Monday, July 30

Shoes!!

I found the shop I thought was just imaginary. A shop where size 42 exists. Ok, size 42 has a XXL sticker on it which made me feel like an abnormal Giant, but...size 42 shoes!

I bought myself a cute pair of beige wedges that actually are a size 41, hooray! Plus they were a barg at only €24.90, amaze.

And back to the main objectives of the day...buying black wool.

Friday, July 27

And so...

...it's Friday morning and that means I have 5 days to go until my epic return to Engerland begins!

One night at the bro's, four nights in a tent, two nights in the Capital, two nights with a best mate, two nights for a Wedding, eleven nights at home, four nights with the other best mate and BAM, a flight back to Pescara. The End.

I am quite excited.

But returning to things that have happened recently I've been pretty busy; here, there and everywhere...I've organised a Meetup. I saw Paolo Nutini and danced my socks off practically on my own.  I've had many aperitivo's with many people in different places. I've visited Scanno and swam in a lake.   I rediscovered Buddy Holly.  I've decided that finding a Beach club with a decent DJ is a mission.   I've spoken to six people on Skype.  I have eaten ice-cream at various times in the day.  I've had people tell me I'm tanned, and others tell me I'm not.  I've fallen asleep before midnight only once in a week.  And the other day, I had a nap.

5 days!


Tuesday, July 17

Things I Love

I can declare that moving country has not diminished my love of fish finger sandwiches. I think this is one thing I'll never tire of, oh and the piano. Seriously. The piano. I love not only playing the piano but also the instrument itself.


Thanks to a friend of mine here in Pescara, I discovered Odradek Records, a non-for-profit, artist controlled record label. The best bit is that, although an international company registered in the USA, the recording studio is in Pescara! I find the concept exciting and loved that to publicise their brilliantness and showcase their artists a series of concerts were organised in 5 cities in Italy: Rome, Florence, Cagliari, Trieste and Pescara under the title Progetto Odradek. The final two concerts in Pescara are this Wednesday and Thursday I'm gutted I can't go but I have a Meetup to host and.....PAOLO NUTINI to see live!

Last weeks pianists were utterly fab. As a "pianist" myself I was in awe at how different their techniques were and how they adapted their playing styles to fit different pieces.  The way the fingers move seamlessly with all the movement from the knuckle is astounding, for me it was so interesting as lately my piano teacher has been helping me keep my fingers closer to the keyboard.  I seem to have developed a strange techinque of lifting my fingers high off the keyboard even in quick passages of music...the diploma is a long way off yet!

Thanks to the performance by Domenico Codispoti on the Wednesday night I have fallen in love, again, with Liszt's Sonata in B minor, the piece I wrote about for my dissertation in 2007!  It's a long'un and my friends who also went to the concert were amazed at just how long it is, around twenty-five minutes.  How the devil one person can remember all that music is beyond me.  I'm literally having problems remembering quite a tuneful piece by Mozart, and just the first page, let alone the Schonberg pieces that Pina Napolitano played on the Thursday night.  Pieces that are atonal based on the 12-note tone row, by memory, one hours worth....erm... that's dedication!

And then.  To me.  The best bit was when a friend asked to look inside the piano once the concert was over and the majority of the audience had dispersed.  She had never looked inside a grand piano, let alone a Steinway.  The hammer action, and the strings and the coda shape, ah, to me it is one of the most beautiful things in the world.  The way everything in the piano is "just-so" in order to enhance the sound, to ensure the tension of the strings can be maintained so that the pianists light touch of the keys can make a sound that fills a concert hall.  I had to stop myself from sitting down and bashing out the measly forty-two bars of Mozart I have managed to memorise, only another eleven pages to go to complete the Sonata...I better get practising!

Saturday, July 14

Charlie's Chicks

I wrote this post ages ago but on my iPod and only today did I remember!!!

Friday 8th June, 18:45 I'm Skype-ing the parents in Santa Fe, saying Happy Birthday to the mother. 19:25 I see two buses that I could've taken drive past the bus stop before I get there. 21:30 I'm facebooking Mrs. C to tell her I thnk there's a delay to the flight. 22:00 I'm in the air by means of a Ryanair flight to Stansted. That's the end of Italian time for the weekend, I remembered to change all my time telling devices this time!

Whilst I was queuing for an escalator to Passport Control in Stansted airport, a rather ridiculous scenario begins for Mrs. C as she attempted to park the car. I won't bore you with the details but once I'd made it through the UK border I found Mrs. C arguing with a car park attendent. Anyway, she drove me to her latest house where we ate cake, drank tea and chatted (with the Mr. C too) for an hour or so before going to sleep.

Arranging to wake at 08:00 to be ready to leave at 09:00 sounded like a good idea at 02:00 in the morning but when we woke up at 08:45 we realised that maybe an underestimation of how tired we were had been made. Thankfully the "late" get up didn't put any delays to my day and we even had time for the bacon sarnies and warm pain au ciocolait as special breakfast treats. Yummy!

I arrived in Clapham Junction at midday all set for the planned activities that the Hen knew nothing about. All was going well, I ate a Twix McFlurry and then went for a snoop around a charity shop as I had arrived before the other four girls. At the appointed time I went to the Peacock bar where we had booked an afternoon tea and cupcake decorating session...or so we thought. Turns out there'd been a mix up with our booking, or rather the people organising the events didn't have our booking!! Thankfully they offered us a complimentary afternoon tea with 2 glasses of wine each as an apology, which we gladly accepted!! It was actually ruddy marvellous food, freshly made and, for me, a very English lunch.

Next stop was the Head bridesmaid's house to get changed. At this point I got to try on the bridesmaid dress for the wedding, for me the highlight of the weekend as it is stunning. Beautiful, I am a very lucky bridesmaid. And so, I ended up running to a dress alteration shop to have it modified after weighing up the options of transporting the dress to and from Italy versus leaving it in England. Hopefully the headbridesmaid has now for it at her house and it's not been destroyed by the seamstress....

...back to the Hen Party. We went Salsa dancing. It was amazing! So much randomness. I genuinely loved it and hopefully I'll get the chance to do it again one day. Who knows when!

Dinner was at the same place as the Salsa and I had Chimichanga, oh so yummy, my first mexican style food for 2012, which is annoying when it is one of my top 3 favourite things to eat (the other 2 being Sausages and Mash with gravy or Fish Pie...) oh how I miss the variety of food avaliable in England.

Now after the public transport route back from the dinner we entered full Hen Party force. Donning our matching pyjama's brilliantly decorated by the head bridesmaid, we watched the hen be put through her paces Mr. and Mrs. Styleeee. A video of the Groom to be had been recorded in which he answered random questions regarding himself and the bride-to-be. If their answers were different then she had to drink and if she matched his answer the "hens" had to drink. I don't think I've ever witnessed such a range of emotions in one hour.

In the morning we had a fantastic spread for brekkie consisting of so much I didn't know what to eat, so I ate it all. I love food!!

After breakfast I left the company of Charlie's Chicks and met a friend in Liverpool St where we went to the Giraffe restaurant in Spitalfields market for lunch. At this point all the travelling and excitement of the weekend caught up with me in the form of a cold and I felt r-u-b-bish so I wasn't the best company. However it was great to see my friend and catch up on the gossip of a newbie to London...

And that's that, back to Stansted, through check-in and...BAM...Pescara.
(The bonus of the flight back was purchasing some shoes ideal...I hope...for the wedding. If they turn out to be the wrong colour I love them enough to keep them and happily buy another pair!)




Yummy Tea
The lovely Hen
Bubbly!
Scones, Jam and Cream... more yummyness!
CUCUMBER SANDWICHES!
London, Baby!

Wednesday, July 11

Gloria II

I'd been waiting for this day for a long time, it's been looming over my head. In fact, a weight was lifted from my shoulders when it did happen, although it's now been replaced with a large elephant instead...my bike disappeared, literally vanished without a trace.

Some would say stolen but I know the reason is that: once a month a bicycle in my area gets chosen as an offering to the bicycle god in order to save the other bicycles. The offering is made by the chief chav to the local gelateria who makes it into ice-cream.

Now I have Gloria II, a different breed of bicycle; she's light blue, slightly less shiny and has gears. Yes my followers, I now ride a bike with gears.  I feel like I've been given an upgrade much like a 13 year-old.  I have a ridiculously small lock that the bike man reckons is better than my last one, I don't.  But there we go.

When an offering has to be made to the bicycle god, any bike can get chosen, locked or not (especially when you live in a ghetto like mine).

Sunday, July 8

A very dangerous discovery

There's a Gelateria five minutes from my bed, yep, the bed in my room.

It takes five minutes to walk through my apartment, down the stairs, across my estate, over the road and into the Gelateria. It is amazing.
 
What is truly amazing is that the ice-cream is actually very good. I went for the first time today and bought a medium cup of three flavours: dark chocolate, Kinder Ping├╣i (milk ice-cream and kinder chocolate I think) and vanilla. There was a good selection of fruit and sweet flavoured ice-creams but no mint (today at least). I was impressed.  I'd give it a good 4.5 out of 5, with it missing out on the 5 because a medium portion was €2.20 where as in Tiziano it's €2.00. The portion size was good, the cup was plastic rather than paper (which might explain the price), the ice-cream had a smooth texture with a clear distinction between each flavour and the cream on top was good quality.

Maybe I should start a Gelateria review section, I go to enough of them!!

Thursday, July 5

Humidity

When my top lip feels like I've just guzzled a pint of milk, and the backs of my knees are sticky, I know the humidity has reached 70%...add to that a constant tiredness that makes me sluggish and I'm pretty certain I could not make it more than a day in a tropical Rainforest. Ugh. Humidity. I used to think it was a good thing...it ruddy well isn't.

Tuesday, July 3

Loreto (Marche) and Saturday happenings

I have a few New Year Resolutions that I can happily say I am maintaining.  However one of them I have technically failed as I didn't leave Abruzzo in March, but there we go, these things happen.  5 out of 6 months isn't too bad so far...

On the 29th of June I realised I had only left Abruzzo in June to go to London.  As that is a place excluded from my Resolution, I asked my friends at a Jazz gig where I could go that would be outside of Abruzzo but do-able on a Saturday afternoon, by train.  A few suggestions were made but I decided to follow the friend who was the most helpful, she actually researched the train times for me!

Saturday morning I wake up, peer at the clock and realise that I had twenty-seven minutes until my train would leave.  Panic ensued but thankfully I made it onto the right train fully clothed, with a ticket, my laptop and some lunch! After about an hour and a half I got off the train in Loreto, a small town in Marche, the region north of Abruzzo.  Of course, I was the usual prepared traveller ....I knew of only one place to visit, a church that apparently housed the House of Mary (literally the stones of the house Jesus' mother lived in, and therefore Jesus...) and I knew that this was, as usual, on the top of a hill in the old town.  On exiting the station, I did the thing I knew I had to do,  I walked up the hill....

Due to luck I actually scaled a set of holy steps that, I think, would be where the many Pilgrims (from the train station) would also trek up.  It had an extended version of the "Stations of the Cross", that depict the Easter story, as there was also a Nativity scene and Jesus' first visit to the temple.  These were at the side of a wide, pedestrian only, path.  "The Shrine of the Holy House", as I discovered it to be called once I got there, gets a fair few people visiting it...the booklet states that it has become "...the favoured destination of millions of pilgrims..." but I didn't see a million people pilgrimaging, just me walking up the hill. 

The old town centre itself was fairly straight forward, all of it centred around the Basilico and it's piazza so I was pretty happy that I hadn't researched the place as I think that I wouldn't have chosen to visit it.  Being a hot day I stopped off for a cold cappuccino (once I'd found a cash-machine...I really am a very unprepared traveller) and rang my Mum, who was shopping in Morrisons with Dad in Newport....it must be odd to receive a call from your daughter in Italy when you're doing the weekly shop.

Moving on...the Holy House thing.  It was quite understated...if you disregard the large marble casing that surrounds it...oh yeh, and the MAHOOSIVE church that is then around that!  There's a Catholic Legend that tells the story of how angels flew the house across from Nazareth, as they do, but, again according to the information booklet, this has been deemed unlikely.  It's more likely that the house was in fact transported in a ship.  Apparently, when the Crusaders were expelled from Palestine, the house was moved first to Croatia and then across the sea as part of a brides dowry of an emperor's daughter or something.  That's an important family to own a Holy House...

Anyway.  The stones itself did look old.  The bricks lower down were shiny after having been rubbed by generations of hands and fingers.  It was quite awe-inspiring to think that so many pilgrims believed this house is that of Mary.  I'm not sure what I think to be honest.  The booklet described the evidence that had been collected to prove that it is the house, and there's a floor plan and stuff of what it would've looked like.  The stone structure in Loreto was once connected to a grotto,  the Grotto being carved into rocks and so remains in Nazareth....and there's been "tests" that have confirmed that the stone of the Holy House match that of the Grotto....I leave it at that.

The rest of my Saturday was relaxing.  I was able to get the train back to Pescara without rushing with plenty of time to get ready for the evening plans: an aperitif at a friends house followed by a few drinks (and a burger) at a Beach Bar, or Establishment, as the argument for what a "Lido" actually would be called in English is a constant battle between English speakers.

To end the night I fell at a man's feet, literally.  I saw a person from one of the flats in my apartment block entering my building so I ran across the car-park after locking my bike to get through the door before it closed.  The man held the door open for me only to have me fall at his feet as I tripped up the first step.  I laughed, mumbled "Scusa", got up, continued to run up the stairs, stumbled into my apartment to discover my knee was quite painful and had already developed a healthy bump.  It's now a pretty purple bruise three days later!