July at Campogrande

Added on Monday 2 Aug 2010

Photo: outside space. Hello Folks! Am I not always saying just when I think nothing really happens, something quite extraordinary does!

Auld Friends!

As usual we were both sitting at home on a Friday night worrying about money, bills and the universe! when the doorbell rang and it was Cristina. She used to own the bar in town that we used to frequent once a week after our chaotic free Italian class. Incidentally this tradition very quickly became short lived, even before the credit crunched! Hencefore known as CC (Credit Crunch). Anyway, I digress, in the bar we used to talk about politics, religion and the fact that she was originally from Rome and moved here for the same reasons we all move here!. These conversations all took place in Italian, with lots of hand gesturing on my part! as our Italian was even more rudimentary than it is now, and that's saying something!

As we could no longer afford to go in, plus the fact she eventually sold the bar after many months on the market we, as is so easily done, lost touch. That was 18 months ago and now here she was on my doorstep-we both got a bit emotional. Cristina is a very attractive woman in her fifties, a bit like Anna Magnani (an Italian film star of the 50's). She explained how she has been trying to find us for the past 18 months asking people if they knew where a `young Scots couple lived' and then trying to find our house.

We gave her the grand tour and she remembered our photos of what the place looked like before, and she complimented us on what we had done. She has recommended it to her friends who live in le Marche. She stayed over two hours and we were so glad that we found each other. You never quite realize what an impression you make on people and to what extent people remember you and I think that's a nice thing to always remember.

A case in point, I have been recommended by two librarians who work in the local library (obviously!), who I also befriended when we were without television, internet, and telephone while living in our rented one room of misery. I recently put flyers around the town, including the library, advertising my English lessons, and they had remembered me after being absent from the library for almost 2 years. It's quite extraordinary! I just wish the people who you want to forget about you, like the bank, Credit Card Company, surveyor and so on would do the same!

The Prime of Ms Tanya Starrett

I am now teaching seven students-my regular two girls who want conversational English, my two boys who are re-sitting their PET (university of Cambridge esol exams) exams in September. This exam is quite difficult given the limited amount of English lessons they get taught at school and also the fact that all the University of Cambridge exams are set at a 70% pass mark-hoping they both do it for all our sakes-spero! I don't know what will happen if the boys fail again-think they and myself may be run out of town!

I now also have the sister of one of my students and her colleague who are estate agents who want to learn English right now! everything to do with buying and selling property in English right now! I just wish they would sit still long enough to let the language filter through! I must confess though, I am quite enjoying the property part of it- explaining the glossary of specific terms and the buying and selling process. They want to know everything by the end of the year-so no pressure there then! And now I also have a very learned man who just wants conversational English for his work as an agent for agriturismos (bed and breakfast on working farms), although he did do English literature at university, his English is already good. We discussed D.H. Lawrence's short story `Odour of the Chrysanthemums' which he had just read in English! Next week it's James Joyce-god help me!

Pasta Fresca!

Photo: pasta making. My mother had taught my husband David how to make home made pasta several years ago which he does with equal care and exuberance-don't know if that's possible to do at the same time but anyway given the very fresh free range eggs here, the pasta is a delicious yellowy colour. Italians find David making pasta amusing as many now don't make homemade pasta. We recently invited an Italian couple over for dinner who experienced Casa Davide and they couldn't believe how wonderful his pasta was and how a good cook he is!

Lost in Translation

Yesterday evening I was asked to help with translation for an interview for a friend of ours who is researching for his geography PhD at University of Glasgow-specializing in `returners to the land' and its links with the WOOF organization and the slow food movement. This was with an Italian family originally from Piedmont (north of Italy) who moved to Umbria 11 years ago.

It never ceases to amaze me the seemingly endless roads that go into infinity and beyond! (Yes, I know that's Toy Story, but I couldn't resist!). Just when you think the road can't possibly go on any further, another stretch of it opens up right in front of your eyes and yet another farmhouse and finally we reached the house we are looking for where our journey ends but the road does not and continues on.

The woman in particular was really warm and friendly and all of the family thankfully spoke Italian very well and without a dialect which always helps when you are trying to translate! They have sheep-to make pecorino cheese (my favourite and, of course, being so, therefore, expensive) and bees, olives and vineyards. They brought out a jug of their wine at the beginning of the interview, which I tried not to drink until we were finished as I know what wine can do to me, but alas, I faltered, and it was lovely! It was actually quite strong for homemade wine but I think I managed to keep my head together. They showed us around their place-he is a carpenter so can make anything-how envious was I! I think in my second life if I am to be allowed, I will return as a carpenter, plumber or electrician.

Photo: breakfast. Our B&B guests

And yes, we have had the `Lovers' returning for another one nighter (I really hope they don't read this blog!)They have begun to reserve a room with us always at the beginning of the month. This is their fourth visit, they had reserved last month but had to cancel at the last minute (wife found out-me thinks!) so I was worried that would be the end of it, but she is obviously still oblivious.

And we also have a lovely family from Rome staying for a week. It's nice to see children about the place.

Next time on Campogrande Bed and Breakfast- Woodstock comes to Pieve via Canned Heat! (Or as one of my English guests thought I said Can't Eat'-soooooo love my Glaswegian accent-not!)

Watch this space!

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