Another year is almost over and as we sit on the precipice of the next many of you will be pondering the value of making of New Year’s Resolutions and some of you may have already made some. I was wondering about the origins of the New Year’s Resolution today and found that it is believed to have developed both in Christian and Jewish faiths as a time when one reflects on the passing year and what one was prepared to do in order to improve their devotion to God. I was in some ways surprised at this and in other ways not as this is indeed a very religious time of year with Christmas and Chanukah featuring in the calendar for a good many worldwide. In my search I also found that the 1st of January was not the start of the year for many of the different countries of the world with the majority adopting this between 1522 and 1752. It was until as late as 1752 many started the New Year around Easter or March 25th which seems such a foreign concept after all how can a New Year start in the middle of a month? I have also learnt that the 1st of January is for some also a Religious Holiday for it was the day the baby Jesus was christened and given his name.
How much thought do we give to the passing year as individuals? The media is always certain to give us the highs and lows of the year both in pictorials and headlines. I was reading a newspaper a few days ago and it showcased the notable deaths of 2011 and it is interesting to see what a varied list it was. Those making mention being of such varied backgrounds; Writers, Actors, Film-makers, Artists, Musicians, Sportsmen, Capitalists, Human Rights Campaigners, Politicians, a former First Lady, International Terrorists and Leaders/Dictators. The same publication had pictorials covering fewer topics; a Royal Wedding, War, Riots and the Grand National – I must add this was a British Newspaper so perhaps its reader bias led to these topics being placed as notable events of 2011.
What are your reflections on 2011? For me I would have to say being present in Christchurch, New Zealand as significant Earthquakes struck on February 22nd and December 23rd will be etched on my memory for many years to come. The effect on the lives of residents there will be far reaching for many more and work on rebuilding the city is yet to commence. The devastation in Japan that followed little more than a week after February 22nd was of biblical proportions and will also be hard to erase from memory. Instability in the European Union remains a topic I reflect on and wonder on its future looking forward. Uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria were and are significant developments the world continues to watch as well as the Occupy Wall Street protests that have taken place throughout the world. 2011 has definitely been about change and about individuals standing together in opposition of oppression and/or greed. Thankfully 2011 was not all about international disasters or uprisings for me personally it was about taking steps in life I would not have believed possible in 2010. I achieved my goal of Home Ownership, commenced the publishing of my very own website/blog, made many new friends and was able to be with my family in times of need.
As I look forward to 2012, like many I am positive about the future for myself and my fellow man. We have greater faith in our ability to stand up and be counted on the political front. We are more aware of the compassion and community spirit that abounds in times of need. We are also aware that the past does not dictate our future we have the ability to change, to learn and to grow from our experiences as human beings.
I would like to wish everyone a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year and for those of you making New Year’s Resolutions I wish you well in achieving your goals for 2012. I would also like to thank you for your support and encouragement in 2011 and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
I am not so sure where to start – I had hoped to post more on my house purchase adventure 2 weeks ago. But I headed down to New Zealand for my Father’s surprise 70th Birthday which we had in Christchurch last Saturday. So with limited time and internet access I decided at least to get a Christmas post out. Then, much to our horror not one but 3 large magnitude earthquakes hit Christchurch and we’ve have had dozens of aftershocks since then.
Christchurch has been forgotten by many since the February 22nd Earthquake that killed 182 people. Christchurch has had several major earthquakes since September 2010 and over 8000 aftershocks. The people here live with a constant fear and heading into Christmas were feeling hopeful that the aftershocks were on the way out and life could and would return to normal. Thousands of homes await demolition and yesterday’s earthquakes have determined the future demolition of more homes and businesses. Rebuilding the City was hoped to commence mid 2012 and it is believed that this will be pushed back further.
While I fly out of Christchurch this afternoon and return to my employment in France the people of Canterbury remain living in uncertainty. Ironically I have chosen to live in another earthquake prone and devastated area that of Abruzzo, Italy. The town and province of L’Aquila is still rebuilding after their devastating earthquake in 2009. But this is my choice and I know the history of this region but for those residents of L’Aquila when the devastating earthquake struck and for those here in Christchurch, New Zealand their residents have limited options for relocation in an area they have grown up in, raised family in and buried loved ones in.
Christmas for me is not as much of a religious celebration but a time for family and friends to get together to laugh, have fun and remember good times. 2011 has been a year of immense tragedy for many parts of the world and many will mourn this Christmas for the family members they have lost in ’Acts of God’ this past year.
I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas – for those of you who have not been affected by any of the tragedies which have plagued different parts of the world and taken loved ones I hope you take the time to be grateful for the year you have had and you look forward to 2012. For those of you who have lost loved ones and have experienced hardship and loss over the year I wish you love and strength and hope that 2012 brings renewed strength, that joy returns to your lives and your memories burn brightly in your hearts
Take care Merry Christmas and a Bright and Loving New Year to you all!
My first opportunity to view my house again in its entirety!! I awoke early but not too early with the intention of getting to the house early and getting things in order. In the end I went for a walk through the largely abandoned but picturesque town of Navelli with the young man from Pompeii. By the time we had a good look around the wonderful old architecture (much of it medieval) it was after 11am. We said our goodbyes as he was returning back to his Funghi business – not an easy job he rises everyday at 3am to pick his mushrooms and take them to market!!
I headed off what I thought was the direction of a Petrol Station and ended up in the beautiful hilltop town of Capestrano by which time it was after midday. I decided to take a brief stroll through the village and a few random photos then stopped at the cantina for a Panini and San Pelligrino. The local dogs watched me with great interest as I devoured my lunch without giving into their pleading eyes!
Unfortunately for them I wasn’t prepared to share on this occasion – maybe next time!
Then I attempted to get petrol from a local Esso but it seemed everyone was still having their lunch so I went onwards to my little house in Ofena. On arrival I had a slight fight with the door – it turned out the house had been left unlocked and on inspection of the interior the lovely dresser and small table had been taken – an obvious disappointment to me.
Some small treasures were still left behind – a number of old chairs in need of stripping, restoring and reseating, a number of old bottles including the large traditional wine bottles in their cane baskets, as well as a few pieces of old china.
I started sweeping the floors and checked to see what was on the floor in the bathroom where the terrazzo had fallen in. To my surprise here too was original marble flooring, so I have 3 rooms with these which will look great once polished up to their former glory!
A local called Roberto whom I met the last time I was in Ofena stopped by promising to help me clean-up if I would go to the local bar for adrink with him the local is called Bar Aufinium. We had a drink and I met a few more of the locals then Roberto needed something from a hardware store in a nearby village. Not wanting to seem rude I agreed to go with him to Popoli where it turned out the Hardware store was closed and would reopen at 4pm. We went off for espresso and wandered about – time is not so important in Italy it’s more of a concept and in true Italian fashion it was nearly 4:30pm by the time the store opened and what Roberto was seeking there was not to be found. I felt a little frustrated with my day, the sun was now starting to head closer to the hills and soon there would be no light to do anything at the house.
Another detour was offered with the promise we could work at the house tomorrow (domani) – domani is a word you hear a lot in Italy. Everything will be done, will arrive, will be ready or available domani! I decided not to stress and agreed to our next diversion –a trip to the local Trout and Gambieri (Yabbie or freshwater cray) Farm for Roberto to get some trout. It was I must admit an interesting journey and it’s a shame I have no photos of the alien-like gambieri to show you but I promise I will go there again for you another day!!
After some hair-raising Italian driving back to my house I said ‘Ciao’ to Roberto and promised to call him domani! I jumped into my rental car and headed back to Navelli debating whether I wanted Roberto’s assistance with the house but also not wanting to offend a local. Stopped by and filled the car up on the way.
As always the Abruzzo Segreto was abuzz with people, an Irish couple had stayed the night as they were over from Ireland for a long weekend to work on their renovation project. We had a good chat altogether and shared a few glasses of red wine together. After they departed I decided to have a simple meal of local salami and cheeses – I did not have the energy to head out for a meal at one of the local trattorias.
After a long day I was grateful to rest up until the next day!
I have had a few requests/enquiries about how to subscribe to receive post updates. Finally after a late night and an early morning we’re off to a good start!
I am happy to announce you CAN now SUBSCRIBE to my site so I hope you will – I apologise for any frustrations you may have felt – I am still learning to walk as it were.
Looking forward to seeing you back here soon – don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE!!