Strange Days – Halloween and The Day Of The Dead

The weather got cold this week. Sunday night, to be precise. Obviously, it’s not in minus figures yet (°C, Gail) but, still, those of you who’ve been reading long enough will know that I absolutely abhor the cold. And, as for every year, the heating at work was not switched on until we had suffered a number of days of freezing in the office.

But, it is the end of October, so I suppose it’s to be expected.

And, today is Halloween. Obviously, I’m quite old now, so my memories of Halloween are being at home, doing some apple bobbing, maybe making some toffee apples but that’s it. No Trick or Treat stuff (that’s American trash (sorry, Gail)), no elaborate costumes. Instead, it was only a few days from November 5th, or Bonfire Night, as we called it. 1st November was really nothing special. Not even a holiday. We just didn’t celebrate it in the UK.

And now that I live in Italy, although Halloween is getting quite a big deal now, here, it’s November 1st that’s THE DAY. To be precise, The Day Of The Dead.

I’ve always been in Milan and it means a holiday to me. A day off work (except, this year it’s on a Saturday). However, with the special Aunt dying, tonight we’re off to Carrara and, tomorrow – well, I’m not sure what will happen. I’m guessing, a trip to the cemetery and I know we’re supposed to be going out for a pizza with the cousin in the evening.

It will be interesting. As FfI said to me this morning when we spoke, They don’t have a party for the wake but they do this (whatever this may be.)

I’ll let you know ……


We’ve now eaten a few times in the kitchen.

F made soup. And, one time, pasta. I like eating in the kitchen. It’s warm (from doing the cooking) and light and very comfortable. I think, even if he says he hates cooking, that he secretly quite likes it. Possibly, also because I am appreciative. V used to like cooking for the same reason.

However, the “big” test came on Saturday night. We had our first dinner in the new house. We ate, of course, in the dining room. First there were drinks in the living room and then we moved to the dining room to eat. F did soup, I did fish cakes with spinach and roast potatoes and then a chocolate cake.

And lots of wine.

It was lovely and the food seemed to go down quite well.

But, for certain, F had far too much to drink and, overnight, was ill. I know it wasn’t the food since we had the same thing and I was fine. He also blamed the drink. Still, it gave me time to clear up the next morning a bit, which he liked.

So, our first dinner was a success and it was certainly very comfortable with the space to do it properly.

However, there is something that I’ve noticed which is quite strange, for me. In the past, I would always do stuff I had done before. I did things that I had practiced until I “got them right”. Now, I always want to try something new. So, the fish cakes were new, the chocolate cake was new and I cooked spinach for the first time ever!

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m confident (because whilst doing these things I always worry that everything will turn out terribly) or, as I think it is, the thrill of doing something for the first time – with the fact that it could be a complete disaster (but rarely is).

20 years ago I would never have been so “reckless”. Now I seem to actually look for things that I’ve never done to see how they turn out!

F, bless him, compliments me to others, saying what a wonderful cook I am. Anyway, he certainly seemed to like the chocolate cake which was a little like chocolate fudge cake – like eating pure dark chocolate in cake form. I was (am, because there is still half of it left) very pleased with it.

So, that’s it. First dinner done. Now we have a lot more to do to repay all the dinners we’ve had at other people’s places. And, then, of course, the house-warming party in December. Maybe it’s the sharing of food with friends, the “breaking of bread”, but our flat seems almost officially inaugurated now.

MIB, 2 flip-flops and a funeral

I am sitting wearing a dark suit, a white shirt and a black tie. F sits next to me with dark trousers, dark shirt and dark jacket. Next to him is a guy wearing a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops like he’d just come from the beach. And, yet, it seems, he doesn’t feel uncomfortable dressed in this way.

I had been warned but I wasn’t quite expecting to be so over-dressed.

Someone likened me to the Men In Black which, I realised, with my glasses, dark in the sunshine, was possibly true.

Now, I’m no expert on British funerals. I think I’ve been to five – one of which was with people of Jamaican origin, so doesn’t really count as “British”. But, from my experience (always excluding the Jamaican one), it goes something like this:

You go directly to the church (only the very close family members would be at the home beforehand); the coffin is closed; there is a service; you either go to the crematorium where there is another kind of service where the coffin disappears behind a curtain or to the cemetery, where the coffin is put into a hole in the ground, some people throw a flower or dirt on the coffin and it’s then filled in by a mechanical digger and the wreaths placed on top; you go back to the house (or a pub or somewhere) and you have a bit of a party where you spend the time reminiscing about the person. There are some tears. There are some laughs. The party helps to lift the mood; relieves the tension. It “rounds off” the sadness with some good memories and some a good (if a little subdued) time.

The Jamaican one was different. The coffin is open. There is wailing and crying. The church is so packed that people are standing four-deep at the back! There is a point at which people queue to pass the coffin where they touch the body and do a bit more wailing. Wives, sisters, nieces are supported as it seems as if, at any moment, they will collapse on the floor. The vicar at one point threatens to throw people out because there is too much talking in the congregation!!! It was strange.

Italian funerals, much like Italian weddings are similar to British ones but slightly different. In both cases, the party (where there could be dancing and stuff) is missing. In the case of the wedding, it is a meal that lasts for hours and has a million courses – but no dancing and music and people getting really, really drunk.

F doesn’t want me to come down the night before. Instead, I drive down in the morning. I’m doing what he wants – making myself available for whatever he says I should do but not wanting to be any sort of burden for him.

I arrive at his house to get changed and he is there. He says that I should come to “the house” about 12.30. To be honest, I’m very nervous but really because I don’t know what to expect. He tells me that S (his previous partner) has sent flowers. I feel a bit miffed because I would have sent flowers but he said not to. I say that I should have sent some. He says it’s OK, it’s because S can’t come to the funeral. I don’t argue with him – he doesn’t need anything but support from me.

He leaves to go for lunch there (something quick and easy, he says, don’t come because they will be embarrassed by the food (not to their normal standards)) and I am to go into the town and get something to eat. That’s OK for me. Except, it’s really out of season, so more places are closed or shut for lunch or stuff. I eventually sit at a cafe and have some pasta dish. It’s not “wow” but I don’t care. It may be the only food I have today. I have a beer with it – after all there will be no party with alcohol and food afterwards – this much I know.

I try to get him the cigarettes he has asked for but the tobacconist is closed (for lunch, I guess, or just because …….).

I go back to his house and park and walk round to the house. I am about 20 minutes late. I expect the house to be filled with people but I am “the first” of this afternoon’s visitors. At the moment, it’s just the immediate family (and F). And, now me.

Most people have T-shirts and trousers. I, on the other hand, am the Man In Black. F says, “I told you so.” I say, “I don’t care, it’s how we do it in the UK.” For me, it’s a sign of respect and I can be a funny bugger like that. It’s tradition and it’s my tradition, so I’ll stick to it.

I go to see the body, laid out on the bed. As I approach the bedroom, E (the only daughter and like a sister to F) comes out. We hug. I go into the bedroom, am introduced to E’s mother-in-law and I see the body. But it isn’t her. it looks a bit like her but it’s not her. She’s not there, in this room. I leave. I then spend the next hour or so trying to be inconspicuous in the corner. This is hard because I tower over most people and also because I look like some secret agent and I’m not known by everyone.

Some people greet me; F’s niece, sister, mother, some other relations. His Dad comes later and looks visibly shocked to see me and also deeply upset (not to see me – it was his sister). The Funeral Director’s people come to put the body in the coffin, etc. They have blue, short-sleeved shirts, no jackets and striped blue ties. I look more like one of their people than they do – but, then, this is not the UK. At least they wear a tie.

The brother comes. From Sicily. He’s a priest. I’ve met him once or twice before. For some strange reason, I always feel, when he looks at me, that he is judging me. I always stare him out, refusing to be intimidated by someone from the church. Of course, this may be entirely in my mind. Or not?

Apparently, a few days ago, he was up for a few days to see his sister. They didn’t know how long she would live. He is, of course both the uncle of F and the uncle of E. Apparently, he asked E if “F’s friend” had been there. E replied that he should use the correct term – that I was not F’s friend but F’s boyfriend! I only know this much. I wanted to ask his reaction – but I dare not. I’m impressed by E but my wanting to know his reaction is, really, a desire to give the church a “slap”. So, when F told me all this, a few days ago, I didn’t enquire further.

Anyway, I digress. The coffin is carried out to the car. We all walk to the car. There are a lot of people milling around. I am definitely out of place, not only for towering over everyone. The big, fat priest (not the uncle), who has been mopping his brow every few moments, walks in front of the car and the people, led by the daughter and husband an other close relatives (but not F – where is F? I look around. I don’t know where I’m supposed to be!) and then the rest of the people, follow behind at the slow pace thing they do for a funeral procession. The sun is shining and it’s very hot. I am dying in my dark suit. F suddenly appears beside me. “I’m going to leave my jacket in the car,” he says. “Do you want to leave yours too?” I reply that, no, I don’t. I’m going to be the usual stubborn Englishman that I always am and wear my jacket and suffer, even in this extreme heat.

I also inform him that, as I’ve been sweating a lot, to take my jacket off would expose that. To explain: My shirt, which is cheap but the only white one I had that was clean, is almost see-through when it is wet. If I took my jacket off, it would look like I’ve entered for a wet T-shirt competition! Whereas this might fit in with the flip-flops and shorts, I think it’s just too much.

We get to the church. I tell F that I will stay at the back. F says that he will too. But then he goes to the front. He waves me forward when he gets there. I go to sit in the row behind him, on the far left-hand side. He waves me to come and sit by him. We are on the front row. They don’t seem to do etiquette like we do in the UK. Next to me sits F. Next to him sits a guy who is the cousin-in-law of E – he who is wearing flip-flops and shorts!

They do a mass. The uncle-priest appears, dressed like a priest (until now he had been wearing a suit) and assists the big, fat priest in the mass. I don’t understand anything. I stand up when others stand up. I sit down when others sit down. I don’t do the crossing thing they do. I don’t do the “taking communion” thing (although most people didn’t do it, including the chief mourners). Let’s be honest, I don’t really do the “religion” thing either it, in my mind, being just a way to “control” people. I think: I must tell F that I don’t want a religious ceremony (if it can be avoided) when I die. The big, fat priest often wipes his face with his handkerchief. I think: it would help if he lost some weight and, probably, if he ate a lot less pasta! No, I’m not religious at all.

The whole thing finishes and the coffin is led out by the big, fat priest. Everyone, trundles out. F comments about how the church is full of “old people”. I point out that, as the person who has died is old, (not that old, mind you) the church is filled with a lot of friends who will be of similar age. this is the way it is.

Outside, the sun is blazing down. The people mill around, chatting, greeting each other, etc. I tell F that I’m going for a cigarette – it’s been a couple of hours since I last had one. Also, although I don’t tell him this, I can’t stay in this suit, in this sun. And, anyway, I don’t speak Italian well enough. He tells me to go and wait by the car and gives me the keys. I go and, in the shade by the car, have several cigarettes. Eventually he arrives together with his sister and his cousin-from-Sicily – who is a nun.

We drive to the cemetery. There is a lot of discussion about meeting up with the hearse at some point. But no one can agree about what was supposed to happen. The gates to the cemetery seem to be locked. We hang around. Eventually, someone (the nun or his sister) goes and asks someone. It seems the hearse is already inside! With all the people.

We go in. The cemetery is huge. Cemeteries, here, are HUGE! There are, of course, the usual plots in the ground. But here they also do walls with, what I have always assumed, ashes inside. We walk down to where all the people are. In fact, the whole coffin is inside a hole in one of these walls. It is a tomb. instead of soil being piled in on top of the coffin, the hole is being bricked up! Bricking up the hole takes a whole lot longer than piling soil on top. I think how wonderful it is that the bricklayer is a woman, her long, blond hair tied up in a super-long pony tail. She works fast and hard under the glare of the mourners. In the meantime, I position myself under a tree, for the shade.

At one point, the bricklayer turns around. I see that she is, in fact, a man. He finishes the wall. F explains that, eventually, after some years, the bones of several relatives are collected together and put in one tomb. For now there is some sort of temporary (I suppose) “tomb stone” fixed to the outside. the flowers are placed around outside. This has taken so much longer than a burial in the ground that a majority of the people have excused themselves at some point or another. I don’t, of course, since I need F to take me back to the car which I’ve left at his house. Several people (his dad, his mum, etc.) ask if I’m staying. I explain that I’m going back to Milan. I have work the next day. And the dogs. And, of course, F didn’t want me to stay. That way he has the freedom to do the things he needs to do without being concerned about me.

At one point the wife of the shorts and flip-flops man asks F if he’ll go for a cigarette with her. Instead, he says that I will go. He’s right, of course, I will always sneak off for a fag. (Note to Gail – that’s the British term for a cigarette and not what you think!)

Of course, she speaks no English but somehow we manage to talk about her son (who has grown a lot in the last 12 months) and the dogs and some other stuff.

Then we go back and I go back to my place in the shade. They finish the bricking in and the laying out of the the flowers. By now it’s really only family that are left. We start to walk back. E, linking arms with me and F. We pass some graves of people that I don’t know but I know about and some graves of people that I don’t know and don’t really know about but they are related somehow.

Then out. We say our goodbyes. The mood is lighter but there isn’t the relief that a wake would have given them. In F’s car, besides me, are the uncle-priest, F’s sister and the cousin-nun. It feels quite weird to be so close to them without any escape (yes, I really DO have a problem with religion.)

We drop the uncle-priest off first. I get out of the car to shake his hand. He says, “bye-bye.” I wonder how much of the conversation between F and me he understands.

Next, we drop off the cousin-nun and his sister. Then he drops me at his house. He wants to go and see E and make sure she’s all right so he doesn’t stay.

I drive home and the dogs are pleased to see me. After I’ve taken them out, I go for a pizza and a few beers. Alcohol is essential after a funeral. It’s like saying, “….. and ….. relax!” Though it would have been better with people who had known her. Then they could have told some great stories and we could have laughed and remembered her fondly and the love that people had for her would have taken the edge off the fact that she was no longer with us.

I must remember to tell F that, when I die, I want a big fucking party – with food and alcohol and music and, if people want, dancing. And I hope, very much, for some really great and funny stories :-)

Anyway, this was another “first”, and I don’t get so many of those, these days. Hence the long post.

Being a foreigner; another first!

It’s probably about 10.30 p.m.

Maybe 11.

It’s Friday night and I’m taking the dogs out for their final time that night. It’s a bit later than normal as tomorrow is Saturday and a lie in. If I take them too early, they will want to be out early the next morning and, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that at the weekend. Well, I could and, obviously, have but I prefer not to if I can help it.

We had been to Liù for a pizza earlier. It was a bit strange in that, when we were sitting there waiting for the pizzas to come, I had this sudden moment when I felt that I was in a foreign land. Of course, I AM in a foreign land but as I’ve been here quite a long time now, I don’t tend to notice. It is my “normal” and it’s not new. So, although most of the time I hear Italian all around me, it doesn’t seem strange nor does it feel like I live somewhere foreign. And yet, just for about 20 minutes, I felt as if I were not in my own country.

It’s not that it was a bad thing. It just “was”. And, in some way, I marvel in it. If I had been told when I was young that I would up sticks so late in life and go and live in Italy, I’m not sure that I would have believed it. Retire, maybe, but just to come and live and work here, probably not.

Anyway, I digress. So, there I am, going out with the dogs for their last walk.

We come out of the building and turn right, as always. They know which way to go. Dino does his first pee on the nearest car, as always. Piero usually waits to the first junction.

As we approach the junction, a car pulls up and half-blocks the entrance to the road on the right. I don’t think anything of it. I mean people sometimes park there like that.

These people don’t get out though and the engine is still running.

We cross the junction to continue our way down the “perfect street” and I glance inside the car as the courtesy light is on.

And I see something that I’ve never, ever seen before. I mean to say, I’ve seen it on films and TV but never in real life!

A line of what I can only assume is cocaine is on some sort of hand-held flat surface (maybe the back of a phone or a mirror), the passenger is holding the said flat surface whilst the driver snorts the white powder.

There, in the street (well, the car) in full sight of anyone (that would be me) walking past!

Obviously, as I’ve never taken any drug apart from stuff for illness, tobacco and alcohol, I get sort-of excited about this. I mean, this is for real!

I guess that most people will have seen this since it seems that the snorting of cocaine is fairly common from what I have read or seen on TV or in films.

However, for me it was a rather strange first.

A Free eBook and my very first purchase of another eBook. I am moving into this century … albeit, slowly!

WARNING – This post is wrong – see update below!

This morning I downloaded 2 ebooks from Smashwords.

This is, in my opinion, an incredible site.

The first book is Given Away, A Sicilian Upbringing, by Marianna Randazzo.

Not having read it, I can’t tell you if it’s good or not. But, for a short time, using the code SW100, you can get it for free! And, with Smashwords, you can download it in so many formats that you don’t have to have a Kindle to read it. In fact, I have downloaded it as an rtf file, meaning a Word Document (in effect) and it’s an experiment as with this file, I can read it on my phone – so I can read it on the beach :-)

A second book that I have actually paid money for ($4.50) is The Final Straw, by Ted Taylor.

I haven’t read this one either BUT – Ted Taylor is the guy who wrote The Death Guide To Life – which he put up on the internet and which is in my eBooks section on the right. I really liked it and liked his style so I didn’t mind paying something for this.

Again, I’ve downloaded it in rtf format with the idea of reading it on the beach.

Now, of course, on my phone it will be quite small and, if that becomes a problem, I have two options. 1 – wait until I am at home and read it on my computer OR, 2 – buy some sort of reader or tablet and read it that way.

I have a feeling that, as I really need to replace my phone very soon, I might find myself getting a tablet …… finally :-) Maybe, I can get some sort of special deal if I do the two things together.

We shall see.

Anyway, even if you don’t have a reader, do purchase the free book I’ve mentioned above. After all, it’s free (with the code) and so you’ve lost nothing, have you?

UPDATE. Mr Ted Tayler (the guy who wrote The Final Straw) has pointed out that he IS NOT the author of The Death Guide To Life – which is completely down to me not paying attention and having erroneously “come to the conclusion they are the same person” some time ago – I didn’t check it before I wrote this. However, the book I bought seemed interesting anyway. I hope it is!

Ah well, we all make mistakes.

Going to an Earthquake Zone?

You may or may not have heard about the earthquakes that have been occurring in the Apuan Alps.

And, even if you had, you may not have thought much about it.

But, let me explain that Carrara, where F has his house and where we spend the summer, is overlooked by the Apuan Alps. In fact, Carrara is partly up the mountains. Where we actually go is the coast – but we’re talking a few miles.

So, Marina di Carrara, Avenza and Massa di Carrara have all felt the earthquakes quite a lot and, according to one newspaper, yesterday, people were fleeing from the beach at Marina di Carrara – which is where we have our umbrella.

And, next weekend, I shall be going there. F is working but we have the umbrella and he wants me to go as, otherwise, it doesn’t really make so much sense to take the umbrella for the whole season (as it’s not exactly cheap) and then only use it for a couple of weeks.

And, with the idea of fleeing the beach, I thought, initially that that was not such a clever thing to do. Of course, in different circumstances, I would stay – however, in my circumstances I would be racing back to the house. Not for me, you understand, but because Dino and Piero would be there and I would be worried for them and, most likely, they would be frightened.

So, let’s hope the aftershocks are all finished by next weekend.

p.s. the title is a bit misleading since the whole of Italy is an Earthquake Zone!

Where I get to see a bit of Italy I haven’t seen before.

I’ve lived here almost 8 years now (I know, I can hardy believe it myself)!

And, much as it was in the UK, I know I’ve seen hardly anything of Italy. There are tons of places I’ve never been to, even places near Milan!

But, this weekend (well, as of Thursday) we shall be going to the toe of Italy, namely, Calabria. It’s my first time a) in that area and b) that far south in Italy. Not right at the big toe, so to speak, but in the toe area – more like the instep now that I’ve looked at the map to check.

We’re flying down and so leaving the dogs at the place we bought them from. Then hiring a car to get to this place called Catanzaro. Well, not actually there, but close by.

We’re going to a wedding. Not one of F’s friends but, rather, one of mine. And not an Italian friend but, rather, an English friend who is marrying someone from there. Actually, it’s an ex-colleague from the time I had the business. And he’s of Irish extraction, so the place will be full of Irish people getting, I suspect, absolutely plastered. We’ve decided to stay a few extra days and make a long weekend of it.

Normally, when you speak of somewhere in Italy (that isn’t Milan), Italians will tell you how lovely it is. Not this time though, which was a little bit of a shock. I had been under the impression that everywhere in Italy was beautiful (according to Italians), except Milan (which, as you know, I think IS beautiful).

We’re staying at the hotel that is the venue for the reception. It means drinking without having to worry about driving.

But, then, I thought I would just check Trip Advisor. All the English reviews don’t have anything good to say about it – apart from the views. The Italian ones, say it’s wonderful. I’m tempted to put a review up after we’ve been – just to try and balance it one way or another. I thought that it must be OK as it will be local to her family and a lot of the English guests will be staying there. Surely, they wouldn’t have the reception and people staying in some sort of dump? No, surely not. Well, we shall see.

The place is near the sea – so beaches may be involved. It must be near some other things that may be worth a visit – I must check some of my books to find out.

Anyway, it will be a weekend away and one where we don’t have to get up early to walk the dogs. And the forecast suggests that, although it may not be as warm as Milan, it should have almost zero chance of rain which will be nice.

And then there will be the food – which should be good (although, of course, that isn’t guaranteed).

So, a weekend away without the “children”. I am looking forward to it :-)

We have successes and setbacks

So, after yesterday, when he was a model of a puppy for the whole day at the office, we had one slight setback and then this morning a great success – maybe two, depending on how you look at it.

Of course, after yesterday morning, most of the afternoon was spent sleeping.

To be honest, I was wishing I could join him. This getting up at 5.30 a.m. is a killer and, almost, not really necessary at the moment. The getting up so early allows me time to clean up any mess that might be made off the newspaper. In fact, apart from one small pooh on the balcony, everything has been on the newspaper (or pretty damned close). He is an exceptional puppy. Better, even, than Dino was at his age!

But, yesterday, in the office, he did nothing on the newspaper waiting until we went for a short walk to pee and poop. An absolute result! He ate several times during the day and, in the afternoon had to be encouraged to come out with me when I went for a cigarette, so tired as he was.

However, not being completely stupid, he remembered the car.

I think, in his head, it works something like this:

Car = make me feel bad = I throw up = make me feel worse = DO NOT GET IN CAR!

As we are approaching the car he hangs back. When I reach the car, he is some feet away (on the lead, of course) and sits down. When I try to coax him to the car, he is stubborn. When I pull him he fights back. But, I mean fights back with vigour!!!!

Obviously I am a tad stronger than he is. He gets put in the car. I try to drive a little slower, especially round corners. In any event, by the time we reach home I see he has thrown up. Ah well, poverino. He will get used to it, I know – but it’ll mean no food this evening until we’ve arrived in Carrara and we’ll stop at least once to ‘clean up’ I expect.

Dino used to be like this, so I know it will get better.

But my, how happy was he to see Dino last night? The new, improved, sleek, short-haired Dino. Dino almost seemed a little pleased to see him – but, really, how can you tell?

Last night he was playing and generally having fun. Maybe he will forget about the car by this evening? We shall see.

Then this morning, F got up with me (that was the second success) which was a big surprise. In fact, he wanted to make sure he could handle them both together. Bless him, he gets worried that he won’t be able to control them. It was a success in that he handled everything – but at the same time, I could have stayed in bed for an extra hour! Ah well.

But the main success was that, within a few moments of being out, Piero did his first (not counting the ones yesterday) pooh outside. Oh how good is he? Dino didn’t do his first for months.

So, there were mainly successes and the setback with the car journey. It could be very much worse. He is, in a different way from Dino, of course, going to turn out to be a great dog.

Dino goes abroad

Oh yes, we have photos. Lots of them.

99% of which are of Dino.

It was a Dino holiday. And his first time abroad. I’d taken his passport, just in case, but it wasn’t needed.

Sure we saw some nice buildings and museums – but only from the outside. The program for each day was – 9 – 10 a.m. – Take Dino for a walk. Maybe have coffee or lunch. Walk around. 3 – 6 p.m. – Return to the flat we had rented and rest. All of us. 8 – 9 p.m. – Leave Dino in the flat and go out.

Bless him, he was so exhausted.

We walked in parks; around buildings; up and down Vienna.

One time, we met up with an old friend/colleague of F’s, for lunch. The weather was spectacular and this particular day, very hot. We sat ourselves down at one of the tables outside.

I said, “I need to go to the bathroom but when the waitress comes, can you ask for some water for Dino, please?”

I came back and Dino had water. Apparently, the waitress had come to the table with a dog bowl full of water BEFORE she brought the menus! How good is that?

And he was loved even more than in Italy. Children wanted to stroke him; people stopped us and asked if he was a Bobtail (Old English Sheepdog). He was, in fact, the centre of attention nearly all the time.

I think he liked going abroad. Especially as he was with us nearly all the time. :-D

And Creme Eggs! A picture post.

This follows on from my last post. I also really fancy a Cadbury’s Creme Egg and, since some of my readers didn’t know about Hot Cross Buns and, almost certainly, won’t have ever heard of a Creme Egg, here are pictures of both:

Cadbury's Creme Eggs - yum, yum

Cadbury's Creme Eggs - yum, yum


In addition, some readers wanted pictures of the all-important birthday party and so, here they are:

When I walked in through the front door, there were balloons on the ceiling –

balloons on ceiling

balloons on ceiling

balloons on ceiling2

balloons on ceiling2

……….and a banner –

happy birthday banner

happy birthday banner

………. and, of course there was the cake with the candle. Note the carefully placed bits of the ‘cake’ as decoration around the cake itself :-)

birthday cake

birthday cake

……….. and cake with the birthday boy quite eager (in spite of the candle flame) to get his mouth on it –

birthday cake and dino

birthday cake and dino

……… and the birthday boy looking out from under the table –

the birthday boy

the birthday boy

And, finally, although the balloons were up on the ceiling on Friday night, by Saturday morning they had started to drop and by Saturday night, most were on the floor and so a compromise was made with clusters of them all over the flat! –

more birthday balloons

more birthday balloons

And, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the birthday party.