I’ve not written for a while, it’s been hard to find the words, so I’ll keep it simple and short. My very beloved dad, Papà to me, died on 24th February while on holiday with my mum in Spain. Born in Italy, lived in England, and died in Spain. A true European if ever there was one.
He was a wonderful man, a loving husband to my mum for over 53 years, a fantastic dad and a great son-in-law to my grandparents who shared a home with my parents for most of my parents’ married life. We had a service and a celebration of his life in Bexhill and shared laughter and memories with so many friends and family whose lives he had touched. A wonderful tribute to him.
1935 – 2017
Now it’s time to think about the future, not with regret or fear but with some sadness, of course, a smile and many thanks for the person he was and the person he helped me to become.
Our time in Spain is drawing to a close and it’s time to head back to our other life and home in England. It’s been an eventful few weeks running around, sorting out paperwork, bills and bank accounts, we’ve had 2 funerals, 1 first communion, family lunches and dinners, get togethers with friends, gardening, house painting, rubbish clearing and pool cleaning. Although we haven’t had a dip yet…far too cold for us “out of towners”! I’m also going to try and write a little in Spanish as our family and friends here complain that they can’t enjoy my posts properly. It will be appalling, but I’ll give it a go.
Nuestro tiempo en España ya está acabando. Ha llegado la hora de prepararnos para volver a nuestra otra vida, nuestro otro hogar en Inglaterra. Han sido unas semanas llenas – arreglando papeles, pagando facturas y hablando con el banco. Hemos tenido dos entierros y una primera comunión. Comidas con familia y amigos, jardinería, pintando la casa, tirando basura y limpiando la piscina.¡ Aunque estos “forasteros” todavía no se han bañados!
We picked the lemons off our tree, despite them being still green. They are keeping cool in the garage, but we were also gifted some gorgeous lemons from a friend. If you want some amazing ideas of what to do with a lemon glut, Margot over at Gather and Graze will inspire you. I’ll hopefully be posting some recipes in the weeks to come.
Hemos cogidos los limones de nuestro limonero, aunque están todavía verdes. Están en la cochera, a la sombra. Menos mal que un buen amigo nos ha regalado una bolsa de limones para comer ahora. Si quieres ser inspirada con unas recetas increíbles, vete a ver el blog de Margot aquí. Espero que dentro de unas semanas yo también voy a poner unas recetas usando nuestros limones.
A recent family get together was held in the garden of one of Big Man’s cousins. It’s an old and beautiful town house in a Pueblo Blanco, behind a huge front door is a stunning house with beams, stone floors, thick walls and an enchanting walled patio garden which is like a little piece of paradise tucked away from the hustle and bustle.
Una reunión reciente con familia tuvo lugar en la casa de un primo de mi “Gran Hombre” y su pareja. La casa está situada en un Pueblo Blanco, y es increíblemente bonito e histórico. Por detrás de la casa hay un patio, casi escondido, como un pequeño y secreto trocito del paraíso.
Of course, there was good food and wine too – well….what else did you expect?!
Por supuesto, había también comida y vino bueno….¡pues, como siempre!
We´re back from a hectic but wonderful week in London, catching up with family and friends. We were wined and dined and thoroughly spoilt, drank far too much wine, walked for miles and laughed for the entire week.
We ate broccoli grown in my parent´s London garden.
Best friend Ria made us an amazing Chicken and Leek Pie, and extra marks to her for cooking it in her sister´s kitchen as her heating and hot water weren´t working for a few days.
We spent a day walking through London.
Of course, we stopped for coffee to revive us.
We drank good old British bitter.
We helped our pals Donna and Craig “christen” their new home in style.
Entertainment in their new home village, Lewes, was fun and quirky.
We even managed to spend a few days down on the south coast combining business with a little relaxation. Of course, we had to take a romantic walk along the seafront at night when a sea fog was making everything look very atmospheric. We were in St Leonard´s on Sea, where my parents have a holiday place, and also home of Promenade Plantings.
We spent a wonderful day with my parents walking around beautiful Hampton Court, one of Henry VIII´s amazing Tudor Palaces.
My favourite part of the Palace? Well, the Tudor Kitchens of course!
And last night we arrived home, weary but happy. Our case was packed with goodies….dressmaking patterns and fabric, antique carpentry tools, some vines from my father´s garden to plant here in Spain, salad seeds, a new mini baking tray… so much to look forward to. And guess what? When we unpacked, we found we had a stowaway. Flat Ruthie has come to visit, so we´ll be enjoying some time with her very soon and cooking together!
When I was a child, summer holidays were extra special. We joined the great exodus of Italians “going home” for August. My father, like many Italians, started his working life in London as a waiter. Sometimes the restaurant he worked in, usually Italian, shut for the month to allow staff to be with their families. Other times, it didn´t, which often meant a return from holiday at the start of September with no job for my father. I´ve only recently thought about this and how difficult and precarious things must have been for the family financially at times and the sacrifices they made for us children.
My family, however, thought it was important for my brother and I to be in Italy with our many cousins and aunties and uncles, spending time being free on the beach, eating meals late at night, talking Italian and sharing that special love that comes from a huge extended family. I thank them for it, I´m sure much of what I experienced in those summer holidays helped make me the person I am today.
We often drove to Italy as putting the car on the overnight train from Calais to Milan was expensive. Then we faced a further day or two of journey to the very south, the “toe of the boot”, to Calabria. It was an epic journey, but it was made fun with plenty of food, books to read, songs to sing in the car (no DVDs or Playstations then!) and stops along the way to visit more family and friends.
We always stopped in Roma, where my father had spent a portion of his youth and visited Zia Sara and Zio Angelo. Roma has some wonderful food markets and I have strong memories of someone going out in the morning to buy focaccia for breakfast – that typical flat white bread drizzled with olive oil, coarse salt and sometimes rosemary. I don´t know if it was a Roman thing, or a family thing, but if we were lucky we also got a bag of juicy figs to go with it. An extra sprinkle of salt, a little drizzle of olive oil and it was heaven on a piece of bread. Sweet, salty and peppery all at the same time.
Now I try to recreate it with griddled bread, a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a drizzle of our very own olive oil. It´s not quite the same, but the memories make it all the sweeter.
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....