Sunday, February 26

Bari: a lot can happen in one hour, forty-five

On the way to Lecce this weekend I had an hour and forty-five minute stop over in Bari (saving me €15 which I then went and spent IN Bari, of course). In this short time walking around in warm sunshine a few things caught my attention:

• Whilst sitting on a bench to get my bearings, an older gentleman joined me who enquired about the buses. This, of course, is not that strange but he was so deliberate in this act that it was very obvious that I had met the first stereotypical "southern" Italian man with an eye for talking to the ladies. I explained I was English, put my phone away and walked off.

• More people, of all shapes and sizes, were wearing more high-end designer gear than any collective high street of people I have seen on my visits to Milan or Rome. Prada boots for a leisurely Saturday morning stroll; leather bags emblazoned with brand names for carrying the humble Saturday shop; suits, with neck-tie and waistcoat...

• I have been approached 3 times by charity workers who were very happy with the response "Scusa, sono inglese." Noone then switched to English, or carried on talking anyway. Plus I have seen well dressed people actually stopped in the street listening intently to said charity workers, as if that was what Saturday mornings were made for.

• There was the usual Feltrinelli's book/music shop lurking on a street corner where I purchased a large, one-sided map of Italy so that I can put it on my wall at home and mark the location of all my adventures.

• Finally, I have decided there is nothing worse than using a public toilet when you know the person before you was throwing-up...but when I gotta wee, I gotta wee!

Despite the variety of odd people just...well...sitting around, I like a Saturday morning stroll when the sun's shining in Bari.

Wednesday, February 22

Belated Tuesday Tune! 22-02-2012

Just realised I can listen to UCB UK on the ruddy internet.  Silly Laura!

Song: Setting up the Pins
Sarah Groves:


Monday, February 20

difficile

...6 months in.

Six months.

Not entirely sure how I feel about this.  Not been the best of days for reflecting on my time here.  Not when everything I seem to be thinking or writing, or even saying, is a negative.

Anyway.  I'll power on.  I'll put the negativity to the fact the parents came, and went.  I then rejoiced (or rather grieved) their departure by drinking a little bit too much...so much so that I had a hangover for 2 days.  When did I EVER get a hangover for TWO days.  *deep breath, shakes head*...and after only five beers, what is that about?!

Then there's also the healthy "lets fit those trousers" regime.  Slightly un-nerving!  Counting calories, monitoring heart rate during exercise, water quantity upped, and yet I've got a stinking cold, blocked nose and feel crap.  Something's amiss.  Am I not supposed to be feeling healthier?!

Oh, and add to that the fact that even after 5 months of working with the same children everyday...it still takes me 20 minutes...yes 20 minutes...to get 75% of them into a line to walk sensibly to the bathroom to wash their hands.  Any suggestions on how this can be achieved in half this time would be much appreciated!

However.....

...problems get resolved, challenges will be overcome and six months from now...I'll still be living in Italy (although, to be precise, in six months time I'll be bumbling around England for three weeks on "holiday").

Mark my words: Pescara will NOT get the better of me.  Ah, now that is a more positive use of the word not.

Wednesday, February 15

The Parents...

...are here!

So far we have been for arrosticini (a typical dish of this area), pizza, and been bowling.  Mum has managed to cook a Meat Ragu, which was scrummy, whilst Dad is on his second Ian Rankin book of the holiday.  He managed one in one day.

Tonight I am cooking mushroom pancakes for dinner, with my housemate providing "egg drop" soup for starters.  Tomorrow we will visit a friend and his parrots as Mum has heard so much about them, plus I need to learn how not to kill them when I look after them later on this month.  So it's all go, go, go.

The aims of my week this week are all money related: get a credit card (so internet shopping is easier) and sort out a decent mobile contract so that I don't have to keep topping up my blasted phone.  It really is a pain to be back on pay-as-you-go.  Oh and if I find a decent dual SIM phone on the way that would be a bonus!  Can you tell I got paid?!...

Wednesday, February 8

Bridget Jones...

...is who I have become overnight.

There's me setting goals and resolutions in January (see side bar links) and thinking "Yep, that's done."  Little did I know that people actually read the darn thing.  Now, starting today, I've embarked on a lifestyle change that should help me achieve ongoing goal a) "On June 30th 2012 wear my pair of Oneill trousers in public."

Last night a friend appeared with various measuring tools in tow, tape measures, scales for me, scales for food, quite intimidating really.  There's now been a basic plan established of how I am going to achieve my target weight of 60.5kg, the friend's intention...or 63kg, which is my plan (10 stone for those English readers!).  I am to achieve this by literally "counting the calories" and ensuring I exercise everyday to burn off the calorie intake with the current plan for the exercise to be more than the calories I am consuming to burn off all that excess fat that's having a fine time chilling out on my body.

Eek.

Wednesday mornings I now have to weigh myself and write down all the numbers the scales spits out at me.  There are more acronyms on that thing than in a Primary Teachers diary; KG, BF, BMW, BMR, M.  Not to mention TDEE and lots of other things that I fear will be chanted at me over the course of the next few days/weeks/months, depending on how long I actually manage to stick to this lifestyle change.

One quote comes to mind that was said in the film Serendipity that I watched last night.  In fact it's apparently credited to a dude called Epictetus, a Greek philosopher associated with the Stoics, AD 55-c.135. 


“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”



...at least I don't smoke.

This post is linked to No Ordinary Blog Hop.

Saturday, February 4

Snowboarding...


...didn't happen.  

My friend picked me up, we drove for 45 minutes, only to reach the beginning of the autostrada to be turned around.  Typical.  We could've made it via another route but didn't take the chance as the lifts will probably have been closed anyway.  So we opted for making egg and bacon sandwiches with hash browns instead!

10:39 The daffodils in my blocks front garden.
10:40 The tree outside my house when we set off.

12:19 Our breakfast feast.

20:05 The snow on the car when we left for dinner

20:32 A palm tree with snow!

01:03 Piazza Salotto in the centre of town
01:04 Corso Umberto "The High Street"
01:25 The daffodils in my blocks front garden!

01:27 Gloria!

The next day: not sure what's going to happen when this melts!

Thursday, February 2

It's a small world.

Freaked out a bit.

There's a shop at the end of the street that I've wanted to go into for a while, but that I have been avoiding until I've felt that my Italian is at a more "acceptable" level.  It's a typical corner shop, that I imagined would need a better level of Italian to really get my meaning across, rather than the half-English/half-Italian sprawl that has served me well for the past few months.


I went there today.  I have a lovely American living with me at the moment (for the next 3 months) so I plucked up courage to go check the shop out, with her in tow.  There were the usual groceries that you'd expect to find in any local shop, whatever country you live, but with just a little more variety in the kinds of pasta, and a delicatessen with cheese, meat, bread etc (missing in your typical Spar shop).

I blunder through getting some Ricotta (apparently the sheep kind, pecora, is better for pasta dishes), some cooked ham (prosciutto cotto) and also some hard cheese (no idea what type I got, it was the right colour and consistency for what I needed).  There was even my favourite cheese: gorgonzola and marscapone, together!  I love that cheese but managed to resist as it wasn't on my list.

I head to the cashier, passing my housemate who's having trouble negotiating the various types of canned tuna.  Of course, I didn't have enough cash on me and the shop didn't have a card machine.  Here starts an awful attempt to convey what I wanted to do in Italian...that I will leave my goods there, get cash and return.  I was surprised when the cashier said "Speak English".  Alleluia!  My hands are raised up to the heavens and I explained what I wanted to do.  My housemate overheard though and ended up lending me some money so it all worked out to be a lot easier than I initially thought.

After paying, the cashier inquired where I was from.  Depending on the age of the person and how well they speak English I judge whether to say either London or the Isle of Wight.  This time I went for the island.
"There's a song about the Isle of Wight." he says.  "Yes, I know about that song." I return with a tone of, "Please don't go on about it, I know about it."  He laughed, totally getting my sarcasm.  Turns out he lived in Hammersmith.  At this point my housemate asked me to ask him what the shops opening hours were...
"Err...you can do it, he speaks English." was my reply, sometimes I do wonder!

So we leave the shop and I explain to my housemate how I've been avoiding the shop for ages because I didn't feel confident with my Italian, only to discover that someone speaks English there.  Typical.  And it is pretty cheap.

Anyway.  We got some veg from the veg market, fish from the fish man, then headed to the "home" shop where my housemate got some washing powder, you know, usual stuff.  On the way back I remembered IO needed pasta so we popped back into the shop from earlier.  This is where I got a bit freaked out.

I pay for my pasta.
"Newport." says the cashier.
"What?" I explain, a bit confused, wondering why this random Italian is trying to talk to me about a city in Wales.
"The Isle of Wight.  Newport...and it's near Portsmouth."  His pronunciation was a bit amiss but....there are people who LIVE in England who can't be that specific. 
"Erm...yep. That's the place."  My face is a picture.  I am totally in shock that someone who works in a local shop, just round the corner from my house, in Pescara is able to locate where I am from. It's not exactly the global capital of the world.  My mind goes into overdrive, I've got a stalker on my hands who's looked up the place on internet in the time it took me to buy vegetables.

All became clear when he attempted to say "Pompey".  Of course, a football fan, that makes sense!




Oh, and in case you're interested, my family managed to get the hint of this post: Skype.  There was a definite improvement on this Wednesday's Skype update with the mother and grandma....I could see their face and everything.