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

Did you miss me?  So sorry not to have sent you a blog last weekend, but I can only blame it on losing my creative writing hat and spending too much time drinking wine in the sunshine!  I also wanted to send you happy news and as I no longer have access to the coffee shop and the daily newspapers, I found myself getting rather brain-dead.

Phil the pheasant.jpgBut that’s all changed!  We have been inundated with visitors that don’t seem to understand how important it is to stay at home.  Firstly, Phil our resident Pheasant, has invited two hens to stay and was flaunting himself below our bedroom window this morning.  He’s obviously feeling very randy as he was fluffing his feathers up to give the impression that he is twice his normal size!  When he started jumping his startled hens, I had to look away, what an exhibitionist!

The lack of humans in the countryside has encouraged deer out into the open, I hope we might get sight of a herd of Cingale ( wild boar) too.  Below us is a field sown mainly to meadow hay and is proving very popular. Yesterday a lone deer made his way across the field and dissapeared into woodland, we both felt that this was unusual and hope he has not been chased out of a local herd.  The mind tends to over react at times!

download.jpgMeanwhile, the garden is full of visitors including the stunning and musical Hoopie.  The disturbed earth around our new compost heap seems very attractive to them.  Also a pair of Jays, numerous wood pidgeons flocks of redstarts and many other birds whose names escape me.

2020-04-04 18.25.06And, on the subject of Compost Heaps, we are very proud to have completed our very first version of one, yesterday morning.  This then created the need for a wine break before lunch.  It is rather shameful that we have only just created one after having spent most of our lives living in the countryside with good sized gardens.  My beautiful Earth Mother daughter has been growing veg and using compost heaps for years.  I am not the greatest of cooks and she asked me very seriously on WhatsApp ‘What are you eating Mum?”  “I can cook if I have to!”  I snorted.  “Oh, I thought you might have ordered a flow of ready made meal deliveries!”  She chuckled.  Cheeky monkey.

OK, back to our wine break and I know I have mentioned the dance of the Swallow Tail images.jpgButterflies before, but they were back and getting very close to where we were sitting.  Out of interest we had previously looked up their lifespan and were astonished to read that in butterfly form they only live for ten days!  As one almost alighted on my man’s chest he commented “So, they have only ten days to work out if they are male, female or transgender.”  He said very seriously.  “Mmm. I think that one is female” I grinned.  Foto it.123rf.com

Anyway, we are managing to enjoy working from home, beating the boundaries and checking for new rosebuds, before at least two home-made espresso coffees and breakfast, talking a lot of trivia and drinking good wine.  The forecast is for sunny days for at least the next week so that’s good news; we have even had to start watering pots that are now uncovered!

1180_LynnMargolisPhotography-318-520x400Well, I could waffle on but there is one thing I want to mention.  London based James Lakeland, who is the brother of an English friend, designs beautiful women’s clothes that are made in Italy.  Like many fashion shops, he is really struggling at the moment.  He has managed to pay his staff so far and has now reduced his prices so low, you have to get on-line and start buying!  I have placed an order, so that’s my next concert outfit sorted, god knows when it will arrive here in Italy (Italy’s postal system is unpredictable), but it is worth it to support at least one deserving fashion house.  James also delivers worldwide!  Foto from James Lakeland Blogsite.  James lakeland

So, enough for now.  I have promised my man a veggie roast lunch, which will take me a while to prepare.  Needless to say, can’t wait to return to our local restaurant, oh, and my hairdresser.  I have an inch of grey roots creeping over my scalp.   It’s unnerving.  A few days ago my man said “Whats that shining on top of your head, oh, it’s not silver paper it’s ………”  He has Peter Pan Genes, still dark blond and, due to the lack of hairdressers, is sporting a long 70’s hairstyle.

Hope you are all safe and well.

Salute June x

PS  Have you read my books yet?  Now’s a good time!  Visit my site at My site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

mixed blossomsYesterday, I would have been blogging to you but we had no internet, which is so crucial for any communication, writing and work-wise.  So, I start the working week with this blog.  I am no stranger to working from home.  Over the last sixteen years, I have become very experienced in commuting between Italy and London.  As technology improved further, I could spend more time in Tuscany where my man and I both have comfortable working offices.  Video meetings have become the norm and of course email has virtually replaced hard copy mailings.  But there is nothing quite like face to face meetings and perhaps a nice lunch with a client.  But these pleasures must now go on hold.

the house early morningAnyway, here in our lovely little bit of Tuscany, on the edge of Chianti, we are safely tucked away in our country home.  This foto was taken as the sun was rising on the opposite side of the house.  We have had two weeks of glorious weather, so much so that I have actually got a bit sunburnt!  Spring plants and trees are changing daily and we now make a point of walking the boundaries in the early mornings, to marvel at how life in the wild still goes on unhindered by any viruses.  Young fruit trees, fig, mulberry and pomegranate are in blossom, as are numerous shrubs that remain nameless due to my lack of knowledge.

Bench viewSlopes of wild flowers and fungi, our English Climbing Rose looks very healthy and the bees are going into overdrive.  Yesterday, we enjoyed an aperitivo before lunch and watched the dance of the Swallow Tail Butterflies swirling around the Lilac Tree.  So, the best thing I can do is send you some Foto’s to remind you that if you have not yet cancelled your holiday in Tuscany, do consider postponing instead.

2020-03-22 20.59.43We are very fortunate to be living in a beautiful converted former Monastery Farmhouse.  It is quirky, yet comfortable.  Our landlord had an artist come in before we moved here to paint this gorgeous mural on the sitting room wall.  So in the picture, you can see the view from my armchair, which we can enjoy no matter what the weather is doing outside.

Stag beetlePreparations for our rock concert on June 19 continues, in the hope that restrictions will have lifted sufficiently for us all to get together again.  Stefano, my lead guitarist, has approved the repertoire, so we will have eighteen great rock songs for you.

We were impressed to read that thirty-seven skilled medics from Cuba have come to Milan to help with the crisis, all experienced in dealing with the Ebola in Africa.  Also Russia is apparently sending medical help!  You will have read enough about the virus in Italy, so I don’t think I need to elaborate further.

The Stag Beetle on a rose bush in the foto, is carrying on regardless!

So, wherever you are in the world, we wish you good health and happiness.  Do stay at home as much as possible, it is such a very serious situation.  Please stay safe.

Salute June xx

Visit my website at My Site

 

 

 

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

View 150320Well, here we are, Sunday morning and we have not gone out for our usual coffee.  By some stroke of luck I bought a proper Italian Espresso machine a few months ago!  At 8.30, after home made espresso, my man and I strolled around our country garden and felt invigorated.

coffee machineThe sun is shining and spring is leaping forth as if nothing is happening in the country or indeed the world around us.  I weeded a couple of pots and my man put yesterday’s washing outside in the sunshine.  If one has to be in Lock-down, I can’t think of a better place to be.

I have taken to tucking in for three to four days, then popping up to our local village of Fiano, when our water bottles need refilling and picking up any foodstuffs from La Dispensa at the same time.  It’s currently one out, one in as we wait our turn, at least one metre apart, outside the shop.  The Cirri family who run the place are absolute stars and deliveries are still coming in.  So plenty of fresh fruit, veg and bread.

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Fabio, Sandra and Rosella Cirri at ‘La Dispensa’ foto J Finnigan

The Italians are a wonderful mix of people, but whatever their background they are naturally sociable.  So this is proving really hard for the elderly who normally sit snuggled up around coffee bar tables or on benches watching the world go by.  I heard said that one person’s nonna, aged ninety-two, believes she is destined to die alone!  So, there is a lot of sadness around.

On the other hand, the Italians love to sing and make music.  Organised mini-concerts with instruments or pots and pans, are happening on people’s balconies.  Yesterday, at around 6pm, music and song filled the air.  And, of course, they love to eat, so the families will continue to enjoy their pranzo and cena.  For many, eating large meals at home has always been the norm.

  • Breaking News – a 76 year old man from our local village of Fiano has been tested positive for the virus and is in hospital.  We may have to rethink things; a kind friend has offered to deliver groceries to us!

I sincerely hope that you are all coping with this virus, wherever you are in the world.  I cannot say strongly enough that you all should take it very seriously indeed.  It doesn’t matter what your government is saying, your family must come first.  Protect yourselves!

band-relaxedAnyway, we are still making plans for our 10th annual Rock Concert on 19th June in our lovely Tuscan garden.  It’s important to have things to look forward to and I have a gut feeling that June will be a good month.  After all I was named after the month having been born on 23rd!  So far, June has never let me down!

May you all enjoy this time together with your families; drink good wine, play music and eat well.  And, stay safe.

Salute June xx

Visit my website at My site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The view 070320Well it can take one’s breath away and I’m talking about the stunning view from our lovely home, which we see every morning in different colours.  This picture was yesterday morning as the sun was rising and encouraging the mist to form in the valleys below us.  We have had a lot of cold damp weather and this combined with sunshine, is the time of year to see fabulous misty sculptures, ‘lakes’ and hilltops resembling ‘islands’ cut off by the mist.

Fiano treeAnd yes, today Sunday, is yet another beautiful day in Tuscany.  It’s cold but the air is fresh and a little damp, which accentuates the gorgeous winter smells of the countryside around us.  Blossom is now everywhere, various fruit trees, hawthorn and the tree in the picture, please remind me of it’s name, in the piazza.  Our local village of Fiano was it’s usual self.  Everyone still smiley if keeping a respectful distance apart and, of course, doing jerky movements that should have ended in hugs or handshakes, but didn’t for the obvious reasons.  This last week was a little strange without the sound of children laughing and squealing in the village playground.  We met young Giacomo, who is about eleven or twelve, maybe thirteen, kicking a lonely football around the village.  He’s the lovely boy who found my stolen purse a couple of years ago after we went to the theatre.  Ah, and our local ceramic workshop and gallery, Ceramiche D’arte Carbini, is open today, so that’s another good thing!  I always wave to Gabriella who today was hidden behind a massive vase she was painting!  Do call in if you are passing through.

David BoweyI have worked hard at finding some good news for you as the papers are dominated by the virus.  Firstly, I see our very good friend from Tavernelle, the modern artist Patrizio Landolfi is exhibiting in Florence.  He painted this beautiful David Bowie picture, which I would love to own but is too big for my limited wall space.  You will find more of his paintings hanging on the walls at Osteria la Gramola in Tavernelle.  I love his work.

CheeseI have also found a promotion for Italian Cheeses.  I absolutely adore Italian cheese, from the squidgy buffala mozzarella to the mature pecorino.  I confess to have stocked up a little as cheese will keep us going indefinitely, come what may!

But what’s this I hear? Ah, my man has snuck out to play with his strimmer!  Well, it’s a good day for it, currently dry and sunny, if cold.  It’s a nice spring sound, the strimmer, makes one feel as if winter is starting to slip away.  It’s also like the sound of a small aircraft going over on a high pressure summer’s day; I used to love that sound as a child.

Do you know, I seem to have completely lost the thread; what was I about to tell you?  Oh yes, did you notice my Rock Concert invite for June?  No, then drop me a line at june.finnigan@virgin.net and I will send you one.  Can’t wait to see you all there.

Torta di CeciWell, must start thinking about Sunday lunch.  We are well stocked with food, no evidence of shortages here in Tuscany.  Ah, I think I’ll do Ceci Pancakes stuffed with spinach and feta, that’s a firm favourite.  I must confess that it’s all very easy, as I buy the ready made Torta di Ceci at the Coop.  Judy Witts Fancini, our local celebrity cook told me how to make my own, and that’s also easy.  One cup of ceci flour to an equal amount of water, whisk and fry like normal pancakes.  (Ceci translates to chick Peas)  But I have a stock of the Coop ones, so today…….sorry Judy.  You should look the lovely Judy up, she’s got a fabulous cook book of Tuscan favourites.  Judy’s site

Well, enough for now.  Do send me any good news stories from around the world whilst I raise a lovely room temperature glass of Tuscan Chianti Wine to you all.

Salute June x

Visit my website at My site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

OK, lets get the Virus subject out of the way and then we can get back to enjoying ourselves again.  In our lovely area on the edge of the Chianti Hills everyone is carrying on as normal.  OK, kissing and shaking hands are avoided, which is a little strange for Italians, and washing one’s hands regularly is the only difference.  And yes, travelling and going to crowded venues maybe unwise until we have more news.  Most of the cases are in the north, down here in central Tuscany we have next to nothing.  Most restaurants remain open as do the shops.  And, La Dispensa, our local shop and caffe bar in Fiano, remains a welcoming haven for our morning coffee.

Mayor of florence archiveMeanwhile, the Italian Government are up to their usual wittering about leadership, the original coalition fell apart and the current arrangement is not working either.  Reading the newspaper, I came across this brilliant photo taken in 1953.  It is the mayor of Florence giving a speech and just look at the faces on the guys surrounding him!  You could say ‘nothing has changed’, everyone is seriously bored listening to all the moaning and groaning.

Tartufo in VolterraBut enough of that.  It’s the 1st March, hurrah, and the month for celebrating Tartufu (truffles).  There will be Festas all over the place including our local town of Certaldo, Volterra and Florence.  If you have not been to Volterra, you really should.  It’s about an hour from us and is a beautiful ancient city with a great history.  You could combine the visit with the Tartufo celebrations.  Yesterday, we went to our local restaurant C’era una Volta where my man enjoyed a delicious pasta dish with Tartufo Marzolo (March Truffles) grated over the top.  Yummy.   Sometime this week we will probably head over to Tavernelle and Osteria La Gramola, where they do wonderful creative dishes with seasonal produce, like the Tartufo.  I’ll let you know.

DaffodilBack in our lovely winter garden the daffodils are coming out.  I took this foto this morning as it looked a little lonely on it’s own.  We will not be uncovering the rest of the plants until 1st April; we look forward to that.  The other day, we were visited by a big male fox and he may have gone off with one of our resident wild pheasant hens, as Phil the Cock Pheasant has been making a lot of noise of late.  I saw the naughty fox with a large bird in his mouth being chased by Phil, it may have been a pigeon but probably not.  Whats happening in your garden?

band-relaxed.jpgAnd so, here we are we carrying on as usual.  Enjoying good food, wine and friendships. My next urgent task is to get my repertoire sorted for the concert on June 19th.  So far I’ve decided on six songs so another dozen to go.  I’ll be sending out initial invites soon.  If you are not on my invite email list, send yours to june.finnigan@virgin.net  Exciting isn’t it!

OK, it’s now Monday so must get this blog off to you.  Remember to enjoy every day!

Have a great week.

Salute June x

Visit my website at my site

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

Daniel CraigYesterday (Saturday) morning, I walked into La Dispensa, our local grocery shop and caffe bar in Fiano, to find the perfect person at the long table, ideal for lifting my spirits on a cold morning.  ‘Permesso’?  I said quietly, as I settled down with my coffee opposite Daniel Craig.  Well, a person can dream and I do have a very fertile imagination.  I smiled at Daniel and mouthed ‘salute’ not too loudly as people might have thought me acting a little batty again, although most of the locals consider me to be the eccentric English writer.  I know, I’ve been told this!  Then I read about the imminent release of the latest Bond Film;  I just can’t wait.  Fortunately, the Italians love Bond too, so there’s always a lots of info about.

ArmaniMeanwhile, you would have to be deaf and blind not to have noticed all the fashion parades going on throughout Europe and especially Milan.  An interesting article in La Republica mention the comments made by 85 year old Georgio Armani.  He likened semi-nude models to being put through a ‘form of rape’  which he does not approve of.  Thinking about it, there are so many miserable looking models about, I do wonder if they are being forced to wear things they hate or are uncomfortable in.  Come to think of it, the world of modelling must have as much pressure as the film world.

Feminine fashionBut, thank you once again to the lovely feminine designs presented by Luisa Spagnoli, who regular readers will know is one of my favourite designers.  Look at this gorgeous outfit, feminine, not revealing yet still has a certain sexiness.  Reminds me of warm sunny days walking along the beach with the wind in my hair.  You know, that wonderful feel good factor.  I love it!

Women's RugbyNow, I cannot let you go without a discussion on Rugby.  Are you a fan?  Well it’s currently the Six Nations season and my man and I are glued to the TV.  It’s about the only time it gets switched on; if you lived in Italy you may not want to watch Italian TV.  Anyway, I thought I would mention the high quality of Women’s Rugby these days.  Whilst Italy struggles to beat the formidable men’s teams, the women are very strong indeed.  It will be interesting to compare the final results of men and women on the score boards, at the end of the tournament.

Italian women partisansAnd, finally, whilst we are praising Italian women, let us not forget the incredible female partisans during the occupied years in the second world war.  They risked life and limb to save allied soldiers and get them out of the country during a very vicious and frightening time.  I give a little mention about this time in my novel ‘The Italian Connection,’  having met and interviewed a number of men and women who were active in those days.

Well, enough for now, must start thinking about Sunday Lunch.

Have a great week and don’t forget to visit my website at my site

Salute June x

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

86190121_10158256389728083_4300638138889404416_oWednesday 12 February.  I would never have guessed that a beautiful fallen bloom, from an early flowering shrub, could have given me such a lift.  It wasn’t just the beauty of the thing but how I received it that made all the difference.  I have had three weeks of feeling pretty run-down after a minor operation, due to my pathetic immune system.  I went to Fiano this morning for my usual espresso, newpapers and chat; then Roberto our local sculpture walked in and presented me with the bloom!  Bless his lovely kind heart, the site of it in the palm of my hand sent a wave of sheer joy through my still fragile system!  I knew there and then that my head was sufficiantly clear to start writing again!  Thank you dear Roberto.  (someone, please let me know what the flower is; thank you x)

So off I went, with the bloom on my dashboard, down to Certaldo and an overdue visit to Sandra to have my hair coloured.  Although tired, I felt even more invigorated  as I was now looking more like my old self.  Also, Sandra has a batch of the usual glossies and I indulged in some trivia reading and fashion drooling.  A bit of pampering and time wasting, can do one the world of good.  I left Sandra’s and walked into bright warm sunshine and the temperature guage registered 17 degrees on the dashboard!  Great!  Back home in our lovely monastery farmhouse, I see that the forecast for Friday and Saturday is for sun and a high of 19 degrees,  then good weather right up to the end of February; hurrah!  So things go from good to even better!  What a great day.

IMG-20200205-WA0007Thursday 13 February.  Well, its the next day and I’m still feeling in a good mood.  I decided that I would scour the papers for some good news to post and, yes you guessed it, nothing.  But then I saw a big red heart and an advertisement for San Valentino in Florence.  Yes! ‘All you need is  love, da da da da da’  Just when you think things could not get more depressing, up pops San Valentino!  Hurrah.

The Florentine on-line magazine has come to the rescue with some lovely locations for Helvetia-e1581345841702-680x728celebrating with your amore.  But what’s this?  Somewhere called the Bristol Winter Gardens (yes Bristol) in Florence!  Sounds like a great place to eat, you only have to look at the dish in the foto.  Mmmmm.  The Florentine

Well, going to finish here as I am still not one hundred percent, but by next week you can rest assured that I will be rocking.  Have a great weekend.  Oh and Happy Valentines Day!

Salute June x

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Fotos my own or uploaded from The Fiorentine on-line mag.

 

 

 

 

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