Thursday, December 24, 2009

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

Cartolina Natale Mtyler039Leafing through a battered old book from the shelves at Positano, a handmade Christmas card from Christmases past came fluttering out. This card had travelled from Positano to Paris in the fifties when the village was in it’s hey days of glamour and glitterati, then made it’s way back to town in a borrowed French novel as a book mark.

It’s hand printed and I believe that the artist was Michele T. who grew up a few doors away from here. Different times they were, when the children still played noisily in front of the Church square hiding in the doorways in the narrow alley ways rather than sitting glued to their video games. Of German origin, he has long since moved back to the land of no espresso, and returns for the occasional nostalgic trip to town.

But the Christmas wish is still there, fifty years on and good wishes haven’t changed.

So for you all, my friends, I wish you the very best of Christmases and a Wonderful New Year. Thank you to all those who stopped to leave lovely comments and emails, and to all those who showed their support by visiting the blog through the year.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Friendly Hover.

helicopters Fornillo

A reader who has been following and commenting on my blog for some time now, having worked out who I am, recently introduced herself to my husband in Positano.

Dollyna, who knows the ins and outs of the town better than I do, has a home that overlooks our area.

Late this afternoon, being on her terrace cleaning up the leaves after the strong wind, she saw a helicopter rise up behind the Fornillo tower and instead of flying onwards to sweep around Positano, it made a beeline to what seemed to be our house, where it hovered!

Dollyna rushed to get her camera and get me some photos which she immediately emailed to me. I rang my husband, who surprised to find out that I knew about this noisy helicopter which had only just flown on, explained that it had brought building material to the Fornillo Beach where they were building a retaining wall.  I guess that it only wanted a closer peek into the Positano homes…

helicopter Positano

Thank you Dollyna for these great shots!

Max has some wonderful photos of the sunsets in Positano too.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


When the oranges you pick look like this:     

You know that they are sweet enough to eat.
First come, first served…

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Positano gardens.

The winter season is rolling into town, though  it’s not  the rain that announces it but rather the buzz of work beginning on houses, and hotels in the area. With the elections coming up in a couple of months, it may be that a blind eye is turned to ‘construction without authorization’  this year and many seem to be taking advantage of it.
Most of the people who worked in the tourist industry during summer go back to their regular jobs involving manual labour. It’s nigh impossible getting any of these skilled workers to do reparations during summer, so I imagine there must be a backlog of work now.P1000138
In the abandoned terraced gardens in Fornillo, lemon and orange trees are being pruned of dead growth and the creepers tangled in the fruit  trees  are ripped off and used to feed large bonfires.  The owner and a helper work for days, cutting and carrying piles of  sticks and cut growth on their shoulders.  They wind down along the maze of ancient tracks from garden to garden, piling the  bonfire stack high.
The remnants of the Morning Glory which has blanketed the olive trees all summer, crackles in the flames.  The smoke billows up to the house.  These steep gardens which were once so productive with vegetables and fruit have not been tended for years as manual labour is more costly, and the owner/gardeners are  disappearing with the generations.  Wild fennel and weeds now cover the embankments.  The new owners are too busy with their summer jobs to keep an eye on the place and even the lemons are often left unpicked.

It’ll soon be time to cover the fruit trees with their heavy netting to protect them from the wild winds that pick up in winter. The meshing lets the sun in, whilst tempering the force of gales.
In  April, when the nets are lifted, the trees' leaves will be flattened like hat hair, that is, until the wind ruffles body into them.  And then they’ll blossom once again.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A 'How to...Guide'

You know that you’re  ‘The Head’ (who said Mayor?) of  Positano if:
  1. You repeat the same Promises to get work done  over a twenty year period, without keeping your word.
  2. You know that people won’t believe you anyway.
  3. You find an infinite amount of excuses ranging from funds, contract work, other emergencies in town, file work, lost phone numbers or the weather (too hot, too wet, too near Xmas, too near Easter) to avoid doing the job. You use ‘said excuses’ in rotation. For twenty years.
  4. You pass the buck to the town Engineer who passes it right back at you. For twenty years.
  5. The same locals,  pester you so often, that you learn to duck into shops to avoid them in the street.
  6. They manage to corner you anyway, while you are sunning semi-naked on the beach.
  7. You write an open letter to the local paper in answer to the opposition party’s criticism talking about smoke screens, illusions and deceit. But locals feel that what you said about the opposition, would have suited you better.
  8. When someone tells you about a famous travel guide that mentioned the whiff of drains in town, you demand to know their name so that you can sue them for slander.
  9. You are very occupied presiding at religious functions in town, even though you are non-believer.
  10. You do anything that your Party tells you to do.
  11. In order to spend state funds, you are prepared to put a natural oasis in the Vallone Porto at Positano at risk, rather than lose the money.
  12. You need to spend more money to undo the things you did without foresight.
  13. It isn’t by chance that the Town Hall is situated right at the very top of  town ( King of the Castle syndrome ).
  14. You spend a lot of time between May and September officiating at numerous Weddings at the Town Hall.
  15. You hold a Positano Myth Festival in summer to which no one local outside politicians and VIPs are invited, so that the Festival essentially remains a myth.
  16. You find time to paint and hold showings at a local Gallery.
  17. You turn what was once a picturesque fishing village into something resembling more of a Disneyland with fancy lamps, bridges and concrete paths along the beach.
  18. You are so good at your job as an Italian Politician, that you could be, who knows, a Mayor or something, anywhere in the south of Italy.
  19. You are seriously lucky that (up to now),  you don’t have viable opposition in the upcoming elections.
And I’m still waiting…

Update 25-11-09: This morning they've come to start the work.  I'm astounded!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ssshhh. Can you keep a secret???

When the sun shines brightly in summer from  a cloudless sky, and the calm sea mirrors the vertical cliffs of the town with their flamboyant pocket gardens, we often pack hefty lunches, lilos, beach gear and tiny dog into our even tinier boat and head round to our favourite beach which our family has nicknamed La Spiaggia delle Balene.  With it’s compact outboard motor strongly resembling an egg beater, our boat chugs slowly along the shores dipping dizzyingly in the deep blue waves. My third  son sprints ahead with the kayak coming and going a dozen times till we arrive.

One of Positano best kept secrets,  we have yet to encounter any tourist picnicking on our beach or doing more than resting on it’s shores while snorkeling in the rocky ridges between cliffs.
The locals know the Germano area well. But other than twenty years ago, when  a water taxi service unloaded ten very overweight Germans, who incidentally stripped completely to sunbathe in  what they thought would be a secluded beach (hence the name Whale Beach or perhaps beached whale), we have only had occasional locals for company.
For our ‘Whale Beach’ is accessible only by boat. The nearby beach has a path leading to it from the road side but very little know of it’s existence. And to glimpse the shore line  from a boat, you would not really suspect that such a gem was hiding behind the jagged fallen boulders.
Being a cove that has shade on one side or another all day long,  it’s rock formations frame the Amalfi coast all the way to Capri through its arched windows.  The limpid sea beneath the arches dazzles, with it’s colour changing dramatically as the depth plunges.  Minute fish nibble at greenery and sea urchins nestle in cracks with sea cucumbers as you snorkel  past.
My family of six adores this place. Splashing happily in the shallows, fighting over the right to the water floats, climbing the ledges and diving off the cliffs, a day quickly passes. Boats come and go, sometimes a diver will emerge from the deep for a short stint in the sun before the sea reclaims him but rarely does anyone invade our territory as completely as we do.
When we see a boat approaching, we hold our breath. Frequently they are boats from hotels with their tourist guests who are showered by the boatman with tap water before being allowed to re-board the boat after their swim. They never swim to the shore.
Our dog gives up trying to follow us in to the water and resigns himself to a long wait in the shade.
Many head to this private beach around the corner or to the small one alongside it visible from the sea. If it were to be transformed into a trattoria, they would certainly have a roaring trade but thankfully the area is protected as part of a natural reserve where your anchor needs to stay firmly in your boat if you don't want to risk a fine.

So our beach remains a Positano secret. Our little jewel.

Maybe not as secret as it was in the sixties when this was painted by my father-in-law, but then you won’t tell, will you?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The little gift that goes a long way…

I’m touched by individual stories of foreigners who have come to the Amalfi coast and have left their hearts behind.   After all it happened to me.   When the individual in question is a little boy who’s barely ten and spent two weeks on the Coast a couple of summers ago, it’s even more poignant.


Annika, who’s blog many of you read, has launched an appeal to pay for her son’s trip to Siena Italy.

Annika is in a one salary situation and can’t afford paying a second fare for her son Alexander from Sweden to Italy, for her much dreamed of, weekend away.

Alexander really desires to go as he’s obviously among many things, ‘un buon gustaio’ and loves Italian food.  But he also appreciates the Italian culture and women, because as you’ll notice on the video that Annika filmed, he made a special friend with this little princess on his trip to Positano.

It’s one of the most beautiful home spun videos that I’ve seen about Positano because it has been made with the secret ingredient: ‘amore e passione’.

Please go read Annika’s story, and give just a little to help Alex join his Mum!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Ladro di Limoni – When Life gives you Lemons, or rather, doesn’t…

My mind may have waffled by age, but the few remaining neurons tell me that we left a lot of lemons behind on the trees in our garden this summer.

It just isn’t possible to consume the quantity they produce, all at one time.   Hundreds found themselves in  granita (seeing that I bought an ice-cream maker at a 70 percent discount).  Others in lemon curds, and lemon tarts non stop.   A large jug of lemonade took up too much permanent space in the small fridge.  Ice lemon tea, lemon marmalade, lemon chicken, grilled fish with lemon…need I continue?


I even bring lemons back with me to Luxembourg. I haven’t bought lemons in years. After having the whopping Sfumata D’Amalfi lemons at your disposal, it’s hard to call the shop bought ones, real citrus.


Lemon Pergola

My husband headed back to Positano a week ago and I reminded him that we were low on lemons in Luxembourg. I was sure that he’d bring back as much as his luggage would allow him to. I spoke to him on the phone the next day.

“There are no yellow lemons left” he said.

“ What do you mean? None at all?”, I asked incredulously.

“Not One ! Only green ones”, he insisted.

“Have they all fallen off ?”, I said  facing the fact that strong wind may have contributed to their demise.

“There’s nothing on the ground either!”

They couldn’t have been stolen I thought, because this garden with four lemon pergolas is a completely walled-in garden. No way passers-by would dream of coming in.

Gate to garden.


When the gardener dropped by to prune the grapevines yesterday, my husband asked him if he knew what had happened to them.

'”They’ve been stolen”,  he said.  “ Most likely to be next door’s seasonal gardener.  With a  ladder let down from the garden above, they would have taken all of five minutes to snip off the fruit and disappear again”.

Sfusato Amalfitano


Great.   Someone is going to make wonderful limoncello.

         Dear Lemon Thief,

  • May all the lemons be dry.
  • May they be lacking in flavour.
  • May they have trees complete with roots and leaves in each segment.
  • May they have scores of pips.
  • May the Limoncello you make, give you a terrible hangover.
  • May we catch you next time!

Meanwhile, I’ll have to buy the scrawny things in the shops…

Friday, October 30, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Think Pink!

It’s been Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and these lovely ladies have joined in with me to promote the campaign by posting pink pictures and information on their blogs.

I’m offering a virtual flower from my garden to each one

DSCF1509Laura from Ciao Amalfi gave us a whirlwind tour of the towns of the Amalfi Coast and amongst the rainbow of colours, she found pink in the most unexpected places! She stresses the importance of early detection with facts from The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

DSCF1521 Sue from The Pownall Chronicles had a great line up of women photographs from her travels and facts from The Pink Ribbon Foundation.

DSCF1486Anne in Oxfordshire shows us her feminine side with pretty pink objects from her dresser. Many of her friends took part in Breast Cancer walks in Paris too.

DSCF1478 It was cyclamen season with Pat from Sicily. In Sicily Scene, she stressed the importance of not ignoring lumps however tiny and that men are also subject to Breast Cancer. Thank you for putting up the link to LILT, the Italian Tumor Foundation too.

DSCF1500Darling Fifi from Fifi Flowers Design Decor has used her talents to help the campaign, by donating 10 percent of sales of her zany French pink painting collection to Breast Cancer research.

2003_0101Image0002 Michelle from Bleeding Espresso supported the campaign with jewelry and pink coffee machines. She had links to important information from the Breast Cancer.Org and simply suggested that we don’t forget about being vigilant but have Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer in our minds all year long!

I think that that’s a very good point to end on!

Thank you so much girls!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Think Pink!

The tags on blogs have been tinged with colour lately.  Laura from Ciao Amalfi saw red, and Anne from Oxfordshire, and Rowena from Rubber Slippers, to name a few, have both posted with blue objects from their houses .

That gave me an idea. Many of you will be aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I thought I might see things through Rose Coloured glasses with hope for a cure and post some pink things from my life in Positano.


I don’t want to rock anyone’s boat, but Breast Cancer affects us all.

I’m certain that everyone knows a person who has been touched by the illness.



Show your solidarity for these people.

Go on walks, post Pink, wear pink, give to research or simply hug a survivor.


Check, check check your breasts every month after your period.  It is treatable if you get it early. Get any change, however small, checked by your doctor.


Have a mammography or ultrasound every 2 years.


Post your Rose Coloured Photos this month and let me know. I will do a post on October 30th linking you all together in solidarity for the victims, the sufferers and the survivors. 


Think Pink! And remember that the 15th of October is Breast Health Day.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Tails from Positano


I often switch terraces to compare views, to take a stroll while waiting for the pasta pot to boil or simply to spy on my kids on the beach. Sometimes I even feel like waxing lyrical about the poetry of the Positano coast streaming before my eyes.

But every time, before I make myself comfortable on the low wall, I take a peek over its ledge to its rocky side to ascertain that I am the only visible presence in nature at that moment, and then up above my head to check that I’ve not suddenly become part of someone else’s view.

A rustle in the grape vines to my side doesn’t alarm me too much as lizards are a dime a dozen in these parts.

A light thump likewise doesn’t attract my attention.

I catch the movement of a lizard in the corner of my eye.

It seems to have a twig protruding from it.


But this little creature was wearing a second tail on top of it’s first.


A bit like a flagpole mast on the back of a bike.

It quite unabashedly sunned itself until a movement from my dog caused it to launch itself back among the grape vine leaves.

Of course the first thing an Italian local said when I showed them the photo was ‘Porta Fortuna!’ Sure, along with dog and bird droppings. Good Luck indeed.

PS. Did you notice the ET. toes?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whiskers on Kittens


Where have all the cats of Fornillo gone?

In our area of Positano, the alleys between villas were a haven for the whiskered felines. Huddled together behind corners, cats and their litters would scatter briefly as someone came down stairs or dodge feet by clinging to the wall’s side in the alley behind Pensione Maria Luisa . There would always be a pair of eyes watching nervously from the top of the walled garden and a handful of fluffy kittens in nestled in the fragrant clump of night-scented Bella di Notte (Clavillia). Tiny ears would be visible in drain pipes under steps and the more courageous or semi -domesticated would follow me all the way home hoping for a tidbit or lick from a tuna can. Usually there was no hope of patting them back.

These were cats born and bred in our gardens. Mouse hunters extraordinares, their mothers would wait patiently in the dark night on our terrace for the rodents to wander past so that a lesson in catching a meal could take place. The scrawny ‘skin and bones’ look to a cat would alert me to a litter badly in need of nourishment and I’d entice the kittens up from the abandoned gardens dangling strings of spaghetti before them. Kittens were sometimes so tiny that their heads would fit right inside yogurt pots and in their hunger, they would forget their fear of humans, to lick my fingers, after I’d hand fed them. Their purring was my reward.

Our gardens in our house in Positano were the throughway for the cats. They’d take the deep stairwell down the hill on the side of the house, and after a jolly jaunt across the terrace take our private stairs into our lower garden and then into the terraced lemon groves below.


These were wary cats that wasted no opportunity. Terrace doors left open were an invitation to come inside.

P1000230 P1000232

And if you turned your back a moment, they would. And quite likely pee in the dogs basket as this one did.

But I miss the cats. These were free spirited beings belonging to no one but themselves. They are now few and far between. There is not one cat in the alleyway and I rejoiced when I saw a mother with her two kittens this summer in our garden as its become such rare a sight.

It seems that someone at Positano is poisoning the cats in the Fornillo area. A hand written notice posted on the wall at the Fornillo Grotta area earlier this year asked the person responsible to refrain from doing it but the cats have all but gone.

And when the cats are away, the mice will play.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Winds of Change.


The wind has returned to the Coast.

The gales whip shimmering curtains of light across the turquoise water. Umbrellas are folded politely across the back of the deck chairs and bathers roast unfeelingly in the noon sun.


I love to watch the wispy veils of silver graze the surface of the placid sea. The boats, their weight lightened by the force of the air, twist and turn in unison.


The colours are intensified. I dream of painting our old wood-wormed furniture to match.


But it also means sweeping dirt, real DIRT from inside the house. Leaves from the gardens spangled with bougainvillea pink and purple, somehow make their way through the underside of closed doors. The terrace is swept clean but the stairs accumulate piles and piles of leaves. All doors, inside and out need to be fixed tightly to hooks or blocked with weights to prevent a deafening slam knocking the frames out of skewer. We fear for the glass in the fragile iron frames of the terrace windows. Replacing a pane in the rusty holdings, in this part of the world, in this part of the year, means begging.


Our young Jacaranda tree, already two stories high and permanently fixed to a pole, risks toppling over as we foolishly removed the other two poles that we had placed there against the winter Tramontana wind.

An old blanket and beach towel are taken overboard with the wind and lie in wait for retrieval in the abandoned gardens below the house for several days. When finally the gardener takes a ladder and brings them back up to our place, a tiny snake hidden in the blanket folds stays tight till the late afternoon, before slithering across the terrace head held high and slipping under the umbrella stand.

It takes a good deal of courage on my part to lift the stand and scare it off with a broom back into the abandoned gardens after it insists on staying put where it was.


I think I deserve a medal for that!