Monday 9 November 2015

45 Litres of 'Cilento Gold'

It's that time of year again, when the air hangs heavy
with the scent of olives & voices can be heard
all over the hillsides as the harvest gets 
under way.

I have tromped around our olive grove 
in my flowery Wellibobs, separating
olives from foliage in readiness 
for sacking up.
This year we had help from
our adoptive family, the Russos -
Angelo & his mum, Maria,
came up & put the new nets out with hubby
whilst I was back in the UK for half term week & then they came with sister Raffaela
to start the harvest last week;
Angelo has invested in a battery-driven
harvester, which whacks the olives out
of the trees in a fraction of the time
it takes to do the job manually (yes, I know
'whacks' isn't the technical term, but
the guys do technical, I'm just a girl &
as far as I can see, it whacks them).

By Friday lunchtime we had 5 sacks filled &
ready to take to the oleificio in the afternoon,
which is the minimum number they'll accept
to do an individual pressing.
They weighed in at 'due quintale' exactly
(two hundredweight to you & me);
after 30 minutes wait, we were finally allowed to offload them into the hopper ready for washing prior to pressing.

And, a couple of hours later, we finally had the satisfaction of seeing 45 litres of our very own
'Cilento Gold' running out of the pipe

Thursday 1 October 2015

Goodbye September, Hello October

September has come and gone, and with it
have gone the hot days, sometimes peaking at 37 degrees -
unseasonably hot.
The month brought us some spectacular storms,
and afforded me a couple of
lightning shots I was pleased with, of which 
this was the best.....

And this morning, after waiting over an hour for the 
first dawn of October to break,  
I was rewarded with this sight above Leila's Mountain

Whilst in the opposite direction, the rumble of distant thunder
could be heard beyond Monte Licosa
and, although the storm produced no lightning, 
it did produce a partial rainbow

I wonder what the rest of the month will bring?

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Packing Up Our Old Life

As the Pickfords lorry turned the corner, 
my first thought was,
'There's no way our house is going to fit in that'
(whether that is grammatically correct or not,
I don't know, but that was my exact thought). 

I'd been up since silly o'clock, thoughts of the
enormity of what we were about to do
having raced through my mind for most of the night.
And now the moment was here - the one where
you pack up your home & memories in a
removal lorry, not knowing when you're going 
to see them again.

It rained most of the day - Sod's Law that
it was the only day that week to rain - this did
not enhance the removal crew's mood.
And yes, I was right, the contents of our
4 bed detached did not want to fit into
the lorry. But after several phone calls to
the office & some cursing of Terry, the estimator,
plus more than one attempt at rearranging 
everything, by the end of the afternoon,  
the lorry set off for the storage depot and we were left watching our 12 month old granddaughter
toddling circuits through the hall, dining room
& lounge, much as our daughter used to 
in our previous house when she was that age.
Her giggles are the most precious memory
from that day - there are no photos,
but the picture is
etched in my memory forever.

Monday 28 September 2015

Missed it!

Social media was full of talk about the impending Supermoon
& lunar eclipse,
set to produce a spectacular Blood Moon.
Although the atmosphere has been a bit hazy of late,
meaning clarity on my moon shots was somewhat lacking,  
yesterday morning seemed much clearer 
and those Italian blue skies held the promise 
of some better captures overnight.
But, as we drove back home after lunch,
hubby commented on the clouds that
now floated above Leila's Mountain. 
And I knew they weren't going to 
disappear anywhere fast.

So I had to settle for some shots of
an over bright moon between the few breaks
 in the cloud, of which this one - taken at 23:05:56 -
is my favourite......

    I'm hoping for clearer skies in 2033

Sunday 9 August 2015

That'll Be A €60 Fine, Then

We were sitting outside Meeting Bar in Acciaroli
this morning, enjoying a pre-lunch drink.
The sun was shining in an almost cloudless sky
and there were lots of comings & goings
of various locals and holidaymakers alike,
 pulling up in cars &
offloading passengers to shoot in to
pick up dolce for post-lunch. 
At the particular moment that the Polizia Locale car
pulled up outside the church,
there were a couple of cars & a Vespa 
or two parked up.

As both female officers got out of the vehicle,
one of them gave 3 sharp trills on her whistle;
this warning to illegally parked motorists that 
the Polizia are about and ready  to start handing out
parking tickets always makes us chuckle - 
no way would you get such a warning in the UK.
(I should point out that, around here,
motorists MUST park in a marked 
parking space, otherwise they're parked illegally).

There was an ice cream coloured VW Beetle with its
roof down parked a few metres along from the bar. The officer blew her whistle again as she walked towards it; the owners of the other cars all scooted out & drove off.  

Another 3 whistle blasts, and that was it - final warning had been given - pen was put to paper.
Too late, the owner & his two passengers 
came back to the car, to find a 
Penalty Notice attached to the windscreen. 
He argued half heartedly, but he knew it 
was too late - once the ticket is written, 
it can't be cancelled.
And so, his Sunday morning bar bill suddenly jumped by a further €60. 


Wednesday 22 July 2015

We Have Nectarines!

OK, it's probably not very exciting in the grand scheme of things,
but for us - who are complete novices when it comes to 'growing your own' - 
the harvesting of our 
first ever decent crop of nectarines
is a pretty major event.
In previous years the fruits have either shrivelled 
and died at an early stage, been attacked by
wasps or been gobbled by the wild boar.

So, to have three dozen fruit for the first time
is one of those '365 Days of Happy' moments.

Monday 8 June 2015

Falling For Rome - Literally

It was Thursday, our third morning in Rome,
and we were due to have an 'Instagram meet' with Diana in Piazza Navona at lunchtime.
We'd taken the Metro to Colosseo & walked up to
Piazza Venezia (after a slight detour into
the Basilica di Ss Cosmo & Damiano - well worth

Taking the lift to the top of Vittoriano was on my 'Bucket List' & today I hoped to tick it off. 
I was in luck - there was no queue & it didn't take much to persuade hubby it was going to be
worth it for the views - it is not called 'Roma al Cielo' 
for nothing.
We stood and 'oohed & aahed', took the 
obligatory panoramic photos, then headed back down and slipped into the church tucked in behind the monument.
By now it was almost 11.30 am - time to pop into 
a bar & grab a coffee, before heading to Piazza Navona. 

We waited for the pedestrian lights to turn to green
and made our way across the road. Two thirds of the way across I could feel myself falling forwards,
in what seemed like slow motion. I put my left hand out to stop myself from landing on my face
and, as soon as it hit the cobbles, I knew it was broken. The fact that my ring finger was also jutting 
at an odd angle should have indicated that it was dislocated.  

A trip to Umberto I Policlinico confirmed that I'd managed to fracture both my middle finger & ring finger. A few tears when they said they'd have to
cut off my wedding and engagement rings 
soon had them agreeing to persevere with easing them off. 
I am now sporting a rather attractive splint, (hint of sarcasm there)
and face the prospect of an operation on my ring finger when the fracture is healed, as they can't manipulate it to cure the dislocation.

Needless to say, we didn't manage to meet up with 
Diana - we'll just have to return again in the not 
too distant future. 

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Freedom Is A State Of Mind

We go for a walk by the sea most afternoons,
and I tend to take a few photographs
on my Smartphone, in case
one of them turns out to be my
'365 Days of Happy' moment.

The trouble is, the sun is usually so bright,
it proves difficult to actually see what 
I'm capturing.
Yesterday was no exception, and,
although I knew there was a bird 
flying past as I was clicking away,
I had no idea that it had just flown into 
shot as I hit the button.
But it had......

Freedom is a state of mind

And I thought the quote fitted it perfectly.

Monday 11 May 2015

Il Veliero

Il Veliero

Hubby announced last Friday that we wouldn't be
going to La Torretta for lunch on Saturday, 
but would go out for Sunday lunch instead,
although he hadn't decided where we'd
be dining.
Come Sunday morning, we both decided we'd
like to head to Acciaroli & try Il Veliero
- The Dawn Treader - overlooking the port;
it's rated the best place to eat in Acciaroli on TripAdvisor & came recommended by our butcher.
We booked a table for 1 pm, which gave us an hour 
to wander around the port, sit & enjoy a coffee and
take a few photographs before eating. 

We were, as ever, first to arrive and were given 
the choice of any of half a dozen tables. Duly seated & handed the menu, we discussed which starter
we'd like to share (not because we're trying to 'eat on the cheap', but simply because we still can't manage to eat Italian style).

We settled on Parmigiana alla Spada,  
and when it arrived, we were glad we'd chosen to 
share it - it was a good size & rather filling,
and very flavoursome too.

For 'il primo' hubby chose Spaghetti con Vongole
& I opted for Nero - Black Spaghetti with Shark -
we decided on a side order of Zucchine, but, as is 'the norm' here, this wasn't brought to the table
until our primi piatti had been cleared.

My 'Nero' - the flavours were just awesome

Unfortunately, when they brought our dishes, they'd got hubby's order wrong & tried to tell him he'd ordered Spaghetti con Gamberetti,
but they were quite apologetic when they realised 
that they were wrong. 
When it eventually arrived, it looked
absolutely delicious. 

Freshly caught vongole are just so tasty

And the wine to accompany such a 'mouthgasmic' meal? 
An excellent Trentenare 2013 Fiano di Paestum - 
 I love how we have so many local wines
on offer

Friday 10 April 2015

Capturing The Moment

As we went for our afternoon walk yesterday, 
there was a wedding party hanging out at Bar L'Ancora, 
and movement on the rooftop terrace
of Torre Perrotti. 
So we speeded up our walk along the lungomare
and headed back, just in time to see the guests
heading towards the tower.

I love nothing better than seeing the bride
going through the doorway on the
way to making her vows, and 
capturing that moment that no-one else does......

Sunday 5 April 2015

Il Menu di Mare Pasqua

Not a bad view for Sunday lunch
As with most restaurants at Easter, Lo Sparviero was offering 2 set menus - 
'Il Menu di Mare' and 'Il Menu di Terra'.
We'd already decided when we booked a table yesterday that we'd both go for the 'Menu di Mare'; after all, Lo Sparviero is renowned as a fish restaurant, so it seemed the obvious choice.

Welcomed with huge smiles and lots of calls of 'Tanti auguri', we were shown to our table
on the first floor - as usual, we were the first diners
to arrive. 
Asked whether we wanted acqua liscia or
gassata, a bottle of the fizzy variety promptly
appeared, along with a bottle 
of Falanghina di Beneventano - the perfect
accompaniment to a fish menu.

The waiter ran through the menu for us
& we confirmed that we both wanted the
Menu di Mare Pasqua. The wine was poured
for my approval and a few minutes later the entree of Vellatuta di ceci con calamarelle in intingolo al rosmarino appeared...the aroma was

This was followed by antipasto of
Mattonella di Alicia di menaica con impanatura
saporita, provola e pomodorini confit -
a total contrast to the entree

Then came the Primo Piatto,
a beautifully creamy yet still 'al dente'
Risotto con seppie e carciofi.
Hubby found it difficult to finish this,
but I managed to clear my dish, eventually.

And then came the 'Secondo' -
Filetto di orata al cartoccio con
vongole, cozze e gamberetti
(that's sea bream with mussels, clams & prawns
to you & me). And that was by far the best
course, as one would expect.

The Falanghina was gradually going down, but as hubby is teetotal, it was going down rather slowly, so I decided that I'd bring the bottle home with me,
although I did feel a little self-conscious
walking along the Lungomare with
a wine bottle sticking out of my handbag.

'But what about dolce?' I hear you ask,
because, of course, the Italians excel at dolce.
Well yes, there was Dolce di casa,
which was their take on Pastiera,
and very yummy it was too!

Tuesday 17 March 2015

San Severino - Campania's Matera

It was a beautiful sunny morning, so we grabbed our cameras, jumped in the car & headed south
for San Severino.

Perched precariously above the Mingardo river,
this 'borgo medievale' dates back to the
10th century and thrived on trade with Bulgaria.
The first sight of it (in the photo above)
took our breath away.

The hamlet began to be abandoned at the end
of the 19th century, when the railway was built in the valley below, but some homes remained occupied until 1977, although the state of disrepair
gives the appearance of having been
abandoned long before that.

We stopped for a coffee in a bar in
'modern' San Severino before
discovering that the footpath up to
the borgo was barricaded &
off limits to the public.
But hey, we're English, and we didn't
understand the signs, did we?
So we climbed up, exploring the ruins
and admiring the views.....

And what we found when we reached the 
end of Via Croce just totally blew me away....

Sunday 8 March 2015

Now Is The Winter Of Our Content

Yes, I know Spring is in the air, somewhere,
but we've had 48 hours of galeforce winds
with windchill factors of up to -10°
(or should that be down to?),
and cloudy skies, so it has still felt like Winter.

Anyway, let's get down to the subject of this blog, which is to talk about our
'stufa di pellet' (wood pellet burning stove).

When we were having Il Sogno finished to our specification, we were quoted €10k
to have a stove & radiators installed;
as wall space for placing furniture was at a premium, we decided not to go with that option, and had an open fireplace instead.
And while we found a log fire to be a very romantic option on more than one occasion, it really didn't warm up much of the house.

So, last October, we finally had a stufa fitted, with pipes in the loft vented to
each of the bedrooms & the bathroom -
if only we'd been told that this was
an option back in October 2010, we'd
have felt a lot warmer those first two
cruel winters!

The stufa may look like an oversized microwave, but it has made a vast difference this winter, and Il Sogno has
been the cosiest she's ever been.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Being Nanali

I went back to the UK during half term week, 
to help out with looking after our grandchildren -
my chance to be 'Nanali' for a week.

A was at Nursery for the first 2 days,
so I only had M to entertain
until Friday.

Practising our 'trout pout'

It was a week filled with lots of walks,
either to the park or to see Great Grandad;
a visit to the cinema to see Paddington -
M sat on my knee the whole way through -
lots of splashing at bathtime,
and lots of bedtime stories
(the best part of the day for me - I was
always disappointed when our
children outgrew a story at bedtime).

But most of all, it involved lots of cuddles
with my 2 favourite 'little people'....
and that's what I miss most when
I'm back home

Enjoying 'Nana Day'

Friday 27 February 2015

Rest In Peace Helle

Helle & son Thor in her shop, Outdoor 45
We thought it was strange when Sven & Helle
didn't come over from Denmark to stay at the Old House on 
Leila's Mountain last October - they always came for a few days 
before the November rains began. At the end of the month
Sven e-mailed to let us know that Helle had
been diagnosed with cancer in August & 
was undergoing treatment. 
Although they were both shocked, 
Sven sounded pretty positive that the treatment would work.

Unfortunately, it didn't; Helle passed away yesterday morning.

And we have to say 'goodbye' to one of the most beautiful, 
positive, enthusiastic & energetic women we have ever met.

Rest In Peace Helle, it was a pleasure to know you.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

February Brings The Snow

February is the cruellest month.
It brings the bitterly cold north wind and,
quite often, snow - as it did on Monday.
The first snow to fall on Il Sogno this winter....

First snowfall

Admittedly, the first snowfall wasn't much, but in the afternoon, 
whilst we were visiting our friends Paola & Attilio, it started again.

Snow in Cenito

As we drove home, we could see that Leila's Mountain
had a coating of the white stuff

Winter coat

And on Tuesday morning, the view was clear enough
to see the snow sitting above the Amalfi coast
once more

Snow on 'Il Molare'

Sunday 8 February 2015

Buona Domenica!

My latest addiction is Instagram -
posting a 'Buongiorno' photo each morning
has become part of my daily routine.
Coming up with new ideas for
photos is a bit of a challenge, and
I've always been one for a mental challenge.

This morning I was feeling a bit of 
'photographer's block' (if there is such a thing)
as I trawled through photos on my Smartphone.
Then, inspiration struck - and out came the
Rosary beads.

I very rarely use them, but they were
blessed by Pope John Paul II back in 1994, 
when my composer friend Alison had an
audience with him.

So what better pic for a Sunday? 

Buona Domenica!

Thursday 1 January 2015

Farewell 2014, Hello 2015

There's a quote I saw on the Internet a while back,
'Don't look back, you're not going that way'.
So I'm not going to,
although 2014 does hold some fantastic memories.

But here's looking forward to 2015,
and hoping it proves to be an amazing year,
not just for me & hubby and our family
in the UK, but for all of my friends,
both the 'real' ones and the ones
I've made thanks to the Internet.

Happy New Year!

With apologies for there being no pic with this blog - I'm posting from my phone & it won't let me load one - sort it out, please,  Blogger!