Château Lafeet 👣

Château Lafeet 👣

Today started off much like any other Saturday morning at Casa Pecora Nera.

I was gently snoring as Mrs Sensible deposited a mug of English tea next to our bed and said get up.

Englishman In Italy

The two most important things in life, English tea and mosquito spray

Get out off bed.

Erh why, it’s Saturday?

Because YOU promised to help Tracey with her grape harvest.

While Mrs S went upstairs to have a bath, I naturally went back to sleep.

I was rudely awaken by the sound of those big bells they tie around the neck of goats, sheep and even cows.

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We don’t wear bells!

As I lay there listening to the sheep bells in the lane outside our house, I wondered whether to invite the shepherd and his sheep into our garden, because I think the last time the grass was cut was sometime in June.

Miss Jessica did a great job cutting the grass in June, even if I did distract her by accidentally spraying her with the hosepipe.

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Miss Jessica, a little wet but good fun

I was just about to get out of bed, when the sound of the bells was suddenly coming from our garden. Problem solved, no invite needed.

When I looked out of the window, I was amazed to see, not sheep and goats but three scabby dogs running around my garden, complete with bells around their necks. All the cats had mysteriously disappeared, even Mishmash.

Two of the dogs shared an amazing resemblance to Gilder, the incredibly fat but short legged dog.

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Gilda always had trouble running because her tummy scraped along the floor

I am sure you remember Gilder’s escapades with Scooby Doo the Machiavellian cat.

Quickly I ran outside and heard Dottoressa Paula telling the hunter off. It seems she was also annoyed that the hunter had no control over his dogs.

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My friend the amazing dottoresse Paula

Dottoressa Paula is famous for rallying the local policeman’s car in the vineyard.

While Dottoressa Paula remonstrated with the hunter and told him to unload his rifle while she was shouting at him.

Best picture of the hunter

I used some of my newly acquired italian to also shout at him.

Dott Paula: (In perfect Italian) If you can’t control your dogs, they should be on a leash!

Me: ( My version of Italian) My cat now on roof, you going him fetch?

Dott Paula: Unload your gun, while you are talking to me.

Me: Your dogs going my garden fetch now!!

Susie Stupid Pussy Cat waiting for the all clear.

Our little tag team went on for a good five minutes until the hunter decided to shuffle off down the lane, with five assorted dogs following him.

As he left us I asked.

Do you know word I’m sorry? Yes or No?

He stood there looking confused, maybe he was trying to understand my question or what the word sorry means.

After a quick espresso with the kind but formidable Dottoressa I went off to pick grapes at Tracey’s

Tracey runs a bed and breakfast near me, her website is http://laroccaitalia.com and each year I help her and her friends to pick the grapes and ultimately drink some of the wine.

So why have we named this years wine Château LaFeet?

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The lovely Alyssa and Des

Because it is traditional for the girls to tread the grapes before we send them off to be fermented into wonderful wine.

I raise a glass of Château LaFeet to all my friends in bloggo land.

Pecora Nera the Cereal Killer

Pecora Nera the Cereal Killer

I have to tell you I am crying into my glass of wine, I have just received two E mails from the Prefettura in Alessandria, allegedly they are processing my application for Italian citizenship.

The first E mail I successfully translated with the help of Google, it went something like this.

Dear Pecora Nera,

Please come to our office on the second floor,  on the 9th November at 10.30. Bring originals of the documents you submitted on line.

I was so happy I nearly kissed the cat.

Susie Stupid Pussy Cat didn’t want a kiss

And then I opened the second E mail and as Google translated the document, I nearly kicked the cat.

Dear Pecora Nera,

Please apostille stamp your documents and it is necessary to provide your police certificate.

If I kicked Mishmash, she would retaliate by taking a dump in my shoe

After talking to the prefettura (I used my neighbour for this) we found out the police certificate she wanted, should be issued by Malta. Did I mention I was born in Malta and moved to the UK when I was 8 months old?

Pecora Nera the Cereal Killer


Obviously this is going to delay my application. I hope the Maltese authorities are not aware of my juvenile crime spree and will certify I was a good boy for the 8 months that I lived there.

Digging through my mother’s photo album, I found a couple more photos of my time in Malta

Me getting ready for the midwifes visit. She always had cold hands

Taken shortly after I held up the milkman

Another successful raid on the baby food factory


Today I have sent my documents issued by the UK government back to them with a request that they validate them with a rubber stamp.

I have also E mailed Malta to ask if they provide criminal certificates for 8 month old babies.

Citizenship part 1
Citizenship part 2
I am sure there will be a part 3 & 4

Just another average day in Italy

On Monday I received a nice letter warning me that I had forgoten to pay the car tax on my little mini. I think the tax was for 2011 – 2012.  The letter gave me 60 days to pay the tax or I would be charged an additional €7.00 😱 Mrs Sensible gave me 2 days to pay it or face more dire consequences than a mere €7.00

 Every morning she has reminded me once or thrice that the bill is still OVERDUE… 

So this morning I called in at the local post office in Occimiano and tried to pay it, the really helpful woman (NOT), behind the counter told me I needed to fill in the ‘Casuale’, 


Normally you write the bill/invoice  number in Casuale but there wasn’t a bill number so I asked the unhelpful woman if I should write Soris , or Regione Piemonte or car tax? 

She shook her head, and continued to talk to her mother on the phone.

“ok cosa scrivere? ” I probably missed a few words out but I think I said, What should I write? 

She shrugged her shoulders. Of course, I had forgot there is no such thing as customer service in Italy

Google search: Italian Customer Service


With a smile I thanked her for her help and walked out.

Finding a helpful Poste Italiane worker is like finding hens teeth,  for every helpful worker there are at least 23 unhelpful workers. Mind you there are millions of post offices in Italy to choose from.

I decided to try the post office in Terrugia, and the guy was amazing, he filled out the form and took my €270.36. Which means my car is now legally taxed for the year 2011 – 2012. I not sure if I have paid  this years road tax, mind you, it has taken them 5 years to write to me. Maybe I will receive another letter in the year 2022

BREXIT

BREXIT

Brexit

The European Union has just announced that despite Brexit an agreement has been reached whereby English will continue to be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations,  the European Union  decided that English spelling had some room for improvement and has recommended a 5- year phase-in plan that will become known as ‘Euro-English’.

In the first year, ‘s’ will replace the soft ‘c’. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard ‘c’ will be dropped in favour of ‘k’. This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome ‘ph’ will be replaced with ‘f’. This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent ‘e’ in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as

replasing ‘th’ with ‘z’ and ‘w’ with ‘v’.

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary ‘o’ kan be dropd from vords kontaining ‘ou’ and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter 20ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

 

One finger one thumb keep moving.

One finger one thumb keep moving.

Today millions of children will be driving their mums and grandparents potty until the schools re-open sometime in September. I join the ranks of adults who are sad the children are now on their three month holiday. Not because I have any school age children who will say “I’m bored, are we going out today”, I am sad because I miss my school pals from Cerrina School.

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Some of the fabulous children (Allessandria News)

During January Mrs Sensible received a phone call asking if her errant husband would like a part time job teaching English to three classes of primary school children. Initially I declined because I was busy with other work. Two weeks later the school phoned again and Mrs Sensible asked when they wanted me to start.

While Mrs Sensible gave me a pep talk on how to teach and control a class of eight year old’s I was preoccupied pondered which of my many ties I should wear.

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Tigger or Simpsons, mmmm a difficult decision.

For the past couple of years I have helped Mombello School and found the experience great fun, for some unexplained reason 9 year olds accept me as one of their own……  but a class of six year old’s would be a new experience. Mrs S suggested I teach them a song, I was a little worried about this idea as on occasions my singing has frightened little children!

Monday morning as I stood at the front of the class watching little Mario pick his nose with his finger, I pointed at my bogey free finger and shouted FINGER! The kids looked at me slightly alarmed but one or two shouted back finger! I then pointed at my thumb and shouted THUMB and the kids shouted back TUM!

It took a couple of tries before the class were shouting back thumb. Over  a period of 20 minutes we worked our way through hand, arm, leg and head. When I was satisfied that they understood the words, I coaxed them into joining me, singing my rendition of One finger one thumb keep moving.

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There is always one little boy who who doesn’t know the words (credit Macaronisoup)

For the first two weeks the lessons with the six year old’s went brilliantly. The kids loved the song and I was excited with their progress. One evening while I was eating my pizza, Mrs Sensible asked me how my lessons were going and which song i was teaching them, One Finger One Thumb I said. It goes like this….. I put my pizza to one side, stood up and pointed at my finger and then my thumb, I sang One finger one thumb  keep moving, one finger one thumb keep moving, one finger one thumb keep moving we’ll all be merry and bright.Mrs Sensible was transfixed.

As I sang I watched Mrs Sensible screw her eyes up as I hit one or three bad notes, Mrs S gamely sat through my song until I reached the bit that goes… One finger, one thumb, one hand one arm and as I patted my arm Mrs Sensible very nearly choked on her piece of pizza. Noooo she said, please tell me you haven’t taught a class of 6 year olds this song!

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Even the cat looked surprised

Erh! yes, its a good song, they are learning parts of their body and….

You taught them the movements?

Oh for sure, I have the kids stood up tapping their fingers, thumbs arms and singing their little hearts out, they love it.

Oh I bet they do!

Why! Oh I bet they do?

Pecora… Just do the arm bit again, don’t bother with the singing, just the motions.

I tapped my arm and sang (ever so slightly out of tune) one finger, one thumb, one hand, one arm we’ll all be merry and bright.

Mrs S shouted, In Italy tapping your arm and raising it like that is a swear word!

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Beppe Grillo singing my song

In my defense, I didn’t clench my fist, nor did I raise my arm quite as high, ok maybe high enough so that Maria at the back of the class could see me, and in my naivety I didn’t see how tapping my arm could be construed as a swear word.

Mrs Sensible was mortified. She said the chilblains would be going home and singing my song to their parents, even I had to admit it was a little bit of a problem.

It took three weeks to reeducate my class of six year olds that it was not necessary to tap and raise ones arm, it was sufficient to simply point at it. All except Mario the nose picker who much preferred the original version.

Mrs Sensible’s Manky Cat

Mrs Sensible’s Manky Cat

Mrs Sensible’s manky cat is the only cat I know, who can purr contentedly whilst glaring at me. The cat loves Mrs Sensible to distraction and it hates me in an equal measure.

Mrs Sensible's manky cat

Look at the eyes on that cat, From day one I knew it was either a cyborg or evil.

Two months ago things came to a head when the manky ginger cat decided it would be great fun to pee on my beloved Mini. Every day it sauntered pass my car and peed on it. I googled cat pees on my car and found the ideal solution…. take the cat to the vet and have it neutered, in layman’s terms this means taking the cat to the vet and having his nadgers removed… I thought this was an ideal solution.  Oh! I didn’t tell you the manky cats name did I, Mrs Sensible calls it Toby (I think after her screen heart throb Toby Stephens) Before the cat visited the vets, I called it Ginger or that Bl%$dy Cat. Now I am happy to call it Pussy No Balls.

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I had just explained to the cat why he was going to the vets.

Mrs Sensible’s cat has spent the past month fighting with a rather large feral cat, so far he has come home with part of his ear badly chewed, various bits of fur missing and a tail that looked like it had been snapped in half and then passed through a mangler.

Mrs Sensible said enough was enough and something needed to be done to protect her beloved cat from the monster that was attacking it. I tried to explain to Mrs S that her manky cat was probably starting the fights and deserved the kicking he was receiving.

To be honest at least once or even one hundred and sixteen times I have wanted to kick Mrs Sensible’s beloved cat ….. and I like cats, with the exception of Toby aka Ginger aka Pussy No Balls.

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If Ginger was a human. “My Toby wouldn’t hurt a fly he is so sweet” says Mrs Sensible

We took Ginger and his mangled tail to the vet, the cat received two injections (that should have been more painful) and I received a bill for €20 and a rather large cage to catch the wild cat. The vet said if we manage to catch the wild cat he would drive the cat 20 miles away and release it so it could torment some other cats in another village.

Adding big game hunter to my other list of achievements was an exciting prospect, I donned my pith helmet, armed myself with the cage and set off to catch the wild and terrible cat.

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I told my neighbor about my latest adventure

I baited the trap with very expensive cat food and set it in the front garden, I then retired to bed. At precisely three o clock in the morning I was awoken by a terrible commotion. Mrs Sensible said “quick it will be the Gattoni, the trap has caught it!!!” I noticed she didn’t say YOU have caught it..I tried to roll over back into my dreams by suggesting it was probably just my stupid cat Mishmash in the trap.

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The terrible, wild and to be honest angry Gattoni

I looked out the window and it wasn’t Mishmash, it was the Gattoni who was caught in the trap. The trap appeared to be walking across the garden as the cat tried to escape. To subdue the animal I covered the trap in a blanket.

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Mishmash  and Ruthie inspecting the cage and captured cat

Now that I had captured the cat, the decision was whether I should drive the cat 20 miles away and release it, or take it to the vet who promised to release it on our behalf. I had a little nagging doubt whether the vet would take the cat for a drive or if he would give it a little injection and send it to sleep.

After debating the problem with my friends over a beer, I decided my son and I would take the cat for a scenic drive through the countryside.

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Famous last words

Driving back from the vineyard my son told me about a film he had watched called Homeward Bound, it is a soppy film about two dogs and one cat that traveled halfway across America. I think he was trying to tell me 20 miles was not far enough. I pointed out that movies are one thing, real life is something different.

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The cat returned

Now either somebody has a great sense of humour and has  brought the cat back to my garden or the cat has found his way home. He either wants to finish his fight with the Ginger cat or his love for Mishmash has not been satisfied yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can make grown women cry, with my singing.

I can make grown women cry, with my singing.

There are two things I am pretty rubbish at, one is learning the Italian language and the second is singing. I always thought my singing was, well quite wonderful really, however Mrs Sensible says I am tone deaf.

In my defense, it must be said, I have sung at some pretty auspicious places, I sang with Craig at the Welsh National Stadium and  I even once sang with the school choir, you notice I said once.

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Ah the bliss of school.

Craig a friend of mine from Sheffield introduced me to the delights of singing at the top of my voice while standing in the rain with a meat & potato pie in one hand and a cup of bovril in the other. I learnt the words to The Greasy Chip Butty song and sang it as Sheffield United played football.

Craig was a keen supporter of Sheffield United and his enthusiasm wasn’t diminished for his team, when during the match he jumped in the air and landed badly on his foot. He turned to me and calmly said “I think I have just broken my ankle” he then turned back to the football match and shouted “COME ON YOUUUUUU REEDDDDSSSSSSS”. After the match we walked to the pub to celebrate, (admittedly Craig was limping a bit) and the following morning the local hospital confirmed he had indeed broken his leg so they stuck a pot on it.

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The lyrics to the Greasy Chip Butty Song (search on You tube for it)

During 2005 Mrs Sensible took me to her church in Sicily, she introduced me to her friends and then walked off with three of them and left me standing with Giuseppe or maybe it was Marco, anyway I noticed people were starting to sit down. As I went in search of Mrs S, I noticed that all the chairs around her were full! I ended up sitting five pews back and on the other side of the church.

As the first hymn started, I noticed two things, of course everyone was singing in Italian and second, none of the words I knew were included in the hymn. Mind you how many hymns start with the words , ‘hello, I like red white and where is my wife?’

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I knew the tune, just not the words

So I just stood there and listened. I think they were singing the second verse when I felt a little nudge in the small of my back. I thought it was a little strange to be nudged whilst standing in church, so I ignored it. And then I was nudged again. I turned to see a little Sicilian man holding an open hymn book for me, and his wife was smiling and kindly nodding. I took the hymn book, smiled and turned around. Taking a deep breath I joined them.

Pecora Nera Singing

I sang with gusto

I didn’t just mumble my way through the hymn, I sang with gusto, with fortitude and with absolutely no idea what the words meant or how to pronounce them.

I felt at one with the congregation and my maker, well until I looked down and saw a very small and worried looking boy staring at me from behind his mothers legs.

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Please make him stop!!

I smiled at him and gave him a wave, he quickly disappeared from sight. After the hymn had finished I turned and handed the book back to the man and thanked him. I think the moment must have been too much for  his wife, because she was dabbing the corners of her eyes with a lace hanky.

After the exertion of singing I sat down and listened but understood nothing the preacher was saying, it is a problem that still besets me. And then they stood and started singing another hymn and I felt the familiar nudge in my back.

Orangutans Laughing

Give him the Hymn book again

After the service, Mrs Sensible told me I was welcome to visit the church whenever I was in Sicily, at least somebody must have appreciated my singing.

 

 

Pecora Nera’s Homemade Limoncello Lollies

Pecora Nera’s Homemade Limoncello Lollies

This afternoon I was at a loose end, I checked the cupboards and there wasn’t any chocolate or crisps in sight, I checked my E-mail, Facebook, Whatsapp and then checked them again. A second trip around the kitchen didn’t reveal any biscuits or any hidden food that I could binge on…… but I did find these.

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Five lolly moulds, not six just five.

They had been sitting at the back of the cupboard since last September, Mrs Sensible bought them because they were on special offer and because I had pestered her for some lolly moulds. I was suddenly hit with a cunning plan, which is much better than being hit with one of Mrs Sensible’s wooden spoons. 

Maybe, just maybe I could make five (not six) limoncello lollies. I understand limoncello and especially my limoncello won’t freeze because of the alcohol content.  I did a quick search on the internet and discovered if I add a simple syrup to the mixture the alcohol will freeze. I checked my watch to make sure I had enough time to make a mess and tidy it up before Mrs S got back and then I set to work.

My recipe goes something like this.

Remove one bottle of limoncello from the freezer.

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mmmmm limoncello

Clean the ice lolly moulds and…

4

I wonder who has the sixth mould?

Fill three of the moulds with water, one with limoncello and one with sugar.

5

Moneta pans are pretty good…. they are really difficult to burn

To make the simple syrup mix pour the water and sugar into the pan and stir it until the sugar has dissolved. Taddda!!!

When it has cooled down a little, add the limoncello and give it a good stir.

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Pan of pee limoncello

Pour the limoncello mixture into the lolly moulds.

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In it goes

Replace the lids or put lolly sticks in and hide at the very back of the freezer. This is very important, because when Mrs S finds them, I can say “oh them! I made them ages ago and how has your day been?” Thereby deflecting the question and quickly changing the subject,

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Sealed and ready for the freezer

The other important thing to remember is to wash the pan and wooden spoon, wipe down the sides and in this way nobody knows you have been getting into mischief.

How do they taste?

Fantastic, so good I forgot to take a picture of the finished lolly. I knew you would be disappointed so I went and fetched lolly number two. I took a quick picture of lolly number 2 and sat in the sunshine licking the lolly and admiring my creation.

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If you still think it is out of focus, I can get another

When I opened the photo on my computer it was ever so slightly out of focus. So I fetched lolly number 3.

I took my time and tried to take a nice photo of lolly number three, the taste appeared to be slightly more lemony than lolly number 1 or 2, I decided to try lolly number 4 and then I went and had a little lie down.

La Bella Chaos.

You know I am normally upbeat and can usually see the funny side of attempting to live a normal life in La Bella Chaos. Today it very nearly beat me, I have spent a couple of hours gnashing my teeth, ripping my sack-cloths and growling at fellow human beings.

I weathered the storm and laughed when it took Snr Cretino eight months to organise my Italian driving licence, but today my insurance agent tried to baffle me with stupidity. Maybe today was just another normal day in Bella Italia and I was tired or maybe I just assumed renewing my car insurance would be easy.

Two years ago we decided to economise and put one of our cars into storage, Mrs Sensible and I tossed a coin and she lost the bet (double headed coins are very useful). Her very sensible and economic Peugeot was abandoned stored and my uneconomical but fun Mini was used by both of us.

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Mrs Sensible’s sensible diesel Peugeot.

 

Last night Mrs Sensible made a very valid case for blowing the dust off her car and bringing it out of storage. First she swapped to her schoolmarm voice and then suggested we should insure and tax her economic car and put my fun and gas guzzling mini in the shed or she would go off in search of her wet wooden spoon. I could not think of a suitable argument and she wasn’t going to fall for the double headed coin a second time.

I phoned my insurance company and told them to reinstate the Peugeot’s insurance and I set off in the Peugeot to find someone who would test the car for me. Now in the UK if a car does not have a MOT certificate it is possible to drive it on the road as long as  1) You have an appointment booked for a vehicle test 2) You are driving to the test center. I have no idea what the rules are in Italy, but I doubt they are so straight forward.

Typical stop and search

Typical Carabinieri  stop and search. IMPORTANT: It is not true that the red stripes on their trousers are so they don’t put them on inside out, nor is it true that they wear wellies because they don’t know how to tie their shoe laces.

In Italy the local Carabinieri are not regarded as the brightest of people,  I hasten to add I think they are really, really nice people and I don’t believe a word of the stories nor do I laugh at the Carabinieri jokes. I know I was a little less than impressed when they investigated the burglary at my house…. and I do think it is impressive that they always choose the same places to set up their ‘stop and search’. After all consistency is a good thing. It also means if you are in a rush and don’t have time to say hello to them it is possible to cut across the countryside.

A little scenic drive

This morning I was in a little rush.

Mrs Sensible’s car passed it’s test first time. I was incredibly relieved and managed to uncross my fingers. When I arrived at the insurance office to pick up the new insurance documents, the man tried to give me the insurance paper for my lovely soon to be stored Mini.

Ciao Snr Pecora Nera.

Ciao! I go here take paper insurance for wife car.

These are the new documents for your Mini.

No! Wrong not Mini, wife car.. Peugeot! 

Ahhh! You want to insure Mrs Sensible’s car. Let me work out a price for you.

Italy runs on paperwork. Households save till receipts and  proof of payments forever. In every house there will be a box with a mass of yellowing receipts going all the way back to the receipt for the wedding dress. My father in law told me, he once had to prove he had paid his car tax, a bill he had paid four years previously!

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Every Italian house needs a Tin of Denial

Snr Pecora Nera, your wife’s car will cost € 460.00 to insure.

What? My 1.6 petrol Mini  € 420.00. Peugeot  1.4 diesel. Look again! 

Pointing at his computer screen he said, But your wife’s car has not been insured for four years. She is now a high insurance risk.

It took me a minute before I understand what he was trying to tell me. I delved into my cardboard box and produced the insurance document for 2013 – 2014. I gave him the paper and explained it could be risky to suggest Mrs Sensible was a high insurance risk. Although paying over the top to insure Mrs Sensible’s Peugeot and explaining to  Mrs S that Italy considers me a better driver might have been fun.  

My insurance agent suggested I should go to the bar for a cappuccino while he sorted out the mistake on his computer. Halfway into a nice brioche and cappuccino. He phoned me.

Snr Pecora Nera, I have sorted it all out.

Grazie, On the way I am.

The agent then explained that the car is owned not only by Mrs Sensible, but her father’s name is also on the car’s documents. This meant because her father lives in Sicily, the car will be at a bigger risk of having an accident and the insurance cost will be €530.

I tried my best to explain that her father wouldn’t be driving the car and can’t we just remove his name from the document….. I have some Tipp-ex here and after all this is Italy

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Tipp-Ex perfect for correcting blog posts

The insurance agent said I would need to either transfer the ownership of the Peugeot to either me or Mrs Sensible’s. This will cost around €400 – €500 euros.

So for the moment Mrs Sensible’s car is still in storage and my little Mini is drinking it’s way through a fortune in petrol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italian Rituals

Italian Rituals

I have had at least a  month to ponder and write a post about Italian weird rituals for the April C.O.S.I post, it is now the 5th and I am still struggling.  Maybe it is because after living here for nearly nine years Italia no longer seems so strange and weird. Or maybe it’s because I am pigro.

We are coming up to the start of the mosquito hunting season and I did consider telling you how Italians can hold a very serious conversation whilst standing on one leg and attempting to either splatter a mosquito that has landed on their leg or soothe the bite mark by giving it a quick rub.

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Robert Downey Jnr attempting to kill the mosquito that is biting his leg

The second possibility for a post, was the annual ritual of sending your winter coats and heavy blankets to the dry cleaners, packing away all the winter clothes and getting the summer clothes ready for summer. This has always bemused me and I refuse to co-operate with Mrs Sensible. I maintain that I can’t pack away my jumpers and winter coats because if I fly to the UK in August I will probably need them…. and an umbrella.

Besides, I am yet to meet an Italian that doesn’t wear a scarf in summer to protect them from cervicale.

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A tartan bed sheet used as a scarf

On Sunday we were having a bring and share with a group of friends from church, Mrs Sensible turned to me and said ok we are going now. Under normal circumstances this means get your hat and coat we are off, but in Italy this means we are nearly ready to go, we just need to start the ritual of saying goodbye to everybody. So I wandered off in search of another glass of wine and a slice of chocolate cake.

While I was savoring a very nice glass of Barbera, Mrs S was chanting ciao, arrivederci,  ci verdiamo, arrivederla, a presto, a domani etc. As I stood next to the table with the cakes I started to wonder how I could put a post together.

Good bye 5

The correct way to say goodbye in Italia. Notice the perfect peck on the cheek and the way he is making sure he has a firm grip… on the bottle of wine.

Mrs S had got around to the kissing on the cheeks and had actually managed to make some headway in the general direction of the door, when someone held her hand (so she couldn’t escape) and started another conversation. I swirled the wine in my glass, admired the colour and took another drink. I knew I had at least another twenty minutes before I needed to start looking for my coat.

goodbye

This is not the way to kiss cheeks… she is in danger of gaining stretch marks and the kiss kiss noise she makes will be deafening

Mrs S looked over towards me, so I casually replaced the glass on the table and pretended to walk towards her, as she rejoined the conversation I picked up a piece of torta di mele and replenished my glass of wine.

kisskiss (2)

This is maybe a little to over the top, we can see she isn’t wearing a wedding ring, but that is no excuse for taking the kiss goodbye too far.

It was at this point that I wondered if I could put together a post on the ritual of drinking wine in Italy, after all it is something I have a passion for, I could also ask the permission of Mrs S if I could maybe, you know, visit a couple of wine cantinas to further my research.

Good bye 1

yep, in Italy even men kiss each other. Please note that they are also shaking hands, this is to prevent accusations that they are more than just friends

So here I am, it is the 5th and I still don’t know what to write about. I could tell you about my first day teaching English to a class of seventeen 6 year olds! That was fun, or maybe the first time I tried to sing a hymn in Italian and scared the three rows of people in front of me!

So while I ponder what to write for the C.O.S.I post on Italian Rituals let me leave you with Maria Cucinotta who starred in Il Postino to kiss you goodbye.

mariagrazia25

Maria Grazia Cucinotta kissing goodbye

The COSI Group

Rick’s Rome: Ridiculous Rituals In Italy/Under The Puglia Sun

Sicily Inside And Out: Culture Shock In Sicily

Sex, Lies, and Nutella: Food Traditions

Surviving in Italy: Top 7 Weirdest Rituals in Italy

Girl in Florence: Strange wedding traditions

Tilting at windmills or trying to obtain Italian citizenship

Tilting at windmills or trying to obtain Italian citizenship

Following last weeks debacle at the ASL office (Italian health office) I casually mention I was going to start the process to obtain Italian citizenship. The ink had not even dried on my little post when Sal from sarsaparillasal.blogspot.com suggested we should have a little race to see who will be the first to obtain their Italian citizenship.

Sarsaparillasal.blogspot.it

Sally from sarsaparillasal

Mrs Sensible thinks I am crazy to even contemplate trying to obtain Italian citizenship, she might be right but being crazy has never hindered me in the past, Lady of the Cakes asked me if my quest was in anticipation of the Brexit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I couldn’t find a picture of Lady of the Cakes but I did steal this image from her blog, it’s probably a good likeness.

To be honest I don’t think the United Kingdom leaving the European Union will make much difference to me when it comes to dealing with Italian officials. Most of the officials I have been unfortunate to come into contact with, either think the UK is not part of Europe, or maybe just not part of the European Economic Area. Even the Italian Police who frequently stop me to check my driving licence think the UK is a country sandwiched somewhere in between Poland and Russia and goes by the name of the Ukraine!

Here is a nice photo of the Italian police with their shiny new Lamborghini police car.

Lamborghini Gallardo Police Car Hard Crash In Italy - 04.jpg

Happy Smiley Faces

And here is another picture of their shiny new Lamborghini police car.

ATT00010

Oops our gallant boys in blue with their shiny new toys.

Ok, so back to Sally and her suggestion that we should have a race to see who can cut through the Italian red tape and be the first to obtain Italian citizenship.

I, Pecora Nera hereby throw down the gauntlet to publicly challenge Sally to the race, may the best friend win.

20140508104624650

Sorry Sally I couldn’t find a nice gauntlet to angrily throw on the floor.

So let the challenge begin… dun dun duuuuurrrr.

PS I have had a snoop at her blog and she is fluent in Italian and has lived here longer than me and….. I’m doomed to lose.

 

 

It has been one of those weeks…

It has been one of those weeks…

Last week Mrs Sensible phoned the local hospital to book me in for a check up, and before you start leaving sarky comments it was not the psychiatric clinic nor was it a follow up appointment with the dietitian. When Mrs S finally got through to the department, they said “we only book appointments in the morning, call between 9 and 11”  which is fabulous because Mrs Sensible is normally in her classroom between 9 and 11 teaching her chilblains how to sit still and not pick their noses.

nose-picking-300x200

Mrs Sensible hates nose picking

 

The following morning she again calling the hospital and was told “Pecora Nera!! nope he is not on the system, we have recently upgraded the computer and he might have been deleted”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pecora Nera… let’s delete him mwaha ha ha!

I have been deleted!!!! How is that possible? Mrs Sensible said she would phone the administrators and try to find out. She talked to a woman for three minutes and then hung up. Pecora, you need to go down to the main office and fill out some forms.

Now I know what Italy is like, so on Wednesday I went armed with my passport, identity card, proof of residence and one of Mrs Sensible’s wooden spoons. It only took a 10 minute search to find the correct office.

Me: Hello I English, please excuse my bad Italian.

Admin: Tell me!

Me: I need hospital appointment, but my name has been deleted, here is my identity card.

She turned to her computer and started clicking buttons and occasionally glancing at me.

Admin: è scaduto

Me: I have expired!!! I am still here.

ComputerSaysNo

She looked at my passport and my other documents, and told me to go to the local council offices and ask them for.

  1. Proof that I am an European citizen.
  2. Proof that I am a resident of my little village.
  3. Proof that I have paid my taxes.

She was not convinced that my UK passport proved anything.

Later that evening I went on my facebook page and ranted about the crazy bureaucracy in Italy. A very good friend of mine messaged me and offered to accompany me to the office to see if she could untangle the mess.

Yesterday we both went back to the office with my little bundle of papers and discussed the problem with a different administrator.

Admin 2: You came yesterday didn’t you.

Me: What did she say?

Admin 2:

The Englishman needs to go to the local council office and ask for:-

  1. Proof that he is resident of his village, the document he has is just a copy of his request to be a resident.
  2. A copy of his wife’s identity card
  3. His identity card
  4. His codice fiscale (national insurance number)
  5. Certificate that his company is registered in Italy.

At the moment I am wondering if it is easier to just fly to the UK and see my old doctor. I did however drive to the council offices and managed to get most of the documents, my accountant is sending over the work related documents hopefully I might be back on the system ASP (at some point)

Oh I nearly forgot, I need your advice with something…..

When I arrived home, the postwoman gave me a very sinister brown envelope, inside it contained a speeding fine!!! I must be very unlucky because I don’t know anyone else in Italy who has ever received one.

 

targa-system-auto2

You may remember I changed my UK driving licence to an Italian licence, because it was too difficult to convince the Italian police it was not a Ukranian driving licence.

The speeding fine doesn’t say who was driving, they assume it was me because it is my car. I now have two options.

Option 1

Is to quickly pay the fine and burn all the evidence, before Mrs Sensible finds out. Otherwise I will endure a lifetime of reminders about my speeding ticket.

Option 2

Prove or convince Mrs Sensible that she was driving the car and then never ever mention her mistake again…… except when we are in the company of friends.

Its a difficult one.

Thought process

Typical thought process of Pecora Nera when dealing with Mrs Sensible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mysterious case of the stolen packet of biscuits…

Last weekend Mrs Sensible dragged me kicking and screaming to the local supermarket. I hate shopping and pushing a trolley around the aisles saying useful things like, uh huh and not sure and even, wow look two toilet rolls  for the price of one! A couple of months ago I used to be able to have a bit of fun hiding a bottle of limoncello or a bar of chocolate under the shopping for it to appear when Mrs S loaded our shopping onto the check out conveyor. Mrs Sensible doesn’t normally like making a fuss in front of people, occasionally she would give me her teacher stare but normally my acquisitions are, blipped, paid for and put in the plastic bags.

Englishmaninitaly.org

Even Batman goes shopping

To make my visits to the supermarket even more unbearable, Ipercoop have introduced a new system, probably marketed as Blip as you go. Special people (like Mrs Sensible) are allowed to go around the store and blip their purchases as they shop, they are even allowed to put them into shopping bags and when they are ready to leave the store, they put the blipper in a special machine and finally pay for their purchases.

Mrs Sensible's new toy

The Blipper, Mrs Sensible’s new toy

For many reasons I do not like this system. First I can no longer hide bottles of limoncello as they need to be blipped by Mrs S before they enter the trolley that I am responsible for pushing. Second I am not happy with depriving a check out girl from her job and finally Ipercoop and Mrs Sensible wont let me play with one of the blippers.

Back to last week, Mrs S dragged me off to Ipercoop and we filled the trolley with useless things like bleach, pasta and bicarbonate of soda (We seem to use a lot of this stuff) . Mrs S was of course in charge of the blipper and my sole responsibility was to push the trolley and mutter, uh huh and are we nearly done now? But to my surprise we turned up the biscuit aisle. I say to my surprise because Mrs S and I seem to be on a 24/7, 346 days a year diet (excluding wine and grappa). I held my breath as Mrs S blipped two packets of biscuits and handed them to me, as I dropped them in the trolley; she then handed me a third packet and I duly dropped it in the trolley.

For at least one nanosecond I did wonder if Mrs S had remembered to blip the 3rd packet of biscuits, but as William K Shakespeare famously said “Theirs is not to reason why” and so I put the third packet in the trolley and didn’t mention Mrs Sensible’s possible oversight. When we returned home and staggered into the house with umpteen plastic bags of shopping, Mrs S picked up the till receipt and checked her purchases. Checking till receipts when you return home is a hereditary disorder, I have watched her father do the same receipt checking thing. I normally screw receipts up and stuff them in my back pocket.

Mrs Sensible, realised that we had three packets of biscuits……… but SHE had only blipped and paid for two. We then had the following conversation, you can work out for yourselves who said what.

Did you put another packet of biscuits in the trolley?

Nope!

Are you sure?

Positive, I am only in charge of the trolley.

But we only paid for two packets!

Oops,

Mrs S re-checked her till receipt to see if a third packet was itemised in between the bleach and the bicarbonate of soda, it wasn’t. Obviously I thought this was funny and Mrs S didn’t.

Ok so you have STOLEN A PACKET OF BISCUITS, what are you going to do about it?

I could go  back and tell them.

Uh huh you could, or next time you go shopping you could take them back and put them back on the shelf.

I think they have security cameras.

Tricky… How about we just eat them?

The biscuits that Mrs S stole (Ok she only shop lifted one packet)

The biscuits that Mrs S stole (Ok she only shop lifted one packet)

Over the past week the problem of the STOLEN PACKET OF BISCUITS has weighed heavily on the conscience of Mrs Sensible, I have done my best not to reminder Mrs S too much that she is now not only a sensible school teacher, but she is also a sensible shoplifter. On Friday I crunched my way through a packet of biscuits and casually remarked at how nice, tasty and crunchy they were. So far Mrs S has refused to join me in eating the evidence of her ill gotten gains.

Last night, out of the blue Mrs Sensible said

I know how to solve it.

Solve what?

The biscuits.

Uh Huh.

When we next go shopping I will blip two packets and only buy one packet.

Which gives me at least three days to find a way of foiling her scheme.

This isn’t the first time I have been caught up in illegal activity with Mrs Sensible’s sensible family. I do remember almost getting arrested at Gatwick Airport with Mrs Sensible’s mum and a rather large pen knife. LINK 

As you can see I have eaten the evidence

As you can see I have eaten the evidence

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Telecom Italia, you have just got to…..

Telecom Italia you have just got to love them hate them.

Boh!

Boh!

Yesterday I once again pestered Mrs Sensible to phone Telecom Italia. I waited until she was sat down and drinking her cup of tea before I started.

She had a another really interesting conversation with Telecom Italia about our unusual postal address (They agree with my version of our address, so I am starting to like them). They did ask Mrs S which of the two address they now have for our telephone line, we live at… 🙂 🙂 🙂

The latest update is they will test our line to see if I can have broadband, this will take place between now and the end of the month. It takes so long because they have a ‘specialist line tester’ !!!!

Telecom Italia or 2 cans and a bit of string.

Telecom Italia or 2 cans and a bit of string.

Welcome to my new office. You might notice it is full of old men drinking espresso, this is so I can sit here unnoticed and get some work done, well until I open my mouth and order another cappuccino and all heads swivel my way.

Some people in my office are even older than me.... incredible

Some people in my office are even older than me…. incredible

Why don’t I work from home? Two reasons, 1 It is full of scabby cats and 2, there is no internet connection. A week ago I asked Mrs Sensible to phone Telecom Italia and ask them to connect us to the internet, this should be very easy after all we already have 5 working phones scattered around the house.

Don't phone us and we won't phone you.

We value all our customers, even the dead ones.

So Mrs S picked up the phone and called a customer service representative woman at Telecom Italia. She gave them our address and explained that the previous owner of the house had died and we wanted to have the line reconnected (The phone line was working, it just wasn’t in our name) and to also have fast internet. Telecom told her, the contract is still in the dead man’s name and they required a relative of the dead man to write to them and prove he was dead so they can cancel his contract.  While this conversation was in progress I was hopping from foot to foot saying helpful things like “how soon, I need fast internet, tell them I also need a modem. The scowl from Mrs S shut me up.

Stay Connected with your loved ones

Stay Connected with your loved ones

I sent an E mail to the son of Telecom’s dead customer and asked him to prove his dead dad was in fact dead. He told me he had proved to Telecom that he was dead 2 years ago and to his knowledge, things had not changed.

Mrs S phoned Telecom and reached a different woman, she explained their customer was in fact still dead and they had been told he was dead 2 years ago. The  woman said “we know he is dead” Ah ha progress!! Mrs S again gave her details and requested an internet line and phone line. I knew I was allowed to hop from foot to foot but I had to keep silent. When Mrs S put the phone down, the phone that according to Telecom was already disconnected and as dead as their previous customer, she told me Telecom would call me in a couple of days to organise the fitting.  I was sooooo excited.

The best I could hope for

The best I can hope for.

Seven days passed and  no calls, so I harassed Mrs S to call them again.

The conversation went something like this,

Mrs S; You promised to phone Pecora Nera to organise his internet access, when are you going to do this because he is driving me mad.

Telecom: Please will you give me your address.

Mrs S: 2 Green Leaves Road in the middle of the countryside.

Telecom: That is why we didn’t call you, this phone is registered to 13 Old Mill Road in the middle of nowhere.

Mrs S; Can you please update your system as the address is wrong, the council say we live at number 2 Green Leaves, not number 13 Old Mill Road.

And so until Telecom arrive with my 2 tin cans and a long length of string I will have to share my office with 7 old men.

There is a post about our strange address here I will update you on Telecom Italia ASP (at some point)

 

 

 

 

 

Does this stuff really happen!!!

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

Mrs Sensible is deadly with a wet wooden spoon.

Mrs Sensible is deadly with a wet wooden spoon.

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

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

A monocle for each eye.

A monocle for each eye.

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

Are they in the box marked Christmas?

Are they in the box marked Christmas decorations?

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

What do you mean, where has the wall gone

What do you mean, where has the wall gone?

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

With my multiple sets of glasses I looked quite sexy

With my multiple sets of glasses I looked quite sexy

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

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

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

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.

 

 

Starvation Diet

Mrs Sensible is being a really, really good girl, she went to the dietician at the hospital this week and was awarded 10 Brownie points and 2 gold stars for being a really good girl and losing another 4 kilos. I on the other hand have not been particularly good and didn’t receive anything.

2 Gold stars for Mrs Sensible

2 Gold stars for Mrs Sensible

For dinner today Mrs Sensible fed me and our two guestaways a very healthy salad with a little bit of cheese and a little bit of fresh salmon and two peppers stuffed with rice. For some reason I only received one pepper. At about 4.00 pm Mrs Sensible left the house and I went in search of food.

I found a very large packet of crisps and decided to wash it down with one or two glasses of wine. Just as I was relaxing and feeling mellow and contented one of our workaways appeared in her running kit and said she was going for a run. I very nearly asked if I could join her, but sanity kicked in and I took another sip of my wine and another handful of crisps.

englishman in Italy

This red stuff helps to make me quite philosophical

Twenty minutes later, during my second glass of wine, guestaway number 2 appeared in her running kit and said she was going for a quick run; maybe it was the wine talking but I found myself asking if I could join her…….

How far do you go?

Oh about 45 minutes

Ah ha; do you run the full 45 minutes or do you also walk a little?

I might walk up hills it depends.

So I put on my Booby Charlton running shorts, turned on the Run keeper app on my phone and followed her out the door.

Ready in my Bobby Charlton Football Shorts

Ready in my Bobby Charlton Football Shorts

As soon as we got outside she started to do stretching exercises, it was at this point that I started to feel a little worried. As she bent over to touch her toes, I bent over and managed to touch my knee caps. As she stretched and put her chin on her knee, I stretched and managed to see my knee caps which seemed a long way away. And then we started running.

Pull that stomach in

Pull that stomach in

I know she is only 19 and in the prime of her life but ‘spiders’ how is it possible that she can run up our road and hold a normally conversation.

So how far do you normally run?

Gasp, pant, gasp, not much! pant gasp wheeze.

There is a really nice breeze, this is nice weather to run in.

Wheeze, cough, wheeze, Yes, cough wheeze pant.

I managed to stay with her all the way up to the cowsheds and then my internal organs started to close down and I suffered severe cramp in my left big toe and had to stop.

“Go Go” I managed to utter as she disappeared up the hill.

Feeling a little ashamed and very old I slowly turned around and half ran and half hobbled home.

My runkeeper app didn’t help me either, I am sure I heard it say “Oye old man get running” and “do you want to change the setting from run to walk slowly”

Tomorrow I have committed myself to another run, I just need to find out if workaway number 1 runs slower than workaway number 2, maybe I will quiz them over a glass of wine.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

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

Pecora Nera, Mrs Sensible and a nude selfie.

Selfie – “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one that is taken with a smart phone by stretching ones arm to the limit and then trying to press the camera button, the photo (that you will forever regret taking) is then uploaded to a social media website” – has been named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries editors, after the frequency of its usage increased by 17,000% over the past 12 months.

One of the few completely dressed 'selfies' on google

One of the few completely dressed ‘selfies’ on google

Purely in the aid of research, I did a quick search on Google images for ‘selfie’ and I was astonished, amazed and even gobsmacked at the number of women who took selfies of themselves in their bra and knickers.

Not to be outdone I have decided that Mrs Sensible and I should  post our very own selfie. After searching through the selfies that Mrs Sensible and I have taken over the years, I have decided to push the boat out and post a nude selfie.

If this post is a success, we may consider a 2014 Pecora Nera and Mrs Sensible calendar after all it worked for Rylstone Women’s Institute.

Pecora Nera & Mrs Sensible in the nude

Pecora Nera & Mrs Sensible in the nude

What’s small pink and takes 8 months to arrive?

No Mrs Sensible is not pregnant.

No Mrs Sensible is not pregnant.

After 8 months of waiting, my Italian driving licence has finally arrived, it was a very simple process and only took.

1 medical
10 visits to Mr Cretino at the Italian office (they now have 10 photocopies of my passport, licence etc)
5 Emails to the Italian office
6 phones calls to DVLA
4 nice e mails to DVLA
2 snotty e mails to DVLA
1 letter to the Chief Exec of DVLA

and of course 120 Euros

Small pink and takes 8 months

Small pink and takes 8 months

After 8 months of shouting at Mr Cretino in Italian and the DVLA in English; I now consider myself to be a bit of an expert on converting driving licences, so I have written a book.

My new book, available from all good book shops

My new book, available from all good book shops

If you can’t find my book in your local book shop, have a quick read of the following.

Part one

Part two

Part three

The letter I e mailed to DVLA

I am working on my next book titled How to gain Italian Citizenship. It should be available in 5 years.

Mrs Sensible vs Ipercoop

Mrs Sensible was most unhappy

Mrs Sensible was most unhappy

Mrs Sensible had a little bit of a fall out with Ipercoop today. She was studying the cost of a bottle of fizzy water and found Levissima, a premium brand, was priced at €0.48 for a pack of 6 bottles and underneath was marked the price of €0.05 a litre. This was truly a bargain, it was almost as cheap as tap water, so much so I nearly ran out and fetched a couple more trolleys so that we could take 500 litres home. I was already dreaming of what a bath in fizzy water might be like.

Mrs Sensible asked a shelf stacker if they were really selling fizzy bottled water at 5 cents a litre; he looked at Mrs Sensible as though she was stupid and said “of course it was an error:  nobody would sell water at 5 cents a litre” Mrs Sensible was still talking to him, when he turned his back and walked away!!!

Now, Mrs Sensible is normally a calm and controlled person, but in circumstances like these she tends to quickly switch to teacher mode, so I was surprised that without commenting on the shelf stacker’s manners, she turned on her heel and wheeled her trolley off towards the entrance like a Formula One  1 racing driver.

The smell of burning rubber as Mrs Sensible accelerated down the grocery aisle was quite amazing

The smell of burning rubber as Mrs Sensible accelerated down the grocery aisle was quite amazing

Unaware of what was going on in her mind all I could do was to run after her trying to catch up. At the Punto Ascolto (Customer Care Desk) she explained to the supervisor, a tall and kind lady who looked a little German, that the shelf stacker had been very rude to her whilst Mrs Sensible was really only trying to do them a favour.

Mrs Sensible said she looked like a German woman. So I saw beer

A typical German woman

She explained that if they didn’t change the price tag quickly, a hundred people (because we would phone them all) would rush here and demand to buy fizzy water at €0.05 a litre given that under a European law, shops are bound to sell their merchandise at the marked price, despite any spurious pricing errors that might have occurred.

The German looking Customer Care lady tried to contact the head of the water department and said to Mrs Sensible “a shelf stacker has not the power to change price tags, but yeah, he shouldn’t have been rude, sorry….”

As the person in charge of the water department was nowhere to be found, the lady at the Punto Ascolto headed quickly towards the incriminated area, followed by Mrs Sensible and her trolley, followed by me, still a tad confused.

We followed Mrs Sensible in an orderly procession

We followed Mrs Sensible in an orderly procession

Together we examined the price tag and, yes it did say 9 Litres of water for € 0.43. The tall lady said “it is a big error and thank you for pointing it out, but only my colleague can change the tag, that is when she arrives from God knows where…” At that point a small woman who looked no more than 25 appeared panting and puffing: she had obviously just run from her office or just finished a marathon.  She started babbling something that sounded like a lot of nonsense to me.

The argument about the cost of a bottle of water once again escalated: the small woman tried to justify the mistake saying that the tags always show the price of one bottle, trying to convince Mrs Sensible that she was wrong and they were right and therefore it was no problem; Mrs Sensible, on the other hand, was pointing at the price tag arguing that it clearly showed 9 litres for € 0.43 and said € 0.05 a litre; the small woman was still trying to explain a simple maths equations to Mrs Sensible not knowing that my wife teaches maths.

Keep calm Mrs Sensible is a maths teacher....

Keep calm Mrs Sensible is a maths teacher….

As Mrs Sensible broke into teacher mode, the little woman was producing ma, però , ecco, (but, so, maybe) sounds whilst the helpful assistant kept repeating “Togli il cartello! TOGLI IL CARTELLO!” (Remove the price tag!) I was enjoying the tennis match between the three of them when suddenly I heard Mrs Sensible shout  “Cos’ha da guardare così in cagnesco?!?!” What are you glaring at me for? Now, it’s not often I hear her shout at people, so horrified and wide eyed I turned toward the direction of her words, where I saw the shelf stacker half hiding behind his boxes and glaring at Mrs Sensible.

He glared from behind the  tins of tuna

He glared from behind the tins of tuna

“Io vi sto facendo un favore!” I’m doing you a favour she shouted, before people realize they can demand to buy water at the marked price! He was bellowing back angrily when the small lady was struck by a bolt of pure inspiration and decided to remove the price tag  and the tall helpful lady yelled Grazie al cielo! Finalmente!

As we wandered off towards the meat counter I asked Mrs Sensible: “So how much was the water?”

I have quit the booze…

On Tuesday the 8th of October in the year of our Lord 2013 I supped my last glass of wine.

englishman in Italy

I have quit drinking this lovely stuff

I am yet to notice any significant health benefits. In fact my health took a downward turn last Friday when I complained of some sort of manflu. Mrs Sensible examined me and said it was probably a bad case of asthma. She promptly prescribed an antihistamine tablet, after a lot of protesting that they only send me to sleep, I dutiful took the offered pill and promptly fell asleep.  I slept from Friday evening  straight through to Saturday evening, only waking up long enough to take another pill and then immediately became comatose until some-time on Sunday.

I lost two days of my life to sleep

I lost two days of my life to sleep

You guys know I don’t trust or like doctors or dentists, but under threats of severe repercussions, if I didn’t do as I was told, I was finally persuaded by Mrs Sensible to go and see the local medicine man, mainly because my coughing at bedtime was worse than my snoring and was keeping both of us awake.

My Doctor is not quite like this, but then again..

My Doctor is not quite like this, but then again..

The doctor diagnosed that I was suffering from Brontosaurus or some other dreaded disease probably related to cervical. He prescribed an intense 5 day course of antibiotics, a little bottle of clear liquid to stop my coughing, pastels for my sore throat and not wanting to be left out, my good wife Mrs Sensible made me use an inhaler for people who are suffering from asthma. We agreed to disagree on the added benefits of using another antihistamine tablet.

I am sure my Italian doc  said I had brontosaurus

I am sure my Italian doc said I had brontosaurus

Last night, which was three days into my treatment, I suddenly suffered a coughing fit. Tears were rolling down my face and the only sound I could produce was whuu whuu whuuuu. My lungs finally decided to go on strike and as I staggered into the kitchen while trying to bang my back in a vain attempt to re-start my lungs; I heard Mrs Sensible drop her mobile phone and come running into the kitchen to help me: she immediately joined in the banging on my back; as she slowly bludgeoned me to the floor I could hear her friend continuing to talk on the phone through the loud speaker, totally ignorant to the fact that she was talking to herself and that my wife was trying to save my life.

My lungs decided they couldn’t withstand any more of the punishing Mrs Sensible was meeting out to them and with a loud gasp of air they started to work again. I managed to squeak “basta basta” enough enough to Mrs Sensible and she stopped her onslaught.

Basta basta I can breathe honestly.

Basta basta I can breathe honestly.

As I slowly got back up to my feet, I cast a quick glance to make sure Mrs Sensible hadn’t taken too much pleasure from beating me to the floor, fortunately all I could see in her eyes was love and concern.

I know Mrs Sensible loves me, really she does.

I know Mrs Sensible loves me, really she does.

OOOH! I have news from Mr Cretino allegedly he has my new Italian driving licence, I wonder which name it will be in. When I get my breath back I will fill you in and when I finish my antibiotics I will raise a glass or two of wine to you all.

Bye for now

Pecora Nera

Just another Tuesday

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

Bring back Sterling

Bring back Sterling

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

Mrs Sensible's blog award

Mrs Sensible’s blog award.

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

A rather long ladder

A rather long ladder

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

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

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

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

Dog meat pasta

Dog meat pasta

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

As easy as ABC

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

As easy as ABC

As easy as ABC

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

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

Easy peesy lemon squeezie!! What could go wrong?

Lots

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

Sovrana

Sovrana by Marco Bellero

“How much spaghetti?”

“200 grams”

How much oil should I use?

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

Uh huh!

Where is the spaghetti?

Bottom cupboard.

No it is not.

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

Thanks!

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

Do I bin it?

Deep sigh, “Yes start again”.

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

“No” she said.

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

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

Erh! No

So she came in to rescue me and the spaghetti.

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

“Uh huh” I replied

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

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

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

Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino

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

Difficulty

Allegedly very easy

Preparation time

2 minutes

Cooking time

15 minutes

Serves

2

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

1 bottle of good wine to drink while you cook.

Specialist Equipment

A large frying pan

A deep pan

Sharp knife

A good cook

A glass for the wine

How to cook:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As designed by Isabel

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

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

“What is the noise?”

“Don’t know”

“The roof is moving”

“What?”

“Look, it is moving.”

“Move, run, now”

“The windows”

“Close them, oh Dio!”

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

A strange sound came from the chimney

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

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

This photo does NOT do these stupid windows justice.

This photo does NOT do these stupid windows justice.

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

Big and baggy, just like grannies knickers

Big and baggy, just like grannies knickers

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

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

I will huff and puff and blow your shed away.

I will huff and puff and blow your shed away.

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

This post will self destruct in 48 hours

If you read my posts, you may find that they change after a couple of days. They remain basically the same, but the grammar and spelling miraculusly, miraculastly, amazingly improves. This is because Mrs Sensible logs onto my blog, switches into skool marm mode and mutters and tuts her way through my spilling mistakes.

Because Mrs Sensible reads my posts, this post will self destruct in 48 hours if not sooner.

Pecora Nera in trouble

Pecora Nera in trouble

On Sunday I was in trouble. I don’t know why, I pondered everything I had done, not done, touched or not touched over the previous three days. I know I had been a bit lax with the old, unloading the dishwasher but it doesn’t normally cause frosty stares and monosyllable answers.

I asked if I was in trouble. I hasten to add this is not a good thing to do…..

In the end I sat down and had a proper Poo Bear think.

A really hard think

A really hard think

And then it came to me, like a bolt out of the blue, a sledge-hammer thought, straight to my left temple.

A day to remember

A day to remember

I HAD FORGOT MRS SENSIBLE’S BIRTHDAY

Panic struck… I tried to remember the exact date that I had forgotten. I checked my phones diary, my laptop for proof of her birthday and even her facebook page. I knew her birthday was around now, but had I just missed it, or was I really in trouble, by at least a week or more?  Was my life salvageable?

I checked her Italian ID Card.

220px-Carta_identita_italiana

With shaking hands the truth stared me in the face…. I had missed her birthday by several days. I was mortified, scared even. It was too late to rush out and buy a big chocolate cake with Mi Dispiace printed across it. I was doomed, my fate was sealed.

I quietly sat back down in the lounge and pondered my alternatives. They looked very bleak. How could I forget my loves birthday???? Should I broach the subject empty-handed? or wait it out until Monday and buy her lots of flowers, chocolate, new shoes etc, and endure another day of being in trouble…

And then I had another thought

A really hard think

Another really hard think

I couldn’t believe I had missed her birthday, so saying silent prayers I quietly tiptoed back to her handbag, dug out her purse and re checked her ID card. The date I had seen in my terror, was the date her card expired….. Her Birthday is in August, on the 12th to be exact.

So I am really really glad, I didn’t play honest Joe and tell her that I understand why she was mad at me and that I was sorry for forgetting her birthday, because I would have dug myself an even bigger hole than I was already in.

The problem is…. I still don’t know why I was in trouble…. and I don’t want Mrs Sensible to read this and realise that I forgot her birthday, so this post will self destruct in 48 hours.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

Crop dusting

Mario the pazzodico crop duster

A point and press picture.

I have seven photos of this lunatic flying low over our house. Six of the photos I took, feature  either  the front  of the plane or just the tail of the plane, as he disappeared over the roof tops. Twice I nearly toppled over the veranda as I stood on tip toes trying to capture him.

Mario was spraying the rice fields, to kill the mosquitoes that breed in the paddy fields. He didn’t do a very good job because they still ate me  alive.

I nearly killed my self installing the mosquito netting on the windows, I will up load the post when my hands stop shaking.

P.S I think this is the first post that doesn’t mention Mrs Sensible

 

 

This post is for the Weekly photo challenge: fleeting

Weekly photo challenge: the sign says

Share a picture of a SIGN and explain why you chose that picture!

I don’t normally do the photo challenges, however here are two photos from Italy.

One way only.

One way only ?

Italians see road signs and traffic lights, as advisory rather than obligatory.

To give you a couple of examples, I stopped at a red traffic light while we were driving in Catania Sicily. The guy in the car behind me, started honking his horn and waving his hand at me. I looked at Mrs Sensible and said, “what’s his problem, the light is still red!”

Mrs Sensible explained, “the light may be red, but there are no cars crossing the junction so it is safe to go”

It is said that the drivers in Northern Italy are better than the drivers in the south but:-

I was  driving a friend home one night, she was directing me through the traffic, as we approached her apartment, she said “turn left here”

“I can’t it is a no entry”

It doesn’t matter I am a resident

But it doesn’t say, no entry except residents, it is a one way street!!

Pecora, it doesn’t matter, my apartment is just up the street. I have lived here 15 years and I always turn left up here.

Don't use a pedestrian crossing to cross,

Don’t use a pedestrian crossing to cross,

This photo was taken in Calabria.

When you come to Italy on your holiday, please do not use the zebra crossings when you want to cross the street. There are a number of reasons.

1) You will annoy the car drivers who use them to park there cars.

2) They are very dangerous, no really they are. As you start to cross the road, you will be thinking  you are safe and the car will stop for you. I am here to tell you, it is not so. The driver is thinking, mmm pizza today, I had better phone my mum and make sure she has put the beer in the fridge. He will not have even noticed you, not unless you have long legs and a short skirt. And even then he will still run you over.

When I moved here, I drove Mrs Sensible’s car from the UK to Italy, I took the scenic route and drove through, Belgium, Switzerland a bit of Germany… I didn’t have one near miss or accident.

Two weeks after arriving here, I stopped at a zebra crossing in Alessandria, to let an old guy cross the road. The old guy never moved he just stood there and watched the Ford Transit Van redesign my boot and bumper.

While we were exchanging insurance details, the van driver asked Mrs Sensible “Why did he stop?”

Because he is English!

This post is for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

Blackberry: A lesson in customer service. (Italians please pay attention)

A while ago I wrote a post about the Fedex fiasco , I was trying to point out, that even a well oiled machine like Fedex grinds to a halt as soon as it crosses over the border into Bella Italia. Last week, the camera on my Blackberry Playbook ceased to work, I thought another fiasco was about to begin….

 For my birthday, my children bought me a Blackberry Playbook. It is a wonderful device. I use it to read English books, watch films, and to monitor the fat I am losing  I have lost two and a half kilos in the past 2 weeks. When I travel I use the playbook to keep track of my business expenses, price lists, quotations, e mails, gosh the list goes on. To be honest, Mrs Sensible tends to get a tad annoyed with me and the Playbook, because it is normally glued to my hand, as I read yet another book.

Playbook Pecora Nera

Disaster stuck on the 14th May 2013, the Playbook camera stopped working. I was devastated, I could still read books and all the other functions worked, but without the camera I couldn’t annoy Mrs Sensible, by filming her while she paints her toe nails or capture her admitting to one of the few mistakes that she makes.

Mrs Sensible is a bit camera shy.

Mrs Sensible is a bit camera shy.

My children bought the Blackberry Playbook in Meadowhall UK, the receipt is nowhere to be seen. I spent two days deciding whether to contact Blackberry, to see if they could fix it under warranty. The main stumbling points were A) I had lost my receipt, B) would my Playbook get lost in the Italian postal system and finally, C) Would my playbook be sent to Giuseppe Garybaldy in some repair clinic in Naples, never to be seen again.

I decided to phone Blackberry; I ignored the Italian helpline and instead phoned the UK helpline. Paula, one of Blackberry’s technical support staff, answered the phone. She asked me what the problem was. I began by explaining the camera fault; I then started to tell her how I had tried to fix the fault myself. I went into great detail, telling her I had researched the playbook forums and I had tried all the fixes, including holding down various buttons and forcing the playbook to reboot. I don’t think she was too impressed. I promised, I would never again  try to fix my playbook myself.

Paula told me she needed my Playbook to send her a report. She explained how to do this and promised to call me back in twenty minutes. What a nice woman!

Twenty minutes later, Paula phoned me and said it was a hardware problem, she said I needed to send my Playbook to their service centre. I could just visualise good ole Giuseppe Garybaldy with his screw driver and hammer, plus the next six months of asking “have you found my Playbook.”  I told Paula, that I had reservation about sending my playbook to any site within Bella Italia. I think I told her about my driving licence fiasco, and various other problems I have had with Italy. I even offered to pay the carriage, if she would let me send the Playbook to a UK repair centre.

Paula laughed, she said the Playbook needed to go to Germany. Ah the Germans!! I remember them from the sauna  Now that is a different story, the Germans are more efficient than the English. In fact, they make the English look like Italians when it comes to efficiency.  Paula said, she would send me a box with instructions, I was to put my Playbook in the box, complete the form and ask DHL to collect the box. There was nothing to pay; what a nice lady!

Honest I did a google search for German efficiency and this came up

Honest I did a google search for German efficiency and this came up.

The following day, Paula E mailed me and asked “have you got the box?” I had a quick scout around my office and reception, I couldn’t see it.

I asked the accounts lady “I search box, this big, you see?”

COSA? (WHAT?)

I asked the company secretary “box, like this, DHL, errhh you see?”

She gave me a ten minute explanation, which I didn’t understand, but I nodded my head as though everything was as clear as mud day.

I e-mailed Paula to say, sorry but the box has not arrived. As I pressed the E mail send button, I wandered of to the coffee machine, and there on a shelf was my box. Of course it was there, I work in an Italian office and of course, I should expect my box to be hidden.  This is why Italy grinds to a stop; no one knows who moved what or why.

I watch movies while I cook, Please note, the playbook stand in use is not a Blackberry authorised stand.

I watch movies while I cook, Please note, the playbook stand in use is not a Blackberry authorised stand.

I placed my playbook in the box and sent it back to Blackberry. I was wondering, how I was going to cope without my playbook; would the DT’s set in? Would I have to watch Italian television? 24 hours later, DHL delivered a brand new Blackberry Playbook.

Paula phoned me and asked if it had received my brand spanking new Playbook, she asked if she could phone me on Monday to make sure the Playbook was working and to make sure I was happy. What an incredibly nice woman!!

I am not sure where Paula is based, but I sent her, a link to the Fedex Fiasco. After lunch I checked my stats, lots of hits on the Fedex Fiasco and 72 visitors from Portugal. Now if I was a betting man, I would say the lovely lady from Blackberry is based in Portugal.

No comment

Italian Customer Service

Italian Customer Service: Bang head on wall

My UK driving licence has finally expired. The grubby bit of paper the Italians gave me as a substitute, has also expired. My bicycle has a flat tyre.

I was told not to worry, that the temporary substitute licence had expired, as it is normal in Italy and the police will accept it is just another Italian cock up. The important thing, I was told, is to have with you the medical form, that proves you are fit to drive.

That kind of says everything there is to know about Italy.

Do you have a valid driving licence?  No

Do you have cervicale? mm maybe

Links to past driving licence fiasco

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Parts 4 to 349 will follow over the next 5 months, groan

 

 

84 Kilos and counting

I am going on a diet, there I have said it. It is now out in the open and I will probably regret telling you.

I have decided to lose some a lot of weight because, I have read:-

Cognitive reflection’s funny post about joining a fighting class, in the hope of losing some weight and nearly getting himself thumped.

Also Duffer’s thread on the British Expats forum, entitled Fat people I need some help.

And finally, because I caught a glance of myself, in the mirror as I left the shower. I managed to realise it was me, before I started shouting to Mrs Sensible, “Help help there’s a naked fat man running amok in the house”.

I apologise that this is not a very Italian themed post, and I will try not to get too graphic.

didn’t think it was possible for a simple bathroom fixture, for example a set of weighing scales, to induce a near heart attack. But they did. This morning I weighed myself at seven in the morning (84 kilo), ate a little breakfast and just before I cleaned my teeth I weighed myself again. One small bowl of cereal using low fat milk had increased my weight by two kilos. TWO KILOS!!!, as I stood in the bathroom thumping my chest trying to restart the heart rhythm, I kicked the scales and then stood on them again; the scales dropped from 86 Kilos down to 80 kilos. So the foul tasting low fat milk really works.

The bathroom weighing scales have been thrown in the bin.

I have now successfully completed 24 hours on my diet; no chocolate, wine, biscuits or beer have passed my lips.

My favourite biscuits and Chocolate. Did you know Fiesta bars are 8% alcohol?

My favourite biscuits and Chocolate. Did you know Fiesta bars are 8% alcohol?

Full of good intention this lunch, I went for a walk to the local café. I normally drive home and raid the fridge and drink a little wine. However while I was sat drinking my low calorie drink, Mrs Sensible called me with the “where are you and have you eaten the salad I left in the fridge for you?” Ooops, I tried to pacify her, by explaining about my 12 minute walk and that I wasn’t drinking a glass of wine. Needles to say she was not very impressed. I am glad I didn’t mention that it was so hot I was eating a Magnum to cool down.

Tasty but 15.5 grams of fat

Tasty but 15.5 grams of fat

I have also invested in a brand new set of weighing scales, not the old spring type that you can achieve your desired weight by leaning slightly to the left or the right, but electronic ones. They not only tell you how heavy you are, they also tell you how much of your body, is pure unadulterated fat. I am not sure if it distinguishes between fat and saturated fat, I know from the Magnum bar that there was 15.5g of fat and 11.2 grams of dreaded saturated fat, in that cooling delicious ice cream.

My scales are posh, but this is a better picture

My scales are posh, but this is a better picture

Because the new weighing scales are complicated and the instructions are in Italian, I have used google translate to understand the user instructions. The, input your height and age, so that it can work out my height to weight ratio so that it can work out how fat I am allowed to be was easy. I have thought about lying to it and imputing that I am six foot three, and then telling the truth after I have lost a bit of fat. But as a black sheep I know I will get caught. After the input instructions, the Google translate sounded a little strange, it started babbling on about standing on the scales buck naked so the scale can electrocute my feet by battery, to work out my fat and water content. I might have to ask Mrs Sensible about that one.

Apart from scratching and laughing the only exercise I do is walking to and from the car. Before you lot start shouting, I did spend the weekend digging the vegetable plot over, and then two days walking around like an old man, moaning every time I had to stand up.

So please use the comments for advice on how to lose weight.

Read, help and criticise…

Englishman in Italy

Ok girls and boys, I have been invited to submit a post (under 1000 words) to a newspaper and after a long think, bearing in mind I can’t use lots of pictures, this is the one I will send. Unless you have a better idea.

I would love any feedback, you can be critical and I won’t be offended. I might just un-follow you  🙂

Grazie PN

Today is back to school day for most of the children in Italy. My Italian wife, Mrs Sensible is a primary school teacher. This year the Italian education authority thought it would be a good idea for her to teach English, mathematics and music in a school five villages away and English and Italian in a school six villages away. My wife seems to spend half her life driving from one school to another.

While I sit here typing this blog Mrs Sensible is colouring in posters for her new classrooms. The little quip I made about, I hope you have finished all your work before you started colouring in your pictures was almost met with physical violence.

I too have to go to school; Mrs Sensible has forced me to go to the local evening class to learn Italian. I suppose forced is maybe a bit hard, my mum forced me to school by threatening me with the slipper, Mrs Sensible used the “If you want to stay in Italy you need to learn the language or maybe we should just go back to the UK” threat.

I have never found my lack of Italian to be a huge problem, I can order wine and grappa. I can also request the cost of items at the local shops. In fact my lack of Italian has been quite useful, Scusi, io inglese, mi dispiace non capsico, (Sorry, I am English I don’t understand)  has saved me from buying expensive items or helped me escape from street traders trying to sell me bags and belts.

So, as my good wife had become exasperated with being my interpreter, she enrolled me in a basic Italian night class run by the local municipal for stranieri (immigrants). The teacher Maestra Piera is in her late 50s. Her eyes glitter with excitement as she explained to my wife that if I want to learn Italian, all I have to do is listen to everything she says. Oh and importantly attend her class regularly. This seems far removed from the way I was taught in school. I seem to remember it took the threat of the cane and detention for me to apply myself to the lessons.

On my first lesson, I was determined not to draw attention to myself. I quietly entered the classroom and walked to a desk at the back of the room.  As I started to sit down, Maestra Piera pointed at me and announced to the class “Lui e’ Inglese, si chiama Peter.” (He is English, his name is Peter) She then pointed to a desk at the front of the class and shouted “Vieni Peter, vieni qui.”  (Come Peter, come here) The horrors of my former school life quickly returned as I slowly dragged myself to the front of the class and sat down in the desk that is normally reserved for the naughty boy. I was beginning to wonder if I would have to produce a sick note signed by my wife when I decided to skip a lesson.

The classroom is the same as any schoolroom that I have sat or stood in the corner of. The only difference is the desks are scored with graffiti in Italian, Giuseppe Ti Amo Loradana. (Giuseppe loves Loradana) As I sat waiting for the lesson to begin I started to thumb through my new Italian – English dictionary, wondering if my homework would include backing it in brown paper. As I sat there wishing I was somewhere else I become aware of all the different languages that were being spoken in the room Russian, Ukrainian and a lot of French but no English.

We started the first lesson with a simple subject. How to change a singular noun into a plural noun, while remembering to change the article at the same time. We also needed to remember that the rules are different for male and female gender nouns. Not only is it mind-boggling, but all the explanations the teacher gave were in Italian. Logarithms without a table or calculator would have been easier. It wasn’t until I showed Mrs Sensible my notes later that night, that I became aware of what I had been listening to for the previous two and a half hours.

At one point during the lesson Maestra Pierra looked at me and said with a huge smile and a nod. “Peter hai Capito?”  (Peter you understand?) I slowly shook my head no. Huge mistake! She walked to my desk smiled at me, leaned in close and raising her voice to a shout proceeded to give me the exact same explanation, once again in Italian. “Oh ok ok io capisco” (Oh ok ok I understand) I said. I never made that mistake again.

In the early lessons I think Maestra Piera thought I was her perfect student. I never asked her to repeat anything twice and I wrote down almost everything she said. It was only later that she understood how badly I was progressing in her lessons. One of the problems with the lessons, was I didn’t understand Italian therefore I didn’t understand the teacher. The second problem was the class had a massive mix of abilities. There were the French, Spanish and Romanians who with their Latin based language could argue with the teacher over the correct structure of a sentence and then there was me who needed pictures of cats and dogs with gatto and cane (cat and dog) printed beneath them.

I struggled through two years of classes with Maestro Piera and I know it was as much a struggle for her as it was for me. The symbolic certificate she gave me saying I had attained level 2 in Italian was presented more for my dogged attendance and also to make sure I didn’t re apply for a third year.

 

**Thanks for the suggestions, I have updated the post. So if the comments below don’t make any sense, it is my fault.

Part 3: How to swap a UK driving licence to an Italian one in 340 difficult steps

Englishman in Italy

Englishman in Italy

Quick update to part 1 and part 2

So I have just received a telephone call from Mr Cretino, the man who is supposed to be transferring my UK driving licence to an Italian one. To be honest I do not receive many calls on my Italian mobile, normally the caller is Mrs Sensible asking what sort of trouble I am about to or are in. Sometimes Vodafone or one of the other networks call to try and get me to swap carriers, but they give up as soon as they here…. Io sono inglese!!

This afternoon Mr Cretino called, so I asked Luagina the secretary at work to talk to him. The long and short of it is, when I married Mrs Sensible we hyphenated our surnames. It was all my fault I wanted to add her Italian surname to mine.

I am the proud owned of a mix of official documents, some in my birth surname and some in my adopted Italian hyphenated surname name. Mr Cretino is more than a little confused, as is his office.

As I type this, Mrs Sensible is trying to resolve the situation. I somehow have to prove I am both the pazzo inglese with the hyphenated name and also the pazzo inglese with the birth surname.

An update is sure to follow tomorrow.

 

P.N

Part 1

Part 2 

Part 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is Monday morning and I really need a bacon butty.

Red Cross Parcel

Red Cross Parcel

It is Monday morning in Italy, it is raining, I am sat in my office sulking and I need a bacon butty (bacon sandwich).

Don’t tell Mrs Sensible, but from time to time I do miss bits of England, bits like crisps, real beer or a bacon butty.

During the summer two of my children came to visit me, “Dad, do you need anything bringing” they asked. The above photo shows the goodies they managed to fit in their suitcase. I think the only clothes Lucy managed to fit in her suitcase, were a pair of jeans and a bikini. We spent the rest of the holiday buying her summer dresses. On hindsight it might have been cheaper, to have air freighted my emergency provisions over and let Lucy fill her case with her own clothes.

Back to rainy Monday and life in my office, I have 25 industrial water pumps in Taiwan that should be sat in my stores, money sat in my customers banks that should be sat in my bank and I really, really need a bacon butty.

I really need a bacon butty

I really need a bacon butty

If I was still sat in my old office in England, it would still be Monday morning, it would still be raining and I would be dreaming of life in Italy. But, and it is only a small but. The sarni shop (sandwich shop) down the hill made fantastic bacon buttys.

I could order a pizza from the local pizzeria, if someone was here to phone them for me, last time I tried it was a total disaster. I never realised how difficult it was to mime down a phone line.

Io bisogno una pizza (I need a pizza)

Cosa? (What)

Mi scusi, Io bisogno una pizza Diavola,  mio indirizzo è strada industriale… (Sorry, I need a Diavola pizza, my address is industrial road…)

Cosa, non capisco?

ARGGGHH! IO SONO INGLESE, IO FAME; IO BISOGNO UNA PIZZA, PLEASE. ( I am English, I am hungry, I need a pizza Please)

CLICK Brrrrrrrr

As I stared at the phone that was still brrrrr ing in my ear, Manzo the nice delivery man from Bartolini, arrived with a parcel. He understood that I was hungry and he phoned the pizzaria on my behalf.

Pizza Diavola

This is a Pizza Diavola. Purchased during the summer from a local pizzeria.

The pizza, complete with a bottle of beer arrived. It was very nice, but I really wanted a bacon butty.

UPDATE….

I have just bust my glasses.

EnglishmaninItaly.org

Just bust my glasses

As if the day was not bad enough, I have just bust my glasses.

Summer Skiing in Italy

Driving home at lunch time, I spotted two old dears running down the road, whilst madly waving a pair of ski poles around. Now I have lived in Italy for the past 6 years and so nothing surprises me. But I must say, these two old dears in their stretch running pants piqued my interest.  (Photo will be uploaded later)

So in the interest of science, I have done a little research.

Summer Skiing

Summer skiing. Very safe unless you trip over each other.

It seems that Summer Skiing is considered to be a safe sport. It is highly unlikely that you will fly home from your Skiing trip complete with a plaster cast. Whereas in winter skiing, a plaster cast is considered by many drinking companions, to be adequate proof that you actually did go winter skiing in the Alps.

2 Summer Skiing Englishman in Italy

Skiing in wellies is perfectly acceptable.

The cost of the clothing is also quite reasonable. You do not have to spend the kids inheritance on fashionable ski attire. It is quiet acceptable to go summer skiing in wellies, jeans and a silly hat.

3 Summer Skiing Englishman in Italy

Learners on a nursery slope.

But with all sports, it is very important to find the best summer ski instructor. Here you can see three beginners getting to grips with this demanding sport.

4 Summer Skiing Englishman in Italy

These are not English Summer Skiers, because there is not a knotted hanky or beer belly in sight.

Although I do not condone summer skiing on a beach, in my opinion beaches are for relaxing, and sunbathing, not running around waving dangerous ski poles. It is advisable to check with your  local authorities for restrictions.

5 Summer skiing Englishman in Italy

Summer Skiing in your garden

Your own garden is a very good place to practise Summer Skiing. After all, if you are worried about falling down and getting tangled up with your ski poles, it is better to do so in your own garden, rather than out on the road where someone might have a handy camera.

Summer skiiing Englishman in Italy

Summer Skiing is also an indoor sport.

For those rainy days, and here I am thinking of the people who still live in England, Summer Skiing can take place in the comfort of your own home. A word of warning, cornering around the coffee table should only be undertaken by experienced Summer Skiers. And please mind the dog.

Summer skiing englishman in italy

No special footwear is necessary.

So to recap. Apart from the cost of two sticks ski poles, the cost of this sport is very low. No ski lift passes, no expensive medical bills and you don’t have to freeze to death.

A mother in law, a pen knife and the airport police.

I was going to do a post about the Easter bunny and how he gave Mrs Sensible a dishwasher rather than a chocolate egg, but the stupid rabbit bunny forgot to give me anything. So instead here is a post about Mrs Sensible’s mum, Gatwick Airport and a police caution.

In 2007 Mrs Sensible and I were still living in rainy England. From time to time visitors from Italy would arrive and the language in our house, quickly changed from English to beautiful Italian, except mine of course. Despite the amazing collection of Italian grammar books and dictionaries I had acquired, I soon found mime was easier to learn and much more universal.

Marcel Marceau

Marcel Marceau the master of languages

One of my favourite visitors to our house was my mother in law. One evening while Marta was staying, we were invited to dinner by our friends Gary and Joan. Joan created a delicious meal and during the meal Gary gave my mother in law a beautiful bone handle penknife for her husband. Gary said, he had carved the handle himself, he also strongly suggested that we place the knife in our main luggage when Marta flew home. This was duly translated by Mrs Sensible.

Penknife

The penknife was a little bit like this.

When I booked Marta’s return flight to Sicily, I was amazed at how low the cost was, and so I also booked a seat for me. I told Mrs Sensible that her mum shouldn’t carry her suitcase by herself, so I would go with her have a 10 day holiday and would be back in the UK quicker than she could say “questa è una cosa molto egoista da fare. Ho bisogno di una vacanza così”

The security at Gatwick Airport was on high alert following various terrorist incidents, so we had to remove our shoes and pass them with our bags and coats through the X ray machine. I didn’t mind the increased precautions, because 1) I didn’t really want to get on a plane that might have a bomb on it and 2) I had left all my dangerous items, such as my battery razor and tooth paste at home. As I walked pass the security guard and reached down to pick up my holdall. A female security guard pointed to Marta’s hand bag and said “Is that yours sir?”

My Hand bag?

My Hand bag?

Mine!! A handbag! Was she mad? “It belongs to Marta” I said pointing at my mother in law. “Can we look in it please?” she asked.

I shrugged and turning to Marta I mimed, have you got any face cream, bottles or perfume in your bag. Marta smiled at me and shook her head. The security guard was definitely onto something, she was excitedly rummaging through Marta’s bag; the way a sniffer dog might, if it had just sniffed 4 kilos of cocaine in burst bags.

Meet Fleabag

Meet Fleabag the sniffer dog

With a flourish the guard produced Gary’s penknife. As she opened the knife and waved it under our noses there was an audible AAHHH from the other travellers in the queue. I looked at Marta in amazement, this didn’t look like the innocent pen knife Gary had given her, it looked like a Samurai sword, and if the guard didn’t stop waving it about, someone was going to lose an arm.

Policeman with the penknife

Policeman with the penknife

I started to apologise, I explained that Marta was Italian, not used to travelling, not a spring chicken, not a terrorist, blah blah blah.  I asked if she would kindly dispose of the knife and we would be on our way.

Fifteen minutes later, we were still stood in the naughty corner waiting for the police to come and tell us off. When PC Plod and his sergeant eventually arrived, I again apologised and explained that our flight was due to leave in 15 minutes.  I calmly explained the dinner and the gift, it was at the point where I mentioned Marta’s lack of English, that the Policeman asked if we needed an interpreter. It might take an hour or two for the interpreter to arrive, but we need to fill out some forms and your mother in law will need to accept a caution .  We don’t need an interpreter; I am bi lingual I said.

I am bi lingual

Of course I speak fluent Italian

I translated all the questions the policeman asked. Some questions were easy, for example; what is her name or what is her address. But when the policeman asked me to translate, please ask her if she will accept a formal caution or would she prefer to make a statement at the local police station. I resorted to total gobbledygook. I strung as many Italian words that I knew together and kept adding stai zitta (shut up) every time Marta opened her mouth. I am not really sure what Marta thought as I started to say in very very bad Italian “stai zitta, where bathroom? I like kitchen no like knife, no stai zitta, please si si si I said, as I nodded my head.

Marta whose eyes were as wide as saucers, nodded her head. The policeman then gave my mother in law an official police caution. She was warned that if she ever gets into trouble again, this police caution may be taken into account.

Any more trouble from you and...

Any more trouble from you and…

My mother in law and I ran through the airport to the departure gate, while I tried to explain on the mobile to Mrs Sensible why we hadn’t called her and no I wouldn’t go back and ask the policeman if we could keep the penknife and yes I realised it was a gift for her dad.

A video paints a few thousand words.

I have decided it is time for another sensible post. We have had enough mirth and merriment. So  today we will look at the low-cost airlines, that we like to whinge about.

Frederick R. Barnard in 1921 coined the phrase “A picture paints a thousand words” (see I do my research)

So here is….    A video paints a few thousand words, attributed to Pecora Nera 2013

Yorkshire Airlines

Fascinating Aida

Part 2: How to swap a UK driving licence to an Italian one in 340 difficult steps

Yesterday was my third visit to the motorizzazione, in my ongoing saga to convert my UK driving licence to an Italian Driving licence. At 5.30 I arrived at the office with Mrs Sensible in tow, she wouldn’t let me bring my sharpened fork.

Signore Cretino once again asked if he could take a photo copy of my driving licence, Italian identity card and my codice fiscale. Just for fun I also handed him my British Passport. This is the third set of copies he has taken. He must be building up an impressive file.

An Englishman in Italy

Pecora Nera Driving Licence

 The first problem we hit was the name on my UK driving licence didn’t match the name on my British Passport or my Italian Identity card.  Mrs Sensible explained, that in England it is possible to combine the surnames of the husband and wife when they marry. He wasn’t very impressed; I have to take my hat off to Mrs Sensible because she calmly explained that she was right and he would just have to accept the situation.

The next step was my medical. I had to visit the doctor who had an office next door,  but way up on the fourth floor. By the time we had climbed the steps, I nearly needed a doctor to resuscitate me. We passed an old lady on the way up who was slowly climbing the stairs for her medical. She looked about 80 years old. When she finally entered the waiting room she looked 85 years old.

It is impossible for 20 Italians to sit in a waiting room and either sit quietly or to whisper to their partners. It took them about 3 nanoseconds to realise I was English.

Old Lady: “Your husband is English, Does he understand Italian?”

Mrs Sensible: “Yes he is English and no he doesn’t understand much”

Pecora Nera “I speaks Italian small small”

Old Lady “Ah! His Italian is very Good”

Mrs Sensible looked to heaven and I gave a huge grin.

Mrs Sensible then showed everyone in the doctors waiting room, my new driving licence photo. She used the following words as she handed my photo around e’ Brutto, e’ schifo.

The old lady laughed and showed her photo. A second lady who was sat across from us produced her driving licence. I would estimate her age somewhere between 65 and 70. Her photo showed a woman of 26 with a 1960s hairstyle.

Her photo was something like this

Her photo was something like this

Pecora Nera “ That doesn’t look like her, how can the police identify her? I mean she looks like her daughter or even her daughter’s daughter; but with a 1960s hairstyle”

Mrs Sensible “In Italy we don’t need to update our photo”

Pecora Nera “Madness, so you can be 85 and use a photo taken when you were 18?”

Doctor “Next”

Pecora Nera “ I English I speaks Italian small small”

Doctor  “Ok we speaks English, I speaks English little”

Pecora Nera “ Oh your English is so good, thank heavens you understand English”

I passed the medical and we went back to see Signore Cretino at the motorizzazione.

As we entered the office, the following conversation was taking place between a young man and Mr Cretino. Mrs Sensible quietly translated it for me, while I laughed into my hanky.

Young man: My driving licence was suspended by the Carabinieri. When the suspension was over I went back to the office to collect my licence. The Carabinieri in the office had lost it!! So I asked them what they intended to do about it.

The outstanding Carabinieri

The outstanding Carabinieri

Signore Certino: And?

Young man: The Carabinieri said “We won’t do anything, it is your problem. You need to sort it.”

So I asked how do I sort it, what do I need to do? The Carabinieri told me to come here and apply for a brand new driving licence. He said “take your documents and two photos.” I asked him if the photos will need authenticating, he said no, so here I am with the documents and the two photos.

Signore Cretino: You need to authenticate one of those photos; you need to go either to the Carabinieri or to the council.

Young man: But I have just come from the Carabinieri and they said it wasn’t necessary.

Mr Cretino: Well, they could have authenticated them, but they didn’t,  so now you will have to go back to them and come back here tomorrow.

As regards to my driving licence, I am now in possession of a piece of paper with a sticker on it. This wonderful bit of paper is valid for 30 days and only valid in Italy.

3 steps forward and 5 steps backwards.

 

P.s Multifarious Meanderings is trying to get a French licence in France, go and read.

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

Who am I? Expat, Immigrant or Zingero

Following on from my post Solipsism, I have decided to discover who I really am. A few people who left comments on the post suggested that I really don’t exist. So who am I?

I would love to be an Expat, I even belong to the British Expat Forum.  Although the moderators in their infinite wisdom, banned me, back in 2008 and I had to secretly reapply using a different name and e-mail address. But as a committed black-sheep (Pecora Nera) I was not surprised.   Apart from being ceremoniously booted off the Expats website, there are also two other reasons why I don’t think, I fall into the category of Expat. The first one is, I was born in Malta and I am not sure if ‘us’ Maltese can be Expats, the second and fundamental reason is, I can’t afford to pay a Punka Walla, also Mrs Sensible draws the line at me sitting all day in the sunshine drinking gin and tonic.

Gin and Tonic plus a Punka Walla

Gin and Tonic plus a Punka Walla

Photo credit to Neither use nor ornament

This leaves me with either option two an immigrant or option three Zingero. I love the sound of Zingero, it is one of the few Italian words that I can pronounce. It also kind of fits in with the black-sheep image.  Zingero is a derogatory term used to describe immigrants from Eastern Europe.  However I think Mrs Sensible would throw a No 8 wobbly if I started filling forms in with Pecora Nera, a Zingero.

So I am left with being an immigrant. I have just read in the news that David Cameron our beloved leader is clamping down on immigrants entering the UK. Does this mean he won’t let me back into the UK when I need to stock up on Bacon and T bags? Life is so complicated. On Friday night, I discussed, who am I? with Marco over a couple of glasses of beer. We batted the question and answer back and forth as we shared a plate of chips. After much deliberation Marco gave his considered opinion. You are a stupid Englishman.

So now I know!!! When I fill out my application for my Italian Driving Licence I need to write Stupido Inglese.

Solipsism, or am I a figment of my own imagination.

This weekend was designated as a chocolate eating and a movie watching weekend. I ordered fresh supplies of chocolate and, armed with my trusty credit card, I purchased a selection of DVDs from Amazon.co.uk

Mrs Sensible likes British Costume Dramas

Mrs Sensible likes British Costume Dramas

Jewel in the crown

Another good film

The Good Life

This one was for me

Miss Jean Brodie

And just in case we ran out of movies I bought this one.

I thought I had prepared the weekend to the last detail. All the films were in stock and would be delivered on Friday afternoon. I now had an ample stock of dark chocolate for Mrs Sensible and an adequate stock of milk chocolate for me.

On Friday afternoon I left the office early and drove home. I waited and waited, occasionally I glanced out of the window in search of the delivery van. At 6.43 I received an e-mail from Amazon, explaining that SDA could not deliver my DVD’s because my address was incorrect. Now this is strange because SDA have delivered to my house before and the gas and electric bills always find me.

Everything became clearer when I tried to input the tracking number on the SDA website, because SDA is part of Poste Italia.  Poste Italia is the government-owned postal system that specialises in losing parcels and making grown men cry. I dropped a quick message to a blogging friend at Expat eye on Latvia and received the following.

useful advice

useful advice

I was quiet worried; just to make sure I wasn’t a figment of my own imagination,  I immediately pinched myself to see if I was real. I then ran outside to check that the house was still here and got a second opinion from Google maps.

My house exists

My house exists!!

They also found me.

So here I am, Saturday morning on a non Chocolate and film weekend. It has turned into a let’s clean the house weekend. Curse you SDA!!! Debbs at  Digging wiv Debb will be pleased because choosing between cleaning the house under the direct supervision of Mrs Sensible and planting some seeds in the vegetable plot I chose the latter. The race is now on, will the peas, lettuce and cucumber arrive before SDA find my house?

Please place your bets below.

How to swap a UK driving licence to an Italian one in 340 difficult steps

An Englishman in Italy

Pecora Nera Driving Licence

I have created a new page for this post because I know this is going to be a long and painful saga. I will update this as I jump, dodge and get blown up by the Italian minefield of bureaucracy.

20/03/2013

Last summer I noticed that my driving licence would expire in May 2013. I searched on the internet whether, I could renew my licence with DVLC. Unfortunately this is not ‘legally possible’  because I do not live in the UK. I do have a house in the UK but someone is living in it. Further research seemed to imply that exchanging my UK licence for an Italian licence was easy. I would only need two photos, some money and a completed form. I should have known better, after all this is Italy, a country where I have been stopped for driving with a European UK driving licence.

The carabinieri who stopped me was not the brightest man alive, he tried to explain to Mrs Sensible that I, an Englishman was not allowed to drive in Italy with a Ukrainian driving licence. Mrs Sensible went straight into teacher mode and asked the poor carabinieri, (who was now asking himself why he had stupidly stopped me)  when did the Ukraine joined the EU? Still pointing at the European flag on my licence, Mrs Sensible then explained to him, again in teacher style language, that the UK on my licence actually stood for United Kingdom, and no it did not need to have GB for Grand Britannia on it.

So here, we are fifty-eight days from my driving licence melting down; and I decide enough is enough. I asked Mrs Sensible to phone the local office that deals with driving licences and find out what documents I will need to take to the office and how much it take to change my licence.

OFFICE: Why does your husband want an Italian Driving Licence?

MRS SENSIBLE: Because his UK licence expires in May.

OFFICE: UK licences do not expire. Italy is going to change to licences like the UK one.

MRS SENSIBLE: My husbands licence expires on the 17th May 2013. it is clearly stated on the licence.

OFFICE: Really! Tell your husband to pop into the office this afternoon and we will sort it all out.

MRS SENSIBLE: Pecora, if you go to the office now they will sort it out for you… go now… go.

PECORA NERA: He hasn’t got a clue what he is talking about has he…. ALL RIGHT I am going.

Standing in the office the idota stupido helpful man explained that, for a small sum of money he could stick a sticker on my UK driving licence that would make it valid for another 5 years.

Words failed me, both English and Italian words. I phoned Mrs Sensible and said ” I don’t need a sticker I need a new licence. Hertz car rental is not going to accept an Italian Sticker stuck on my driving licence as proof that it is now valid for another 5 years. Please explain this to this helpful  intelligent  cretino. After Mrs Sensible had had a short telephone conversation with the man, the phone was passed back to me and I was told “He will have it all sorted tomorrow. You will need to call back tomorrow around four in the afternoon.

Tomorrow I will update part 2 after I have driven back to the office and had another discussion with Signor Cretino. Right now I am going to have a glass of wine.

Part 2 

Part 3

Part 4