Monday 18 April 2011 – At 06.00 the day looks like it will be a nice one, Lulu sings ‘To Sir With Love’ as I make my way through a bowl of cereal. Thimble and Scratch come over and get a slice of pork each for breakfast.
We take our friends Rozz and Spike into Lanciano for a look around. We are coming out of the Church of the Eucharist Miracle, when I spot a poster of a saint on the wall, and surprisingly the saint, who is nameless is the spit of Sir Paul McCartney. Hence a photo opportunity not to be missed.
We spend the afternoon back at Archi, the sunshine is warming Via Costello, and our friendly and, greedy kittens are here on the scrounge. The iPod shuffles and the unfortunately named ‘Evil Dildo’ by Placebo plays. I have a go at making my first ever pizza, being in Italy i hope to get some inspiration. I load it with garlic, onions, tomato, speck, courgette and mozzarella. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting as they say.
We watch a few more episodes of ‘Soldier Soldier’ in readiness for donating the video box sets to the Abruzzolutely get together I helped to organise. People will bring along books, videos, DVDs etc. to swap with others over here. Bedtime comes and I try the orange flavoured toothpaste I got today. It’s weird but not unpleasant.
Tuesday 19 April 2011 – Pendulum play ‘Tarantula’ as I have some toast and jam for my breakfast. The sun is high and the mist over Archi has already burnt off. We drive over to our place, and I set to stripping branches and sorting wood into kindling, sticks and logs. It’s quite an art the Italian way of stacking sticks and logs ready for winter. Every house here has a perfectly stacked square of wood outside, and my attempt is as linear as a dogs hind leg. I make plans in my head for the wood store I shall eventually build outside the front of the house, as the iPod shuffles and Steps. – Yes Steps burst out into the Italian sunshine with their cover of Kylie’s ‘Better The Devil You Know’. (You can’t beat a bit of Steps to lift the mood, although on a day like this, little needs lifting, apart from the logs.)
Lunchtime arrives and I cook pasta and pesto on our little portable stove, it’s the first cooked meal I prepare in our kitchen, or rather the shell that will become our kitchen. Jessie J sings ‘Casualty Of Love’ from her brilliant debut album, Who You Are.
After lunch I turn my hand to some building work, I rebuild a broken piece of our patio, and cement the bricks in place, and find I’m not to bad at it. Although I do think I approach it in a similar way to approaching a painting, maybe I’m too delicate with it, and need to butch up a bit.
Dinner is veal cutlets, (there’s a meat to divide opinion) with potato and veg. Before I begin to prepare the meal I ask, “Is it too early at 17.20 for prosecco?” The reply is, “It’s never too early for prosecco.” The cork pops, Thimble and Scratch drop in for something to eat; for feral kittens, they are quite brave, and will come up close enough for you to almost touch them. Thimble is braver, she will sniff at your hand, whereas Scratch come close, then turns tail and shoots off in a blur.
Wednesday 20 April 2011 - I eat breakfast as Regina Spektor sings ‘Machine’, the kittens have already visited for theirs and have now gone off in search of another soft touch. I go through the photos on my phone: How normal does that phrase sound nowadays? I snigger at a sign I snapped in Lanciano, surely all the touchy feely family fondling is frowned upon?
With my mate Roy, we have organised a lunch party for over 50 people, and the event goes very well. I sit with friends and enjoy a leisurely meal. We start as usual with anti pasti, salami and ham, cheese and small bowls of assorted goodies are brought to the table; the chopped chicory in garlic butter is particularly good. The pasta course follows, I like the ravioli, but I’m not keen on the shape or texture of guitara pasta. The meat course is chicken and pork with olive oil roasted potatoes. Bottles of wine appear, and get emptied into glasses throughout the meal, and when the sweet arrives another bottle of chilled rosé appears on our table. The day seems to have gone well, with old friends meeting new ones, the one thing we all have in common is, whether we’re English, Dutch, Singaporean or Australian, we are all lovers of the area and have homes here. I leave with a lovely bottle of wine, a gift from my friend Jenn.
Thursday 21 April 2001 – Only in rural Italy would you see what I saw today. I called into our local supermarket, and was met by the sight of an elderly gentleman walking home with his shopping, in a wheelbarrow, pure genius.
Driving back to Archi I stop to take a photograph of a sign that always makes me smile. It promises a night out like you’ve never had before, although I can’t see it being the sort of thing a hen party would go for.
Driving up the steep track to Archi, we come around a bend to see another black snake, it’s lying on the road soaking up the late sunshine. As it senses the vibrations from the car, it slithers at speed into the fields,to safety.
Friday 22 April 2011 – The early morning mountain mist has been quickly burnt off by the sun and the promise of a good day beckons. I eat breakfast as Justin Timberlake sings ‘(Oh No) What You Got?’ and Thimble mews in the doorway.
We take a drive, not going anywhere just pointing the car and going. After driving through some tunnels hewn into the mountains we come across Villa St Maria, a pretty town stacked almost vertically against the mountain. From a distance you wonder how it defies gravity and stays there. You’d think that once you’d seen one of these ancient villages, you’ve seen them all. This can be said for most, one piazza surrounded by ochre coloured houses, is pretty much the same as another, however, every now and then you come across one that stands out and takes your breath away.
We take drive in the opposite direction, and once again we see a long black grass snake, soaking the warmth up out of the road. As it disappears I turn on the radio, Kelly Rowland is singing ‘When Love Takes Over’, and as a blue X registered Berlingo, with a dented side door sails along the SS16, I sing along, loudly and possibly out of key.
With restrain we park at S. Vito, a tiny little seaside town that’s very popular with the Italians, in summer it’s a haven for poseurs, ripped and toned Italian men rub shoulders with their over-stuffed counterparts posturing in Speedos – It’s a sight not for the faint hearted. After a walk around, I spot some graffiti under a bridge that merits a stop to photograph it, before radio blaring, we drive to the pebble beach at Fossacessia.
We get back to our place as a man from Sasi the water company turns up to show us how to turn on the water, (stupid Englishmen). Since September we have been telling them we have no water at the house and they been telling us we have, all we have to do is turn the stop-cock on. Despite telling them we’ve tried this eventually they have sent out a man. His bald head shines in the afternoon sunshine, as he strides towards us, wrench in hand. In the kitchen Diana Ross and the Supremes sing ‘Reflections’; I’m sure if I stood close enough to Sasi-man I’d be able to see my reflection in his head.
He kneels down at the water meter, turns the stop-cock, looks at me with pride and asks me to try the taps. I’ve already done this before, but go through the motions again. No water appears and he scratches his head. We take him to the grid in the road, where we assume there’s another stop-cock. He uses a special key to open the grid, turns another handle and we go through the tap turning on ritual again, surprise, no water. Puzzled he goes back to the main tap and unscrews it, no water, “Niente,” he exclaims in disbelief, then just to make sure he hits the pipes with his wrench, as if summoning the water to flow. Beads of sweat now glisten upon his shiny dome, he takes out his phone and gives the person on the other end of the line, our address, then says, “Niente, engineer, engineer, English”. Then without a nod he strides away and clambers into his white van and disappears down the lane. Maybe now they’ll believe us?
We lock up and leave. As we travel down the lane I stop and look back. Now that the last of the trees have been cleared, (thanks to Spike) our house can now be seen from the road, At the moment its a big grey block, but when it’s been rendered and painted it should look better.
Friday 23 April 2011 – Today is the latest I’ve risen, It’s 09.00 and I’m having a cuppa as Marilyn Manson sings (yells), ‘Born Again’; not a particularly cheery morning song, but when you live a life on shuffle you have to take each track as it comes. It’s another sunny day, so after breakfast we decide to spend it chilling out.
We drive the 18 minutes it takes to go from our place to the coast. We follow the coast road to Le Morge beach, the sandy beach has a few families on it enjoying the early good weather. An English family is on the beach and within earshot. A little girl calls over to her mother and says, “Mummy, I don’t like my ice cream.” Mother replies saying, “You’d better get to like it. Mummy doesn’t have any money left, so can’t buy you another one.” What a liar, ten minutes later we see mummy sat in the bar drinking beer as little girl plays on the sand.
We then move down to Casalbordino, with it’s endless sandy beach, that stretches further than the eye can see. We backtrack and drop in to see the shabby little beach at Torino di Sangro. This is a beach area that’s pretty much made up of campsites and campervans. But has some good music festivals in the summer, I’m told.
I’m walking along and say the following: “I really must lose a little weight, do you fancy an ice cream?” I pop into a bar and buy what I think is a Magnum, but turns out to be a lolly cum choc-ice cum wafer. The lolly bit was nice but the wafer bit was horrid. Note to self: Check what you’re buying in future.
Next on our visit of the coast is the pebble beach at Fossacesia, further up the beach is a small sandy section. We make our way to it, I’m videoing the walk, when we come over the brow and bump into two men in the process of stripping off. “Salve,” says man 1 stood in just his underpants, “Buono sera.” Man two says, as he drops his jeans to the floor, revealing his cream coloured underpants. Now before you think we’ve come to a nudist beach, the guys were getting into scuba diving gear. Further on up the deserted beach we come across another man in his pants. He’s lying on his back and listening to music, beside him is his white shirt, black trousers and tie. I guess he just needs a few minutes to himself after work.
The day ends with another encounter with a beautiful black snake, this one is hiding away from us in the pile of rubble from our demolished outhouse. Back at Archi, the cork pops and a glass of prosecco is poured. I feed Thimble and Scratch as Elbow play ‘One Day Like This’. It’s hard to think that tomorrow we leave Abruzzo once more for the UK.
Since we’ve been here my iPod has shuffled a total of 729 songs, which is 24.3 hours of music.