor, slid just past the steps to the cellar and ended up in an untidy heap, I am sure I could hear her say “put some shoes on when it is wet, don’t go out in your flip flops. But today I followed her advice and managed to surprise even myself!   On Friday morning, I was enjoying a scalding hot shower and as the steam slowly but surely filled the room, I could hear a voice somewhere in-between my ears say “please open the window when you shower or we will have mould” I decided to open the window, not because of the mould but because I couldn’t see where the soap, the towel or even the old naked man, whose reflection normally makes me think of restarting my diet, so I opened the window and as the steam rushed outside who should I see but Mr Telecom Italia in his little red van, stopped just outside our gate. Dun dun duuunnn!

Little red van

Proof that we have a telephone.

His paperwork obviously said number 2 not number 13 as stamped on the side of our house; (the address issue is too complicated to relate here so go read this). Mr technical Telecom man was looking at his piece of paper and at the number on our house, which didn’t match. I was desperately trying to find a towel in my mini steam room and shout to Mrs S  to run outside and grab him before he drove away.

Number 13 unlucky for some everybody

Number 13 unlucky for some everybody

We have waited 3 months for the technician to arrive at our house and evaluate if we can have fast internet access. After establishing that our house existed, he asked if our telephone worked, we said yes “good good good” he said you will have your connection in 20 days.

The highs and lows of dealing with Telecom Italia

The highs and lows of dealing with Telecom Italia

Of course this is 20 Italian days which in reality will means another 2 to 3 months, if we are lucky.

A pole and a phone

Somewhere in Italy there is a boat minus it’s mast. I know this for a fact, because there is a boat’s mast stuck in my garden. I was going to get a shovel and dig the mast out, but knowing my luck the rest of the boat is probably still attached to the mast. Over the past three months I have thought of several uses for our yachts mast (did you notice it now belonged to a yacht) I thought it might be useful for drying towels or maybe Mr’s Sensible’s knickers. (I might edit that bit out later, it will depend, if I can hide her wet wooden spoon)

 

No these aren't our scabby cats nor are they Mrs Sensible's knickers

No these aren’t our scabby cats nor are they Mrs Sensible’s knickers

As you know, Telecom Italia are driving me nuts, we still don’t have any internet connection and to be honest, by the time Telecom Italia arrange for their technical man to test our line, I will probably be retired and sat in an old people’s home drinking grappa and causing lots and lots of trouble for the nurses.

If they are armed with wet wooden spoons and needles, I might behave

If they are armed with a wet wooden spoons and needles, I might behave

At the moment the only way I can connect to the internet, is to sit in a café, drink copious quantities of coffee (in the morning) or lots of wine (in the afternoon) and use the cafés  internet.  Being an Englishman, as soon as the waitress removes my empty cup, I feel obliged to order another coffee, especially as I am taking up a table and using their internet.

Last week, I tried to vary the boredom of drinking cups of cappuccino by started with a caffé macchiato, I then moved onto a café marocchino, washed that down with a caffé doppio  and just for good measure, I  finished of the morning with a rather nice caffè corretto ( I then Jitterbugged to the Turkish toilet with big wide starring eyes. I suppose it is no wonder they think their resident Englishman is a bit mad.

Pecora Nera colides with the waitress as he jitterbugs to the loo

Pecora Nera colides with the waitress as he jitterbugs to the loo

If I am at home and I want to use the internet, I create a hotspot on my little crappy Huawei phone, I place the phone on a chair in the garden, run back upstairs to my office and hope and pray it picks up a good enough signal so that I can quickly download my e mails.  This drives me almost as crazy as jitterbugging around the café.

Yesterday I had an eureka moment; I knew there was a reason I hadn’t chopped down my flagpole. I suddenly realised it would make a fabulous internet mast. One plastic bag and a bit of string later, my mobile phone was hoisted 5 metres into the air and miracles of miracles, I had 3G, well maybe 1.5G but it did work and I managed to upload this post.

Flag

I told Mrs Sensible not to turn my flag into a cushion.

So if you decided to contact me, please, please, please use my contact form and don’t phone me, it is a nightmare when the phone rings. I have to run downstairs, play the last call on the bugle and lower the flag and all this takes time.

PS If you work for Telecom Italia or you know somebody who works for them, please tell them Pecora Nera is one of their dissatisfied customers.

dissatisfied

How to find work in Italy or a warning to other foolhardy immigrants.

Whilst I was living in the UK I begged and pleaded suggested to Mrs Sensible that we should consider living in Italy. I explained my grand plan which included,  drinking copious quantities of Italian wine and sunbathing learning Italian and opening a bed and breakfast.

An Englishman

My dream was an Italian Bed and Breakfast.

We didn’t manage to open a bed and breakfast, unfortunately the bottom dropped out of the UK housing market whilst I was repainting the kitchen wall and it soon became apparent that after selling our house, we would receive about £5.00 and a burst balloon and Italians don’t accept burst balloons as down payments on houses.  Following this unfortunate news we didn’t scrap my fantastic grand plan our plans. First, Mrs S had found a teaching job in Italy and was living with some nuns in a nunnery and second; I am an optimist. I knew I would find a job. (If Mrs Sensible is reading this, she will now be gnashing her teeth and pulling her hair out)   So here is my Italian CV or how I found work in Italy.   Horticultural Executive One morning a market for flowers and hand-made objects was set up near our little house, Mrs S and I decided to have a little look. One of the stalls The English Cottage Garden was run by two women, their stall was selling typical plants found in a UK garden.  I managed to impress them with my horticultural knowledge by exclaiming, “That’s a nice white rose and my mum has one of those purple flowers in her garden.” I was instantly offered the position of Chief Hole Digger and Lawnmower Operative.

I became quite proficient at digging holes

I became quite proficient at digging holes

I worked 5 hours a day digging holes mowing the lawn and removing weeds from the garden. I understood weeds were anything green that didn’t have a flower at the top. One day Stephania decided we would prune the roses, Adriana and I were summoned to help. Stephania would spend 5 minutes looking at a branch and eventually she would clip a piece, this was then handed to Adriana who looked at it and then passed the piece of rose cutting to me, my job was to place it in the wheelbarrow.   Assistant Building Contractor Our landlord was a builder and one evening he was complaining that he had to replace a leaking water-pipe and his assistant was ill. Bravely and without a second thought I offered my services. Mrs S told him that I knew one end of a screwdriver from the other and I was duly appointed, Executive Sweeper Upper. I spent 3 weeks removing old concrete, mixing new concrete, carrying concrete and complaining to Mrs S that I may never ever be able to stand up straight again.

Builders Bum an English tradition

Builders Bum an English tradition

Landscape Gardener At another gardening market, I was stood watching a karate exhibition. As one poor guy was kicked and dropped to the floor I muttered, ouch! A man called Georgio who was stood next to me, said “you English?” Georgio and I then spent 10 minutes chatting to one another, Georgio using his poor English and me with my appalling Italian. We occasionally winced as the poor guys kicked and punch each other to death.

we are training our cats in Karate

we are training our cats in Karate

I asked Giorgio if he was considering joining the karate club, he told me he didn’t have the time, at the moment he had too much work on. I immediately offered my services, after all, I now knew how to drop rose cuttings into a wheel barrow. Amazingly I was offered the part time job of Exterior Carpet Fitter Temporary Garden Lawn Layer.

Company car

Following his course on turf laying, Pecora Nera no longer needed to wash Mrs Sensible’s car.

I discovered laying a garden lawn is very similar to laying a carpet in a house, the main difference in laying a lawn, is there are no door frames or fireplaces to cut around, plus if you make a mistake when you cut a piece of turf, you just cut a small piece to fill in the hole you made and stamp on it. Despite  helping Georgio lay several lawns and other gardening duties, we are still the best of friends and my knees have recovered.   English Teacher In my quest to live in Sicily, I applied for a job as an English teacher with the Berlitz Language School in Catania. I relocated to Zia Ester’s apartment in Sicily and left Mrs S in Piedmonte. Having used but not necessarily studied English, I easily passed the interview and was appointed Commercial and Business English Tutor. Berlitz told me they would e mail me some training literature and a start date. That was 5 years ago and I am still waiting for the training literature and my start date, so Berlitz please pull your finger out.

5 years

5 years and still waiting, but this is Italy so there is still some hope!

Private English Tutor Mrs Sensible told me that a local business man needed some English lessons and she had organised for me to meet the man in a local café. After plying him with lots of bottles of beer (I haven’t yet found an Italian that can drink an Englishman under the table) he offered me a job as an Industrial Pump Salesman. I know it is not the job I was after and I knew less about industrial pumps than I did about weeding gardens or teaching English. For three years I sold Industrial pumps for the man. Our friendship and my services ceased when he decided to alter how he paid me, basically my wages just didn’t arrive and if you read this you little git, send me my money or I will spill the beans about the English pub, the transsexual and a very drunk Italian.

She knew she was a he, I knew she was a he, the question is.. did my drunken friend know she was a he!!

She knew she was a he, I knew she was a he, the question is.. did my drunken Italian friend know she was a he!!

Private English Tutor I decided to advertise as a private English tutor and within a fortnight, I managed to secure a group of eleven friends who wanted to practise English conversation. I also found an engineer who was relocating to France (please don’t ask me why he wanted English and not French) and a local manager who needed English for work.   During a lesson with the eleven friends, I suggested we should have an English lesson based around something I love. They agreed so I organised a combined English lesson and wine tasting, it was so much fun we now open a bottle of wine at the start of every lesson.

The incredible Thursday Group.

The incredible Thursday Group at our English murder mystery night.

English Crisps Because Mrs Sensible was only on a yearly contract with the schools, she didn’t receive any salary during the long summer holidays and my teaching money was just not enough for us to survive on. So we decided to look for a smaller house to rent. A friend of ours offered us an apartment that was attached to his house. While we were explaining why we needed a smaller house, he suggested we could work together and find products we both could sell, we looked at importing crisps into Italy and contacting my old pump customers to see if we could supply them with a new range of pumps.   And that is how Tough Guy Europe was born, it is early days and the Italian bureaucracy is crazy but we have some good customers and another 2 pallets of pumps on the way. And in the immortally words of Del Boy said “this time next year we will be millionaires”   So here are a couple of thoughts for anyone who wants to find a job in Italy.

  • In my experience jobs are given to friends and family.
  • If you are here and looking for a job, tell everyone, even strangers that you need work.
  • I have registered with Manpower and four or five other agencies, in my opinion it was a waste of time.
  • Berlitz is a waste of time.
  • I have registered with online job agencies and I still receive their spam mail.
  • If you are not fluent in the language of your chosen country you will struggle.
  • Without the support of Mrs Sensible I would be starving or back living in the UK.

C.O:S:I are a group of friends from different parts of Italy, once a month we pick a subject to blog about, if you go to my C.O:S:I link and then read their blogs, they will no doubt have some useful information on how to find a job in Italy.

Toxic Plastic Legs Syndrome.

Toxic Plastic Legs Syndrome.

I have just found out our cuddly cats may be carriers of Toxic Plastic Legs Syndrome a link  to the disease is here. This dreadful disease is very common in cats and may be dangerous if transmitted to a pregnant woman!!! Fortunately neither Mrs Sensible nor I are pregnant, well I hope not anyway.

 

Toxic Plastic Leg Syndome

Toxic Plastic Leg Syndrome

Last night Mrs Sensible aided and impeded by yours truly, attempted to force the cats to eat a selection of tablets to cure Toxic Plastic Legs Syndrome, beri beri and the shits. The operation did not go well. As I tried to entice Mish Mash to eat his horse sized pills, I was amazed at how many legs a cat has, each tipped with a lot of sharp little claws, plus some pretty sharp teeth. In fact, I still have the scratch marks to prove how much the cats enjoyed the game and I will go to the hospital tomorrow for a little bit of first aid and a tetanus shot.

 

Mish Mash after I had tried to force feed him.

Mish Mash after I had tried to force feed him.

 

After I nearly lost the end of my index finger on my right hand, Mrs S shouted “I told you to crush the tablets and mix it with their food”

 

Boh!!

 

Our cats are now de-bugged, de-wormed and no longer suffer from diarrhea.  The cats are now ready for their next home. Which could be your home!!!!! Just complete the contact form and I will send you a cat via Fedex

 

Mr Hairy will be the first to go, because he is so handsome and cute, if he was an Italian man he would strut around wearing an Armani suit complete with a man bag and generally wow the women.

 

Mr Hairy

Mr Hairy the good looking cat.

Mrs S and I are still negotiating which cat/s we will keep here. Last week it was all five, that is until they managed to spread their number 2’s from one side of their room to the other. For an explanation of what a number 2 is go read this earlier post.

If Mr Hairy was a man, he would look like this

If Mr Hairy was a man, he would look like this

Ruth, formally called the Runt, will stay because although she is pretty ugly, she is the brightest and will cause us the least trouble and either Mish Mash, my choice because she is as mad as a hatter and chases anything that moves and has an amazing ability to climb up a trouser leg using only her claws. Mrs Sensible wants to keep  Ginger, because she likes him. Aren’t women sentimental.

 

The Runt

The Runt sometimes called Ruth or Butt-Ugly

We have found a woman, whose soul aim in life is to re house kittens and stray cats. She came here and inspected our cats, provided us with some valuable advice and cans of cat food, plus the miraculous horse tablets. She has officially been added to my Christmas card list.

Killer cats

We have been invaded by a pride of killer cats.

Killer Cats

Killer Cats

I spotted the pride of killer cats living under my garage. After the fun and games we had with Scooby Doo I made a vow never to have another manky, scabby cat living with us. Unfortunately Mrs Sensible also spotted the cats and I was ordered to catch one to take up the position of resident mouse and lizard catcher.

So armed with a bowl and some food I went of on the dangerous mission of cat catcher.

Danger!!! Cats in the wild

Danger!!! Cats in the wild

I successfully caught the stupid hairy cat, and took him to Mrs S who said he was nice but she really wanted the little ginger cat, so I went back to try and catch him or her (who knows if they are male or female).

How to catch a cat, a bowl of food and some thick gloves

How to catch a cat, a bowl of food and some thick gloves

We now had 2 cats, the big furry cat and a very, very timid ginger cat. Mrs Sensible’s timid cat sat in the corner shook, meowed and totally ignored the milk and sardines that Mrs S had prepared, the hairy cat, on the other hand was scoffing the lot.

 

Quick build breeze block house

Quick build apartments.

I thought Mrs S would be disappointed with her scabby ginger cat, so I went in search of a more lovable cat for her.

Feeding time with the monkeys

Feeding time in the tiger enclosure

When I went back to the garage the other cats were meowing and going nuts… So I took them all, I thought Mrs S could choose the cat she wanted and I would return the others.

48 hours later we still have all 5 cats. 4 of the cats have learnt how to go to the litter tray, scratch around and pee or do a number 2. My hairy cat has also learnt to go to the litter tray and scratch around, he them walks of the litter tray and pees on the floor, I guess it was to be expected.

Checking if the washing is finished

Checking if the washing is finished

So we now have 5 kittens.

Mr Hairy (my cat)

Ginger (Mrs Sensible’s cat)

And three cats that are free to a good or bad home

Houdini, Mish Mash and Runt

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

 

 

Press the button

Press the button

It is amazing just what you can order, with the press of a button over the internet; when I need some bacon I go on line and press the button, if I require some English books I just press the button.

Close your eyes and press that button

Close your eyes and press that button

In May I pressed the button and ordered 2 workaways from the USA to help paint my new house. They arrived on time and in good condition. Normally the first thing I do when I receive something over the internet, is I remove its protective packaging and check it for faults and damage. I particularly like stuff that arrives in bubble wrap, I can get around 10 minutes fun popping the bubbles.

Mrs Sensible said it was not necessary this time to remove the protective packaging and added that if I attempted to remove any part of their protective packaging, something might break. I think she was hinting that I might damage my fingers or even my neck. Although I couldn’t understand how this might happen,  I decided to take her advice.

Workaway 1 checking the protective packaging is still in place

Workaway 1 checking that the protective packaging of workaway 2 is still in place

Throughout June our workaways wandered around our house and packed our stuff into boxes, they helped keep the house nice and clean and seemed to function incredibly well. The only thing we had to do was feed them and give them a corner to sleep in. When we transferred to the new house, we reprogrammed the workaways to unbox our belongings and set about painting the house. The reprogramming was very easy, with my Tomtom satnav I need to hook it up to my laptop, but with the workaways they had a very simple verbal interface.

Workaways 1 & 2 safely locked up for the night complete with a bottle of wine in case they became thirsty during the night. (I am not sure why Mrs Sensible insisted on her looking after the key)

Workaways One and  Two safely locked up for the night complete with a bottle of wine in case they became thirsty. (I am not sure why Mrs Sensible insisted on her looking after the key)

The new house has a wine cellar, so one evening I took a drive to one of our local wine cantinas to buy some wine. I took the workaways with me to help carry the heavy boxes of wine. While we were there I let them taste a glass or two and the transformation was amazing. They really liked the wine, in fact when it was time to go they really didn’t want to leave.

Workaway 2 didn't want to leave

Workaway 2 didn’t want to leave

I don’t like reading the instructions that come with items I order over the internet and the manual wasn’t very clear. Instruction number 2 stated: Do not mix with alcohol.  Did it mean I shouldn’t drink alcohol when operating the workaways, or they shouldn’t drink the alcohol. I decided to ignore the warning; I couldn’t ask Mrs Sensible what she thought, because she had flown to Sicily to see her mother and left me in charge of our workaways.  Her instructions regarding what I could and could not do with the workaways was very simple, clear and specific, it also included what might happen if I disregarded any of her advice or attempted to remove the workaways protective packaging.

Two days later I decided to see if the workaways enjoyed burnt food, so I fired up the barbeque and burnt some chicken and some sausage. Workaway number 1 was despatched to the wine cellar to fetch some wine and workaway number 2 was ordered to begin the task of opening the wine.

Workaway one fetching a bottle of wine

Workaway one fetching a bottle of wine


Workaway 2 successfully opens the bottle of wine

Workaway 2 successfully opens the bottle of wine

What happened next was unbelievable, all the expensive programming just stopped working. They couldn’t follow simply instructions, when I suggested workaway 1 should go and mow the lawn she collapsed in giggles.

Workaway one just laughed when I asked her to mow the lawn

Workaway one just giggled when I asked her to mow the lawn

When I told workaway 2 to clear up the mess and start cleaning the kitchen she just laughed at me. It was a very disappointing evening.

Workaway 2 laughed when I told her to clean the kitchen

Workaway 2 laughed when I told her to clean the kitchen

Yesterday I returned the workaways to America with a strongly written complaint and I have suggested they should improve their user manual. I have ordered another workaway for September, hopefully its programming will not be affected by a little alcohol.

Thanks to Mrs Sensible for tolerating me and a very Special thanks to Jessica and Liz for being so much fun and working so hard and thanks to the guy who invented workaway red wine.

Mrs Sensible goes camping

Mrs Sensible goes camping

This is the first time that I have attempted to up load a post using my crappy phone. So if it all ends in tears, blame Huawei (the manufactures of my crappy phone) Why am I using my phone, instead of my trusty laptop? Because Mrs Sensible and I are in the wilds of Liguria in a tent!!

image

GLAMPING ITALIAN STYLE

Normally it is I who has brilliant, crazy, impulsive and impractical ideas  and Mrs Sensible is… well normally sensible. So I was surprised when she announced that we where going camping.
My first response was We don’t own a tent and we haven’t one of those fires that boy scouts cook their beans on. Mrs S said, It is all arranged we just need to take some bedding and a bed.
 

image

For the life of me, I really didn’t know how we were going to fit our bed in our little mini, especially as I needed room for my bucket and spade.

image

Sara, a friend of ours is lending us a blow up bed, exclaimed Mrs S.
And once again Mrs Sensible was correct. On the way to the seaside we stopped at Sara’s house and collected the bed that Mrs S had thoughtfully organised.

image

THE BED

What then followed, was a discussion on who got to sleep on the ‘single’ blow up bed and me pleading with Mrs S that it might be possible to fit our double bed in our Mini if we leave either my bucket and spade or her hairdryer.

image

The Hairdryer

Anna and Roberto were waiting for us at the campsite, with our tent and camping gear already erected next to their tent.  They very kindly treat us to a wonderful 3 or maybe 4 course fish supper and all thoughts of our sleeping predicament evaporated as I sank just one more glass of limoncello.

image

And who slept on the single blow up bed and who roughed it on the floor? I will tell you tomorrow when I upload pics of the camp toilets.
See you tomorrow, Love Pecora Nera and Mrs Sensible

Moving house, C.O.S.I and my apologies.

Seven days ago Mrs Sensible and I moved house, it was not the first time I have moved house, in fact I have moved house seven times, so you would think I would be organised and remember to write the contents on each box as I pack them. One would think that after seven moves I would remember to pack the kettle with its power cord and tie the screws for the wardrobe to one of the doors so that I could reassemble the wardrobe at the new house.

Where is the hairdryer

Where is my hairdryer?

 

Unfortunately our new house resembles an explosion at an Ikea warehouse. There are bits of wardrobe in one room and bits in another, the important screws are still missing. My office had to be quickly assembled in the garden so that I could earn some pennies. I even installed a light in case the moon didn’t come out.

 

office up and ready

office up and ready

And how is Mrs Sensible I hear you ask, well a tad stressed, her office kitchen cabinets currently share the floor in the dining room with the sofa and lots of boxes. The cooker won’t cook and the fridge won’t freeze. Mrs Sensible is creating some wonderful meals using a microwave, her ingenuity and some spoons that miraculously were packed in a box marked kitchen.

 

Mrs Sensible can cook all this with just her microwave

Mrs Sensible can cook all this with just her microwave

A week before we moved I received an invitation to join a group called C.O.S.I Crazy Observations by Stranieri in Italy. C.O.S.I  Someone who shall remain nameless put my name forward because he ‘sensibly’  realised he was too busy to participate in the group. I on the other hand have never been particularly sensible; as my long-suffering wife will tell you. On Friday I was supposed to upload a post regarding “trying to learn the Italian language”. Fridays’ dead line came and went; I think I was struggling up stairs with two suitcases of clothes at the time. Besides in the past seven years, I have never managed to learn more than a few Italian words, so I am probably not the best person to blog about this particular subject.

 

So here are my apologies.

To Cosi: sorry mates I will try harder next time.

To Mrs Sensible: sorry I lost the kettle lead, wardrobe screws, tooth-brush chargers, my underwear, your shoes, the washer hose and you are right I did only remember our wedding anniversary when I was at the supermarket checkout and that is why you only ended up with a scabby box of chocolates.

 

Links to the C.O.S.I group.

 

 

Mrs Sensible has left me :(

The first thing you are going to ask is “has she taken Scooby Doo the cat with her?” Well the answer is no, she has left the scabby white cat here with me and no doubt we will both starve. Did I drive her mad and force her to leave me? Has she finally said “basta!” (enough is enough!) . All I can tell you is she has flown to Sicily to marry somebody. Before I tell you what has happened, go and pour yourself a glass of wine and then bring your chair closer to the computer screen while I explain what has happened.

Mrs Sensible leaving into the Sunset

Mrs Sensible leaving into the Sunset

Mrs Sensible flew to Sicily on Friday afternoon; no sooner had Mrs Sensible left these golden shores when Scooby Doo and I quickly made an inventory of the bacon in the fridge and the number of cans of cat food in the cupboard.  I think I will starve first because I only have 3 packs of bacon left and Scooby Doo has 6 cans of cat food, plus he is not willing to share his food with me.

The cat was well prepared

The cat was well prepared

While I was looking in the kitchen for the emergency stash of chocolates and crisps, I found the following note pinned on the kitchen cupboard.

To Do,

Paint the new house.

Keep this house tidy.

Make your bed.

Water the plants.

Feed Scooby Doo

Do Not,

Have a party.

Mess with the washing machine.

Order more wine.

Eat all the crisps.

Annoy Scooby Doo.

I have already started dropping hints with friends that I am Home Alone and may starve to death over the weekend and to-date,

Pecora Nera & Scooby Doo

Pecora Nera & Scooby Doo

I have had no dinner or lunch invitations. Friday night I ended up eating a kebab in a Turkish takeaway in a little village called Fubina.  Mustapha who served me said “it good you here, I practice English with you, I want live near Manchester United; Italy hot but no good. England land of Milk and Honey” This might not be exactly what he said, I was only half listening to him while I was eating my kebab whilst wondering if the scabby white cat had worked out how to use the can opener.

 

If only Scooby Doo had opposing thumbs

If only Scooby Doo had opposing thumbs

 

Tonight I flipped a coin, ‘heads’ I cook bacon sandwiches or ‘tales’ I go to dinner with a lithe sweet young thing and enjoy a romantic evening for two. It was tales and I had a nice pint of beer, a chilli con carne and a fabulous pack of Brown Bag Crisp whilst staring into the eyes of my guest.

I stared into her green eyes

My dates eyes were like puddles, bicycle peddles.

So why has Mrs Sensible left me and flown to Sicily, top up your glass with some more wine and I will tell you. Mrs Sensible has gone to marry someone. Not as in to marry someone, (one black sheep is quite enough for Mrs Sensible) but as in marry two people together. It would appear there has been a new law in Italy, anyone who is deemed Sensible enough by the local council can officiate and marry people and so Mrs Sensible has flown to Sicily to officiate and marry two of our friends together.

She gets to wear one of those Italian banners over her shoulder

She got to wear one of these green white and red things

She got to wear one of these green white and red things

and ask the new couple the important questions such as:-

Do you take this man to be you lawful wedding husband, and promise to keep the fridge stocked with beer and his slippers and his pipe next to the fire?

And

Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife and always remember to open her car door for her and forgive her when she is short tempered and a growly monster for 1 week in every 4.

So it is Saturday night, I am home alone with only a bottle of wine and my wordpress friends to keep me company. Mrs Sensible will be back on Monday morning, which gives me plenty of time to straighten up the house and hide all the evidence of chocolate wrappers and empty wine bottles.

How is Scooby Doo the scabby white cat I hear you asking, well last time I looked he had given up with the can opener  and eaten Gilder’s the short legged but incredible fat dog’s dinner.

 

Mr Cretino’s Family Tree

Last year I introduced you to Mr Cretino; he was the wonderful character who exchanged my UK driving licence for an Italian one and it only took him 8 months!!! Not bad for Italy. I have forgiven and almost forgotten about him.

However, yesterday when I went into the local plumbers’ to buy a replacement part for the toilet in our new house, the horrors of the driving licence fiasco came flooding back and flooding is an appropriate word.

It would appear Mr Cretino has a son; we shall call him Mr Cretino Jr.

 

Englishmaninitaly.org

Mr Cretino’s Family Tree

I met him when I drove down to the local plumbing merchants to buy a new plastic widget for the flush of the toilet. The beginning of my troubles started when I turned on the water at the new house and created a minor tsunami in the upstairs bathroom. Nobody panicked when it happened, mainly because Mrs Sensible wasn’t there to watch the water cascade down the staircase and I was in the cellar turning on the water main and deciding how much wine I could store down there and would Mrs Sensible bother venture down the cold, dark, damp staircase to keep a tally of my wine stash the bottles of wine I planned on keeping solely for when guests arrive.

There was just a bit more water than this

There was just a bit more water than this

Anyway, after running around the house like a headless chicken, and mopping the bathroom and stairs I drove down to the Plumbing merchants to buy a replacement widget. Had I known the assistant was the son of Mr Cretino, I would have simply stuck an out of order sign on the bathroom door and told Mrs Sensible it was beyond repair and she would have to use the other bathroom.

 

Do not enter, minor flooding possible.

Do not enter, minor flooding possible.

So using my bestest Italian, it went something like this:

PN: Ciao

Mr C Jr: Yeah yeah, wait a moment.

PN: Ok no problem.

Mr C Jr: What do you want?

PN: OK, That broken, erh, not function good, change for new please.

Mr C Jr: What?

PN: Look, No stop water. This broken!!! Change for new, please.

Without this plastic widget, I would never have met the wonderful Mr Cretuno JR

Without this plastic widget, I would never have met the wonderful Mr Cretino JR

Mr Cretino Jr, picked up my little plastic widget and turned it around in his hands, he made a lot of sighing noises and said “Nope sorry, we don’t sell these”

I was devastated, Casale is a small town and this was the biggest plumbing merchants in the town. They had shelves and shelves of taps, tools, bits of plastic, kitchen sinks and to be honest I am sure they had one of my widgets or at the very least a set of seals for my widget. So I tried again.

PN: OK, This black, you have? I said as I pointed to one of the little black seals.

 

Please tell me you have these little black seals... Please

Please tell me you have these little black seals… Please

Mr C Jr: Nope, we don’t sell them either.

It was at this point that I realised whom I was dealing with. It wasn’t that he looked like Mr Cretino; for a start Mr Cretino was bald and this guy not only had a full head of hair, he also had a beard, maybe he got his looks from his mother.

Did Mr Cretino Jr get his looks from his mum?

Did Mr Cretino Jr get his looks from his mum?

While Mr Cretino Jr watched me reassemble my widget, I was suddenly struck by a great idea.

PN: (Holding the little plastic widget up in front of Mr Cretino Jr’s nose) You have similar, but a bit different?

Mr Cretino Jr: Of course we do!

He walked off down the corridor of shelves and returned with a shiny metal widget.

When he handed me the widget, I was wondering whether to give Mr Cretino Jnr a gift of my old plastic widget, maybe not in his hand but somewhere that would require a gifted surgeon to remove it.

Nurse stop  sniggering.

Nurse stop sniggering.

Sicily-v-England

Driving in Sicily

Driving in Sicily

No this is not a football match or an international game of marbles between Sicily and England, it a post I wrote for Veronica from  siciliangodmother.wordpress.com Veronica was the first person to follow my little blog of madness, so you can imagine how excited and humbled I was to be asked to write a post for her.

Please click here to read it.

Disclaimer: Mrs Sensible didn’t check the post, so it will be peppered with smelling  spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

 

Spectacular Failure #001

In an attempt to educate the taste buds of Italy, we booked a stall at the Conzano village fair. We packed 400 packs of crisps into my Mini, one large umbrella to protect us from the blazing Italian sun and five receipt books to help us to comply with the Italian bureaucracy.

My business partner and his daughter also had a full car; it contained one makeshift table and enough provisions to sustain us through the day. At five-thirty in the morning, I foolishly climbed out of bed, drank the tea that Mrs Sensible had made me while she ironed my shirt, had a bowl of soggy cornflakes and sleepwalked my way to my little mini. When I arrived at my partner’s house he was still enjoying a cup of tea and warm croissants for his breakfast.

Not only was it raining, but some fool was trying to drive down the road as we were driving up it.

Not only was it raining, but some fool was trying to drive down the road as we were driving up it.

In convoy we finally set out for Conzano. The promotional leaflet we had been given advertised clowns, angels, sunshine and dancing girls with snakes. Unfortunately when we arrived, we were greeted by white vans, rain, unhappy looking stall holders and big wet looking puddles; oh, did I mention the wind and the driving rain that was arriving horizontally?

The leaflet promised Dancing girls

The leaflet promised clowns, angels and dancing girls with snakes.

We convened a management meeting underneath a semi-waterproof gazebo to discuss how we were going to erect our sun-proof umbrella. There were many helpful suggestions, including one or two suggestions that can’t be published.

Brown Bag Crisps Management team.

Brown Bag Crisps Management team. This gazebo cost the owner 1,800 euros, but it didn’t look very high to me

At 7.30 am (I should mention that I ‘m normally still be in bed at this time) we decamped and ran through the rain to the nearest bar for a hot cappuccino and the chance to dry out.

A well deserved hot cappuccino after a mornings work

A well deserved hot cappuccino after a morning’s hard and demanding work.

When we returned to our rain battered umbrella, we had another short meeting with two other stall holders to discuss whether the weather would improve. While I was taking photos to record this farcical attempt at promoting our crisps, I saw arriving through the driving rain, or at least I am pretty positive that’s what I saw, an old man with a beard walking up the hill of Conzano carrying one hammer and several planks of wood; he was closely followed by two cats, two dogs, two ducks and two of every other kind of animal imaginable. Taking this as a sign, we decided to cut down our sun umbrella and head for home.

You can cut this picture out and colour it in on a rainy day.

You can cut this picture out and colour it in on a rainy day.

To see if we are coming to a sunny festival near you, check out or web site and our facebook page.

Pecora Nera, What have you done with my hairdryer?

Erh! Packed it.

Mrs Sensible: We don’t move house for another 3 months…

Uh Huh,

Mrs Sensible: Go and unpack it.

But!

Mrs Sensible: Do it.

Mrs Sensible's hairdryer rescued from the box

Mrs Sensible’s hairdryer rescued from the box

I have been absent, once again from bloggoland because I am in the midst of a packing frenzy, plus other distractions that I will come to in a minute. We currently live in a house that was renovated by a man who had a fetish for light switches. Honest I am not kidding, in our lounge there are 12 switches on the wall and only one light bulb in the ceiling.  Over the past four years we have worked out that we can operate the kitchen, lounge, bathroom, hallway and outside lights from the bank of switches in the lounge.

A bank of 5 switches, we also have a bank of 3 on the other side of the settee and a bank of 4 on the other wall

A bank of 5 switches, we also have a bank of 3 on the other side of the settee and a bank of 4 on the other wall

In the hallway I have 2 lights in the ceiling and another 11 switches, you may be asking yourself what all the fuss is about; well let me enlighten you. In Northern Italy it gets pretty cold in the winter and when I get out of bed to visit the bathroom it can take 5 minutes to work out which switch will operate the light I need, while I am dancing on the cold floor growling at the light switches, Mrs Sensible is telling me off for walking on cold tilled floors in bare feet and all I needed was a wee…. not some sensible advice.

I am also positive that Luigina (the nice lady who lives next door)  is well aware that I am about to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, not because she can hear me cursing the light switches, but because she can see the exterior lights flash on and off followed by the kitchen light the lounge light one of the bedroom lights and finally if I am lucky the hall light.

Someone, anyone please switch on the light

Someone, anyone please switch on the light!!

 

Over the past 4 years Mrs Sensible has managed to work out which switch where, operates which light; there is however, one switch that even Mrs Sensible doesn’t know the function of. I think it controls the light in Luigina’s bathroom, and every so often I give it a little flick, but so far I haven’t heard her scream.

So we are on the move to our new house, I am very excited and have packed my books, pictures, pots and pans. I have also unpacked pots and pans the occasional hairdryer and one or two other things that Mrs Sensible thought that she had lost.

On top of the grand move to our new house, I have started a new business with an Italian friend. I firmly believe that any person who wants to open a business should be passionate about his product. Mrs Sensible vetoed the idea of importing Bacon Butties, she also vetoed skimpy underwear which left me with crisps.

Maria our garage attendant

Maria Grazia Cucinotta from the great Italian film  il postino. I am told she wears skimpy underwear.

So here is a shameless plug for my new business.

Brown Bag Crisps

Brown Bag Crisps

Please come and have a look at us at

www.brownbagcrisps.it  and join us at our facebook page

PS. I think I had better go and unpack that Scabby White Cat.

 

 

 

How much is that pussy in the window,♫♪♫ I do hope that pussys for sale♫♪♫

Scabby Scooby Doo, the Machiavellian pussy cat that has taken residency in my garage has been found alive, hungry and well. This is good news for Mrs Sensible, me  and all cat lovers of the world.

Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo

Scobby Doo the sweet,  loveablehandsome, scabby white cat who has been missing since Friday morning, has been found in Luigina’s upstairs bedroom. Yesterday as we were walking towards Luigina’s house, Mrs Sensible said “did you hear that” No, what was it? “Shhh!” she demanded “I just heard Scooby Doo meowing” Without another word Mrs Sensible warbled SCOOOOOBBBBYYYYY DOOOOOOOOOOO WHERE ARE YOOOUUUUUU?

Honest I am not kidding, she really shouted it. We then  heard a faint Meow, and Mrs S pointed at Luigina’s upstairs window and said look he is there. While Mrs Sensible went running down to Luigina’s vegetable patch (Luigina spends her life down there digging holes) I went running in search of my camera to catch the wonderful rescue for posterity.

CAT

Peek a Boo

It seems that Scooby Doo had given up trying to enter my house and decided to enter Luigina’s house and in the fine tradition of Goldilocks And The Three Little Bears, he had fallen asleep in one of the bedrooms. Luigina had then closed the bedroom door and locked the cat in. At sometime over the past 5 days, Scooby Doo  tried to escape from the room by breaking the window, he then climbed through the hole in the glass and found himself stuck between the window pane and the shutter. Don’t ask me how a cat can break a pane of glass, I really don’t know.

I have to add here, that Luagina was very ill during the winter and is sleeping in one of the downstairs rooms, she is also a little deaf so she didn’t hear Scooby smashing the window or meowing to be let out.

Gilda fat dog to the rescue

Gilda fat dog to the rescue

While I was taunting photographing the cat from outside, Mrs Sensible, Luigina and Gilda the incredibly fat but short-legged dog all ran upstairs to rescue Scooby Doo. Mrs Sensible said “Scooby had behaved himself whilst he was incarcerated in Luigina’s house” She said “Apart from breaking the window and peeing in the corner of the room, he hasn’t left any little or big parcels for Luagina to clean up.”

The first steps of freedom for Scooby Doo

The first steps of freedom for Scooby Doo

Despite being locked up for 5 days without food or water, Scooby Doo was reluctant to leave the house, I could hear Mrs Sensible ordering the cat to “go, out, out,  scat cat” I took the photo on speed mode and it is still a little blurred, so you can imagine how fast he finally exited the house.

Fish Pond

Thirsty Cat

After leaving the house, Scooby ran over to my little home-made fish pond (If you want one of these little ponds for your garden please send me your orders. The first order will be supplied with 5 fish and a white cat) and drank 2 liters of water. He then celebrated his release from captivity with a little victory roll.

Freedom Roll

Freedom Roll

At the moment Scooby Doo won’t leave us alone. He is permanently stuck to either my left ankle of Mrs Sensible’s right ankle. Four times we have had to remove him from the car, when we needed to go out.

Fresh Salmon and tinned cat food

First meal for our little prisoner, fresh salmon and tinned cat food

So alls well that ends well.

PS. This cat is still free to a good home or even a bad home. Although Mrs Sensible says he is staying.

Mrs Sensible has Man Flu

Even woman get man flu

Even woman get man flu

Ok, she hasn’t got Man Flu, she had Man Flu, it was last Friday to be precise. So Mrs Sensible and I trotted off to the doctors  to see if there was a cure. While Mrs S went in to see the doctor, I sat in the waiting room listening to BBC Radio 4 on my new phone. I really should write a post about my new phone, I can listen to English radio, play games, count the calories I am not losing. The only thing it is not very good at, is holding a signal long enough for me to make a telephone call.

When Mrs S came out of the doctor’s office, she had in her hand a fist full of prescriptions. 64 Euros it cost for the assortment of  pills and potions she needed to get rid of the man flu. She also had a prescription for me.

“Er, Whats this for ?”

“It’s for the hospital, I have booked you a visit”

“Why?”

“To see a dietitian”

I tried to convince Mrs Sensible that I was suffering from just a little bit of puppy fat, or maybe excess winter fat that would go as soon as spring arrives. The problem is, Italians take their health and other people’s health really seriously. In Italy you don’t need to be ill to go to see a doctors, you can go and see him because… well because you think you might be ill in the future. An Italian doctors surgery is more like a community center, it is full of healthy people passing the time of day. The sick Italians are all at home in bed, they just send their husbands to the waiting room with a list of their symptoms.

Today, I went to the hospital to see my personal dietitian. Of course, you  now think I am grossly over weight, but I am not, I just need to eat a little less and run a bit more, instead of running a little less and eating a bit more.

So arriving at the hospital, I was greeted by the bingo machine, I asked a women which ticket I needed and after perusing the machine she shrugged her shoulders and said ” no lo so” So I pressed ‘G’ If any of you can understand Italian, please will you have a look at the following and give me a translation for my next visit.

Englishmen, immigrants and Pecora Nera

Englishmen, Immigrants and Pecora Nera

While I was waiting for G19 to be called I watched one woman approach the machine and after scanning the list of options, I guess she also didn’t understand the information, because she then walked over to the bingo machine on the left, found out it was identical and walked back to the first machine and took 2 tickets, option a and option b. In the past I was so undecided which ticket to take, I took one of each (see Hospital  Bingo)

2 machines, neither made any sense.

2 machines, neither made any sense.

Finally my number was called out

G19

G19, Look at the holes in the metal chairs!!!! I wonder if they leave circles on your bum?

And I then wandered over to the cubicle that was flashing the number G19

Payment time

Payment time

As I handed the woman my ticket (just to prove I hadn’t queue jumped) and my prescription, plus €50.00, yes we have to pay for treatment in Italy. She looked at me a bit strangely, I immediately knew what she was thinking, she was thinking, why does this slim good looking human specimen need to see a dietitian. In fact I had suggested the same thing to Mrs Sensible earlier today.

After stamping my ticket, she refused my money and told me to go and pay next door.

They don't accept debit cards, credit cards or even Tesco vouchers

They don’t accept debit cards, credit cards or even Tesco vouchers

The hospital has a bank in the corridor and all payments are made here, despite it being a bank, they don’t accept debit cards, credit cards or even Tesco vouchers.  They only accept real Italian Euros.

Following the signs for the dietitian, I found this wonderful sign.

Doctors

Psychology Dietitian and Competent Doctors

At least I was heading towards the competent doctors, I wonder where the incompetent doctors worked?

When I reached the dietitian Mrs Sensible was already there and waiting for me, she had already helped the doctor fill out my personal data. I was then interrogated as to my eating habits.

Dr. What do you eat for breakfast?

I don’t

Dr. You don’t??? Why not?

I don’t like breakfasts, I just have a cup of tea.

Dr. Ahh, this is going to be difficult, he is English. What do you eat at lunch time?

I don’t, if I am very hungry I will eat some breakfast cereals. I don’t tend to have time to eat during the day.

????????

Mrs Sensible then very helpfully told the doctor that I enjoy eating chocolates and biscuits, in fact she said I like to sit down in the evening with a glass of wine and a handful of biscuits. I didn’t take offence as this is perfectly normal behavior isn’t it?

Dr.  What do you drink?

Water, erh also a little wine.

Dr. How much do you drink?

mmm maybe 2 or 3 glasses, but not everyday.

Dr. You will have to drink only 1 glass a day.

Mrs S. When we have friends over, he sometimes drinks more than 3 and he likes grappa.

Dr. Well if you have a fiesta (party) then it is ok to drink more wine, but no grappa.

PN to Mrs S That’s ok then, we will have a fiesta more often.

So after I was weighed, measured and deloused a second appointment was booked when I will receive my diet sheet.

Weighed, measured and de loused

Weighed, measured and de-loused

I have had a couple of thoughts following the hospital visit.

1) If I am only allowed to drink one glass of wine a day, I need to buy bigger glasses.

2) If I am only allowed to enjoy a couple of glasses when friends visit, then I need to increase the number of my friends and invite them over more often.

3) I paid 46 Euros to be told I eat at the wrong time, eat the wrong foods and enjoy drinking too much wine oh and I need to exercise more. Mrs Sensible thinks it is money well spent because I will lose weight rather than be tutted at by the doctor at my next appointment. I think 46 euros would have been better spent on 8 bottles of Marco’s fine wine and a packet of biscuits.

I know this is my second post in a day, but I have been absent for a while. I have a couple more to post over the following couple of days, and a lot of blogs to go and read.

Missing. Scabby White Cat

Scooby Doo where are you?

Scooby Doo was last seen on Friday morning, when he exited the garage to eat his breakfast. Since then we have not heard him meow once. I know I have offered on more than one occasion to post Scooby Doo to a good home (or even a bad home) but we are missing him and his crazy antics. We have called him and searched the vineyards, but he is nowhere to be seen.

Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo

Mrs Sensible is convinced he is no longer with us, as in maybe he has gone to the cat heaven. Luigina, the nice old lady who lives next door, suggested he may have moved house again, she pointed out to me that “Scooby Doo used to live across the road, maybe he is now living further up the road”

I told Mrs Sensible that Luigina thinks Scooby is still alive, but just living with someone else. Mrs Sensible said “maybe he has moved back home” “What across the road with the  Hounds from the Baskervilles!! highly unlikely I said.

Nice cuddly friendly cat loving dogs

Nice cuddly friendly cat loving dogs. AKA Hounds from the Baskervilles

Mrs Sensible is going to go and ask the neighbors across the street, if they have abducted seen their cat. I am sure it will be an interesting conversation, because at some point she is going to have to tell them, that their cat has been living in our garage for  around 4 months.

Gilda, the short legged but incredibly fat dog was also questioned. We know she has a habit of eating anything that is left lying around. She is the only dog I know that can eat a yard of grass and not barf afterwards.

His belly is not touching the floor

The only reason her stomach is not touching the floor, is because she breathed in when she saw the camera.

So, on a more serious note. Have you seen the cat that lives across the road our cat.

Best e-mail received☺

E Mail

If there is one thing I like better than reading the comments on my little blog of madness, it is receiving an e-mail from someone who has read my blog and taken the time to trawl through my speling spelling mistakes and poor grammar.

Imagine my excitement when I opened and read the following E-Mail, from a lady asking for my advice and help. I was very excited because is not often I get asked to supply advice, normally I supply it whether it is wanted or not, especially after a couple of glasses of wine.

englishman in Italy

This red stuff helps to make me quite philosophical

I will call Antonella from London, Mrs X to preserve her identity.

On 13 January 2014 17:07, Antonella wrote:

Name: Mrs X
Email: Removed
Comment: Dear Pecora Nera,

What a brave man you are…leaving Uk for Italy, which let’s face it it’s not always sunny and cheerful!

I’m facing a dilemma and I could really do with your advise! My beloved English husband of 8 years keeps on putting learning Italian off. I’m trying my hardest not to take it personally, and while he can mumble the odd word and understand quite well, he says he really doesn’t like learning and he married me because of me and not because I’m Italian. That’s lovely, one’d say, but I can’t help getting frustrated ’cause a) everybody would love to learn Italian b) I’m tired of translating for him when we are in Italy..

My question to you is, do I give up and be happy with my amazing husband the way he is or do I keep on pushing ’till he gives in?  Somehow I sense that once we get to spend longer periods it’ll be easier for him to pick up the language…

I’m very sorry about my odd request, but I love your blog and I read that you too struggled with the language…

Warmest Regards,

Antonella

Dear Antonella,

Thank you for your lovely e mail, I am really glad you enjoy my little blog of madness. I have never done the “agony aunt” bit before, so I thought it would be useful to answer your E mail in 2 parts, I will give you my suggestions and then Mrs Sensible will give you hers.

Pecora Nera suggests.

You are fighting a lost cause. Love him lots, make him cups of tea, always make sure his favourite beer is in the fridge and his comfy slippers are next to the fire.

Always leave a space at the bottom for vegetables and butter

Always leave a space at the bottom for vegetables and butter

You might want to teach him the following key phrases,

1) Quanto Costa? (How much is it)

2) Dovè il bagno (Where is the bathroom)

2) Dovè è mia moglia (Where is my wife)

3) Non me piace seppia nera (I don’t like that gross squid cooked in black ink that looks ikky, so please stop making me eat it)

4) Mi piace il vino rosso, vino bianco, grappa etc. (I like red wine, white wine, grappa)

Other than the above, I find that if I speak slowly, a little louder and add a suitable vowel onto the end of an English word, the locals understand me. In the past 6 years my ability to mime has improved greatly. I am sure I could easily win any Christmas game of charades, with one hand tied behind my back.

John wasn't playing charades, he had just trapped his fingers in the piano

John wasn’t playing charades, he had just trapped his fingers in the piano

Mrs Sensible suggests.

I have found a wet wooden pasta spoon is a good way of motivating Pecora Nera.

Mrs Sensible's tools of motivation

Mrs Sensible’s tools of motivation

If your husband is like Pecora Nera and is either pigro (lazy) or  incapace, (incapable) simple stop translating for him. When I am fed up with translating, I just stop. Pecora will then stand next to me saying “what?, what?, tell me!, Sorry I missed that, what did he/she say?”

I can now hold a conversation with a friend and manage to blank out his voice. After a while it becomes easy, much easier than trying to force him to learn the language. I have tried to teach him Italian but he even forgets the Italian vowels. Pecora is like a mule, I cannot force him to learn, he picks up words and sentences because he has to.

Me, stubborn? I won't have it said.

Me, stubborn? I won’t have it said.

Obviously he quickly learnt how to order wine, grappa and corretto.

Make sure there is more grappa than espresso.

Corretto:  There should always be more grappa than espresso.

As a last resort, tell your husband he can’t come to Italy next summer unless he takes the language seriously.

Best regards

Mrs Sensible

I hope Mrs X found our advice useful and remember.

A person who can speak 3 languages is multi lingual

A Person who can speak two languages is bi lingual

A finally, someone who can only speak one language is an Englishman.

 

PS. I have had so much fun with this post, I have decided to become an agony aunt. So if you have any questions relating to living in Italy. Just send them via my contact form. 😉

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Marisa and Giorgio live a couple of villages away. They own the flower shop that I visit when I am in trouble with Mrs Sensible. I am therefore quiet a regular customer.

Here is a small collection of orchids I have bought to try to get back into Mrs Sensible’s good books.

They are not dead, they are due to flower and please don't suggest they need more water.

They are not dead, they are due to flower and please don’t suggest they need more water, or you will set Mrs Sensible off again.

I am such a regular visitor to their flower shop that we often get invited to their home to dine on pizza and grappa.

Marisa outside her flower shop. Courtesy Google maps.

Marisa outside her flower shop. Courtesy Google maps.

During the summer of 2011 I was once again in trouble, so I went to Marisa’s shop to buy another orchid or a bunch of flowers, when I suddenly fell in love with a beautiful Christmas tree. So I bought it; it just seemed like a good idea at the time. Marisa asked me how I was going to get it home, I was a little stumped, my basic Italian vocabulary does not extend to lengthy conversations, I usually get by with, va bene ( ok) mi piace ( I like it) and non lo so ( I don’t know). So I opted for non lo so.

Giorgio, who is a bit of a hero, offered to deliver the tree for me, he asked me when I needed it delivering. I pondered this for a moment, I was already in trouble for something and I didn’t think adding a Christmas tree to the house was going to help marital bliss, so I said non lo so.

Marisa said “due settimane?” (2 weeks?) This seemed perfectly acceptable, because Christmas was at least 5 months away, so there wasn’t any rush. In fact the longer they kept it; the more time I had to dream up a plausible excuse for buying a Christmas tree in the summer.

Two weeks later, Giorgio and Marisa arrived with my Christmas tree. I had completely forgotten all about the imminent arrival of yet more troubles. In fact I had forgotten to work on Mrs Sensible; I had forgotten my carefully laid out plan on how to convince Mrs Sensible that buying a Christmas tree in the summer, made perfect sense.

Christmas 2012, the tree sat outside in the snow, festooned with lights. Scooby Doo was still living with the big dogs across the road. Had he decided to move in during 2012 he could have spent his Christmas sheltering under the tree from the snow.

Finding out how large a box i will need to post Scooby Doo to a willing Blogging friend

Finding out how large a box I will need to post Scooby Doo to a willing Blogging friend

This year I decided to bring the tree inside the house and hang little baubles and lights on it. It seemed like a good idea at the time. After carrying the tree up 17 steps, I had already regretted buying the heavy and prickly thing. Manoeuvring it through the front door I had to use one foot to keep the cat outside and the other foot to close the door.

The tree looked wonderful, it didn’t shed many pine leaves, mainly because it was still alive and carrying it up stairs I can testify that it was sat in at least 40 kilos of Piermonte clay.

A little Christmas tree
A little Christmas tree

Today Christmas is officially over. Befana has been and gone and I stripped the tree of all its pretty lights and baubles. Like the rest of us, the Christmas tree has put on some extra weight and it looks a little bigger.

It just fitted through the door.

It just fitted through the door.

I dragged it down the corridor and before attempting the 17 stairs I paused to get my breath. As I then started down the stairs, the plastic plate that the tree stood on, broke free and miraculously slid under my right foot that was just trying to find purchase on step number 4. All hell broke loose, the tree, Pecora Nera (Me) and the plastic plate disappeared down the stairs faster than you could say ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time’

Stupid plastic plate

Stupid plastic plate

As the tree, me and the @#+??$% plastic plate collided through the front doors, Gilda who is not the best guard dog I have ever come across, decided to attack the strange howling and swearing mess of tree and the creature that was tangled up in it.

Ask Gilda to attack an intruder and she will retire to her food bowl. Fall down the stairs with  a Christmas tree and all of a sudden it is an attack dog.

Ask Gilda to attack an intruder and she will retire to her food bowl. Fall down the stairs with a Christmas tree and all of a sudden it is a ferocious attack dog.

Next year when we start blogging about Christmas and decorating our houses, please please please remind me that it is not such a good idea to use real live still growing trees that weigh 50 kilos as an ornamental Christmas Tree.

New Year’s Resolution.

1)      To act more like a grown up

2)      Not to follow my own advice

3)      Not to use any more real and potentially life threatening trees at Christmas

Interviewed at Sue’s

Sue organised a special couch for Scooby Doo and Me

Sue organised a special couch for Scooby Doo and Me

 

Sue Jones invited Scooby Doo and me to visit her blog to answer a few questions. I immediately thought the scabby white cat had been telling tales again, but Sue just wanted to find out why I started blogging and if Mrs Sensible minds doing the cooking while I chat to fellow bloggers.

Sue’s interview can be found here BIG LINK pop over and say hello to her and maybe help remove the white cat hairs from her couch.

In case you have forgot what the daft cat looks like here he is.

Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo eating an egg yolk.

 

 

On the Twelfth day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me ♫♫♪

Christmas is a coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in Pecora Neras hat.

Christmas is a coming, the geese are getting fat. Please put a penny in Pecora Nera’s hat.

On the twelfth day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Twelve blogging buddies ♫♫♪

12 bloggers a blogging ♫♫♪ I couldn't narrow it down to 12

49 bloggers a blogging ♫♫♪ I couldn’t narrow it down to just 12

On the eleventh day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Eleven hospital visits ♫♫♪

11 Hospital visits

11 Mrs Sensible and the fantastic bra shuffle

On the tenth day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Ten driving licences ♫♫♪

I should have asked Mrs Sensible in the first place, it would have saved a lot of time with Mr Cretino

I should have asked Mrs Sensible, not Mr Cretino to organise my Italian driving licence

On the ninth day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Nine wines for drinking ♫♫♪

Merry Christmas to every one

Wine by Marco Bellero, who is a bit of a hero of mine link

On the eighth day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Eight killer snakes ♫♫♪

8 scary snakes

Scary snakes, Gilda, Luigina and our guestaway

On the seventh day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Seven summer skiers a skiing ♫♫♪

7 Summer skiers a sking

7  Summer skiers a skiing

On the sixth day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Six golden geese ♫♫♪

6 geese a laying, ish

OK 5 golden geese and a big brown one.

On the fifth day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Five pink elephants ♫♫♪

5 Pink Elephants

5 Pink Elephants

On the fourth day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Four Gatwick police ♫♫♪

Hello hello hello, what's all this then, Mrs Sensible's mum with a big pen knife?

Hello hello hello, what’s all this then, Mrs Sensible’s mum with a big pen knife?

On the third day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Three scary trees ♫♫♪

I hasten to add, Italians aren't scared of trees. Only us poor Englishmen

I hasten to add, Italians aren’t scared of trees. Only us poor Englishmen

On the second day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ Two fat dogs ♫♫♪

Two fat dogs

Gosh am I seeing double?

On the first day of Christmas Mrs Sensible gave to me.

♫♫♪ A Scooby Doo in a fig tree ♫♫♪

This is the best picture I could take, Scooby Doo was not interested in being a model.

This is the best picture I could take, Scooby Doo was not interested in being a model.

Merry Christmas to my blogging buddies.