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Flippin’ ‘Eck!

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No I’m not dead. I haven’t been hiding and I have no excuses for my 3 month long absence here apart from working, learning lines and seeing quite a bit of the small people.

It’s funny when you write for a living (which I now do), because writing for yourself becomes a bit of a bus man’s holiday. Every  time I’ve sat down to write on here I find that I can’t quite be bothered. Which is silly and not good.

So here I am. Back again at the kitchen table pounding away on the laptop with the broken screen so that any instructions at the top are completely obscured by a huge black smudge. This makes for interesting guessing as to where those instructions might be and for some super swearing when it all goes horribly wrong! But anyway…

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It’s still winter, not that it seems to have been terribly wintry – more rain than you can shake a  rain stick at, howling gales and general wetness all round. The garden is trashed and there’s no hope of anything happening out there till things brighten up a bit but I’ve been ordering seeds and thinking about where things might go from the comfort of indoors. I’ve got some cut flower seed from Higgledy Garden – Cornflowers, Chrysanths and the exotically named Eschschlzia which I hope to fill many vases with over the summer…..And of course, I have my seed source Dave from the golf club who has given me, as always, French Marigolds, Lupins and chillies. So a few to be going on with.

In other news, the small people have been much in evidence, especially the smallest one who now comes to keep me company on a Friday if I’ve not got anything on – at 7 months he’s a dab hand at admin and invoices :0)

All of the urchins and an extra one – Finn (our other grandson) were with us for Christmas Day (yes I know it’s nearly February but hey, I’m a bit tardy at the mo’) which, as you can imagine was not a quiet affair!! Guess which child likes having her photo taken the most..!

So that’s pretty much where we’re at. The new year began with a bang and then a month of sobriety, staying in and watching too much tv. What does the year hold? Who knows, but if it’s even half as good as 2015 was then I’ll be happy at that. It’s started well so long may that continue.

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Italy – The Slideshow

TG and I went to Italy a week or so ago and it was shut. No really. There were holiday resorts on the coast from Bari to Otranto that were so shut that if tumbleweed had blown past us it wouldn’t have been a surprise. There was not a man, woman, child or dog to be seen in what were akin to post apocalyptic towns in the middle of nowhere. But anyway apart from that it was great. We flew across the snowy Andes and landed at Bari – on the unfashionable coast and headed for our first night’s hotel in the dark.

I hadn’t expected to like Bari – a shipping port but it was charming. An old town and a new sensitive redevelopment of the esplanade made for a very pleasant evening of pizza, pasta and a drop of plonk. It was but a pit stop on one of our odysseys but we had a little walk before setting forth.

There was the fish market with its blue rowing / fishing boats (of which more later) and a man bashing seven bells out of a poor octopus

And then we were off

To Alberobello – land of the Trulli – little tiny houses / farm buildings which were dotted all around the countryside leading to the town but concentrated into a town within a town in Alberobello. They were quite astonishing and had been revived as shops and hotels and with their whitewashed walls were a peaceful spot despite the tourists. Actually there weren’t that many people about as it was not just the unfashionable coast but also October – which suited us just fine!

And then it was on to Ortusi – the white city. Now if you watched the cookery programme where Georgio Locatelli went to Puglia with his art historian mate Andrew something then you’ll recognise this. Again, another amazing spectacle that you come upon from below so that there is just a sheer hilltop white town with every house whitewashed. How anyone ever finds their way back to their own house from Tescos I’ll never know…

There was a quick sojourn at Lecce (very quick as it was hot and shut)

And then on to relax for a couple of days at Otranto

A quick dip in the Adriatic right down at the bottom of the heel of Italy where you can go no further downwards

And then on to Gallipoli. I hadn’t quite known what to expect of this town of previous horrors but it had a very pretty harbour where we had some lunch – me an unidentifiable but delicious fish – TG a nice safe pasta. The sun shone and it was glorious.

There were the prerequisite blue boats

And an Ape which had been given a whole new lease of life!

We carried on to the outskirts of Taranto and stayed in a rather lovely hotel which was an agriturismo – a sort of working farm with a hotel and spa

A novel way to store your fruit and veg..

And then the last leg via Matera and the Sassi. This is a UNESCO world heritage site and despite the weather being a bit pants and the light being therefore a bit dim I hope that you get the sense of enormity of what was originally and what still is to some extent, a cave dwelling community. From the unprepossessing town of Matera you climb to the top of the hill and are confronted by this most astonishing place.

It’s hard to see from this picture but the whole of the rock is a maze of caves

Quite quite amazing

It was an interesting trip. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many olive trees in my life (and not a picture was taken..). We met and spoke to some wonderful people including the lady in a restaurant who spoke no English but by the power of my awful Italian and sign language we had a whole conversation about sons and mothers and Nonna Tina who must have been 80 if she was a day but was still cooking in her own restaurant and blew me a kiss as we left. I don’t think I’d necessarily want to go again (there are only so many closed towns and olive trees a body can do) but it was a great insight into a different part of Italy, away from the crowds and the obvious lakes, Romes and Florences which we all flock to. We drank some great wine (and some awful stuff too), ate lots of pasta and caprese and the thinnest loveliest pizzas too and came home physically knackered after all the walking but feeling brain rested. Marvellous.

Belated Bestival!

 

Bestival was its usual bonkersness.

I dipped in and out.

Drank cocktails.

Watched some very good little bands.

Watched only The Jacksons on the big band front.

Walked miles.

It was a colourful affair.

With bubbles.

Enjoy…

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I love these naughty urchins. They are the smileiest, silliest, most loving little people I know. Now that I can have odd times of the week off with my new job, it seemed just the thing to accompany them and their slightly frazzled Mama to Robin Hill for some fun and frolics…

Robin Hill here on the sunny Isle is just the place to run off some steam, feed the carp, get soaked and generally behave like children in the acres of wood and park land.

It is transformed into Bestival land in September which is in itself fab but for now is child land.

A lovely day was had by all – except that they think that I’m the same age as them so there was much up and down the slide and I have the scratches to prove it…

And of course there are those for whom butter wouldn’t melt…

I think we’d all reached critical mass by the end of the day…

Brilliant.

 

SONY DSC For those of you who don’t know me ‘in real life’, this is me and this is my boy. He graduated yesterday with a BSc Hons 2:1 in Psychology and I am beyond proud of him. I shan’t bang on about it but suffice to say that I am a very lucky mother to have two such wonderfully different children. One may be academic and the other a parent of many but they are both brilliantly loving, determined, strong and caring people who have grown into people who will make the world a better place to be in. SONY DSC I realise that I’m biased but there you go! SONY DSC Imagine being 22 again with the whole of your life in front of you…   SONY DSC Brilliant! SONY DSC

No. Before you ask, it’s not me who has been dispatched thankfully. My life which had previously been bonkers became a little more so but in a good way. We have a new addition to the family. He is a very small boy who had a rather traumatic entry into this world but who has come out the other side and is a bonny little thing despite it all. SONY DSC We now have four urchins living up the road, all very different in their own little ways and a complete joy. I sometimes wonder if I love them too much for my (and their) own good but then that can’t be a bad thing can it? Whether we’re making octopus legs from socks, running round the garden pretending to be birds, cutting and sticking, reading stories or just having one of a billion cuddles, they are one of the best things that have ever happened to me and I am so grateful to have them in my life! SONY DSC Meanwhile and in the midst of what was an emotional and exhausting couple of weeks we had a wedding. Now this was a wedding that was a long time in the coming but which was a lovely family occasion from the little country church in Lincolnshire to the garden reception on what was a beautifully sunny English country afternoon. SONY DSC The urchins really enjoyed the whole thing, from looking pious in church SONY DSC To fun and frolics with their fabulous (as opposed to great) aunt SONY DSC To getting lost in the lovely garden SONY DSC SONY DSC And there was, of course, cake SONY DSC SONY DSC All in all a lovely day SONY DSC Sadly, they say that when someone enters the world, someone leaves and this was true unfortunately with the death of a marvellous old friend of my mothers who departed aged 99. A real Dub and former theatrical agent she was a lovely lady and never afraid to speak her mind even at such a great age. See you Betty! So that’s what’s been going on in this neck of the woods. Well that and closing my first issue of Style of Wight as Deputy Editor. A brilliant if knackering experience and hopefully when the mag hits the shelves on Friday, a job well done! Phew!!

My bonkers life…

I am foolish. But then that’s no great surprise. Who in their right mind would think that a new job and a full on production of Macbeth would be a good idea when taken at exactly the same time. To get your head a round one of the two would be bad enough but to be doing both at once was complete lunacy!

The following photos were taken weeks ago at a time when I hadn’t grasped the full idiocy of what I had done. They show the garden in full blossom all long since disappeared but here they are anyway…

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It was all fabulous until the winds came and it looked as though we’d had a massive confetti fuelled wedding in the garden – all gone in a flash!
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All of it’s now completely gone which is a bit sad but then the geraniums and those ‘yellow things'(whatever they are) have taken over and plugged the gaps.

Anyway, there it all was.

The small people came for a couple of visits and some making and doing sessions which was lovely and really why this flexi time part time thing sounded like a good idea (the reality is somewhat different but will hopefully calm down when I now what I’m doing she said optimistically) when it was mooted – to see more of them. They do make me laugh so much – all their little idiosyncracies and funny sayings. They knacker me out too and I get precisely nothing at all done whilst they’re here but hey, life’s too short sometimes for chores and they do give the best cuddles ever!

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They do love a bit of cutting and sticking and it’s amazing how much pleasure can be got from a box of buttons – simple pleasures.

And so what of the new job? I’ve been here there and everywhere meeting some really great people here on the sunny Isle, doing interviews and then fashioning it all into some kind of cohesive prose. I am absolutely loving it and now that the postmodern, all female, punk version of Macbeth is over I can begin to enjoy it even more. To be given something to do that you really love is a great feeling and a bit of a privilege and I am very conscious of that. The treats aren’t bad either and Friday saw myself and the editor at a cocktail bar for a lesson and a spot of high tea which was fab.

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Photoshoots are great fun and we’re going to be doing a behind the scenes piece so I’m there taking photos of the photo taking and learning as I go along

The cocktails weren’t half bad

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And as for the tea. Well…..

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I think I’ve finally found my calling!

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