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Outside My Garden

One of the things I love so much about going to my in-laws house is the food. Home grown, fresh, out of the garden produce.

When I get up in the morning and open the shutters, if I look straight ahead all I can see, as far stretched to the mountains and back again, are rows and rows of grape vines. Big, green, juicy grapes ready to be picked and served as a cool chilled glass of Pinot on a sunny day.

If I look to the right where a local farmer has recently claimed the land, I can see rows and rows of soya from which we naughtily pick the pea pods for tossing into a crisp salad.

Looking to the left, I can see tall raspy reeds of grass that hide sunshine yellow pods of corn that are just waiting to be buttered and crunched!

In our actual garden there are pumpkins growing, which makes for the tastiest risotto.

There are zucchini from which we pull the golden yellow flowers and fry them for Sunday lunch starters. There are the tiniest cantaloupe melons you’ve ever seen and their size makes them ultra sweet and finally there are tomatoes. Four different varieties of luscious red ripe vine tomatoes that we pick every day, wash, slice, add a pinch of salt, kiss with home pressed olive oil and a splash of balsamic. I say kiss by way of meaning not to drown, it would be such a shame to smother the flavour by adding too much oil.

Ten days of home-grown fresh as you like food is the best of any fuel for the soul. Consequently, I am full of grand designs to create my own veggie patch once we have sold our stamp sized apartment and traded it in fit a mansion.

What do you grow in your garden?

*all fotos are my own

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Children’s Ward

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Before we arrived in Italy last month for our summer holiday, I wasn’t sure how Bambina would react to the heat. A freak sun storm had blown over from Africa leaving us with a furness of about 40 degrees everyday.

This made it difficult to go outside with Bambina during the day so I had to work out to change get sleep patterns: 6am wake ups, 10pm bed times and long afternoon siestas to break up the day. She adapted well.

However, three days into our holiday Bambina became extremely clingy and cried uncontrollably at the slightest thing. She became lethargic, sweaty and developed a hoarse cough.

I thought it was due to the air conditioning but the Italian decided this was worth a trip to the local children’s hospital.

I’ve been in a few foreign hospitals in my time but taking my daughter was frightening. Although I can understand Italian almost perfectly now, I have to rely upon the Italian to fill the gaps.

Bambina was excited when we entered. Large white walls were painted with characters that pretended to be doctors and nurses. There was a huge fish tank of tropical fish. There were rows and rows if books and tiny table and chairs for children to make themselves comfortable. Of course, dotted around we’re suck children clinging needily to a waiting parent.

Bambina was seen straight away. She weighed perfect for her above average height, which according to la doctoressa equals that of a baby around two years. Bambina us fourteen months.

As Bambina lay limp in my arms, the doctor carried out her observations. After a thorough but routine check up, a listen to her chest and check of her, the doctor confirmed that Bambina had contracted a severe bronchial virus and would need to be given corral i e and adrenaline via a gas mask inhaler for five days, three times a day.

My poor baby!

We went home and set up the equipment. The Italian took out the machine, hooked up the mask and inserted the cortisone and adrenaline. I sat Bambina firmly on my knee; one arm under my arm, my left hand holding down her right arm and my right hand pressed firmly against her head to keep her still.

My heart sunk. Bambina wriggled and struggled to get out of my grasp and the heat only made it more difficult. As we both sweated Bambina slid further and further down my body, screaming the loudest scream that I have ever heard.

The Italian held the mask as close to Bambina’s face as possible whilst the cold grey mist bellowed out. She screamed and writhed in fear. I held my breath. The grey mist hissed at Bambina’s face as she took in huge gasps of air in between sobs.

Eventually after what seemed like an eternity the mist subsided and I held Bambina in my arms to reassure her that all was ok now. She clung to my neck with all her might, curling her little fingers into my hair. Her breathing slowed and she settled into my chest where she was safe.

It was the most horrific experience that we unfortunately had to repeat, upon instruction from the pediatrician, three times a day for five days.

It was horrific to hear Bambina scream like that and have to enforce such fear upon her. She did get better because of it but I can’t help wondering if there was an easier way. The Italian asked the doctor if there was an alternative to the mask but she believed this to be the most effective method and suggested persevering.

I then contracted the dreaded bronchial virus and whilst I didn’t need to be held down in a head lock or wear a gas mask, I did suffer, for weeks and weeks.

Taking care of a sick child is no mean feat, especially when you’re suck yourself. It’s especially difficult when in a foreign country, with foreign rules and you don’t have your home comforts around you.

The hospital in Italy was great, the doctor was kind and concerned and even called us at home a few days after our visit to see how Bambina was bearing up.

No matter how Ill we were, how many screams or tantrums were thrown, it’s for sure that this level of service and dedication would never have happened in Britain.

Nevertheless, Bambina’s trip to the Children’s Ward is a holiday day out that I prefer not to repeat any time soon!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

La Mia Bella Beach?

A summer holiday in Italy should consist of great wather, great food and great beaches, right? Why then, did we end up at a beach that seemed to double as a skip?!

We took Bambina to the beach. She has been to a beach before but never in the sea.

We arrived at Bibione at about 7.30am. It’s the only time that you can take a child to the beach when the daily climate reaches 37 degrees by lunch time.

There we were, all decked out with our sun umbrella, cooler bag of chilled water and goodies to munch on. Bambina looked super cute in her matching bikini bottom and hat combo and it took me back to day trips to Blackpool when I was little, only there were no donkeys in this beach.

You expect something kind of special when visiting an Italian beach. You expect golden sands dotted with svelte bronzed bodies, turquoise waters and cascading purple and pink bourgonvillia. You expect something a bit like these from my Pinterest board, La Mia Bella Italia.

Although I’ve been to many beaches in Italy before, I had never been to Bibione. I’m sorry to say that I won’t be going again. It didn’t resemble any of the above at all. In fact, it was so 1950’s, it made Blackpool look like Las Vegas!  The holiday apartments are all mustard and beige, the prom is lined with chinese owned shops selling dolphin ornaments covered in shells and we visited the worst gelateria where the ice cream was so bad that the Italian sent it back and refused to pay!

My initial excitement at having a lovely beach stroll along the waterfront with Bambina was soon quashed when a rubbish lorry passed by stinking the place out. This was soon followed by the biggest tractor I have ever seen. What’s with that? A tractor on the beach!

The Italian took Bambina for her first paddle in the sea and as she was oblivious to the goings on around her, she was thrilled. She was kicking her legs, splashing the water and wanting Papa to go with her into the tiny waves. She screamed and laughed as he pretended to jump over the “surf” and it was a delight to see my baby so happy.

As the beach began to fill, I noticed that there seemed to be more dogs than people.

“Are dogs allowed on public beaches in Italy?” I asked the Italian.

Of’a course’a. You ‘ava a dog’a, you’a don’a leave’im at ‘ome do ya?!”

“But they’re not on leads. They’re roaming around freely to poo and pee in sand where I’m walking…more to the point, where Bambina is walking and playing!!”

I was disgusted. If Bambina dared to pick up a hardened dog turd in her sand bucket, there would be hell to pay!  Maybe a shovel wasnt enough to clean the beach of dog turd at the end of the day, they needed a tractor!

A lovely morning at the beach was spent with my lovely daughter and husband.. and a bin wagon, a tractor and a preview of this years Crufts!!  This photo from a Vogue cover shoot almost describes what it was like, this with the dogs and machinery thrown in, not far off it.

Lets hope our next trip the beach is not as unfortunate as this!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Guest Post: Mummy Rates It

Every Friday, Michelle from Mummy Rates It, dishes the dirt.  Her plight is 1 Woman 10 Questions and this week it was my turn!  I met Michelle at a Save the children conference and whilst I obviously thought she was lurrvely, I had much respect for her afterwards when discovering we shared an unconditional love of George Michael (clearly, I love him more!) and Branston pickle! Girl after my own heart.

Mummy Rates It is an Aladdin’s cave of “reviews, news and stories…toys/products/parenting/Just for YOU”.

Michelle is no novice when it comes to knowing about all things female.  She has worked at SHE and Good Housekeeping magazines as a journalist, as well as at thisislondon.co.uk (The Evening Standard’s website) and as Deputy Editor at newwoman.co.uk. So when she shouted out for volunteers to take part in her 1 Woman 10 Questions series, I did have second thoughts – what on earth would I have to say about my everyday existence that could possibly entertain and amuse Michelle’s huge fan base of readers?

Apparently my fancying the pants off a gay eighties pop star and my hate of bad morning breath commuters has gone down a treat.  Pop on over to Michelle’s site to see how Mummy Rates It as well as having a tiny sneak at my 1 Woman 10 Questions edition.

Oh – and how cool is it that Michelle’s children go to circus classes?! Note to self: delete the reminder to sign Bambina up to Girl Guides.. I’m sure she would much prefer swinging off a trapeze!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Guilty Until Proven…

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I think I’m now allowed to say that for the last week I have been under oath to provide the verdict for Her Majesty v. Joe Bloggs.

I was SO, let me repeat that, SO, excited at receiving my jury summons. I had always wanted to do jury service and imagined myself on a juicy case that would last months and months. I would be caught up in the press scramble on the way into court and I would eventually need protection as the accused had threatened revenge when the jury had reached a unanimous verdict of “Guilty“.

How naive I was. I arrived at court to find myself to be one of about fifty jurors, some of whom the computer randomly generated that they should leave immediately and return home, never to be seen again. The computer randomly generated that I attend my first case that very afternoon. The computer also got my first and last names wrong and has, to my annoyance, continued to do so all week!

The cases themselves are nothing like on TV, there is no court room drama, no arguments or fights and nobody in contempt. There is a lot, A LOT, of waiting around. Waiting to be called, waiting to go into the courtroom, waiting for the judge, waiting to deliberate, more waiting for the judge. Waiting for the woman to arrive with the sandwiches that aren’t worth waiting for.  Waiting.

It has not been glamorous. There were no celebrities and no press or paparazzi waiting outside.  The most exciting it got was having to get the same bus home as the accused.  It was all a very normal part of ones day so no big dramas at all.  The accused got of the bus and was last seen heading into Tesco.  It was not what I expected it would be. It was not interesting, nor was it entertaining. It was, however, the biggest waste of my time.  I know there is protocol to be followed but the jurors sit around all day, some for days on end, waiting to be called to court.  The excitement of hearing ones name being called and the prospect of having something to do is short lived when the judge decides to announce an early lunch.  It has baffled me all week.  Judges earn a packet, that’s no secret, but they must be bored stiff!!  They don’t do anything!

So whilst I sat and sat and sat, waiting, for a whole week, I was relieved to hear that my final case was quashed due to lack of evidence.  The judge called an early lunch, the bell rang and court was dismissed.  Duty done.

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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His First Impressions Definitely Don’t Count

 

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After I wrote the post First Impressions Don’t Count, the lovely but cheeky Ellie from Emerald Pie left me a comment.

My post highlighted a few Italianisms that at first annoyed me but that now I just live with, and enjoy, as part of our daily lives. Ellie pointed out that she was sure the Italian must have a few annoyances of his own…about me! Surely not.

I took Ellie’s challenge and turned it into an opportunity to ask the Italian to share with us a few of the things (I said “a few”) that at first annoyed him about me, and maybe still do.

Here is what he had to say, verbatim: (note that these are his own words, I promise you I haven’t adapted them in any way!)

1) When’a we first’a met, I ‘ated that you’a would’a never ‘old my ‘and’a in public. Thank’a God, my Italian’a charm ‘a changed that and’a now’a you’a all over me like a rash’a!

2) Why’a you always wanna talk’a to me about’a the bills’a when I’a getting into the bed’a and’a wanna close my eyes? I’a not’a listening to you eh!

3) You shout’a too much. It’a gets’a on’a my nerves’a. I talking to you, right’a next to you and I dunno’a know why’a you scream’a at me?! I am a bloody Italian’a, I’a not’a bloody deaf!

4) Black! Why’a you English’a women always’a wanna wear black? You’a going to’a bloody funeral every day’a isnt it?! I’a glad I took’a you’a shoppin’a ’cause now’a you’a wear’a all the colours and I’a love that!

5) Can I’a say’a about your’a ‘airs? That’a bloody annoys me! Every’a bloody time’a you wash’a your’a ‘air you’a never pick it out’a the plag’ole (plug hole!). Five’a years now it is’a that I’a been picking out’a your ‘airs from’a the shower! Bloody disgastin’a!!

There you have it, I’m not perfect after all.

X-O-X

The Italian: A Horses Head in my Bed #1 (teaandbiscotti.com)

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Walking the Walk

 

Its one of those inevitable things isn’t it, that babies will do the most important things when you’re not looking or not around.

I have been fortunate enough to be around for all of Bambina’s “firsts” to date.  Today, however, she had plans of her own, of the independence kind.  Mother nature took the control reign out of our hands and placed them in the palm of Bambina’s childminder.

I love her.  The childminder.  She’s great.  I dreaded though that she might see Bambina walk before I do.  For weeks now Bambina has been making signs of that unsteady wobble, the shall-I-shan’t-I stumble, that glance across the room for encouragement.  She has been almost ready to go it alone.

Bambina isn’t usually with the childminder on a Tuesday but as a favour to her we swapped our day to help her out.  Bambina should have been with Daddy and me today.  We would have seen it.  We wouldn’t have missed it.

We did miss it.  Her first steps.  Her first two steps, actually.  She made her own way from the chair to the sofa.  A break for freedom, two small steps for babykind.  Those two steps were encouraged by confidence and increased to nine! NINE! NINE STEPS! Whats next? Running the London marathon?! Seriously Bambina, why didn’t you wait for us?

That’s it now, my baby has begun the talk, well mainly ‘cat’ and now she is walking the walk, all nine steps of it.

My mum is coming to stay next week and I have been convinced that Bambina was saving her walking glory for Grandma.  I wouldn’t have minded that so much.  I would have been thrilled for my mum to have experienced that.  Yet, like her mother and Grandmother, Bambina’s mind was set and there was no budging her.  Today was the day.

I wish I had have seen her but I accept that I wont always be there for absolutely everything.  And that sucks, absolutely bloody sucks!

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X-O-X

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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