Friday, 23 March 2007

At Home...

Most of the week has been spent at home for one reason or another, bad weather, migraines, landlady visits etc.

The rain went but it left a very cold wind and bright blue skies in its place. So, although we have been out in the garden and to the shops for essential groceries, we have basically stayed in. Days I was planning to go out I had a migraine and then my landlady, who lives in Naples, wanted to come and say "Hello". Of course there was another reason for her friendliness, she very kindly dropped off my first electricity bill. Luckily I have nearly a week to pay it! I am finding that urgency is quite often expected from me, but it has taken nearly two months to sort out various problems in the house! All in all though I like her and if I am a good tenant maybe I will get an invite down to Naples!!

Today I had problems with Telecom, I knew the honeymoon couldn't go on! I was unable to make any international calls for most of the day which, when my husband is in the UK or Spain, is a little problematic! For some reason now he can't get through to us, but we can now call him - whatever! My main concern was my niece, I wanted to make sure she could get hold of me before she left - two days and she will be here! My daughter is really excited, I just hope she isn't expecting a constant playmate - I think she will be disappointed!

I went to my local Cartoleria for writing and wrapping paper today. 3 enormous, good quality sheets of wrapping paper cost me 3 euros. In the centre each sheet cost 6.50euros, I know as I bought the same design at Christmas, and half the size! I will certainly be returning.

After going there we walked up to Ponte Amerigo Vespucci. The bridge itself isn't pretty but it has one redeeming feature - the coypu colony that lives on the islands beneath it. There are also herons, cormorants, ducks, geese and pidgeons, oh, and lots of rats!!

It was bitterly cold on the bridge, but at last I felt like we had got out for a while. I love the view up the river to the Ponte Vecchio. Behind it we could see a few snow topped mountains in the distance. Maybe there will be some ski-ing next week after all!

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Rain, Thunder and more Rain!!

Well, as I suspected, the good weather wasn't here to stay, not just yet anyway. I know tomorrow is the "official" first day of spring but I thought I would celebrate it today with this wonderful photo! If nothing else it makes me think of the UK. This little girl's third birthday is next week - we brought her home from the hospital in a blizzard, so really a bit of rain is nothing is it!

I have my first visitor next week. My niece is coming over from the UK for a week. At the moment I think she expects to do the Grand Tour! I am hoping to meet her somewhere in the middle, not necessarily trips to Esselunga but maybe Pisa and Prato. Also, I know there is so much to see here, I'm not entirely sure why we would visit anywhere else anyway! My husband is already planning on being here so he can take her and my son ski-ing. Hopefully this will be enough!

I knew I would start to get visitors, but it still stresses me slightly. I want them to come but I also want to carry on with my life and not play tour guide for the time they are here! Most of my friends would probably be happy doing their own thing and using us as a base but family always seems a little trickier for some reason! I really want them to come, but on my, selfish terms....!

We looked at a lovely little school for my daughter this week. Only 45 children, run by nuns but a good walk away. I don't think we will get into the schools I like that are closer, so this may be the best option. My daughter went off and played with the other children for a good 45 minutes and cried when we had to leave - always a good sign! Not sure how much actual learning they do but I think her learning to read English is probably more important at the moment anyway and it will make my job easier if she is only learning to speak Italian.

Well, the good thing about the awful weather is I updated my blog, so maybe it isn't such a bad thing after all! Plus everything looks really green - just look at the grass in the photo!
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Thursday, 15 March 2007

Sunshine, Lizards and Digital Cameras!

This is the view from window where I sit typing - not bad is it?! We are very happy in our "little house in the garden". It is full of wildlife at the moment - birds, bats, lizards....
We found these two fighting earlier today. No-one was hurt. They separated and hurtled across
the garden after each other! That time of year I suppose!

Italy isn't exactly that well known for cricket so sometimes you have to make do! Luckily we have alot of bamboo and my son is quite ingenious, hence the bamboo wickets and bat! Just a shame his sister is a little fuzzy on the rules of being second batsman!

It really feels like summer is here, but I don't think we have seen the last of the rain just yet! The nights are still chilly and that serves as a reminder we are not in Spring just yet!

As you may have gathered I have finally got around to downloading my photos from my camera! Not sure why it takes so long to do, as the process itself takes seconds, but there you go and there we are! So be prepared - just got to sort out the formatting now!

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Cascine Park Market and My "Little Walks"

Today we went over to the Cascine Park to visit the big market held there every Tuesday morning. We always buy something, but even if we don't it is an experience. To me it feels like the "real" Florence. The centre is beautiful but it is not where you see the day to day life of the people who live here.

It is a great place for really cheap shoes - when the weather changes for the better consistently I will be buying some 10 euro ballet pumps for certain! If they don't last it doesn't really matter at that price!

We bought toys, knickers (!) and a dress-up frock for less than 20 euros, but it felt like we had bought loads.

The trip was spiced up by an argument between the people who sell the fake bags - haven't a clue what it was about but all the stall holders found it amusing! As I say, you see the real Florence here!

We walked over to the Cascine from where we live. This would normally take about 15 mins but today I decided to go a different way. My son lives in dread of these excursions and constantly expects me end up in Siena! This one wasn't too bad as we found the riverside walk which doesn't start on the Cascine side of the river until much further down. We then crossed the river over the Scandicci foot bridge. This was interesting as the market continues on that side of the river in a small square opposite the bridge! Next time I will investigate but we wanted to see the main market.

The last time we went on one of my walks we were out for over 4 hours - we nearly did end up in Pontassieve! We saw alot of Florence and the Eastern end of the Arno though!

We also went into the centre afterwards. We had lunch in the Bar Allegro near the Teatro Communale. They do a great chicken, olive and mayo sandwich! Then we walked over to the centre. Finally the new Zara has opened, and as I hoped, it has a Zara kids. I bought my son some shorts and my daughter a pinafore dress. At last somewhere I can buy clothes that a) my son will wear and b) won't cost me an arm and a leg! Maybe H&M will be next?

My OH returns from Spain tonight so I must depart and clear up now! At the moment it looks like a toyshop exploded in the house!

Friday, 2 March 2007

Photo's for my friends in Bloggerland!

Here's a few I took earlier! Enjoy...

The Florentine snowman!

That really is the top of the Leaning Tower we are on! One of those "must do before I die things", for me anyway (nearly died getting up there, so it was nearly the last thing I did...!)

Where's this I wonder?

Only 600 more to go......!

Moving house, telecom and esselunga!

A lot to catch up on!!!!

We finally moved house on the 1st February! It then, only, took another two weeks to get telecom in, which I have heard is a bit of a record. So I have no excuse from the 19th February onwards for not writing here.

What it does tell me though is that I really am living here, not just visiting! My time has gone on shopping, getting things from Ikea for the house, sorting out ballet classes for my daughter and generally getting to know the area of San Frediano where we now live!

The house is beautiful. We are the first tenants after its recent restoration so everything from the paint on the walls to the showers and beds, is brand new! It really doesn't feel like being in a rental. There is enough furniture, but not so much I can't put in my own stuff - when it eventually arrives that is!

The view out of the windows is beautiful too! I look out onto a large lawn as I write this, surrounded by a high wall and trees. What is unusual is that it is all ours - we don't share this space with anyone else. The nearest dwelling is about 5mins walk away in the grounds. There are alot of other apartments and houses in here but you wouldn't know it! There aren't too many places like this in San Frediano.

Moving in was fun - we needed two taxi's to get us and our stuff here! Then, as the address is new, the taxi's flew past and ended up having to reverse back down a one way street to get back to where they should be! As you can imagine much use of car horns was made by the traffic behind us! Especially as when the taxi's did stop one of them decide it would be good to park in such a way that the whole street was blocked to everything except scooters and smartcars. Not popular!

It was great to finally be in and on our own. My most vivid memory of moving in is waking up the next morning to sun streaming in through french windows and birds singing - and that was it - no other sound at all! We are off a very busy square, but the only way to hear it is to stand on the street or look over a high wall at the back of the house, otherwise you could almost be in the countryside it is that quiet. It is such a relief after Piazza Pitti.

Now we feel settled in. I have had my first Esselunga delivery - what a farce! As the property hasn't been lived in for over a year no-one knows where it is! I stood outside waiting for the van and stood watching as it flew past! One thing I can say is Crocs maybe ugly, but they are great for running in! Finally my shopping arrived. I have to pay better attention to what I order, I should have known 59c for a litre of juice was low - I got 4 small cartons instead! But I will be doing it again - no more carrying huge packs of water home!

We also had our first post - a parcel and a letter - we must be living here!