Don’t Panic! The Cleaners are coming……

I love my dogs, I really do. They are fun, they are loving, they are, in nearly all respects, wonderful. There is one (there are probably more but for this post, there is really only one) problem. Every day, the place looks like a park. And, by that, I mean that, given their hair, they collect the park and bring it home, dropping it at home during the next 24 hours so that home looks like the park – mud everywhere (in the form of huge amounts of dust), dried leaves, twigs that got stuck, etc.

To give you an example, a couple of days ago, V went to the shops and I swept up. I did a good job but, when he came back he did it again.

And, as we have no carpet here, the dust flies everywhere so that, within 24 hours, there is a slight film of dust everywhere. As I look at my desk, which is in the hallway and, therefore is, by far, the worst place in the house, I see the dust, on the bookshelves, behind the computer and it looks like I have never, ever cleaned it.

And today, S&N have kindly “lent” us their cleaner(s). OMG! I really had to fight the urge to clean everywhere before they came – you know what I mean. I did fight the urge but immediately apologised as they walked through the door, blaming, of course, the dogs (which is true, of course).

However, V is doing some sort of party on New Year’s Eve so, at least, we should only have to do a surface clean tomorrow, I hope.

Then, I guessed as they don’t speak English, that they needed the cleaning stuff. Except I found we had no glass cleaner and no bathroom cleaner!

It would be great to have someone in a couple of times a week but I guess it would be far too expensive and, given current circumstances, more difficult than normal.

Anyway, they are here now and starting on the lounge. They are here for a few hours so I have limited the cleaning to the most important areas as, given the state of it and the size of the place, I’m sure they will struggle to complete even that! We shall see.

Still, it was so nice of S&N and I’m sure it will sparkle and gleam like it never has before!

I really should of apologised earlier

Weird thoughts go through my head from time to time. Particularly just before I go to sleep or if I wake too early in the morning and try to get back to sleep.

Last night, at one of these times, I cannot remember which, I suddenly started thinking about “should of”. There, I told you they were weird thoughts!

I don’t even know why it started but I remember, early on, I was thinking about emails at work. Many that we receive (and are sent) are by non-mother-mother-tongue people, of course. But the worst are by people from the UK and one of these, received at work, had “should of” in the text. Sometimes I despair about the level of written English by English-speaking people

Then I started worrying. Yep, worrying. Since I type these entries, normally, quite quickly (they are supposed to be as if I was speaking the words to you) and since we pronounce “should have” as “shood uv”, I can imagine that, at some time, I have typed “should of” whereas I should of typed “should have”. And, of course, the Spelling and Grammar checker would not necessarily have picked up on it (as I have now proved by typing it several times). So my quick read through of the post before actually posting it may not have picked up on it either.

Damn! I really should of apologised earlier. However, if you have read any posts where I have written “should of”, I apologise now. And, if you ever notice it, please let me know as it is too embarrassing to leave it!

And there, I hope, I shall let it rest.

p.s. I deliberately typed “should of” several times here to make the point, so you don’t need to tell me about this post. Thank you.

Gift Wrapping – is not always for gifts!

After a slightly heavy post yesterday I thought it was time to lighten up a bit and also post something about one of the differences between here and there.

I was struck by this, taking Rufus and Dino out for walk yesterday, late afternoon.

There was a smartly dressed couple, obviously on their way to friends or relations for dinner or a party or something. Here it is Santo Stefano day and, similar to the UK, a public holiday except that they do not start their sales (that has a date set by the government sometime later in January) and nearly all the shops are shut (except for the Chinese ones around Paolo Sarpi, much to N&S’s delight).

Anyway, this couple were each carrying, like a tray, a beautifully wrapped parcel, with ribbons, etc. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was a present. But I do know better, and they weren’t presents at all.

They would, in fact, be one of two things. Either a tray of hand-made chocolates or a tray of small cakes. We have the gelateria just below us who sell less ice-cream at this time of year (although they still sell some, which amazes me every time I see it) and, so, have gone into the business of turning half their shop into a hand-made chocolate shop, which they make on the premises. Imagine, if you will, Thornton’s (if they still exist in the UK) but these shops are, generally, not a chain and the one below us certainly isn’t.

We went to a party on Christmas Eve (it started at 10 p.m) and when I asked what to bring, I was told some sweets. So I duly went to the gelateria below and chose my tray of chocolates, selecting eight of each type which she carefully arranged in rows on the tray.

Now, cast your mind back to “Love Actually” and, in particular to the scene in Selfridges or wherever with Rowan Atkinson where Alan Rickman is trying to buy a gift for the girl in the office whilst his wife is in the same store and, having selected the gift, wants to just pay for it, whilst RA spends the next 20 minutes gift wrapping it.

That’s, more or less, how it is here. I spent 10 minutes selecting the chocolates and the girl then spent at least 10 minutes gift wrapping it, even putting a small Christmas tree decoration to add the festive touch. They also do that for nearly anything (pens, scarves, etc., etc.), at any time of year, if you tell them that it will be a gift (regalo).

It is one of the nicest touches here but don’t be in a great rush when you are shopping for gifts (or chocolates or small cakes) as it can make the whole process twice as long.

But the finished product, when you hand it over to your host really is so much nicer and so much better than a bag of sweets or a box or whatever as they are always so beautifully done.

If you come to Italy, you should, at some point, buy something and tell them it is for a gift just to get the nice packaging. And be prepared to wait. It’s worth it.

(False) Lessons in Life.

Christmas is a time for reflection and for remembering things past. This one was no different. At various times over the period I remembered the Christmases we had in the past. The mountains of presents; shopping for the veg on Christmas Eve at “Wiggy’s” shop in Kington; having the open fire to sit around; and the people with whom we have shared our Christmases, including my sister (one time, I think).

However, it was also time to think of deeper things; things more hidden or, rather, not previously analysed.

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2009 Predictions

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions any more. Not least because they were always something stupid that faded quickly such as “I will start jogging” – which I did do once. Started and finished in January! I mean, getting up half an hour earlier in, what was obviously, the coldest time of the year. Not a really clever thing to do. Personally, I think, New Year’s Resolutions should be made about May or June.

And others that I have tried to follow – lose weight; give up smoking; cut back on drinking; be nicer; make substantial savings; etc., etc.

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The Crunch

It came unexpectedly. There you were, making your plans for the future. Sure, you had built up credit over a period of time and, maybe, taken out a loan or two based on a future that you had assumed would occur. You thought that growth would never end. You thought that, at the very minimum, things would stay, more or less, the same. That life would continue as it was or get better.

The future was bright and shiny.

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The wonderful thing about Dino

I just thought I would mention that Dino is becoming a really lovely dog. OK, so he has a little way to go before becoming perfect but he’s definitely working on it and, in the last few days in particular, I have noticed a change in him. He is becoming more affectionate and, dare I say it, just a little bit quieter – not so manic as puppies are.

He’s still a little demanding though but, as he’s only almost 10 months old, I can forgive him that.