I may not like them but they ARE rather good.

I may not like them but they ARE rather good

And, further, on my post below.

I really try NOT to buy using Amazon. But I can understand why they’re taking over the world.

First, they tend to be the cheapest supplier of “stuff”.

Second, they offer free delivery.

Third, so far (I’ve used them twice), they beat the customer expectations. They promise delivery within a week or so, when you place the order, and then deliver within 2 days! So, I placed the order two days ago, they promised it would be delivered Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and then they have delivered today!

I hate them more.

I would never pay for Amazon Prime since the delivery, in any case, is so good. You can see why everyone uses them.

But I will still only use them when I really need to. I get my books from Wordery, who have wonderful customer service. I like to book my hotel and flights directly (I phoned the hotel in Rome and got a much better deal than I would have online, for example). But, you know ……

Amazon ARE doing something right. Cheap and efficient.

I still hate them though :'(

I can hardly believe it …….

Well, they arrived yesterday.

So, that’s good and it means there is the final present, already wrapped and under the tree.

Of course, it’s possible that their system will work out that they sent me these after they had cancelled the order and given me a refund. Let’s see. In any event, they do have a really crap system and they need to look at it and, maybe, fire the IT people who wrote it.

But, after Christmas. I wouldn’t want to spoil Christmas for them.

And now, the cleaner is in and Frankie and she are doing what feels like a Spring Clean …….. AGAIN!

Soon I will start to prepare the food for tomorrow and Boxing Day.

And, then relax and enjoy Christmas as it’s supposed to be.

And, so, guys, a very Happy Christmas to all of you.

And I hope Gail’s move goes well and the new home is even more “home” than the old one.

The Joy Is Back

The Joy Is Back

He’s away. Again.

This time it’s for at least 10 days. He left on Friday morning for London and then on Saturday flew to China. 10 days is a very long time, made worse by the fact that, this weekend just gone, was a long weekend – Monday and Tuesday were holidays.

But I had plans to make sure that I wasn’t stuck in the house all day by myself. Or, as it could be, lonely.

Plans of things to do. Some of which I did do and some I didn’t – of course, as this is me.

Things that I did do include: finishing all the Christmas cards (they are now with the daughter of the woman who works at the main post office in Milan as the Christmas stamps (see a post below) do not even cover the postage to other European countries, let alone American and Australia or New Zealand); buying of presents; wrapping of presents for overseas to be boxed up and posted today (more on that later); the usual stuff such as washing and tidying up; getting the winter tyres put on the car.

Things that I didn’t do include: cleaning the silver; painting the bathroom shower area; brushing the dogs.

I didn’t quite finish the wrapping of presents to be posted because I forgot to buy things for Best Mate’s dogs. So that means that I will have to go out this lunchtime to get things – which is actually OK because I can also buy the food to keep our dogs going over Christmas. So the parcels will actually be sent tomorrow. This is not so bad and they should reach there in plenty of time.

The cards should also reach most destinations in time. I hope. Obviously, they won’t actually be sent until tomorrow but as it’s only the 9th today, it should be OK, I think – I mean it’s 2 weeks!

I also went to Il Salvegente (a kind of Designer Outlet store – the oldest in Milan) to see if there was anything for BM and J (there was) and to buy some jeans and a jumper and, maybe, something for F. There wasn’t – but I did pick up a pair of shoes that I liked (but certainly didn’t need – unlike the jeans and jumper). As they didn’t open until 11 a.m. yesterday (it being a public holiday here), I took a longer, more meandering route and managed to find a shop (unfortunately closed) that sold Shaun the Sheep stuff – so I’ll be going back there on Saturday to pick something else up for F.

I also got a call from V’s Dad. Ay had told him that we had really looked after her well when she came over. He was ringing to thank me. I told him that he didn’t need to thank me as this was Ay and I would do anything for her – but I think his ringing me was a lovely thing to do.

Next weekend, I still have time to paint the bathroom (but probably won’t) and time to brush the dogs (I will possibly do that) but I’ve decided to forget the silver. It’s better to do that on 24th when F will, almost certainly, be cleaning the house like it’s spring or like the Queen is coming. At least it will give me something to do other than being in the way (and in the cold as the windows will certainly be open throughout the house). Obviously, even cleaning the silver, I will certainly be in the way (and in the cold) but he will understand that I’m doing something – with any luck.

Among other things that I did over the weekend was get some tickets for The Cure (next November) which F wants to go and see. This, I’ve decided, will be his birthday present. I have also ordered tickets for the ballet at La Scala for 30th December – which will be his main Christmas present, as they are quite expensive. I also thought it would be a nice thing to go to – sort of Festive and dressy-uppy and, as it’s Cinderella, both a story I can follow (I’m not that much into ballet) and right for the Christmas period.

What I also did was wrap all the presents for him, so that’s good. I still have the Cinderella tickets to come and one other present which should be on its way soon and, of course, the Shaun the Sheep thing. Then I’ve done.

And, for those of you who’ve been reading this blog over the years, you will know that this is totally unlike me. This is NOT to say that I won’t do some last-minute shopping on 24th as you will know I like that. But I really don’t need to as I have enough. It’s like the old days when I was prepared and ready. F has given me the joy back and I really like that.

So, although I miss him, I AM busy and am doing lots of things and the time is going quickly and so it’s OK. I will be very happy when he’s back, safe and sound though.

Another one bites the dust.

Vary sadly, The Bookstore.co.uk, from where I have been buying my books (not wanting to grace Amazon with my custom) has ceased trading.

So, I went on the hunt for another bookshop to buy from. It’s not easy. At first I tried Hay on Wye but the only bookshop that had what I needed priced everything in US dollars and I couldn’t find a way to change it to either Euro or Pounds.

Eventually, I found one in Liverpool called News From Nowhere.

They had all the books I wanted (from my “saved list” at Bookstore.co.uk) and so I entered them and, to try it out, bought 3 books. In theory, they will be with me when I come back with Best Mate from our holiday.

Still, Bookstore were truly great and I shall miss them. I’m sorry that I couldn’t buy more (if that would have helped to keep them alive). Further, it’s a shame that another independent bookseller has hit the dust.

Primark IS coming to Milan

I’ve seen it mentioned several times but it seems it’s true.

Primark will be coming to Milan (and Rome and Venice) within the next 12 months.

It will be interesting to see how they fare here but, given the number of people looking for Primark in Milan – evidenced by the number of hits I get on this blog where, until this post, I’ve explained (several times) that Primark doesn’t exist here, it will be popular.

The full story (or a story of Primark stores abroad) is shown here.

It had always seemed strange that they weren’t here but they explain that Italy would be “difficult”, which I can imagine is true.

But, YAY!

Hang on in there!

Hang on in there!

I am exhausted, to be honest. The holiday, in a little more than 4 weeks, can’t come soon enough. It seems I never stop.

Take last night. I rush home from work, park the car, walk to the supermarket, momentarily forgetting that it’s about 34°C and therefore walking down the street with full sun on my back rather than a slightly longer way, mostly in the shade. I buy the minimum of stuff and walk back home down the shady streets.

Arriving home, as soon as I step through the door, having stopped “doing something”, I do my Niagara Falls impression. I put away the milk and stuff, change out of my suit (I had customers at work), put on shorts and a T-shirt. Within a second my T-shirt is soaked but there’s not really much I can do. I need to take the dogs out as I need to be back by 7.

I take them out. We do a slightly shorter walk in the heat. It’s too hot for them. I get home and Niagara starts again. Half an hour later, I change my T-shirt as the Falls have stopped (thank God) but the T-shirt is completely soaked. I could manage it better if I didn’t have to rush – but I have no choice but to rush.

After my appointment, I get to read the document that someone has sent me to look at. It seems serious. I text to say that we need to talk. She asks if now is possible and I agree (I shall be busy tomorrow and I want to pack for the weekend) so we meet at Bar Blanco, the nearest bar to my house. I tell her how bad it could be but that I’ve managed to find someone who may be able to help. It’s going to cost her anyway. She is grateful, for sure, but we end up having a drink which means I’m late taking the dogs out and so late to bed.

With less that 5 hours sleep, I feel like shit. But, I feel I have to help her and cannot just walk away.

But, it costs. The cost being my tiredness.

I don’t really need the appointment tonight but it has to be. Then pack. Then the dogs. Then bed – early, I really hope. I don’t want to drive all the way down there and then spend the whole of the weekend asleep! Not that I CAN sleep on the beach, but “sleepy mode”, if I’m tired, can mean a subdued and exhausting weekend.

But, F is being “made” to take 2 weeks holiday. That’s fair enough, since for over a month he has been home for about 4 days in total. He, too, is exhausted. He is with his mother for this time, with us going down for this weekend and next.

But it’s hard for me too. I have to do everything and there’s no time and the heat means I can’t take my time – although I much prefer this heat to the cold and, if I could just take things more slowly, I’d be fine!

But, only just over a week to go before he’s back home and we can share the dog walking. And just over 4 weeks an I shall be with Best Mate AND on holiday.

Hang on in there, I tell myself.

Some hits and some misses

I had a list of things to do on Saturday. Many things didn’t turn out as I quite expected and I did some stupid things.

So, I didn’t get up that early but after two mugs of coffee and a shower, I could face the world. After taking the dogs out, I went to get my cigarettes and went for breakfast (another coffee and a croissant) and did the supermarket shopping.

Then I went to have my haircut. Now, I may have mentioned in the past, but I have a rather weird thing about having my hair cut. It’s a bit like having sex in that it feels incredibly intimate. V used to do my hair for many years but, even before that, I had this weird feeling about having it done. And I still do. After V and I split, I went to a local barbers. But I didn’t really like it. Or, rather, I didn’t like him. Then I tried another barber and I didn’t like him much. Then, for some strange reason, I decided to grow my hair, possibly because I just hated having it cut. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t for me. I liked having long hair (I always have liked it) but it didn’t really look as I had hoped. So I went to get it cut.

And I happened upon this place and was appointed a hairdresser who tried his damnedest to give me the “David Bowie” haircut that I asked for. He was also a nice guy. And so, every 4 to 6 weeks I go back. He’s Romanian and has adopted the Italian version of his name (since Italians can be quite funny about being served by a “foreigner”.) We’ve talked during the haircuts and he’s told me how, eventually, he wants to return to his hometown and set up a hairdressers there. But, for now, he’s learning and so he will stay.

However, Saturday, he was telling me how he’s had a bit of a falling out with his boss and how his boss isn’t speaking to him now and how he’s looking to move somewhere else. I was uncomfortable with this given that I have these feelings about having my haircut and, now I’ve found someone I like and can trust, I don’t want to have to search out someone else. So, I replied to this news that I just had to know where he was going. He said it may not be for a while and I said yes, but I only come in every so often. So he suggested becoming friends on Facebook. And so now we are. And, providing he doesn’t move back to Romania or somewhere to far for me to go, I will be able to go to him. I feel like I’ve almost got a personal hairdresser again. Thank God! Although, at the same time, it feels a little strange to be friends with your hairdresser.

There was some shopping that I wanted to do. I went home and had a cup of tea first. After pouring the water out, I checked and the kettle did need descaling, so I filled it with vinegar and water and brought it to the boil. Then, as usual, I filled it with fresh water and put it on again. Before I would go out, I would turn it off, if it hadn’t boiled by then.

I finished my tea and sorted out more washing and then went out to get a) some thermal underwear (I need it for when I’m at work), b) some jeans and c) to look at possibly getting a new earring.

First, I went all the way across town to the sports shop and got some underwear for when you go skiing. after all, sometimes it is probably warmer on the slopes than it is at work.

Then back to the centre of town. It is sales time here and I thought I would go to the Iceberg shop and get some more jeans as their jeans have a cut that seems to fit really well. Obviously, it’s been some time since I’ve been to Iceberg. I say “obviously” because it’s no longer there. No problem, I have my phone. I’ll look up their website and check out where the shop is now located. Except the location was where I was – so the website wasn’t up to date. Perhaps they don’t even have a shop any more?

I was disappointed but thought that, at least, I could look for the earring. I wanted one like the one I lost. A diamond from Tiffany. Tiffany, being a jewelers, won’t be having a sale, I knew but the beginning of January would be the right time to go as, in the run up to Christmas, they have queues running outside the door!

However, it seems that January is as bad as December! The queues, whilst not outside the door, snaked round the shop. I decided to go back another time and went home instead, not entirely happy that the only thing I’d got was underwear!

As soon as I opened the door, I remembered. I remembered that I had had to turn the kettle off before leaving. Unfortunately, having NOT turned the kettle off meant that it had boiled dry. Having boiled dry, it had heated up. Having heated up (it’s one of those you put on a gas ring and it whistles when it boils), it started to melt some of the plastic which makes up the lid. Luckily, it didn’t melt the handle nor the whistle and the plastic only melted “in situ” so didn’t melt into a horrible mess on the cooker. And, after it had cooled, I found that it does work, just not as well because some steam escapes from around the lid, so the whistle isn’t at strong. But at least it works!

So, it was a day of hits and misses.

I have emailed Iceberg about the shop – but haven’t heard anything yet!

Tea and coffee make a house into a home. Apparently!

F decides that he will be at home when I get home from work. He is going to go to Carrara. I told him that he didn’t need to wait but he wants to. I know he’s worried. There has been a bit of anger; a few tears. The problem with waiting for me is that he will hit the rush-hour traffic. But I’m not going to give him hassle. He doesn’t need any from me.

When I arrive, he’s there but he was late home and so is still packing. I have an appointment later and need to take the dogs out but I wait. After all, he waited for me. The kitchen has been finished. Of course, that means we can use the brand new dishwasher, the washing machine, etc. This is great news and I start to read the instructions for the dishwasher as I’ve never had one before. Apparently I need salt! 1Kg!! Damn! I don’t have it. It means I can’t start washing all the dishes, cups, etc.

He leaves. It seems he will be back sometime on Sunday, probably, unless something happens whilst he’s down there. His plane to Spain is on Monday. At least I will get to see him a bit.

As soon as he leaves, I prepare to take the dogs out.

Whilst out with them, I remember a small shop. This shop is a real blast from the past. It is run by an old couple who, by the looks of them, should have retired about 20 years ago. But they’re ‘hanging on’ in this supermarket age. The shop is full of stuff you might get from the supermarket – except fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. It’s the sort of shop my grandmother ran. I went to buy some milk and water from there once and, inside, they have some old cabinets that, it was explained to me at length, keep the milk at the perfect temperature. This time I am in a hurry as my visitor arrives in half an hour.

But this is NOT a supermarket. This is a place where regular customers come and chat. This is old-style shopping. This is not impersonal. He had been sitting outside chatting to a guy (more or less his age) when I arrived with the dogs. He gets up and tells me to go in (I am hesitant because I have two dogs). I ask if he has salt. Yes, he does. We go into the shop – but he doesn’t follow us for he is in conversation with the guy. He says he will be in “soon”. After a few minutes he comes in. He explains that he was having a chat with his friend. He likes the dogs. “Everyone who likes dogs is a good person,” he says.

I get 2 Kgs of salt. After all, if it uses 1 Kg now, for sure we shall need more. Plus, I’ve noticed, the water in the flat is very hard, worse than I’ve ever known.

This type of shopping takes time. Time is something I don’t really have but, I guess, it’s still quicker than going to the supermarket. Anyway, I feel somewhat obliged to use these types of shops. “Use them or lose them”, so the saying goes. I’m amazed this shop continues, to be honest but I like the idea of it, so I’m quite keen to use them from time to time.

We get home. I start to read the instructions and fill the dishwasher with the salt. I then “set” the hardness of the water. I set it to 5. The highest is 6. Maybe this will be enough?

But, now I have no time to load the machine. The kettle boils but there are no clean cups. It is only too late that I realise I also have a sink, so I could have washed a cup without the dishwasher. It’s been so long since we’ve had a fully-functioning kitchen, I seem to have forgotten what to do! Well, I will have to wait until later before I have my tea.

When she’s gone, I go back to the kitchen. I boil the kettle and load the machine. I wash a cup and make my tea. Whilst the machine is doing the first load, I go back to my studio and drink the tea. It is heavenly. It is the first cup of tea that I’ve had in over a month! I’ve missed it so much!

Later, I prepare the coffee machine for coffee in the morning. And, this morning, I switch on the machine. I do the milk first. It seems to steam better than before! I go to run my bath (I don’t have a shower yet which I’ll explain another time). After my bath, I come back to the kitchen to do the coffee. Except it doesn’t seem to be working! It’s making all the right noises, it’s just that there’s no coffee dripping through into the cup! I look inside. The coffee is damp but not “wet” like it should be. I replace the coffee holder.

I suddenly realise that, after cleaning the coffee maker last night, I didn’t actually fill it up with water! The water was the key. I have coffee.

Later, as I’m on my way to work, I feel much, much better. The full mug of cappuccino makes such a difference. I feel awake and alive.

And I realise that now, with a functioning kitchen and tea and coffee, suddenly the flat feels much more like a real home. Which, from a logic point of view, seems quite strange.


Well tomorrow, we were invited to go on some yacht sailing off the Ligurian coast, no doubt drinking champagne and eating fabulous food.

And Sunday we were invited to Udine to some party and stay the night.

Instead, tomorrow we shall be going to some place to choose fabric for the three-piece suite (and the the second-hand shop to look for doors, I hope) and Sunday we shall be sorting things out before moving.

The contract will be talked about today and, probably, we shall sign it next week.

Or that is the plan.

And, in the meantime, I am still as busy as hell.

So I’ll leave you now.

Have a good weekend.


You know how sometimes, everything seems to go a bit awry?

Well that’s how it is. I mean, it’s nothing major or really important, just little things that are annoying and involve trips to shops and buying some stuff.

So, it started last night. I got home from work and had to take the dogs out quickly and I noticed that my ultra-cheap shoes seemed a bit funny. Sure enough, the sole was coming apart. Of course, these are ultra-cheap and, so, don’t last. But, my thinking is that, if they last even 6 months, it’s still worth it. This is because I wear them to work and, somehow, all the shoes I wear to work quickly become tatty looking. Rather than spend a fortune on decent shoes, it seems better to spend next to nothing and throw them away once something goes wrong. In fact, even when a lace breaks, I’m almost inclined to bin them :-)

Anyway, this means going to buy new ultra-cheap shoes.

Then, I noticed my watch had stopped working. It needs a new battery is all – but that means I’ve got to find somewhere to get it done. Last time, the jewellers I went to wouldn’t do it and I ended up getting it done in Hereford Butter Market – so now I have to find a different jewellers here, in Milan.

Obviously, I checked my other watches and found about half of them needed new batteries.

See, I told you they were little things. It means Saturday will be busy. And, as my next post will show, there are a million and one other things to do too!