The last two weeks have been rather disappointing for me as I have been hoping to head over to Abruzzo and begin sourcing builders and architects to begin my renovation. Three weekends ago I had some uncertainty about work commitments and once it was too late to book flights found out I could have gone over. Last weekend, I was also hoping to head away but was unfortunately struck down by one of those ‘that time of the year’ colds or flus that complete throw you from your ability to do ANYTHING!
And then there was this weekend – the week okayed to be off work, a catch-up with friends arranged on Monday in Florence and what happens? Strikes by truck drivers in Italy protesting incoming austerity measures by the Italian Technocratic Government has caused many shortages including something I need to get around the countryside and that’s petrol. While I could be certain my rental car would be received with a full tank I was not so sure I could be assured of being able to refill it. Furthermore I was going to fly out this afternoon and with strikes scheduled in the afternoon at the airports in Rome I could not guarantee this would cause a knock-on effect for flights coming in once it was over. And, on top of this quite wintery weather including heavy snow has been forecasted until at least the middle of next week and I am not too sure I wanting to be fumbling around with unfamiliar things like chains for a vehicle while my hands turn blue with ice!
Fingers crossed all will be well by next weekend – there are rumours the petrol stations will be on strike after the truck drivers return to work so it could be more of the same next weekend but I guess I will just have to wait and see!
From what I am told by others who have renovated in Italy nothing happens quickly so perhaps these delays are helping me adjust to the trials and tribulations that await me as I struggle to turn a ruin into a home!
Rest assured I will be back soon to give my little ruin the love it’s been seeking for almost 40 years!
Every so often one becomes more aware of themselves and their community. Not because we go along selfishly without a care for others but because we are alive and kicking with our own battles and problems to contend with.
Today I decided I would like to share a little about causes that people are working on that make the world a better place or are aspiring to make the world a better place.
In sharing this I would like to ask you to think about how you are contributing also. Perhaps you might say ‘Okay, but what are you doing?’ and that is fair enough to ask.
Presently I am a UNICEF global parent and have been one for 10 years maybe a little longer. When I see beggars on the street I admit I don’t always give them money – but often I do. How can you not give a little on a freezing cold day to someone who is unwell living on the streets? When I have the ability to help and make a difference I do my best to do exactly that – there are groups that while I follow their progress at present I am not in a position to do more but I do what I can when I can and as often as I can.
Here are a few organisations I believe are making a difference today. No it is not an exhaustive list – just enough to get you thinking
For Animal Lovers
http://stopthepoisoningofourpets.blogspot.com/ and it’s Italian site
http://stopallavvelenamento.blogspot.com/2012/01/la-mia-esperienza-con-gli-assasini-di.html?spref=fb are dedicated to increasing awareness and stopping the practice of poisoning animals in Italy either by hunters who believe they have competition from cats and dogs and protected wildlife eating their prey or Truffle collectors poisoning dogs that might dig up a truffle! Please read about this cause and what you can do to support or raise awareness.
For People Lovers
Acumen Fund is an organisation that funds community businesses to develop and improve the standard of living in communities affected by poverty – they work around the world and their philosophy is ‘to give a hand up rather than a hand out’
UNICEF works with governments around the world working on eliminating; disease, hunger, abuse of women and children and the promotion of education to those in need
Esteem is registered with the UK’s Charity Commission (No.1058540) as an education and training provider for young people aged from 18 to 26 years. Esteem offers guidance, support and personal development, especially to those who have been cared for by the statutory or voluntary sectors.
Christian’s Gift Raises Money to provide much needed Therapy for Christian Carter-Murray. Christian’s Gift also supports Families of Children with Autism by providing Family Friendly Events. Play in The Park and Clown Around Playtime. They are working to raise community awareness to ensure children with Autism are cared for with the dignity, love, understanding and the appropriate medical and community care they deserve.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RSFIJEpOQZk - a video sharing the world Christian lives in
AVAAZ has a simple democratic mission: organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want. AVAAZ is a global organisation to effect change in our environment – whether political or environmentalfor the greater good.
These are just a few examples of people making a difference in our communities at home and abroad – please feel free to share people making a difference in your communities. At the end of the day we can choose to make a difference because we can.
Wishing you all an enjoyable weekend – take care.
Travel & Me
My first ever trip to Europe was in 2006, I had 5 weeks pre-arranged leave and although I mostly cherished the thought of spending my time in France I thought ‘what if I never make it again in my lifetime?’ And so, I researched a package tour to a few other places to give me an idea of Europe of places I would like to see this encompassed 11 days of my time and then I would spend 3 weeks in France!
The carrot for the tour I decided on was mostly that we would arrive in Paris on my birthday the 10th of June, but aside from that it took in sights of places one romanticized about. Here is the high speed itinerary of the tour;
Day 1; Depart London for the ferry in Dover at the disgustingly unsociable hour of 4am! Catch the ferry to Calais and drive to Brussels for the evening. Then take in the beautiful architecture and cosy atmosphere of an old city.
Day 2; Depart Brussels for Lake Lucerne via insufferably conservative Luxembourg.
Day 3; Wake up to snow on the 2nd June and head up the Stanzerhorn rail car to picture perfect virgin powder snow! Then heading over to Venice and it’s wonders! Arriving in Venice late evening
Day 4; Spend the day exploring Venice – the famous Murano Glass, the amazing architecture, the Gondolas, Gondoliers, Singers, St Marks Square as well as the tranquility and amazing cuisine of the island of Burano!
Day 5; Head to Rome arrive in the afternoon, take in the Spanish Steps and the beautiful Trevi Fountain followed by an entertaining dinner out with theatrical waiters wooing the ladies!
Day 6; Up early to join the queues at the Vatican and enjoy the brief tour culminating in the wonderment of the Cistine Chapel. Then off to explore the Roman Forum and experience the enormity of the Coliseum!
Day 7; off to Naples to the sound of Dean Martin and Arrivederci Roma! Through the impoverished streets of Napoli to the port we take the ferry to the beautiful Island of Capri for a treacherous bus ride up the steep cliffs and to find a panoramic cliff top restaurant with great food and wine for lunch before devouring the sights of Ana Capri. Then back to the town of Capri for unseasonable torrential rain and hail before squishing into the funicular and sheltering in a café while drinking delicious hot chocolate and taking the ferry back to Napoli then checking in at a hotel on the outskirts.
Day 8; Pompeii imagining the inexplicable terror of the eruption, a brief insight into the lives of those in ancient Pompeii and unbelievable astonishment at the size of the local lemons – bigger than a man’s head!! Then off to Florence arriving in the evening having a wonderful meal and propositioned by the exceptionally attentive waiter for a midnight rendezvous (which I declined)!
Day 9; Florence, a wonderful park Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence’s Ponte Vecchio then the Piazza Della Signoria, Uffizi Gallery (and David) and Santa Maria Del Fiore. Then off to Pizza for the Leaning Tower and some great Gelati before nestling into a quite night in Arrezano just outside of Genoa before our next day’s adventure!
Day 10; Early start through the Mont Blanc tunnel and Geneva Switzerland for the night. With fantastic weather paragliders treated us to a show of their daring skills and the Swiss show us their quiet contemplation of chess.
Day 11; My birthday! We are heading to Paris! We arrive in the early afternoon for a date with the Mona Lisa whom we are introduced by our guide Vincent who I think is the doppelganger of Vincent van Gogh fiery red hair and a passion for art! We see an early evening tribute and wreath laying at the Arch de Triumph, go for a river cruise on the Seine, scale the heights of the Eiffel Tower, then watch the light show at 10pm before a few glasses of champagne then bed.
Day 12; The next day my tour group are off to London, we have a quick bus around and they drop me for my next adventure in the heart of St Germaine de Pres – I now have 3 weeks to visit France at my leisure! What fun!!
November 4 – The Clean up
I arose not too early in the day and headed to my little palazzo with all the intention of getting to work sorting out the rubbish and cleaning up. On the way I stopped by the local Hardware store and grabbed a few bits and pieces. I had wanted to replace the barrel lock for the front door but they didn’t have one so I settled on buying a measuring tape to mark out my kitchen floor plans. My friends have lead me to believe no-one in Abruzzo speaks English (well mostly no-one) but to my surprise the friendly man at the checkout did and was very helpful!!
Onwards I went in the car to the village and bumped into my lovely neighbour Virginia, while she didn’t speak English it turned out she spoke French so between us we learnt quite a bit about each other. We went over to my house and she told me that the tiles fall down from the roof and I should be very careful as the roof was no good. We went inside and she nervously walked up my stairs and pointed at the plaster falling away from the ceiling – it was only then for the first time I knew 100% that my roof was in need of total replacement – while I knew this to be the case I had hoped that maybe it was just the eaves that were damaged!
Feeling slightly resigned after speaking to my neighbour reality set in – there was little use in tidying the mess inside, what my house needed was a few burly men and a dump truck anything I could do would only be replaced by more dust and dirt! I decided my day would be better spent sightseeing so pulled all the doors and windows shut, closed the door and turned the lock.
Once in my car I had not a clue as to where I could head off to, so I stopped via Navelli to get my camera and decided to drive to a little town called Bominaco. A quiet and peaceful village I enjoyed taking a few photos of the local architecture and landscape including a picture of the nearby town of Caporciano. I apologise for not availing you of the unique history of these sights but in time I will have so much more to share!
Here are a few pics from that day – I truly am blessed to have found such a beautiful part of the world for my first home!