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Welcome and Benveuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

Three girliesLast Tuesday was my official birthday.  My unofficial birthday is when I celebrate with The Rock Chick Band and perform in our garden surrounded by fabulous family and friends, but as you know, not this year.  I had a great day, spoilt by my family with cake and presents after a morning setting up my new Sound Studio downstairs.  More on that in a minute.  That’s me in the middle sending an air kiss and ready to go out with my beautiful party girls!

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Foto J Finnigan

In the evening we went to Osteria Casa Chianti near Fiano, which is just ten minutes away from our home.  It has a great outdoor setting with sunset views, a perfect place to go in a group as there is also an entertainment value in the way you are served at table.  Also very good local wines and a menu specialising in Tartufu (truffles).  I ate far too much, but it was sooo good! Website

Sound Studio June 30 2020And what about my new sound studio? I hear you ask.  Well, my man and I set about working out the complexities of strange yet familiar new equipment and linking it to bluetooth.  My man is a lot cleverer than me, so he was somewhat less confused.  Importantly, I wanted to play backing tracks and to sing along to them over the mic, so I could hear how good or bad I was sounding!  Wow, the big speakers blasted out really good quality sound, I was so excited! But the mic was very sensitive so some adjustments were needed.  I think we got the hang of it.  You saw the piano room before the equipment arrived, so here it is all set up as a sound Studio.  The other speaker is just out of shot on the left and the 6 Channel Mixer/Blue Tooth Player is the larger black box on top of the piano.  It’s all very neat and tidy!  Now it’s down to me to get to grips with it on a regular basis and write some more song lyrics!  Watch out for some active pics later on!  Wow, I am so lucky.

Radley BagNow it’s still my birthday month and today, Saturday, I succumbed to buying yet another handbag on line.  Now, I know I normally push everything made in Italy, but the odd Radley Bag from London does seem to occasionally slip into my collection!  Oh, dear, my man will be editing this blog for me, he reads all my stuff, and I will hear him groan when he reads this, because I haven’t told him yet!  But it will go with the lovely little Radley clutch bag he bought me for my birthday some years ago, which also has a ‘data dog’ running across it!  That’ll appease him and oh, the new bag was also in the sale; you must take a look!  website

ec113746abdae43199822e686db6465dAnyway, what you really want to read about is Tuscany, don’t you? Well, the Ciccadas finally arrived this last week, rather late but they do like the hotter weather.  So now we have both the chirping of these noisy but friendly insects and the toad’s chorus to listen to whilst enjoying an aperitivo outside.  We have just heard that our neighbour Paola has a full house of tourists next week in her beautiful Agriturismo, La Poggiolaia, so we’ll soon be hearing the distant tinkle of laughter and splashing in the pool too!   Visit Paola’s website Here   Yesterday we drove past a huge field of sunflowers, which previously had been a field of poppies! The countryside is looking really beautiful here now, so it’s a great time to come to Tuscany!

OK, time to get the pictures slotted in for you to enjoy!  And, please do send me your comments and good news!  Pop them on the bottom of this page or email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net   Oh, and do visit my author site at june’s site

Have a great week and stay safe.

Salute June x

PS  A very Happy Birthday to Sandra Cirri at La Dispensa in Fiano!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the world,

Golden OrioleThanks to our neighbour and friend the potter Terry Davis, we have finally been able to identify the bird with the most beautiful haunting song now in our garden.  We have heard it every year since we arrived in Italy, usually in the distance but never knowing what it was until now.  It is the Golden Oriele, almost impossible to spot, very secretive and beautiful.  We have plenty of birdsong in and around our garden but this song is really special.  You should google it and listen for yourself!  Picture downloaded from Facebook.

Rock My world cardMeanwhile, I have been enjoying my unofficial birthday.  Yes, I know, very Queenie like.  To be honest, I start celebrating at the beginning of June as, after all, I am named after the month I was born in.  Story has it that my mother casually said ‘Oh, lets just call her June rather than faff around looking for other ideas.’  I was a second child and the rebellious streak erupted as soon as I could walk.  Yes, I was a wild child and I’m still wildly rocking on.  Last Friday evening should have been The Rock Chick’s Band’s 10th concert.  My man and I sat outside the front of the house feeling very strange, afraid someone might turn up who hadn’t got the cancellation message! But no, we were alone with the birds, toads and occasional hornet.  So, I now look forward to my official birthday on 23rd.  My man has just given me this fabulous card, he saw it earlier in the year in London and realised it was perfect.  I think he’s perfect too.

POTS june 2020The weather here is also perfect and the house should be full of friends and family.  Instead, we are enjoying all the newly planted pots thanks to my darling daughter who not only came with me to buy them, she planted them too!  Afterwards she went down to Umbria for a couple of days staying near Lake Trasimeno; she deserved a nice relaxing break with the family, bless her.

Northern Europeans have arrived.  I went to Fiano last Saturday to find the entrance to La Dispensa, our lovely alimentare and coffee bar,  blocked by a big 4 x 4 and an overweight German family.  Now, I have to remind myself that the tourist industry is the life blood of our community, but I can’t say it’s always easy to deal with.  My man and I have actually enjoyed the peace and quiet of the lock-down, whilst at the same time feeling the anxiety of our Italian friends who rely on the tourist industry.  One has to find a compromise.

Gabor shoesAnyway, it’s my birthday tomorrow.  I have spoilt myself with new shoes from Gabor who have great styles without losing the comfort one needs to survive!  I’ve started drinking wine at noon and my man has planted three rose bushes in a nice trangular bed in the front garden.  Lovely.  Any minute now, DHL will arrive with all the electronic equipment I need to set up my new sound studio in the downstairs guest apartment, now that is really exciting!  I’ll send you a foto next week!

But for now, I need to organise a nice lunch for myself and my gorgeous man who’s hair is nearly long enough for a pony tail, bless him.

Have a great week and do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers!  june.finnigan@virgin.net and/or visit my website at my site

Salute June x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

Wet morningWell, this morning’s walk around the boundaries was very soggy indeed!  Just when we thought things were warming up it was back to heavy rain and storms.  Now of course the vineyards and olive groves need rain, but it has become impossible to predict the weather in recent years.  Not much more than five years ago we were having months of drought, one year we went from May through to October without a drop of the wet stuff. Our daughter, who lives near San Gimignano. has just sent videos of the track to her house, which is now a raging river!  So enough of the rain, we want aperitivi in the garden please!

Big broken pot and GeraniumsNevertheless, sodden as it was, the countryside was glowing with various greens that against the grey sky seemed to be luminous and the colour of the flowers were extra vivid.  The dampened perfumes were also wafting over us, so it was still another beautiful day in Tuscany.

GuitarsNow, you will probably be aware that myself and the Rock Chick Band have had to cancel our concert for this coming Friday, 19 June.  This is very sad indeed as we would have been celebrating our 10th annual concert.  I got together with Stefano our brilliant lead in 2010, he organised the band and we performed our first concert in June 2011, to celebrate my birthday.  I enjoyed it so much we decided to do it every year, until now!  As you can guess, I’m feeling a little bereft, but am really looking forward to the arrival of a complete sound system for my piano room, which will be renamed the Sound Studio.  This means I will be able to sing to my heart’s content at the microphone, with downloaded backing tracks, whenever I choose.  Now my man has threatened to leave me if I don’t consult him first about my timing, as it will be very very loud.  I think thats only fair…..

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OK, back to the world outside!  You will be glad to know that all the borders are now open and you can travel the length and the width of Italy without restriction!  However, you must still remember the rules and are in fact laws;  wear masks, keep your distance and wash/cleanse your hands at all times!  Slowly, things are returning to normal but you will still find queues outside the shops, banks and supermarkets due to distancing restrictions.  We have been so well looked after by our local alimentare in Fiano for the last four months that I intend continuing to support the small shops, some of which are struggling, but with our support will survive.    Also, the Saturday morning fruit and veg market has reopened in Certaldo where they also sell locally made cheese.  What more do we need?

Back in the kitchen, I have a recipe for Aubergines called ‘White Aubergine Parmigiana’ the peculiar thing is it does not actually include parmigiana!  Anyway, it looks easy even for a dead head in the kitchen like me.  Aubergines are English for Eggplants or Melanzane in Italiano.  My man gets very nervous when I try something new, it will either be delicious or horrible.  If the latter it goes straight out the kitchen window and we have a liquid lunch.  I’ll let you know next week.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  I love to hear from my readers!  june.finnigan@virgin.net or visit my website and leave a message there.  My site

Salute June x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the world,

PianoTo be honest, when the month of June arrived I felt a little deflated.  As many of you know it is my birthday month and I normally celebrate with a live Rock Chick Band concert in my garden.  But, for obvious reasons, we had to cancel.  Then I had an inspiration!  Downstairs we have a guest apartment which is only used occasionally and always when we have concert guests.  One room houses our old upright piano and nothing else but a tapa cloth hung on the wall, which we bought back from Fiji in 1984.  I know, the tapa cloth is just incidental, but it’s rather beautiful.  Anyway, what I was about to say was, I decided to make better use of the room and turn it into a sound studio!  Yes!  But I need all the right Tapa clothequipment microphone and speakers etc.  So I decided to spoil myself and thank you to our good friend John for his advice, I have ordered a PA System, a PreSonus PX-1 Large Diaphragm Microphone and a TC HeliconVoice Tone C1 Hardtune and Correction Vocal Processor.  Unless you are a musician, you will now be as confused as I am.  I am just a singer who is struggling to learn the guitar.  I have always left the technical side to the guys in the band and turn up when Stefano shouts ‘June, soundcheck!”  So now I am really excited, this wretched virus may have opened a whole new world to me, the real confusion will start when all the equipment arrives in about ten days time!  But I will have the help of my ‘long-haired lover from Bristol’  which is the name I have given my man who is looking like a long-haired rodie  from the seventies!

paul and june in facemasks 27.05.20OK, so what next?  Oh yes, so what has been happening in Tuscany this last week?  I hear you ask.  Well, the borders are now all open and it is a huge relief for those in the tourist industry.  Second homes owned by northern Europeans, who will be driving across the border at this moment, will soon be occupied.  It also brings with it a certain amount of risk as the virus here is by no means over.  But, at the end of the day, we must continue to be vigilant and the rules are still mask wearing and distancing, which the Italians have mostly supported without argument.  But how I long to see everyone hugging and kissing again, it’s been especially hard in Italy as Italians are a naturally demonstrative and warm.  We currently greet old friends by tapping elbows together or blowing kisses through our masks!  Hey ho.

Big oak tree and brollyBut you would never believe that there has been a lock-down in our little bit of countryside on the edge of Chianti.  Everything looks the same, from the land changing with the seasons to the wild life finding mates and reproducing.  The male toads in our pond have been incredibly noisy over the last few days and fascinating to hear, even if we can’t manage to spot one!  The number of birds in our garden, which has lots of mixed trees like our ancient Oak, has been incredible this year.  Just about every european species imaginable.  Bee Eaters have been gathering on top of the bare branches of an Acacia tree, woodpeckers, a pair of Jays, masses of tits, finches and redstarts.  Wood pigeons and Doves, I could go on but I am not an expert and could get some names wrong!  So we sit under our sun brolly every evening, with a nice aperitivo, to watch and listen.  Needless to say, it’s an absolute joy living here.

Now, I hope to venture out a little further next week.  I have so far stayed close to home and getting supplies from our local village of Fiano, where la Dispensa (translates to The Larder) has been fantastic support to the village for groceries.  Now the coffee bar has reopened too, but with the usual restrictions.  So I am going over to Tavernelle and the Co-op to get a few things we can’t get locally, but if there is a queue I won’t hang around, I’m not starting that lark!  Oh no.

42366139_2069341183116386_8416172868177494016_nMeanwhile, my man who miraculously ‘mostly’ enjoys my cooking at home, has agreed to go to the restaurant twice a week.  Now for some reason, during the last couple of weeks I have gone brain dead over cooking and have found it an absolute chore.  But I seem to have taken the pressure off myself by reading and writing again!  Yes, ‘Assassin’s List’ my fourth novel is flowing like a bubbling brook as my heroine Joanna Wilde goes off on another exiting covert mission!

So I guess I can honestly say, life in Tuscany is once again very good, not that it has ever been bad!  I will keep you posted on the progress with my Sound Studio and my writing.  And, don’t forget, I love to hear from my readers so do drop me a line.

Have a good week and stay safe.

Salute June x

Ps Visit my author website at My Site

 

Welcome and Bentornati to all my lovely Followers around the world,

“Well, it’s been a great week, don’t you think?” I raise my glass of Chardonnay to my man who is clutching his G&T in one hand and swatting away an annoying zanzara images-1(mosquito) with the other.  “You know I’m a trained killer, don’t you?” He looks me straight in the eyes as if I have never heard this story before.  “Yes, darling, I do know that you are a trained killer and a former Commando, but how is that going to help with these zanzare?”  I offer a serious inquisitive look.  “Well, the secret is to remain absolutely still so the enemy can’t see you, then when they are almost on top of you, you lash out with one fatal blow and Bob’s your Uncle!” He says with great authority.  ‘Theres one behind you now!” I warn.  He starts flapping his hands around the back of his neck and cursing with the F word.  “Err, you missed it!” I shout.  He jumps to his feet.  “I’ll go and get one of those big outside lemon candles!” He swaggers off looking like John Wayne from behind.  “Get off your horse and drink your milk!” I call after him.  The thing about Zanzare, is to expect them to find a bit of skin to munch on, no matter how much protection you have smothered yourself in.  They even manage to get me under my knicker elastic, how on earth do they do that?   My man says it’s because I’m hot stuff, fortunately his eyesight is getting worse as he gets older.  Foto NY Times.

Pici PecoraiaGoing back to the first sentence of this blog, we did have a great week.  Two visits to C’era una Volta ristorante really made it for me.  As you know, I am not an enthusiastic cook and having steaming plates of pasta cooked for us was heaven.  We also downed a delicious bottle of Bibbiano Chianti Reserva both times.  Now it’s all about, when do we next go?  My man is embroiled in on-line meetings that often overlap the lunchtime, so I am sometimes forced to cook something.

74219010_568403283921734_5820832841121923072_nMeanwhile, the markets have reopened in Certaldo and nearby Tavernelle, so I must make the effort to pop into town and buy a load of seasonal fruit and veg.  yes, things are beginning to return to a semblence of normality here, but there remains a lot of political argument about whether the Regional Borders should remain closed.  Tuscany and many of the southern regions are scared of attracting northerners again, bringing more of the virus with them!  It’s a difficult one.

My man is currently stripping off in the bedroom next to my study.  No, no don’t get excited, he’s about to go downstairs to the guest apartment where he has his gymnasium.  It’s a big room and I suggested he could also make enough space to use it as a workshop.  He’s not sure, he has a tiny shed, but no room for the wood or metal work he used to enjoy.  I do think it is important for a man to have his own workshop, don’t you agree?

PomegranetMeanwhile, outside in our beautiful Tuscan garden and on our morning walk before coffee, we needed two hands to count the number of new flowering bushes.  Oleander in various shades of pink, pomegranate with lovely crimson flowers, perfumed white Jasmin the smell of which fills the air before you get anywhere near it and pale pink Rosehip flowers.  I could go on, but it would be endless.

download-4We also have a rainwater pond, fenced in to protect it from the outside track and large animals.  It’s alive with the song of the toads every evening, but can you get to see one?  No chance, their camouflage is far too good.  A few years ago, during a drought, a huge long legged brown toad, marched across our terrace and plopped itself into the cat’s water bowl!  Farty Barty the cat, sat and stared at it but made no attempt to move it.  What a sight for sore eyes that was!

Anyway, need to crack on with my current novel now.  Have a great week, I can’t wait to see you all back in Tuscany.

Salute June x

PS Visit my author website at My Site

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

Well, what a surprise that was!  Last Monday everything opened up including bars, restaurants and thank god, hairdressers!  I managed to get an appointment with SandraRock chick Red on the Thursday and, bless her, she had opened despite the stringent rules of distancing and hand cleansing.  She had cleared the salon of all the furniture, bar two chairs for the clients and an armchair for a third person to wait in.  Of course, the experience was not too pleasant as there were no magazines or an offer of coffee.  But I will be forever grateful for returning to Rock Chick red having slowly sunk over nine weeks, into a depressing Granny Grey!

Tabby's Choc Cake 240520To celebrate my return to normality, and being able to stop and look in the mirror without cringing, our lovely family came over for lunch yesterday.  Whilst, as always, my big tray of garlic potatoes failed like most of my meals, this was more than made up for by the delicious egg and gluten free chocolate cake made by our brilliant and gorgeous fifteen year old granddaughter!  Yes, here in Tuscany we can at least enjoy the normality of family meals again.

We have not been back to a restaurant yet.  I know, this is so unlike us, but the idea of face masks and two metre separations does not appeal.  The only thing concerning me is that we are 2015-05-10-13-35-29not supporting our local restaurants and how many others are doing the same.  I think we probably should go to Paolo’s at C’era Una Volta soon, just to make sure he and his lovely wife Gaia made it back from the Maldives at the beginning of the lockdown, and to let them know we care!  Also, it’s that time of year for Burrata and grilled veggie!  What do you think, should we go?

What else?  How are things with you?  I have to say, I am so glad to be in Italy and not the UK during this pandemic.  Whilst one cannot believe everything in the papers, the UK seems to be in a right mess!  Meanwhile, on Saturday, our granddaughter met up with a group of teenage friends in Siena, after nine weeks of on-line schooling.  They all had their face masks on and kept a sensible distance.  Unfortunately, this has not been the case with some young people.

Nanny's 96thMeanwhile, in Exmouth, Devon in England, my mother celebrated her 96th birthday just with the staff of the nursing home, who thankfully are very kind to her.  Her main carer Jade sent some lovely pictures, which I was glad to receive as I would have been there in normal circumstances.  But down on Exmouth beach, my brother reported that people have been swarming and not taking any care over face masks or crowding.  It all sounds pretty horrifying.  However here, the locals in our nearby village continue to wear masks and keep their distance and coffee is only served to take away.

Anyway, enough of that, the sun is shining and the Strimmed walk under the blackthorngarden and countryside looks gorgeous.  We have so many birds now, the morning chorus is deafening!  But we love it. Our plans this week?  Well, it is work as normal from tomorrow, still remotely of course, but we are quite enjoying it.  I need to put more time into completing my current novel and learning the guitar.  What with our having to cancel the Rock Chick Band Concert in June, my man has asked me to do a performance just for him, so I will.  If any stragglers turn up who did not get the cancellation message, at least they’ll find me doing my lone performance.  I have asked my man to buy me a microphone and speakers for my birthday, watch this space….

OK, time to get on with the writing and then to rescue the leftovers for lunch, that saves me having to cook another meal.  Should I ring Paolo?

Have a great week and stay safe.

Salute June x

PS Don’t forget visit my author website at My Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the world,

We have just enjoyed our second week of partial unlockdown.  This partial lifting has meant more people returning to work and a few more shops opening.  However, for my man and I nothing has really changed.  We continue to work from home, because we can and because there are no flights out of Italy to London.  Not that we would want to go anyway, we are amongst the lucky one’s who live in a lovely converted Monastery Farmhouse surrounded by the glorious Chianti Hills.  As long as the internet holds out, no worries!

Red cross in FianoThis morning, Saturday, I drove into Fiano for supplies, filling the water bottles and popping into the farmacia (chemist).  When I spotted a covered stall in the Piazza, I thought it was market!  But no, it was the wonderful Red Cross, who do a fabulous job here in the Commune di Certaldo and had arrived with a couple of boxes full of free face masks!  Now, if a country like Italy whose funds are stretched to the limit can do this, why can’t others do the same, like the UK for example.  It’s all about priorities.  Here it is still mandatory to wear masks and not silly homemade efforts or fashion versions, but ones that actually work!

Anyway, my highlight of the morning was walking into La Dispensa to find the coffee bar serving coffee and pastries!  Only take away ones mind, but this is progress.  I bought my man a Frutta di Bosco pastry, that’s fruits of the forest to you and me, knowing he would be really chuffed.  At the moment, he stays at home and I go out, so if I can present him with a delicious pastry when I return, it’s very pleasing for me too!

PoppyOn the way home the banks were festooned with poppies.  It’s that time of year when tourists love to be here for the gorgeous poppies and wild flowers everywhere.  Well. everything in the countryside remains the same, just waiting for all you lovely people who love Tuscany like us, to return when everything opens up again.  Foto S E Finnigan-Kilby

41hKQQgwCHL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_As you know, I am currently writing my fourth novel, ‘Assassin’s List,’ which has involved quite a lot of research.  In my search for in depth knowledge of Cuba I kept coming across a book called ‘Cuba: A Country Study by Rex.A.Hudson.  I could read some pages on-line but not copy or download.  It’s not available as an e-book, so I decided to buy the hard copy version.  I know this may sound silly, but I am really excited to be receiving a Proper Book again, it’s a bit like Christmas!  Yes, I know, I’ve digressed…

SHOT09_618-520x400Meanwhile, have you noticed how many fashion houses are now on-line.  For those that are really struggling Next are taking on a lot of the orders and deliveries on their behalf.  I know it’s tempting not to buy clothes at this time, but if you can bring yourself to visit some of the smaller designers, they are all offering huge discounts and often free delivery.  I have mentioned James Lakeland before, who is a UK fashion designer and has everything made in Italy.  I love his stuff.  He currently has a big sale on, so do take a look!  website/sale

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Sandra my lovely hairdresser at La Parrucchiera, Via Fabiani 1/D, Certaldo Tel 0039 3341217437

And what else?  Well, what can I say.  Here we are actually enjoying lockdown.  It has been a period of reflection and like many others, may change the way we do things in the future.  Relaxation outside in our garden before lunch and supper has become the norm. Whilst there is a little more traffic on ‘our’ track and the squeaky tractors are busy going up and down between the vines until dusk, these things have not spoilt our chilling out times.  No, for us, Tuscany is the place to be and in particular, in these dolce colline (sweet hills).

Stop Press – Sandra, my hairdresser just sent me a message; she is open next week and I have an appointment!  Addio grey hair!  Thank you Lord!

Do drop me a line, I love to hear from my readers.  june.finnigan@virgin.net

Visit my author website at My site

Salute June x

 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

download-4.jpgYes, it’s that time of year when we are reminded that summer has arrived.  Firstly it was the arrival of a swarm of Honey bees, trying to find their queen, which like last year, decided to hone in on our property.  We rushed to shut them out leaving a few stragglers.  All went quiet then an ominous buzzing sound came down the chimney.  My man went outside and yes a crowd of the blighters were around the chimney pot.  So on a beautiful warm May day we lit a log fire and kept it going all day; finally the queen decided to leave!  Phew.  Have you had any swarming experiences?

Then there was the sound of a mosquito (zanzari) next to my ear.  We were sitting soaking up the evening sunshine with a nice gin & tonic and the little devil found me.  My man says it’s because I’m hot stuff, bless himdownload-6.jpg!  The thing is, I am always warm and the mozzies will find me.  If I hear that eeeeeeeeee sound, then I know the nasty thing has already bitten me and is laughing as it flies away!  But no worries, we have all the netting up at the windows now and lots of lemon candles and creams out.  I don’t believe in harming or killing insects, but that mosquito will get a whack if it comes near me again!  Foto ecdc.europa.eu

Butlong horned beetle on a much lighter note, other less threatening creatures are also arriving.  The beautiful Long-horned Beetle for example.  We see one every year, but never with friends or family. They like to eat decaying bark and old wood, we have lots of this and some very interesting ones too.  The loose bark hides lizards and insects, sometimes even small rodents.  Our morning walks around the garden, which is full of old trees, is always fascinating.  Foto P Finnigan

Well, things are looking brighter here I’m glad to say.  Many factories and distributors opened last Monday and a lot of local people have returned to work.  Some additional shops have also opened and walkers are back out and about on our track.  Yes, I know, as I said last week it’s not really our track, but it has been so quiet for the last nine weeks, we have claimed it as our own!  I’m convinced that  the group of people who turned up and stared through our gate yesterday were foreign tourists.  How they got here, heaven knows, I suppose it may be possible to drive across European borders?

Giant PavlovaLunch tableThe most welcome change has been permission to visit close family members in small groups.  So last Tuesday we went over to our daughter’s house to see the family and grandkids and Monty the 71096048_10157558578545917_1476415967440404480_n.jpgdog.  So lovely to spend time with them after nine weeks of lockdown.  Our granddaughter baked a gluten and egg free carrot cake in my honour and our daughter produced a huge strawberry pavlova, which is my man’s favourite!  We enjoyed good wine and lunch in the garden, all carefully spaced out, but not too far apart!  Thank you my darlings.

Well, enough for now.  Hopefully, just another few weeks and I’ll be reporting what it’s like to be back to normal, or rather the New Normal, in Beautiful Tuscany.

Have a good week and stay safe.

Salute June xx

PS Visit my book site at  June’s site 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

green view grey sky april 2020“And, yet Another Beautiful Day in Tuscany” I said to my man, as we set out on our walk around the edge of the garden.  I actually say this every day and it’s true, no matter what the weather, there is a beauty in these hills that can’t be hidden by storm clouds or even foggy mornings.

grasses on slopeThis morning, Sunday, I couldn’t help but notice the change in the long grasses covering the slope below our house.  It wasn’t long ago that it was covered in wild flowers, now the grasses have taken over, yet they are beautiful in their own right.  Soon, they will be strimmed away by our landlord, but meanwhile we will enjoy them.  Everything is so lush and green.

Under the oak tree    8am and it was warm enough to sit down under the European Oak, which is now our shady spot for the summer.  It’s amazing how beautiful the underside of a tree can be!  Yes, I know, we have been on lock-down for two months, but this has only helped us to become even more aware of nature’s beauty.  Already the garden was teeming with bees and birds; the Acacia Trees were buzzing and the Bee Eaters were sitting at the top having their breakfast!  What a fabulous display.  How is it that the Bee Eaters don’t get stung?  That’s another Google search for later today.

may-dayMeanwhile, Italy has passed another celebration day without the usual celebrations!  May 1st celebrates the successful completion of all the preparation in the fields for an abundance of fruit and olives in the Autumn and, the start of Summer.  At least the fields and ortos (vegetable gardens) have been busy over the lockdown period; food and wine production in Italy cannot stop for a virus.  Officially called La Festa dei Lavori (workers’ Day) it is also a public holiday.  This time last year, beaches, parks and public gardens would be packed with Italians and their picnics, this year rather more quietly spent at home in the garden or on a balcony.  How did you spend your day?

640x427x20180925_toscana_AR5_0674.jpg.pagespeed.ic.kgvtuMSfN4And so, tomorrow 4th May heralds the beginning of the easing of lockdown here in Italy.  This will be a nervous time for many, including me, hoping that people continue to be vigilant, as nothing has changed other than reaching a point in time when some things needed reopening.  We can visit with our family this week!  Now that’s great news, but we are still supposed to wear our masks (a legal requirement) and keep to a safe distance…..  We must still carry forms that are filled out saying why we are travelling and the reasons remain limited.  Essential shopping, doctor, hospital and visiting parents.  You can now go for long walks or runs but starting from your front door, no driving to beauty spots or parks for your exercise.    More shops will be open, but this will not change the way we are doing things, I am happy with our local grocery store and farmacia (chemist).  It will be June before we will see any resemblance to normality; restaurants, hairdressers and salons, my three longed for destinations!  But we are amongst the lucky ones, despite my long greying locks and need for a pedicure.  Thank you once again to Tuscany and our local Italians for keeping me sane and to my man for his wonderful sense of humour. Foto Alice Russell for Toscana Promotion Turistica.

OK, I need some inspiration for Sunday lunch.  Ah, yes, I bought some fresh asparagus yesterday, add cheese and roast potatoes and Bob’s your Uncle!  But first a nice chilled glass of Italian Chardonnay in the garden, that’ll postpone the need to cook……

Have a great week wherever you are in the world and stay safe.  Everything will be alright!

Salute June x

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely followers around the World,

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Il Liberazione Parade Certaldo. foto Archive J Finnigan

Yesterday, Saturday,  was a very important day for the Italians, particularly the older generation.  The 25 April is the celebration of the Liberation from the Nazis occupation at the end of World War Two.  Normally, there are grand processions, medals and certificates given to the elderly, many of whom can remember that time with absolute clarity.  A few years back I interviewed Gianfranco in Montespertoli and learnt first hand about the terrifying experiences of the partisans hiding out in caves and behind fireplaces.  Much has been written about the French Resistance, but there are many Italian unsung heroes of that time that deserve more credit for helping to end the occupation.  See my novel ‘The Italian Connection’ below, which includes some of Gianfranco’s experiences.

band-relaxed.jpgMeanwhile, back in the here and now, we have made the sad decision to cancel the Rock Chick Band concert in June.  Whilst things may have improved by then and the restrictions lifted, we do not want to bring together friends and family and to put them at risk.  It is particularly sad as it would have been our 10th anniversary as a band and I have enjoyed performing with the guys so much.  But lets look to June 2021 and make sure it is a really good party!

The Terrace 04 2020And, on a much lighter note you will be glad to know that our lower terrace is ready to welcome you all, the minute it is safe to do so.  Yesterday, my man and I enjoyed a bottle of Chardonnay there before lunch and it was glorious in the warm breeze with the perfumes wafting across from the Acacia, roses and cut grass.  Whist we have been unable to go out and buy plants, the garden is still looking lovely thanks to nature’s own contributionporcupine1

However, we have had one naughty creature coming into the garden and tearing out a whole circle of Irises, eating some and trailing the rest across the lawn.  We found its entrance path through long grasses and it is clearly low slung and wide, so that whittles it down to a badger or porcupine!  But, hey ho, the wildlife will take over soon anyway, I can feel them closing in, can’t you?

Bee Eaters 2014

Male and female Bee Eaters Photo National Geographic

But, oh glory, the first Bee Eaters have arrived.  That wonderful fast twortle ( a cross between twitter and chortle) that fills the airwaves.  The birdlife here continues to amaze  and delight.

AcaciaWell, the weather here on the edge of Chianti has been glorious.  This morning’s early stroll around the garden turned out to be nice enough to stop and sit under the European Oak tree, where one of our English Garden Benches now sits.  The Acacia trees are now dripping with perfumed blossoms and the view is fantastic; we will never tire of this glorious vista.  There is no longer any traffic smog down in Certaldo’s valley and the view to San Gimignano is as clear as crystal.  We are so looking forward to meeting our family there for a nice lunch soon.

Meanwhile, I must once again get my head around cooking a Sunday lunch.  If I prepare it early enough, I can pop it in the oven later before going down to the terrace for an aperitif or two.  But what to cook?  Mmmm, perhaps I’ll keep writing to you instead!

Breaking Newshurrah, it is Monday morning and we have news of the lifting of part of the lockdown!  From Monday 4th May we can travel to see our family within the region, we have already organised a lunch!  Parks will reopen and bars and restaurants can provide take aways.  On 18 May more shops, museums and libraries will reopen.  On 1st June, hairdressers and salons will reopen, thank god, and restaurants will return to normal opening!  Oh heaven!  Distancing measures will still be in place, but what a relief it will be.  

OK, phew, now must get the fotos inserted for you to enjoy and get this blog posted.

Have a great week and do not worry, everything will be alright!

Salute June xx

Visit my author site at June’s site

 

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