I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full of good health and happiness.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Everything happens for a reason I try to tell myself, and as my own health suffers too, I try to look at the whole picture rather than concentrating on the negative. But it's not easy.
An oversized fresh pine cone, closed unto itself would release the scent of incense as it warmed the resin amongst the woody petals. After hours of sitting prettily next to the embers like a closed flower bud, it's petals would slowly unfurl and open to the pine nut treasures under each one. With a nut cracker or even a hammer to split the nut, we would expose the tender kernel . It's a tedious job but there would not be much else to do to while away the time.
Split chestnuts , would of course sit on the coals in their rusty holed pan, passed down from the war times, roasting away with the occasional pop and splutter from fresher logs.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
The Amalfi Coast, as any of you who have been here will know, is a place which touches your soul.
It's brilliant colours, dramatic coastline and genuine down to earth products made with the traditional methods are a way of life here.
Nicki, who many of you will recognize from her blog, has created beautiful, handcrafted soaps which would look divine in your bathroom from the natural local products in the area. The colours reflect the ocean, the gelato coloured houses and the rocky mountain morphology. They are a feast for your eyes and your skin.
Take a look for yourself at Saponissimo: Etsy for the States and Dawanda for Europe.
You won't regret it!
South of Rome is a newly discovered blog for me by a fair lady who moved to Naples from Sicily.
The blog is well worth visiting and informative with gorgeous pictures as is her published book In Etna's Shadow just recently available on Amazon. For all you lovers of Italy's largest island, this is a travel book with a culinary twist to treasure. Karen offers a discount if you order from her blog. Do drop by and see what she has to offer for yourselves.
A Congratulations to both Nicki and Karen !
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Thursday, November 06, 2008
All winter long the fruit will swell maturing to a rich yellow in April. The fruit is best eaten straight off the tree as it quickly loses it's flavour once picked. Although our Nespolo, as the tree is called in Italian probably grew from a seed, it's fruit is tastier than any you could buy in the shops. We gorge ourselves on the abundant fruit looking at the sea, and repopulate the gardens with the seeds. Dried and very sweet, their natural fall off the tree in summer is the delight of tiny lizards which nibble the casing, that is, if the dog doesn't have them for breakfast first.
Monday, November 03, 2008
- With all the talk about the US Elections on at the moment, I thought I'd change the argument entirely :
You know that its the end of season at Positano if...
- The sea becomes rough more frequently and reaches right up to the restaurants in Fornillo.
- The Mayor issues a by-law which ensures that at least one bar, one restaurant and a few shops remain open by rota in each of the six localities of Positano, to ward off the ghost town effect.
- Your favourite Pizzeria warns you that it's closing down at the end of the week, but warmly invites you to come up to their place to eat instead.
- The much maligned dock, which has been under construction for some years at considerable expense to the town, gets inundated with the first, not very rough sea, of the season.
- Houses built along the mountain become so damp, that if you are absent for any length of time, you are likely to find that the clothes in your wardrobe have sprouted a beard.
- The cemetery candles on the tombs for All Souls Day are visible from afar like twinkling stars in the night .
- You hear Napolitano (dialect) being spoken more than English.
- You easily get a seat on the internal Positano bus and getting back to Positano from Sorrento, is no longer a problem on the Sita bus.
- You suddenly find yourself going for walks in the mountain more readily and come back laden with wild rosemary and pine cones for the fire.
- You have to tread very carefully as the paths are sometimes worn, have fallen boulders and are missing chunks of steps.
- Young children stay indoors playing video games and teens invite themselves over each other's house as there is no where else to go.
- There are only a few lonely souls on the beach.
- Trails of smoke from grass fires on properties continue to burn even if the council has issued free compost bins for those with gardens.
- The pensioners sitting on the wall chatting at Chiesa Nuova at the top of town and at the Grotta bus stop sport a beanie.
- At first glance you don't recognize the bagnino (beach hand) from the beach bar because he has clothes on.
- You can stop spraying against ants.
- The ninety year old lady puts away her bikini and takes up crochet.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
There is nothing but the silence of the sea for company...
A long, long time ago, almost fifteen years to be precise, I was in Positano in the early summer holiday. I was still young enough to be naive about opening doors to strangers. That night, I was the only adult in our house and had three sleeping young children upstairs. A film had just ended on TV, and on opening the door from our lounge room to the large dining room, I was detained from getting the glass of water in the kitchen before retiring, by what I believed to be animal noises outside in the garden.
I approached the moonlit hall entrance to listen closer.
I was used to cats yowling and the scamper of small animals in the night, but this was slightly different and curiosity got the better of me. A scuffling, groaning sound came from behind the door. For want of something better to imagine, I thought it might be two dogs having it out on the steps and thought I could scare them into leaving our garden.
I turned on the light in the hall and opened the ancient wooden door, just a chink, to peer outside.
I slammed it back shut straightaway and double locked it my heart thumping madly.
What I'd expected to see and what was there, were as far apart as the moon and the sea. Smack leaning against the door, was the back of a man dressed in a blue striped polo shirt obviously embracing someone.
Well, I let all my rage out and yelled at them that they could find another place for their canoodling. There was no need to trespass in private property.
There was no response from them and after a while I couldn't tell if they'd actually left, so I ran upstairs on to the outside top balcony which overlooked the stairs to see if I could spy them. They were quite calmly leaving the gate. The girl following the man someway behind.
The following day, I received a call from a neighbour in the alley behind our house, with whom I was only on 'Bongiorno' terms. She asked if she could drop by with her sister-in-law because they wanted to talk to me about something.
Seated in front of that very door, the upset sister-in-law thanked me in person because my timely interruption of the little scene on my porch had prevented a friend of her husband's from violating her daughter, a young teenager.
The man (a neighbour), believing the house uninhabited, had led the girl there with the surmise of showing her something. After my intervention, he told her not to say anything and to walk away. She was too shocked to react. Unfortunately I couldn't help more by testifying, as I had only seen him for the second before I panicked, but she was grateful that things had not gone any further and they eventually pursued the matter in court.
Guess whose scared to open the door at night now?
For more Halloween 'Blogapalooza Party' stories Just Go over to Angela's !
Monday, October 27, 2008
Late Sunday afternoon, a huge bonfire blazed and crackled on Fornillo beach with the remnants of wood left from the beach restaurants /bars. The wisps of smoke trailed well into the evening.
The warm weather belies the season. My other half still swims every afternoon. His days are spent in the kayak, fishing with his friend or eating the 'frecinette' bananas well ripened from our garden.
Soon the tourists will trickle, the ferries will blow their horn of salute to the village and the rest of the hotels will close for winter.
The town will belong to the locals again.
I'm sure many of you recognize where this photo was taken.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
- I can reach out with my hand and grab mosquitoes as they're flying. This has turned out to be very useful, as each year, in the two summer months that I am at Positano, I average a score of 120 (yes, I count them) whereas everyone else is at about 12.
- My hands and feet are always icy in winter so I often get chilblains. I wear woollen gloves under my gardening gloves and have an electric blanket on the bed which helps. I love to make homemade pizza in winter so I can lean against the oven for warmth.
- I suffer the heat in summer even more and am quite happy to sleep on the floor tiles at the terrace door on humid nights rather than toss and turn on an overheated mattress.
- I have only ever met one person with wall to wall carpet in his garage and that is my father (in Australia).
- I don't know how to type so it takes me forever to write emails and posts. My handwriting is much nicer when I hold the notebook on my lap.
- I decide things very much on instinct. If I like something straight away, I will always like it. If I have to stop and reflect before deciding, I am more likely to regret my choice.
It's hard to decide whom to tag, as most people have been tagged out.
Amid the Olive Trees
Bella Vita In Liguria
Rubber Slippers in Italy
On My Way to Work and Other Stuff
I am Dog, Hear Me Snore
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
"Sort of ' to make someone choose to do something , by telling them things." , I replied distractedly, my mind already on where I'd left the rake.
Later, while putting away his homework, my eyes fell on the book report.
Last question : 'What would you tell a friend to persuade them to read this book?'
Answer: ' If you read this book I will give you five Euros. If you don't read this book, I will punch you in the face.'
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Positano, seemingly a haphazard mishmash of gelato-coloured houses stacked one on top of another to follow the lay of the land, is just that.
The land or properties are not divided into square or rectangular shapes following your average domain, but are quite irregular in shape, with parcels of smallish gardens protruding from the house at different angles, or not necessarily joined to the house. This can create squabbles with neighbours, as they have right of way to harvest fruit from their garden, through yours.
Late October is the time for walnut gathering. For those of you whom are not familiar with fresh walnuts, the shell is encased in a thick green husk. When the fruit inside is mature, the husk cracks open, releasing the nut. This can occur spontaneously or if helped by a firm rap on the branch at the right time of the year.
The Fornillo area of Positano has a lot of mature walnut trees overlooking the bay, in many cases stretching out over the property of those below in order to get a better view (or at least catch the sun), so when the time comes for the battuta, or the hitting of the trees in order to fell the walnuts, the owners of the trees have to enter in the property of the neighbour below to collect their nuts.
This is the case in our smallest garden. This pocket-sized garden has a small locked gate so the neighbours above the garden let themselves down by climbing the grape vine pergola along the wall after they've beaten their tree. If they know we are home, they furtively gather the fallen nuts in a hurry. If not they take their time to search better between the plants.
Years ago, we had a magnificent mature walnut tree growing alongside our house in the property of our neighbour below. The tall tree cast shade on our terrace in the summer and it's boughs beckoned within an arm's reach, temptingly clustered with walnut husks.
Around this time of the year, the men working for the bar owner would arrive, mounting ladders from the terraced gardens below in order to climb the tree. The delegated lightweight would crawl along the branch as far as his weight would stretch and with long canes, whack the nuts grouped between the leaves. While he was there he'd also prune any dead branches and to my consternation, those good branches over-shadowing our terrace.
If I peeped over the edge to see what the commotion in the gardens below was about, the gatherers would trill out in Napolitano to the tree-hugging man, to hit some walnuts in the Signora's direction and I in turn would gather the nuts from our terraces. Those fresh sweet nuts peeled of their inner bitter skin were a delight. I didn't care how black my fingers would stain.
Unfortunately, this centenary tree, keeled literally over, a few years ago, probably due to the leaking sewerage at its feet. A baby tree has sprung a few metres from its mother's side. Maybe I'll see shade and nuts on our terrace yet.
In the meantime, I'm reduced to scavenging the fallen walnuts overlooked in our garden, from the other neighbour's tree.
Go on over to Casalba's post on Hazelnuts!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
A yell down to my mother-in-law in the lower section of the garden was the signal to tie on a basket to a rope. The height between the levels is equivalant to three storeys so a long electrical cord improvised for a rope and he would pull the basket up to the garden. Another 'Signora!' followed and the basket would dangle back down with whatever the garden had to offer at the time.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Sunday, October 05, 2008
During heavy rain, we don't just mop up rain water which has leaked in under windows and doors but also need to clean up the filthy water around the bathroom floor. Sometimes this overflow has been so important that the water has gone past the bathroom and into the bedroom. Our solution has been to place a barrier on the floor against the door to prevent water leaving the bathroom , and to drill a hole in the base of the bathroom wall with a tube channeling dirty water directly into the garden.
Tube runs from bathroom to terrace.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
I was in the UK and out shopping with my daughter, buying the bare necessities for her new home away from home.
I had a kitchen knife, and a small pot and pan amongst the goods.
When I went to pay, the shop assistant said apologetically,
' Are you over 18 ? Sorry but I'm obliged to ask'.
'Yes, but thank you for the compliment !', I exclaimed flattered.
Later: The Taxi.
A taxi brought us and a myriad of packages, shopping bags, suitcases, and a guitar from the B&B in the city to my daughter's home.
When we got in the car, he asked 'Are you Italian ?'.
'Well, yes' I replied, 'Can you tell?'
'You can tell who is Italian, by the elegant way they dress'.
I had a pair of jeans and a suede jacket on!!!!
They made my day.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Many many thanks to Casalba and Anne for your offers of help with the accomodation !
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
You have to use a small umbrella and hold it sideways in order to get through some of the narrow alleyways,
Monday, September 08, 2008
"Dai Claudio, vieni !" Maria yelled.
The August night sky was unusually clear, notwithstanding the warm air. My father and I lean't on the railings on the terrace overlooking the beach. I could just make out my two sons and their friends fooling around on the beach sun loungers.I straightened up and shook my hand to get the ants off.
Alexia and her two American friends grabbed a lilo from under Pupetto Beach Bar and ran into the water.
Their New York accents carried perfectly up to our house. There was no babble on the beach nor sounds of motorboats to smother it. I could even hear the chink of the glasses in the restaurant below.
Milly, our small dog, sniffed disinterestedly around the terrace and then came and lay at our feet.
I could pick out my sons and their friends because the beach had been lit up from the restaurant. There were three lilos in the dark water and three people per lilo. I knew that they'd ordered a pizza to eat on the beach and seeing that my boys hadn't come up at all from their afternoon swim, that they still had a swimming costume on. The two Americans were leaving the next day, so it was a sort of going away party together with the Positanesi.
"Are you spying on them ?" asked my father.
"Course not! Can I help it if they chose this moment to have a swim?" I replied.
Milly suddenly got up and started sniffing around the edges of the terrace again. I imagined that there must be a gecko in her favourite haunts as she was taking long sniffs in the usual places.
"Lasciali stare (Leave them be)" said my father. I presumed that he was talking about my sons rather than the geckos.
Milly started getting more and more excited, running from one area of the terrace to another. She finally stopped at the corner which overlooked our garden below. She started whimpering a little.
"What is it Milly?" I asked gently.
Her fur was on end and she was on alert, fixating the tops of the mandarine trees which were at terrace level.
As soon as I asked, she began running down the steps which brought to the garden.
"She probably saw a cat." said my father.
I could hear her barking frantically below. Milly is a dog who never barks.
"Milly, come" I ordered.
She raced up the stairs immediately, returning to her post in the corner of the terrace. She took long deep sniffs into the tree tops then barked and yelped simultaneously. Obviously there was something there.
She suddenly looked up into the pergola overhead, barking and yelping as if her life depended on it.
I could hear a rustling in the wisteria leaves above me. I ran to turn on the terrace light which I had been avoiding so as not to attract mosquitoes.
My father and I looked up. Just as I had suspected.
It was the old rat-in-a-tree trick.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Positano. June 2008. One and a half hours drive from Naples.
Fornillo beach at 8 :00 in the morning.
Safety Beach, one and a quarter hours drive from Melbourne.
Height of Summer holidays. 9:30 in the morning on the public beach -
Private beaches don't exist.
Looking towards Dromana.
Looking towards Mt. Martha.
Time necessary to walk across Fornillo beach - 10 minutes if you are slow and stumble a lot.
Time necessary to walk along the sand to Dromana Pier (closest obstacle) - an hour at a very quick pace.
Time necessary to walk to Mount Martha in the opposite direction -an hour at a very quick pace.
Safety beach water in the morning.
Fornillo Beach water in the early morning.
Safety beach it stays like that. At Fornillo it doesn't.
Difference in temperature - about 20 degrees. Difference in depth -who knows!
Fornillo beach late afternoon when the public beach goers have packed up due the the shade coming across the beach. You can see the bar in the distance.
Safety Beach. You can see the beach huts in the distance.
Safety beach in the late afternoon.
What you can't see are the flies!
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Sunday, July 06, 2008
To all of you, have a lovely summer. See you in September!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
The first fire of the year has been lit on the road between Positano and Sorrento in the same place where it caused extensive damage and a blackened gap in the vegetation last year. The road for the moment is still open.
What this means is the sound of helicopters going up and down from the sea to the mountains holding buckets from their bellies all day long; sweeping ashes from the terrace; the smell of smoke in the air and eventually a sea full of ash and debris again. As if it didn't have enough to put up with already!
Friday, July 04, 2008
- You have to wait for people to have their panini (bread roll) freshly made up by the grocer before he serves you.
- They ask for things in funny Italian. He answers in stranger English.
- Australians are everywhere. You keep turning around to see if you know them. You try to restrain yourself from inviting them home.
- Water pressure is less in the morning and in the evening.
- The drains gurgle loudly from 9-10am; 5-6pm and 10-11pm.
- They smell much worse too.
- In the evening, you come up the bougainvillea clad walkway leading from the church, geriatric style, due to the amount of people trying to do the same thing.
- Due to the demand from air conditioners in hotels, electricity voltage comes in flickers of lows and highs so that it seems that the bulb needs changing.
- You finally meet up with your friends - regular seasonal 'tourists' to Positano.
- Restaurants are full from 6pm for the English.
- Restaurants are full from 9-12pm for the Italians.
- You see hopeful tourists drive into town on the oneway road at the top, and then drive themselves out again at the bottom not having found a place to park.
- They think that the price that you have to pay for private parking for one hour, is the price for the whole day.
- They are the only ones to put sunscreen on.
- They are the only ones to wear a one piece bathing suit.
- They are the only ones to wear a hat.
- They yell out : 'There's rocks and they're slippery', when they are in the water.
- They bring sea glass home as a souvenir.
- There is a babble of voices on the beach at midday, noisy motor boats coming and going, and what seems like an endless sequence of ferries depositing crowds of people on to the dock.
- An unexpected rain storm means that the pinball machine area under Pupetto restaurant quickly fills up with people in bathing costumes.
- You see them walking down at the top of the hill all along the scorching road, unsure of which stairs to take as a short cut to the beach.
- The granita seller at a small stand at the hot Mulino bus stop, suddenly finds himself in big business.
This is for all of you who will be heading off to your holidays soon. And for all of you who thought that Positano is a good idea in summer - be warned !
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
- In order to have a nice view at a restaurant, they are prepared to eat their meal right on the road, risking having their elbows grazed by a passing bus.
- They are left stranded at Positano because the Sita buses on their way from Amalfi to Sorrento arrive too full to take on any more passengers.
- Tourists presume that the bus service Sita, which connects Positano with the rest of the Amalfi Coast, must contain a silent 'h'. No guesses why.
- They marvel at the bus driver's skills because 'Roads are carefully designed to be a little narrower than two cars side by side'. (John Steinbeck).
- 'Attractive little alleyways ' in hotel brochures are redescribed by tourists as having 'slopes akin to those of Kilimanjaro'.
- You hear tourists exclaim : "She told me that it was an easy 200 steps to the hotel. It felt like an easy 2000 ! "
- As you walk past restaurants, you hear the waitress saying 'Buona sera' to every single stranger that goes past, hoping to entice them in.
- Mobile phones are out everywhere taking impromptu videos of singing waiters.
- Tourists stroll absentmindedly in front of moving buses taking off from the Mulino bus stop with a granita or gelato in hand risking their lives.
- The bus taking off from the Mulino bus stop is always full of sweaty bodies clad in damp beach clothes.
- Complaints from clients about all hotels, whether 3 star or 5 star, have got at least one thing in common : Ant invasion.
- You hear voices over your head. You look up and see a bus load of people stopping at the Bel Vedere (view point) over your house to take photos.
- There are brides EVERYWHERE.
- Tourists hurry out of the water with jelly fish stings because they didn't understand the cry 'Medusa'.
- The waiters at the beach bars become distracted from their duties by blonds in bikinis.
- Day trippers arriving by ferry don't go up any further into town than the Mulino bus stop.
- The bay is full of yachts and the beach is full of sun chairs.
- You have to keep redirecting waylaid tourists who mistake your house for the way to the beach, back up past the sign that says 'Spiaggia, Beach ' and then points in the other direction. On their way up they help themselves to lemons off the tree.