The weekend on our own

It’s the last weekend we’ll be on our own. Just me and Dino.

We’re going down to the seaside house tonight and, although I enjoy it, it’s just not the same without F. I’ll do most of the things we usually do, even going to F’s parent’s for dinner – but, in any case, it’s not the same at all.

Still, the weather will be very hot and sunny and F will be working, so I really shouldn’t complain.

And I’ll have two days on the beach to improve my tan a bit – and play cards and continue reading the book that I’m enjoying (which I would tell you the title of – but it’s already down there and I can’t remember) and playing games on my phone and, generally, relaxing.

The one advantage of F not being there is that I should be able to sleep in a bit longer, which I am looking forward to – especially as, in a couple of weeks, when Piero joins us, I will be getting even less sleep than now!

So wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, have a nice weekend.

Saving? Where? Oh – you mean NOT spending more than before? Is that saving? Really?

Imagine I spend €300 per month, every month.

Then imagine that the government decide to increase sales tax (VAT/IVA) or something from next month. It will mean that, in future, instead of spending €300 I will have to spend €350.

Then, imagine that the government decide to postpone the tax increase until, let’s say, the end of the year.

So, instead of spending €300, as I do now, I will be spending €300 – the same – until the end of the year.

Let me just count out how much I have ‘saved’. Oh, I see that, in fact I have not saved anything but I will not be spending extra for a little while yet.

Compare this with:

I spend €300 per month every month.

The government CUT taxes from next month. It will mean that, instead of spending €300 per month, I will be spending €250 per month. In this case I will be spending €50 less and, so I can actually ‘save’ that money. It’s a kind of bonus to me and is a real saving since I will, actually, be paying LESS.

People’s ideas of ‘saving’ is incredible. The only way you save anything is to spend LESS than you did before.

V used to try this thing with me some times, a long time ago, and it’s logic was of the very worst kind.

The little scenario went like this:

“Do you know how much I saved with this shirt?”

“Well, as you actually SPENT money, I can’t see how you have SAVED any at all!”

“But it was a bargain”

OK, so I paraphrase a lot – but you get the picture. I know other people who do this – it’s not just him.

But back to recent news.

If a tax increase is not put into effect, nobody has SAVED anything at all. It does mean that, in the future, people will not have to spend as much as they might, but it hasn’t made anything cheaper.

And so, this latest so-called U-turn by the government of the UK to NOT put up the tax on petrol (gas to you, Gail) as had been planned, is being lauded and trashed by all and sundry at the same time. But it seems, to me, that everyone is missing the point or points.

This decision to postpone the tax hike will NOT mean that anyone will SAVE money. They will just not spend as much as they might have done.

And this is no U-turn. The hike is not cancelled – merely postponed.

So here is something that is being done in response to the beating they were getting for daring to increase a tax when the country is all but down the drain (See my post Death Valley – UK High Street). But don’t think, for a moment, that anyone will be saving anything.

And then there was this little piece with a video of the Newsnight “interview”

… and then this stupidness – in the same paper!

To be honest, she deserved everything she got. The answer to “When did you know?” is very simple and involves a time or, at least, a date. From there on, it was always going to be downhill.

But, then, if they can equate ‘saving’ to ‘not having to spend more’ then, I guess, we’re all doomed. Might as well have V go and be Prime Minister! :-(


I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough. Well, thanks to a colleague, actually.

As you know, I’ve been a bit concerned that the chewing of furniture in the lounge could pose a problem and wanted something to protect chair legs and table legs, etc. I was thinking of getting some plastic and it was suggested I could use old water bottles – the water bottles made of plastic. I could cut the top and bottoms off and then wrap the bottle round the leg.

Brilliant! Perfect! I am very happy.

Now I must drink a LOT of water because I have less than two weeks! And I don’t even LIKE water!!!

Oh yes, I forgot to tell you. Piero will be with us around 8th/9th July.

My plan is sightly different from F’s plan. F’s plan is that I go, after work, on the Monday to pick him up.

My plan is that we go together – coming back earlier from Carrara on the 8th and going straight there. I know F’s plan but F doesn’t know my plan yet.


F’s second plan doesn’t involve me. It involves him taking Piero to work with him on his first day with us.

“But he’ll pee and poo all day!”, I exclaim.

“No problem”, replies F.

What I haven’t said is that it will also be the first time he will have been on a lead (more or less), so there’ll be lots of pulling, trying to run away and sitting down. This means the journey to work will be long and fraught. It also means that, by the time they all get to work, everyone will be tired. And then it will be time to come back :-)

I’m half inclined to let F find out for himself. Is that too cruel?

Meet Piero!

Well, we made the choice. To be honest, part of the reason was that he seemed a little independent. For independent read: hard-headed. For hard-headed read: difficult. For difficult read: right little barsteward.

I am certain he is the right choice. :-D

Poor Dino although, to be honest, Dino is much the same.

Anyway, it’s time you met Piero:

F was, of course, quite taken with him:

as, it seems, was Piero with F:

Here are two photos that F took that are so, so cute:

In preparation.

Well, I think it’s as good as it will get – subject to plastic around important legs, which will have to wait.

Of course, I THINK it’s OK but know, in my heart, that I have, quite obviously, missed something.

There are, one hopes, what with F buying something every time he goes abroad, enough toys to keep the little bugger occupied. In the process I have cleared out some food in the fridge and found that I have far too much wine. Maybe I should drink more? ;-)

Tonight, we should be going out with the Austrian friend and her husband. They are here to select clothes for next year, it being the start of the showroom sales.

Next week is the Paris fashion shows, so F is in Paris next weekend. Dino and I will be going to Carrara, even if I prefer to be with F.

I have suggested to Best Mate, that she comes for the first week in August (as F will be working and I shall be in the first week of my three-week holiday) – she can get a cheapish flight to Pisa and we can spend the days on the beach or sight-seeing or something. I don’t think she will come but it would be rather nice. And it would be a weeks holiday for her.

Of course, there will also be Piero, which makes it more fun. We could have barbeques in the back garden and stuff. Yes, it would be all rather fun, I think. I hope she says ‘yes’.

This afternoon, we are going to see Piero and, hopefully, choose. F says that he will like them all and be unable to choose, so I will do it. He says that he will always, then, prefer one of the others. But I think there will be ‘the one’ – and you know that I always believe in ‘the one’ for both dogs and boyfriends :-D

In the meantime, these next few weeks will be SO busy, with hardly an evening or weekend free to do anything. Weekends in Carrara being the only time to relax. And then comes Piero – so even more so. But it’s OK. It will be fun, I know that much.

Summer; slowly; puppy-proofing

Finally, it is here.

The temperature in my flat, with all windows open, is 30°C. Last night it reached a low of about 25°C (according to the weather forecast I use).

I am happy but slower, of course. I am also, after going to the supermarket, sweating so I am sitting here for a moment, typing this whilst I ‘dry off’ a bit. Before going out again. Slowly, of course. On the other hand, both Dino and F are not so happy. Dino cannot get cool enough and, at times, seems to be trying to dig through the floor (to get to cooler earth???). Obviously, he doesn’t realise that we are on the third floor and so, if he ever did manage to dig through the concrete, he would be in the flat below! Now, he can’t be walked in the middle of the day. It’s too uncomfortable for him. I wait until about 8 when the sun is lower – even then it’s really too hot for him, poor thing.

We are not in Carrara this weekend. F is supposed to be working but has done his back in again and so is currently at home. So this weekend, the plan was to ‘puppy-proof’ the flat. Which I will start this afternoon.

Puppy-proofing will be difficult, I think. When we got Dino we were able to close off the lounge. Here, I am unable to do that and, anyway, I need the lounge for the newspaper.

So, all rugs must be lifted; all books must be put into the bookcase; all videos stored away from the bottom shelf in the hall. There will be other things too. I have an idea for protecting the table legs and chair legs in the lounge which is to get some thick plastic and tie round them. The ones in the kitchen don’t really matter. There will be things that I will miss, of course. It’s one of the prices you pay.

Still, we have not decided. Now I am so busy that, if I don’t go this weekend and choose, it won’t happen. I really want F there too (to help choose) but I’m guessing he won’t come. Maybe I go tomorrow.

In any event, it is summer and Piero should be here in the next 3 weeks or so. I am so excited. It will be exhausting but fun.

There’s the truth and then there’s a whole load of lies!

To be frank, I never wanted to go in the first place.

I had joked about it raining so much that, maybe, it would all be flooded and then we couldn’t go.

We flew with Monarch to Birmingham. We arrived and had to put jackets on. It was decidedly chilly. We followed the crowd to go and reclaim our bags and then came to a grinding halt.

The ‘hall’ was fuller than full. The queue snaked back and forth on itself, as these things do now.

It took us one hour and a half to get through to our bags.

I noticed the signs on the side walls, explaining the delays. Apparently they were checking that the document you had used for the flight matched the one you were using now.

Except, like all the misinformation about security and stuff, it wasn’t that at all. It couldn’t have been! We got to the desk and I gave in my passport (which must, of course, be taken out of its holder – but only in the UK) and my colleague gave in her ID card. You can travel throughout Europe on your ID card and it was used for the flight.

“Don’t you have a passport?”, asked the surly man. It was said too fast and with a thick, brummy accent. I answered for my colleague knowing that she hadn’t understood. “No”.

I wanted to add that quite obviously, she couldn’t use her passport because you were checking with the flight and she hadn’t used the passport for the flight.

He sighed. He then proceeded to type the number into his computer. But the thing is – why? What’s the point? I mean, she’s from Italy, is Italian and wouldn’t ever want to stay in the country longer than necessary.

So there’s an excuse for the long queues which is, quite frankly, a big, big lie.

Instead, the whole experience left me with the over-riding feeling of being unwanted in the country – and it’s MY country!

Someone said that it was something to do with the Olympics – not that we were anywhere close to the Olympics. But if I had a ticket for one of the events I would now, seriously, consider selling it.

My advice: if you don’t need to go to the UK, then don’t go. Once you get there it’s not that good anyway.

Death Valley – UK High Street

It was so sad. So down-at-heel. So without inspiration or hope or anything. It could have been in one of the most run down suburbs of any large town. Some shops were closed. Some shops looked like they were about to close. The shops selling things for £1 or less were stacked to the gills with gaudiness and tackiness.

Everything seemed to be on sale. No, everything seemed to be cheap both in price and quality. Every building seemed like it needed a facelift.

Oh, there was no litter anywhere, nor any graffiti. People used the ashtrays provided so there wasn’t even a cigarette butt to see. So it SHOULD have looked better, shouldn’t it? But it didn’t. It looked shabby.

There weren’t many people around either. And those that were there looked burdened by poverty and miserableness and unhappiness and dread. People slouched and seemed to drag their feet. Like all hope had been sucked out of them. Like there had been a plague of Deatheaters (re: Harry Potter) seconds before.

But, then, it’s not a “quaint” town with “things to see” or, at least, not famous ones. No one I have ever known has said “Let’s go to Wolverhampton!”

It only took a few moments to feel as depressed by it as it all looked; as all the people looked! We walk along the street in order to ‘look around’ and, maybe, buy something but within those few moments, all I wanted to do was to go back to the hotel.

There is no ‘town centre’ any more – just ‘death valley’. I forced myself to buy some sandals. I looked at buying a T-shirt. But I really did want out of there. It makes it seem more unlikely I could go back.

It’s not to say there aren’t similar ‘dead’ zones in Italy, of course but not, I think, in what should be a major city. Nor is it to say that we don’t have closed and boarded up shops, nor that we don’t have the equivalent of Pound Shops or temporary stores – even on Corso Buenos Aries (a main shopping street in Milan – not far from my house)! But, somehow, it doesn’t seem depressing …….. yet!

They’ve got some woman in the UK government to try and ‘breathe life’ into the high streets of the UK but I think it’s too far late now. Now people are used to going to out-of-town shopping centres or mega superstores. These, in fact, are the new high street.

With the changes that Mr Monti wishes to make in Italy, I think we could have the same disaster here, in about 10 years, which would be such a shame. Some will survive – as long as they are tourist destinations – then the place will be full of gift shops and clothes shops and antiques shops.

No, it was sad to see and horrible to be walking there. I shan’t be doing that again in a hurry.

Villa Singer and a wedding.

Yesterday was a wedding.

An Italian wedding. But not like an Italian wedding at all. There weren’t a thousand and one guests; there wasn’t a wedding breakfast which had 100 courses; there wasn’t a white dress or top hats and tails. It was, in fact, more like a small, intimate party. And it was truly lovely.

This was one of F’s childhood friends, P, getting married to a banker, A, even though he looks nothing like a banker should look. I have never known P without A and, so, to me they are perfectly right for each other. She, apparently, was a bit wild in her youth (so was F) but can still be a little unexpected now.

The wedding ceremony took place in Piazza Reale, a stone’s throw from the Duomo. It was conducted by one of her ex-boyfriends.

Apart from the happy couple, and F and his friend R, I knew only one other person – L who bears a striking resemblance to Betty Boop! Only a tad older.

We were late for the ceremony (of course), arriving some few minutes after it all started. It had started at 10.

F took photographs. Lots of photographs.

The day was lovely but not too hot. The groom was dressed in white trousers with a white T-shirt and loose white scoop-neck top. The bride wore white trousers, similar top with an off-white jacket. She had had some braiding in her hair and looked lovely.

After the ceremony we went, by metro to Villa Singer (pronounced singe – er). We arrived about mid-day.

The first picture you see on the link was, more or less, how it was. It’s a not-so-big garden, next to one of Milan’s old canals. Tranquil, beautiful and the perfect setting for a wedding reception. It wasn’t many courses but, rather, a buffet that included fried courgette flowers, oysters, grilled green chilli-like peppers with anchovies, courgette mouse, vegetarian lasagne and a cake that was beautiful sponge covered with lashings of whipped cream and raspberries and strawberries. I had two slices :-)

There was prosecco (Italian champagne) and white wine or, for those who were not drinking, water and grapefruit juice. I wasn’t one of the last group.

We drank and ate and chatted and laughed. There were about 25 people so large enough not to get bored but small enough that you chatted to everyone and I met some really nice people (which is normal). It was all delightful.

Inside the house the rooms, full of antique furniture were open for you to walk round – and I did for a few moments.

But it was all so relaxed and, even if it is an overused word, nice. It was like being at a small garden party with friends, drinking in the afternoon sun (in both senses).

I watched F, from time to time, being the joker and centre of attention – but not in a bad way. Everyone loves him but I adore him. Someone (it may have been Betty Boop) asked if I would marry him and I said that I would. Of course I would.

And, if we did get married, I would want a wedding like this.

We left about 6. It was wonderful and I was really happy that I had been asked to go and that we went.