Even if the move together has lost a bit of momentum (given the fact that F will have to make a largish payout for work on the other house soon), it’s still likely to be this year.

And, now, I’m looking at things that happen and trying to determine what that will mean in the future.

Let me be clearer. F is currently (almost) living at my place as a friend of his is currently staying at his. This means that he spends a lot more time at mine – and it’s almost as if we are living together.

This has plus sides, of course. But, there are a couple of things that cause concern.

The first is, obviously, his obsession with cleaning. But, I’ve spoken about that many times so I’ll ignore that for now.

The second is food. When I was with V and we were both working (here), we both got a really good deal for lunch. Up until that point, we ate in the evenings. We would eat next to nothing all day but have a proper meal every evening. When we started work in Italy (full time), we were getting the great lunch deal and then going home and cooking our normal evening meal. Needless to say, we started to put on weight.

Obviously, we had to cut out one of the meals. Since, in my case, I get lunch for about 7 cents per day, it seemed crazy to cut that one and, so, we stopped eating in the evening.

The problem with F is that he doesn’t really eat much at lunch and he has no canteen at work so although he gets a voucher, he doesn’t get lunch for 7 cents!

Plus there’s the fact that he has had a bad back all week, so has been off work and not really eating at lunchtime.

So he’s been cooking. An example would be that he bought some cece (chick peas) the other day and made some sort of thick soup-type thing yesterday.

So, last night, we had this cece soup. I tried to get him to give me just a taste but he can’t seem to cope with this concept, so although the bowl wasn’t overflowing, it was certainly much more than I either needed or wanted. But I can hardly not eat it, can I?

I’m thinking that, amongst the other things about living together will be me putting on weight. Or rather, me putting on MORE weight. Becoming “barrel like”, I think the term is. And this is NOT good.

So, now I have to find a way around this. Of course, I could stop having lunch at work – but here I get meat every day and with F I wouldn’t. So that’s no good. Perhaps, the only real solution is to just have the main course here, at work. But then if there’s a pasta dish I like as well as a main course I like, it will be very tempting!

I have time to think this through but it’s a bit of a bugger. And “like a barrel” is really not for me.

When “hot” doesn’t mean “hot”

I’m not talking about the weather. No. That is as cold as the tip of an Eskimo’s nose. Winter is arriving, for sure.

No, I’m talking (again) about differences between Italians and the English.

If you live here, can you remember the last time you had a really “hot” meal cooked by an Italian? I don’t mean “spicy” hot but hot hot. More like boiling hot. So hot that you had to cool it down by blowing on each forkful.

No, I didn’t think so. Meals, here, are regularly served on cold plates – the food itself hardly piping hot. The only exception to this is, sometimes, meat, served on a sizzling hot plate or, at one restaurant where they used to serve thinly sliced Branzino (Sea Bass) on such a hot plate that they had to warn you about it.

At the weekend, in partial preparation for a move, I was cooking stuff from the freezer. I found a Mincemeat and Apple Plait that I had made to use up the last of the mincemeat I had and some of the apples that we always buy at Christmas (and then leave to rot in the fruit bowl). I thought F might like it. And I made custard to go with it. Not a lot because (I thought) F doesn’t like custard.

I cooked the Plait and timed it just right so that it was ready to come out as we finished the main course.

In fact, F did want custard – and as much as I could give him – which was a bit of a bastard as it meant that I had much less and, if I had known, I would have made a full pint rather than half a pint :-(

But, he wouldn’t eat it.

He put it outside, on the windowsill, to cool down. I was quite shocked. I asked him why. He told me that he can’t eat hot deserts and had I not noticed that Italians don’t do hot deserts which, now that he had mentioned it, was true!

“But why can’t you eat it when it’s hot?”, I asked. Apparently, it’s bad to put hot things in your stomach. Who knew that, all my life I have been doing something so bad for me? And why wasn’t I ill more often?

And then, today, as I was eating my lunch in the canteen, I bemoaned (to myself, obviously) that everything is served fairly tepid on cold plates and, so, you don’t actually eat “hot” food. I was eating cauliflower which was almost cold. Partly because it was only tepid when served and then because the plates are actually cold. And that’s true (with the exceptions I’ve mentioned above) in restaurants too!

Perhaps it’s a climate thing? It’s certainly a cultural thing. And, again, we come back to the weird beliefs Italians seem to have about your health and what is good or bad for you.

In the UK, serving anything it was expected to be on hot, or at least warm, plates. And if it were piping hot, then that was better. But not here. Or, having just spoken to my colleagues, not for many people and, certainly, not for F.

Having spoken to my colleagues, I find that there are a few (but only about 3 or 4) sweets that are served hot. Unlike in the UK where, apart from during the summer, nearly all sweets are served hot.

And on warm plates so that they keep warm.

Sometimes, I miss certain things. This is one of them.

Italians are a strange bunch!

I go to buy some shoes …… again …. and again ……. and again!

Seems simple, doesn’t it?

I need some new shoes. For work.

I had worked out (and it’s only taken me about 3 years to do this) that my “cheap and nasty” shoes that I get for work really are worth peanuts. Although I never normally spend over 30€, they are really crap. Not only do they let water in if it rains hard, they are like wearing just a pair of socks when it is very cold.

Since most of the day, I am sitting at my computer and since the MD considers anything above about 10°C too warm (and, therefore, most people in the office are really cold during the winter), my feet get exceptionally cold. And, when my feet are cold, it makes for a pretty miserable day where my only thoughts are on how to keep warm.

The other day, because I knew it was going to rain A LOT, I wore my new walking boots to work and I noticed that my feet didn’t get cold and, as a result, the rest of me felt pretty much OK. The day after, I wore my normal shoes and I really could feel the difference. I could feel the cold from the pavement seep through the shoes.

So, the solution was to spend a bit more money. I decided that normal shoes might also let the cold seep through and decided that what I needed was shoes that were designed for real walking (or treking, if you like) as these would be made with the idea of keeping the feet warm.

The only shop that I know sells walking boots (and where I recently bought my boots from) is Decathlon. Unfortunately, the only Decathlon I know that is not outside Milan, is over the other side of town. I had quite a lot to do on Saturday. The plan was that, after breakfast I would go to the supermarket, then to Decathlon, then to get some cologne for work, then do some editing, brush the dogs and, if time was left over, watch a film.

It started so well, if a bit late. Breakfast was about 10.30 and then I went to the supermarket as planned. I got the stuff I wanted and, these days, to avoid more interaction with people than is necessary, I use the self-checkout tills. It generally means that I don’t have to talk to anyone at all in the supermarket, which I much prefer.

I paid by credit card and then took my shopping and the receipt to the service desk (about 1 step away) and signed the credit card receipt for them. I went home and packed everything away.

Although I didn’t really want to leave the house again, the weather was OK and I really wanted the shoes. The question in my mind was – should I go up the road and get the cologne first or the shoes? I chose the shoes first. After all, the shoes required a metro journey (which I also dislike). So, off I went.

I arrived at Decathlon and, since I had been there for boots a few weeks before, I knew exactly where to find the shoes I wanted. I do like that – walking into a shop and just being able to go to the place you want without having to search the shop. In spite of the fact that it is sale time, there weren’t too many people in the shop, thank goodness.

I go to the walking shoe/boot area. There’s nothing exactly as I want but there are some that are near enough OK. I select these brown shoes. Well, actually they are a little like small boots – but that’s OK. They are for work.

I need size 43 or 44. Since these are walking shoes, they tend to be oversized so I try a 43 first. It fits perfectly and will be big enough even with thicker socks.

I go back to the “43 rack” and find the other one. In fact, there are only two pairs of these shoes in 43. It’s obviously the most popular size! I try on the other shoe and that also fits perfectly. I walk up and down a bit to make sure there’s no obvious problems. There aren’t, so I go to pay.

At the payment area, I have to queue a bit but it’s OK. I wait for about 5 minutes and then go to the cash desk that’s become available.

The guy checks the shoes. Inside is a little label. He checks each shoe.

“They’re different sizes,” he says. “One is 42 and the other is 43″. He hands them back to me and I thank him although, really, I am a a bit annoyed that they had a 42 on the 43 shelf.

I go back downstairs. This will only take a moment.

I check the other shoes on the 43 shelf. In fact, what I thought were another pair were, in fact, two right-foot shoes. and, in spite of them being on the 43 shelf, they are size 42. So, there is one right-foot shoe in size 43 (in my hand) and two right-foot shoes, size 42, 42 on the shelf and one left-foot shoe, size 42, in my hand. That’s it!

Bugger! I check the size 42 shelf below. Yep, they are all 42. The shelf is jam packed with pairs of shoes at size 42.

I check the shelf above – the size 44 shelf is jam packed with pairs of size 44. There is no left-foot 43 to be found!

Double bugger!

I think for a moment. Well, the size 42 actually fits and the size 44 will be too big. I decide to try a pair of 42s. I get a pair that are fixed together by a thin piece of plastic wire. After all, these should be the same size!

Still, I double-check the small label inside :-)

Yes, both 42. I try them on. They are fine. I take them up to the tills.

There is a short queue. There are only two tills open but it should be fine. Sure enough, one till becomes free almost immediately.

Unfortunately, the guy in front of me has two baskets full to the brim with stuff. He is buying things for his kids for skiing. He is going to take a (long) time at the till. I look at the other till. The couple are only buying about 4 things. Three of them are scanned by the assistant but there seems to be a problem with the fourth item. I don’t know this for sure but it seems as though the price the guy thought the product was is different from that which came up when it was scanned.

There’s a discussion and the assistant rings someone else. I am patient but I really do want to get out of here now. I’ve done with shopping.

The guy goes off (downstairs, I guess) to either get the right product or whatever and as the assistant starts putting their shopping on “suspend” so he can serve me, they open a third till.

I go there.

The assistant checks the size – but I know they are the same size and so I get my wallet out and open it up to get my credit card out.

As the guy rings up the shoes on the till, I see that my credit card is not there. I check to see if it is loose (rather than in it’s allotted slot) but, even as I do so, I already know where it is. Or, rather, where it was. It was in the payment machine at the self-checkout in the supermarket.


I tell the assistant that I left the credit card in the supermarket. I explain that we can try my debit card but I’m sure it won’t work. It doesn’t. I’ve maxed out my account, as I knew. I have more than enough cash but I don’t really want to use cash. He asks if I want to hold the shoes while I go and get my credit card.

I say “no” for two reasons. One is that the supermarket is the other side of town (which I explain to him). The other, of course, is that, maybe, horror of horrors, the credit card may not be at the supermarket any more!

However, I’ve got to try.

I go back towards home and straight to the supermarket, dreading the thought that it may not be there and having to stop the card, go to the police station and do a statement, fax that to the credit card company and then wait for a new one, etc., etc.

Plus, of course, here, in Italy, I’ve heard all sorts of tales about things like: even if you stop the card, until the statement is faxed, it isn’t really stopped – and you’re still liable! Plus, people don’t check the signatures here (take the supermarket which allowed me to sign without even seeing my card!!!!). Occasionally, like in Decathlon, you are asked for ID – but that isn’t guaranteed. So, more often than not, you can get away with using someone else’s credit card.

My friend, A, for example, regularly signs the slips with Mickey Mouse or something – and nobody checks!

I go to the service desk and ask about my card.

“What bank is it? What does it look like?” I am asked. Luckily, the company card is from the same bank so I show them that and say that it’s something like it.

They have a STACK of cards left behind! She searches through. She asks my name. I give it in the way it is on the card (surname first). She asks for ID.

RESULT! I have my card back. I toy with trekking back to Decathlon but decide not to as I really need to do the other things and the editing is important and I’m not sure how long that will take.

I go and get the cologne though, which is something.

My friend, FfI, texts me. Can we do coffee in the morning? I am almost certain that I can’t really as F and I shall go for breakfast in the morning and, probably, that won’t be early.

I suggest (as I MUST get these shoes for work) that she could come with me to Decathlon tomorrow. She say OK, maybe, and to call her tomorrow. At least this way I will definitely go and get some and not put it off (and then suffer all week with cold feet).

The next day dawns and we sleep through that (dawn, that is). In fact, we don’t get up until after ten. I take the dogs out while F cleans (again). I come back with the dogs and he hasn’t finished cleaning. In fact, I am pressed into doing some stuff. We go for breakfast about 11.30. After breakfast he goes across to the supermarket and, as I go home, I text FfI and suggest she comes to Decathlon with me. She arrives at my flat about 15 minutes later. We walk towards the metro stop. She keeps going on about taking the bus rather than the metro. She says she hates the metro. She says she always goes by bus and she prefers to “see” where she is going.

She also needs coffee as she hasn’t had breakfast.

I say OK to both, even though I point out that the metro is quicker. In fact, the real reason she wants to go by bus is that, going by bus she can get away without having a valid ticket. Going by metro this is not possible. She doesn’t say this directly but I’m not stupid. It’ll save her 2.60€!

As we approach the bus stops, she finds that the cafè she was hoping to go to is closed. We go to Sissi – a well-known bar here, in Milan.

She grabs something to eat and we order two coffees. She has something else to eat. I let her pay for my coffee (after all, she is making this trip to Decathlon veeeeeeery long).

We get on the bus and, after some time, arrive at Decathlon.

We go and find the shoes. I double-check the sizes and, just in case, try them on again (size 42).

I go and pay.

We go back to the bus stop. It really is a beautiful day although a little cool. The sky is a wonderful blue and so clear and, in the sun, it almost feels warm!

We get back near my house and she wants another coffee. We go up to a bar near my house. I hang the bag with the shoes on the back of the chair. We have coffee and smoke a few cigarettes and chat.

We leave to go home. Just a few steps from the cafè, I realise I don’t have my shoes. They are on the back of the chair. I go back and get them wondering if, in fact, these shoes are not really meant to be mine after all!

As I sit here, writing this, I have on the shoes. My feet are definitely much warmer so it was worth all the effort. The shoes aren’t as warm as the boots but, still, with thick socks too, I’m absolutely certain that my feet will be much warmer than last year! I bloody hope so after all the trouble I’ve had to go to to get them!

And, moving on …….

Well, we talked.

Of course, it hasn’t really changed anything but maybe there’s some more understanding.

We went to look at the flat he really likes and I’m sure that it’s the one. I had a really good feeling about it when I walked in and could see “our stuff” in each of the rooms. Now I wait for him to make the offer and discuss the costs with the agent.

In the meantime, we are going to see another one tomorrow. It’s another that he really likes but, in this case, the position is not so good. We’ll see.

And, although everything is “sorted” – well, as much as it will ever be, I still have this slightly queasy feeling in my stomach regarding actually moving in together. And this is very strange for me and I don’t really like it (the feeling, that is).

The feeling is neither logical, sensible nor what I want.

Maybe this is as a result of doing this half-living together for so long. You know what I mean? Like – “why change something that works?”

Anyway, the next couple of weeks will see movement, I’m sure.

The race is stopped ………………. maybe

We don’t argue.

Well, in part because we rarely talk. And by that I mean deep, meaningful discussions.

This is, in part, because we don’t have the same language as our mother tongue and partly, if I am perfectly honest, because I don’t want to.

The problem is that a) I would rather not know – I would rather live in my bubble of perfection and b) I am a “wordy” person which, if you don’t have the same mother tongue and aren’t inclined to be a “wordy” person but more of a “visual” person, as F is, creates an imbalance and an advantage to the “wordy” person with the disadvantage to the “visual” person, of which I am very aware and against which I guard.

There – that was “wordy” wasn’t it?

What I mean is that, even if we spoke the same language, we wouldn’t actually speak the same language – so discourse is difficult.

And so it has proved.

So, he gets the plan of the flat that he really, really likes; that I was due to see on Saturday but didn’t because the stupid estate agent has to get the keys from the portinaio (porter/doorman) and the portinaio doesn’t work on Saturdays. So, no key, no viewing.

Anyway, back to the story – he gets the plan in order to see where furniture could go. He starts placing things. He suggests a room could be the studio or it could be a place to put washing that is drying. I suggest that we could use it as both as I don’t have lessons on Monday and Tuesday and everything is dry by then.

He says that we will have to do washing every couple of days and not just on Sunday as I do now.

I don’t agree and say that it should be OK.

He suggests that, to do all the washing on a Sunday would mean needing about 10 drying racks (which is an exaggeration – but I get the point) and so I say OK.

He hates it when I say “OK” if he thinks I still don’t agree. Now, sometimes this is true – I don’t agree but decide that a) time will tell and/or b) my experience is such that I know him to be wrong and I am happy to wait until he sees that he is wrong. Or, of course, c) – which is where I think he is wrong and my experience says that he is wrong but, in fact, he proves, at a later time, he is correct – which is fine by me.

So then he goes off on one. I am, apparently, “typically English”. I never say what I really think. He has a point but in this case, he is incorrect. Apparently, I always say “OK” when I don’t mean “OK” at all. On this he is definitely wrong. I have said OK because he had a point about the drying racks. V and I used to do all the washing on a Sunday or Saturday and we didn’t have a problem – but I can’t remember how it wasn’t a problem. So, without the logic of being able to argue the point, I would rather have it proved – one way or the other.

I try to explain that I have not said “OK” just to shut him up but, rather, that I have said “OK” because he has a point about the drying racks.

However, he has stopped listening to me. Now he has decided what I have been thinking and this is not up for discussion.

He says that if we are to live together, there must be compromises on both sides. He is already having to “accept all your furniture” and “none of mine” and if we can’t agree on these things and we can’t talk about them without me “making my mind up beforehand” perhaps it would be better not to move in together.

I confess I was a bit taken aback by the comment about the furniture. I thought he had understood but, obviously, not. I again try to explain about my reasoning for saying “OK”, prefacing this with “perhaps it would be better not to live together if you think that arguing about something as trivial as washing can be a deal breaker.” I don’t use those words exactly, of course. Too many words/phrases he may not know.

We progress to silence. I put out the washing that has just finished. By the time I return the plan is back in the plastic folder. The “discussion” has ended.

And, for me, maybe it would be better not to live together? After all, I love my flat. Maybe, if we lived together and then split up, I wouldn’t be able to find a flat as wonderful as I have? Nor can I stand this “typical English” tag that he puts on me. Nor his way of assuming he knows what I am thinking, especially when it is NOT what I am thinking.

He went in to the bedroom to watch TV. I joined him after 10 minutes but only stayed for about 30 minutes. This was because there was no conversation and also because the film/programme was too difficult for me to follow.

After a while, and after checking the weather forecast again, I went into the bedroom to say that, as the forecast now said it might rain in the morning, I would take the dogs out in the morning. No answer. So, fuck it!

He was supposed to be going to see a flat this morning. I don’t know if he went or not. Normally he would text me. So far, he hasn’t.

In any event, at the moment, I think we should talk. I, certainly, have something to say.

1. Stop fucking generalising about me as “typical English” because a) I don’t generalise about him being “typically Italian” and b) because he really doesn’t know what I’m thinking.
2. I will move to a different area, if he wants. I will move to a newish flat, if he wants. And even if it is only for 4 years, there is a 50/50 chance I won’t be happy with it – but what the hell, it’s only to sleep in! But that’s what I did with V, when we came here, and I am trying to avoid living somewhere that doesn’t feel like “home” to me.
3. We don’t have to have “all” my furniture. I am happy to put most of it in storage (the rest can be sold/be thrown away). But he has to remember that these are all I have left from my 55 years of living on this planet. Yes, I know that “things” are not important in life and I really try very hard not to get too attached to “things” BUT, these are the only “things” I have – no house, no family, etc. and two of the items are a reminder of my Grandfather (aka my hero) and were bought using the money he left me when he died. So, we don’t have to have those things – but if we don’t then they have to go in storage because I will never sell them.

So am I just a bit angry? Yes, I am. Do I want to continue? Well, yes but now I am worried. It’s OK when when we’re not living together but I’m not sure it would be OK if we have nowhere to go “home” to.

Will we talk? Well, right now, I want to. It could change later, of course.

Maybe it would be better to leave things as they are after all.

The race is on.

There suddenly, since Christmas, seems to be a bit of a rush on.

As we don’t really talk, I have no idea why this is so. However, sites are checked daily and visits have been made.

OK, you may ask, why don’t you ask? Well, that’s simply not how it works. If he wants to, he’ll tell me. Maybe there is no rush and it’s just me thinking that there is but, right now he seems more determined.

I’m not in a rush which surprises even me. I would rather wait until I am certain the right one has been found. And I want certain things. A comment was made last night (to a friend and then relayed to me) that, as it’s only for 4 years, the right place is not so important. And yet, for me, it really IS important. He agrees that, if the right place is found, we shall know immediately.

And, so, the search goes on. I am now looking daily. And I absolutely KNOW that we shall find somewhere that suits both of us – that has the required size, the required age and the required situation. I just KNOW.

In the meantime, I am supportive without making a firm commitment.

We saw one place, just before Christmas and, although the flat itself was almost perfect (it lacked the required number of balconies for the dogs), the position was not “all that”. Not a terrible position, just not quite right. But it has aircon.

“It would only be switched off at night,” he says. He says that because he is Italian. When he is away, it would, most certainly, be left on all night. Imagine, in the middle of summer, sleeping without sweating, waking up without feeling like you’ve just been sleeping in an oven and showering without needing another shower within 5 minutes!

Suddenly, the place seems even more attractive. :-)

However, I am convinced we shall find the perfect flat in the perfect street/area – just as I did before.

Of course, the “rush” we seem to be in is not necessarily conducive to my belief that the perfect place is out there and we just have to find it. But I keep remembering V and his love for our flat – and how much I hated it. I don’t want to be in that position ever again. So, I guess, I’m being just a tad stubborn.

Maybe, as my friend A described to me last night, just a little bit Roman – smiling and saying yes, of course, on the one hand whilst saying no when it really matters on the other. Hmmm.

So, the race is on. I have to find the perfect place before he gets fed up and insists we go for something I’m not 100% sure about.

I have to be focused.

This guy is NOT for turning

I have a bit of a problem with vegetarians and vegans, I have to admit (sorry, Lola). The problem isn’t against them, exactly, just against what they eat. Well, not everything they eat but some things.

It’s not that I hate vegetables. Far from it. It’s just that they are there to go with meat. But there are some things that I really don’t like.

I mean, for example, tofu. What is that except some tasteless, blancmange-type product.

But, my dislike of some of “their” food unfortunately clashes with things that F likes.

Take pesto. Pasta with pesto is just a really bad waste of nice pasta. It should be nice (and occasionally is nice) but rarely is.

And then, take lentils. Lentils to me taste, more often than not, of earth. Now, those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may remember the story of eating earth (or dirt, as I called it) and how I enjoyed it as a kid. But, now I’m older and, maybe, a little bit wiser and eating dirt from the garden is not something I tend to do – except I do feel like I’m doing it when eating lentils.

However, F loves them and will happily eat a plate of lentils for dinner.

So, as he was working, he suggested I did lentils.

It was my first time as he has always cooked them at New Year and I asked him how. He said to fry some onion, celery and carrot, add the lentils and water.

So I did. Except that I probably did it wrong. Perhaps too much onion, celery and carrot? In any event, even though I say so myself (although F also said they were good), they were the best I’ve ever tasted.

However, I’m NOT becoming vegetarian or vegan. The following day I had some with some nice lamb chops with mint jelly. Mmmmmm

Slowly does it.

Well, that’s that, then.

Just over 2 weeks of holiday and this is the first day back to “normal”. And it’s a struggle.

Still, that was the best Christmas/New Year period ever. We had many good times and great fun with lots of nice friends.

For F’s birthday evening, he took me and An and her husband to Al Garghet, a wonderful restaurant, just outside Milan. The place was lit up by Christmas lights everywhere outside and was very pretty, the food was excellent and the service was perfect. OK so it isn’t cheap but it’s OK. The only way to get there is by car (meaning someone can’t drink) or by taxi. But totally worth it.

Earlier, I had given F his present which is shown below:

Cufflinks of dogs' paws

They are, of course, imprints of the dogs’ paws, reduced in size to become cufflinks, in silver. Dino’s is on the left and Piero’s on the right.

Now, what the hell am I going to do for next year?

But now we are back at work. And I’m gearing myself up to really start work tomorrow, since today, I just can’t do it! So, slowly does it.