Autumn brings ………………. something to look forward to

Well, in two days it will be September and, so Autumn.

Actually, since last weekend, it’s felt like Autumn. There’s been quite a bit of rain and the nights are cold. So much so that two nights ago we put the sort-of-duvet on the bed again. I don’t think I’ve ever done it so early!

Apart from the cold weather and rain which I do hate, Autumn/September brings one other thing – the Mantova book festival – Festivaletteratura!.

Once again, F will be too busy to come, which is a shame. In fact, for this festival he will be away in Greece opening new stores/concessions for the company. However, in another way, it’s kind of better in that I get to do what I want and see what I want. There’s also the slight possibility that I shall be able to stay overnight which would be great because maybe I can go to Scritture Giovani – which I love.

So we shall see but, in any case, I shall go for the Saturday and, depending on the weather, hope to have my usual stroll around the town, go to some events and meet up with old friends (and eat some lovely food).

It’s really brightened up this cold, miserable, rainy day for me :-)

There will be a room for cleaning products!

It should be good. Why on earth, then, was I felt left feeling uneasy? Almost to the point of being scared? It doesn’t make sense, even to me.

I’ve just spent three weeks at F’s flat in Carrara. It’s not the “perfect” house, by any means. First, he shares it with his brother (at the moment) and that means that his brother “leaves” a mess which causes stress to F (and so, to me).

Then the house has not been “done up” since it was built (more or less) – the kitchen is old (but serviceable); there is only cold water in the bathroom sink; the hot water boiler sometimes gives you hot water but, mostly, gives tepid water; the toilet has been “fixed” (since last year when we used to have to use a bucket of water to flush it) but the plumber or whoever did it didn’t clear air out of the pipes and so it makes a terrible noise (you have to leave the cold tap running in the sink until the toilet cistern is full); the garden is not really grassed as such but is full of that rough grass; etc., etc.

It’s a house (or, rather, two flats) built in the 50s, I guess. It’s not really my “style”.

But, I’m not complaining. It’s been great to go there for weekends and holidays. The dogs love it and this year even F agreed that we had a very relaxing holiday.

He wants to do it up. The old guy who lives upstairs is a sort-of relation. In any event, in his will, the flat goes to F’s brother (he who used to look like Johnny Depp but doesn’t any more). But it needs a lot of work done – new roof, the walls need to be re-done (as they’re letting in damp) and, as part of the deal, F will pay for the repairs and his brother will sign over his half of the ground floor flat to F. It just needs to be made to happen.

But F really wants this. And, the night before last when we were out with An (where I had tartare which was incredible – I will put details of the restaurant up later), F was excitedly telling her about what he wants to do with the flat. Which walls he was going to knock down, how he was going to arrange everything, how there would be room for me to do English lessons ……..

This is something (the English lessons part) that he mentions regularly. This is the good thing. Isn’t it?

Well, yes it is. It means he is thinking of our future, not just his. He’s thinking of us living there and me doing lessons as a real job (which, of course, is about the only thing I could do there).

And that’s the problem, I suppose. For one thing, I don’t really think of the future any more. I stopped doing that more or less after I left England. Now, even thinking about next year is a rarity, let alone a few years hence.

The second thing is that, although this future includes me, I don’t have any real say over how the house should be done. Oh sure, I’ve made a couple of suggestions but, as I won’t be paying for it, I don’t really feel I have any right to say much.

For example, he draws the furniture in. It’s not my furniture. I’m attached to the furniture I have. I know it’s not important and I try not to be attached to anything any more. After all they’re only “things” which are not really important (those of you who read my blog know this already), it’s experiences and friends and the dogs that are important. Things can be replaced, destroyed, etc. They have no feeling. But, you know, if I’m going to be there, in this future he’s creating, I want something of mine.

I think.

So, suddenly, I came over quite cold and scared. The future. A future with me. But without things that are part of me. All these things make me a little uneasy.

However, to lighten the post a little, at one point he is describing the “laundry room” that he will create. It will have the washing machine and some shelves. On one side it will have shoe storage (he’s a bit of a maniac about shoes – they have to be aired and they have to be stored – usually in individual boxes). On the other side, I suggested we could put the sheets, towels, etc.

“Oh no!” he exclaimed, “this is where we will put the cleaning stuff.”

I laughed and laughed. The room will be mostly cleaning products. As I pointed out, he’s the only person I know who would build a room for cleaning stuff. Bless.

Books I read on holiday

Although it’s quite difficult to decide between most of them, if there was only one book that you were ever going to read (from my small summer holiday collection), it really should be Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

I didn’t want to like it. After all, I hadn’t bought it because it was highly praised – and, by that I mean over-the-top praised. So I didn’t buy it. In fact (and I may have mentioned this before), the English version was given to me by a friend some months ago. It was brand new, never read. I put it on the unit in the hall.

It seemed that Piero liked it though as, one day, I came home to find it in pieces all over the flat.

As it was a borrowed book, I had to buy a new one.

Having actually paid money for it, I thought that I might as well read the bloody thing and, you know what? it was wonderful. Truly, truly wonderful and now I want to see the film although I cannot imagine that the film could possibly capture the real essence of the book. It made me laugh out loud in a number of places and is, well, just brilliant. Read it!

The problem was that, although I had bought lots of books for the holidays, including a Charles Dickens, I seemed to hoover up the books like a ….. well ……. hoover/vacuum cleaner. I read a book in less than 3 days on average. So, for the whole holiday, I would have needed a minimum of 9 books. I had 6 and so, as you may figure out, I ran out of books!

In fact, I ran out of books by day 16 of the holiday and was, to be honest, quite panicky. I had even tried to “slow down” the last couple of books. What was I to do? Luckily, I only had to wait about 4 and a half days before F, bless him, came to the rescue with another book for me. Which I then proceeded to read within 2 days!

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t pick up any of the books with the intention to read it quickly – I just DID read it quickly. It seemed that I couldn’t stop myself. Maybe it’s because I had hardly read all year. I don’t know.

The books:

Life of Pi – Yann Martel – brilliant book that everyone should read. Funny and frightening and strange but thoroughly enjoyable. Can I just point out that the pronunciation is like “pie” (English) or “pai” (Italian) and NOT like “pi” (Italian) or “pee” (English). Here, in Italy, all I ever hear is Life of Pee which, somehow, doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it? ;-)

Bleak House – Charles Dickens – this was the one that I thought would slow me down. But it didn’t. I read this one in just over 3 days. Typical Dickens stuff and, as he published them in installments, many cliff-hangers throughout. But he can always write a good story. Given the name, I had always thought this to be possibly depressing but it wasn’t at all. Good read. Now, of course, should she want to, Lola can borrow it :-)

The innocent – Harlan Coben – I’ve read a few of his books before and they are really good beach/travelling books if you like crime thrillers. This was no exception and was a good book.

Summer’s Lease – John Mortimer – Never read Mortimer before (famous for Rumpole of the Bailey) but I picked this up because it was set in Italy and, therefore, relevant. Not a huge novel but a good story and a nice bit of whodunit. A little like Agatha Christie set in Italy (Tuscany and Umbria)

The Sword Of Shannara – Terry Brooks – Think Lord of the Rings. This is another of those Fantasy series. It was good but I think I’ve grown out of them now, to be honest. I shan’t be rushing to buy the next one in the series (unlike Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel). Nevertheless, good writing from Mr Brooks, as always.

Under The Dome – Stephen King – Honestly, I don’t think I’ve read King before. I’ve seen many of the films but not read the book. This was a weighty tome but fairly easy reading. Great idea for a story though and I really did like it.

Finally, F, who went back to work after 2 weeks holiday and then returned on the last Friday with the life-saving …

Library of the Dead – Glenn Cooper – He had read this one in Italian. He loved it and so, as he knew I had run out of books, he found the English version in Milan and bought it for me. I read the first chapter on Friday evening and had finished it by about 2 p.m. on the Sunday. Great book and i would recommend it. It’s part of a trilogy and, to my surprise, Last night I found he had already bought the second book for me – so guess what I’ll be reading this weekend on the beach? :-D

Finally, if you wanted three of those books I would pick Life of Pi, under the Dome and Library of the Dead.

If you wanted one from all the books I’ve read this summer, then it would be difficult to choose between Life of Pi and Wolf Hall.


…. and almost the day I go back ….

….. I finally get the phone I wanted and so have some semblance of access to the internet.

I’m still getting used to it so no real post until I get back but at least I have internet access and Facebook and Twitter.

Two days from now, I shall be on my way back to Milan and, once again, I’m not madly looking forward to it even if I love the city and my flat. Still, we should have at least one more weekend here, depending on the weather.

See you in a couple of days.


Well ……….

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few days but my phone is getting worse and I’m worried that it would break whilst I’m away. Obviously, I wanted to make sure that all my contacts and calendar entries were safe, so I looked online to determine how to transfer these to keep them safe.

Apparently, there’s no really secure way and so, over the last few days I have been transferring contacts and calendar entries across to my email system, manually. One day these phone companies will properly understand that you want to keep everything and transfer them to the next phone.

So, I have been busy and, also, someone at work asked me for historical details of a previous project – so, in between entering all my details, I have been finding this information and sending it to them.

And now we’re on the last day. There’s still some of the last task to do but, in about seven hours from me writing this (or earlier, maybe), I shall be on my way home for three weeks of holiday. As such, Internet connection will be more difficult (with my phone as it is and with the house not having Internet connection) and it is highly likely that I won’t post anything nor respond to anyone much over the 3 weeks. I can, of course, get access in an emergency.

And the plan?

Well, F has only 2 weeks (the first two of my three) and, given that, on the 14th and 15th August, Marina di Carrara celebrates the public holiday with fireworks on the sea (and Dino does not like fireworks), we may, if all goes well, go away to Umbria for a few days or even a week – somewhere away from people and, as long as there are places to walk the dogs and a swimming pool, we will be very happy. Also, for F, it means a real break – and that will make him very happy and so, in consequence, I, too, will be very happy.

If I get the chance to post something, I will, particularly if we go to somewhere in Umbria.

In the meantime, should you also be on holiday (Lola) or not (Gail), have a great three weeks and I’ll see you when I get back.