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Posts Tagged ‘Bolivia’

Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Catarina with mimosa at Caffe Bar Solfarino in Certaldo

Caterina with mimosa at Caffe Bar Solferino in Certaldo Photo J Finnigan

Now I promise that this will be the last time I mention Mimosa and Festa Della Donna this year, however, I just wanted to tell you about three lovely girlies in Certaldo.  These young ladies are very important to me and on Sunday 8th March, which was the actual Festa day, my man and I popped into Caffe Bar Solferino, at the top of the main piazza in Certaldo for our morning coffee.  We presented Caterina with a big piece of Mimosa from the tree in our garden, and she was delighted.  We go there for coffee most Wednesdays and Saturdays, however, we also popped in on the Sunday this time because Laura had closed her bar in Fiano for the day.  Caterina makes the most delicious caffè latte, the pastries are to die for and she always has a lovely smile on her face.

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

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

Now last week I took time out for the hairdresser and beauty parlour.  Sandra, my beautiful hairdresser, who I can totally rely on to layer my hair exactly as I like it and to colour it a perfect shade of red.  I have been going to Sandra now for ten years and she still seems no older than twenty-one.  There are a lot of weddings in the summer months in Certaldo Alto, the historical centre up on the hill, and Sandra is already booked for two of them.  One wedding party is from London, UK!  She was in high spirits last Wednesday, telling me about my man’s description of his being filmed in London, and quoting ‘Shoes by Berlutti, suit by Armani and hair by Sandra!’  She just loved this.  Yes, my man had been filmed for a business venture, not for the next Bond film, so don’t get too excited!

My beautician, the lovely Irene at Esteticamente, via Trento 28/B, Certaldo.  Tel 0039 057166087

My beautician, the lovely Irene at Esteticamente, via Trento 28/B, Certaldo. Tel 0039 057166087

Then there is the lovely Irene, who keeps my hands and feet in top condition at her beauty parlour.  My nails are currently a dark purply black as I like a sort of Rock Chick look, my being the rock chick in the Rock Chick Band of course.  Next week she’s going to give my face a good cleansing and revitalization.  When one is a minor celebrity its important to scrub up well, you just don’t know who might turn up with one of my books in their shoulder bag, wanting it signed!

On the subject of books we are very close to publishing ‘The Bolivian Connection.’  But do not visit Amazon until I make the announcement, as there is just a tiny bit of tweaking still going on.

Silvio's case is thrown out! Il Terreno newspaper.

Silvio’s case is thrown out!
Il Terreno newspaper.

Oh yes, some good news for the Prince of Politics, Silvio Berlusconi.  The courts have thrown out the case against him for having sex with an underage prostitute.  His followers are ecstatic and we are expecting SB to be re-entering politics!  There was a really good article written by Mark Duff for BBC News, where he mentioned his Italian in-laws who said about their forbear Aldo;  “Aldo – soft-hearted, honest, hard-working man that he was – could see the attraction of Mr Berlusconi.  You see, he had done what every Italian man of that generation dreamt of.  He had become rich, he had power; he was flash and funny – and he had women, lots of them.  More than that, he had got away with it. He was, as the Italians put it, “furbo” – cunning. You didn’t have to approve of him – but you couldn’t help admiring his chutzpah.”  I am also pleased, because, without the charisma of Silvio, the political news here in Italy is pretty dull and depressing.

But enough of that, let’s get on with a really cracking week and see you next weekend.

Salute June x

PS Available soon….

Book cover for 'The Bolivian Connection'

Book cover for ‘The Bolivian Connection’

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

End of February sunshine on the upper terrace. Photo J Finnigan

End of February sunshine on the upper terrace.
Photo J Finnigan

“Gosh its lovely and warm here.”  My man had stepped off the train in Certaldo and he enthused at the nine degrees we were enjoying here in Tuscany, having spent the previous few days in London.  To me it was cold, however, in reality I had enjoyed half an hour earlier that day, sitting in the upper terrace in straw hat and sunglasses, during a short period of windless sunshine.  Granted, I had my jacket on at the same time, as immediately a cloud pops over the sun, the temperature drops dramatically.  But yes, it’s a little reminder as to one of the many reasons we choose to live in this part of the world.

Our Mimosa tree in full bloom. Photo J Finnigan

Our Mimosa tree in full bloom.
Photo J Finnigan

I am posting a picture of our Mimosa tree which is now in full blossom.  Yes I know, I mentioned this lovely blossom last week, however, I wanted you to see the full tree now, because it is in danger of being reduced to nothing by a certain local contadini (countryman) and others, on or just before the 8th March, which is Festa della Donna.  You may recall that the blossoms are sought after for gifting to one’s beloved female family members, not just mothers, and there is a shortage of trees in the area.  I am not being stingy, but I do like to be asked if we can spare some blossoms.  A couple of years ago we came home from coffee to find half the tree missing!  I blamed a suspicious looking lady who was outside the church earlier that day, but it turned out to be someone we know well, who claimed to have knocked on our door first and we were out, so he thought it would be alright if he went into our garden with his secateurs!  On the day, I look forward to cutting a few blooms myself and gifting them to a number of lovely local ladies who deserve it.

Boat on the Exmouth Estuary by Mark Loman. Photo J Finnigan

Boat on the Exmouth Estuary by Mark Loman.
Photo J Finnigan

On to lighter things.  Last Tuesday, a new beautiful framed print arrived in the post from England.  I entered an auction to win one of Mark Loman’s limited edition prints, in aid a of a little English boy who is physically and mentally disabled, and I won!  http://www.markloman.co.uk

Article in morning paper about Remo Vangi the artist. Photo J Finnigan

Article in morning paper about Remo Vangi the artist.
Photo J Finnigan

Then this morning I saw an article about Remo Vangi, a Tuscan artist, and fell completely in love with the pictures of his paintings.  I am very keen on Impressionist painting, and these were particularly lovely.  So I looked up his blog site at http://www.removangi.wordpress.com and am now following it.  It seems he exhibits all over the world, and its the first I have heard of him.

I have been a little quiet about our gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi lately, sorry about that.  I must go and look up his latest exploits, so forgive me if I pause here for ten minutes or so.  OK I’m back.  Well, our Peter Pan of politics, age seventy-eight, is currently worth $7.4 Billion which is an increase of 0.2% since yesterday.  Once one is filthy rich it is impossible to avoid getting richer by the day.  It seems that his divorce from Veronica Lario has been finalised and he is now expected to marry his overage girlfriend Francesca Pascale.  She is twenty-eight now, so is getting on a bit and I am sure that SB will not want to be seen to marry a girl over thirty, so he had better get a move on!

But enough of that.  My tummy is rumbling and it is Saturday, so I had better go and cook lunch.  I always manage to take my man out to lunch on a Sunday, but today would be pushing it I think.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.  Watch this space for the announcement of the publication of my latest novel ‘The Bolivian Connection’.  Oh Yes, I must slip in the news that Italy just beat Scotland in the Rugby Six Nations, hurrah, my man is a very happy rabbit!

Amore June x

PS  Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan. You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

“So what are all these boxes left in the study, do you know what’s in them?”  I ask my man.  “No idea.”  He replies, trying to look convincing.  Last Thursday two IKEA men arrived with some long-awaited storage, so we could finally unpack boxes of clothes and other things and put them away.  Now, we have moved house rather a lot over the years and some of these boxes have not been opened for ten years or more.  “I bet you’ve got your 70’s cheesecloth shirts and your Miami Vice trousers in one of these boxes!”  I say.  “Humph, possibly.”  He mumbles.  “Well, I’m sure at least half of what you have could go up to the big clothes collection box in the Piazza.”  I smile encouragingly.  “I might want to wear them again one day.”  He argues.  “I just need to lose a bit of weight, so there’s no point in unpacking it all, as we’ll only have to pack it again when we next move….” He goes all big eyes and I melt.  O Dio…

Silvio and friends at Viareggio Carnivale. Il Torreno Newspaper.

Silvio and friends at Viareggio Carnivale.
Il Torreno Newspaper.

Back at Laura’s bar/alimentare in Fiano, my man and I are enjoying our morning coffee and reading the newspapers, as Sig Rotund, who cheekily tries to hide them from us, has not arrived yet.  There are some fun pictures of the famous Viareggio Carnival, and I just love this one of Silvio Berlusconi and other politicians in knickers and bras.  Just think, can you imagine this kind of Micky taking in some of the arab countries!  Here in Italy anything goes, thank god.  Whoops, are we allowed to use the lord’s name in vain these days?  And should I write lord with a capital L?  “Jesus Christ” I groan aloud.

Then underneath I read that the fabulous band Dream Theater are performing at the Pistoia Blues Festival near Florence.  I had every intention of going, but by the time I remembered, the tickets had all been sold.  Blast it.  Anyway, I will be performing their great song ‘Wither’ in my next concert;  I’m really looking forward to that.

Cannabis arrives! Il Terrano newspaper

Cannabis arrives!
Il Terrano newspaper

I should mention, that earlier in the week the newspaper reported that Cannabis will be available on prescription in March.  No, no, not the pot smoking version, although I do have some fond memories about that.  This will likely be herbal medicines on prescription, which will be fantastic because it is now the only thing that might ease my aching joints, my being allergic to pain killers.  Chianti wine helps, but it doesn’t quite hit the spot, just takes the mind off things…..

Then my man reads out that yesterday, Saturday, the car hire staff at Pisa Airport all went on strike, blocking the road and causing chaos.  “That’s what comes of one company like Europcar, buying up the other car hire firms and having the monopoly.”  I say.  “So if Europcar strikes, all the others do too!”

Back at my computer, I have been doing a final edit for the second edition of ‘My Father, The Assassin’, which will be published at the same time as my latest follow-up novel ‘The Bolivian Connection.’  The idea is to change the size of the book and cover, to match the more popular dimensions of around 5″x 7.3″ and, of course, to update my biography on the back cover.  You never know, if you have a first edition of ‘My Father, The Assassin’… it may become a collector’s piece!  It’s currently still available, see below!

Silvio looking very depressed. Photo Reuters

Silvio looking very depressed.
Photo Reuters

Meanwhile, I hear that our friend Silvio Berlusconi is still in the news.  That is, apart from the carnival picture above.  He is very unhappy that Prime Minister Renzi nominated Sergio Mattarella, a former Senior Judge, for the important position of Italy’s President.  Silvio does not like judges.  One has to remember, that whilst the President has a mostly ceremonial role, as Head of State he does has the power to dissolve parliament, call elections and pick prime ministers.  This nomination has caused a rift between Silvio and Renzi, however, I have just had news that Sig Mattarella has now been crowned.  So poor Silvio will have to eat dust for the time being.

Well, enough for now, must get on with the workload and finish the editing.  Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

PS  Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan. You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

Every morning, whilst enjoying a lovely creamy caffè latte in one our local bars (they don’t use horrible low-fat milk here),  I scan either La Nazione or Il Terreno newspapers for interesting snippets.  Yesterday, I was joined by Winston Churchill and today by Dante, well not literally of course, both being long gone.

Coffee with Winston Churchill. Photo J Finnigan

Coffee with Winston Churchill.
Photo J Finnigan

You may already know that this year is the fiftieth anniversary of good old Winston’s funeral and the Italians are treating this as important news.  One thing you may not know is that my man, an ex Royal Marine Commando, was marching in the front row of the Marines’ contingent on the big day.  He was very young, in full ceremonial uniform of course, blues, greatcoat and white pith helmet down over his eyes.  If they happen to show the funeral on TV again, he was fourth in on the right as they march towards you.  He has other claims to fame, however, I have mentioned this one as it is so very topical.  Writing about Winston reminds me that I wanted to be a  Secret Agent during the Second World War.  Fortunately, I was born a few years after it finished!  As a child in the 50’s I used to organise the children in our area to play ‘Germans and English’; I was always the covert spy.  Co-incidentally, I am currently reading ‘Operation Garbo: The Personal Story of the Most Successful Spy of World War Two.’  What are you reading?

Coffee with Dante. Photo J Finnigan

Coffee with Dante.
Photo J Finnigan

Now my other guest for coffee, was the great poet and writer Dante.  Still looking good at the age of seven hundred and fifty, he’s a popular chappy here.  He spent his life cruising between Pisa, Lucca, Pistoia and Carrara, amongst other Tuscan hangouts.  There are currently lots of exhibitions and celebrations happening in the area.

Laura with vibrant red hair and designer finger nails. Photo J Finnigan

Laura with vibrant red hair and designer finger nails.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, back at Laura’s bar/alimentare, I notice that Laura is sporting very red hair.  She says that her hairdresser added a special ingredient to make it more ‘brilliante’.  She always has the most fantastic nail art too, I might go to see her nail lady and have fantastic nails for my next rock concert.  Take a close look.

Down in Certaldo’s Saturday market,  I go back to the lovely couple who produce the most fantastic Pecorino (sheep’s cheese) and Caprina (goat’s cheese).  I have fallen completely in love with a very young pecorino, which is really soft, full of flavour and just melts in the mouth.  Mmmm.  Also, I have been devouring bottles of Sweet Red Onion marmalade which is a speciality in Certaldo.  The two go really well together and are adding inches to my waistline!  These, along with the local Chianti wine are the reason why I have to go on a diet soon, well fairly soon.

Melt in the mouth Cheeses in Certaldo's Saturday Market Photo J Finnigan

Melt in the mouth Cheeses in Certaldo’s Saturday Market
Photo J Finnigan

I have mentioned that many businesses are closing down here.  We have tried to buy a new kingsize bed locally, but found that an antique furniture warehouse and a bed outlet have both disappeared.  Getting very frustrated, I went on-line, found exactly what I wanted in a number of UK stores, but they do not deliver overseas!  If anyone has any good ideas, do let me know.  Ideally within a an hours drive of Certaldo, Tuscany or on-line.  (IKEA don’t do a kingsize..)  Big sigh….

Well enough of that, must get on with final honing of my latest book ‘The Bolivian Connection,’ as I know you are all champing at the bit.  You will also be pleased to know that Joanna Wilde (my heroine) has already started a new adventure in ‘The Italian Connection’, which I expect to publish early next year.

I will update you on the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi’s exploits next week.  In the meantime have a really good week and do drop me a line.

Amore June x

PS Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’. You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

I am so very excited!  Last Tuesday, I finished my novel ‘The Bolivian Connection’ and today I gave the first draft, after editing, to my man to read on his birthday!  When I have been writing for several hours, and particularly when I have completed a very pleasing episode, I can barely speak.  It’s as if I have been shouting the story out loud!  Do any of you other writers experience this strange phenomenon?  My man is quite pleased when this happens, because not only am I a happy rabbit, it is also very peaceful due to my whispering.  He is always my first port of call for reading my work.  He is highly critical and a perfectionist.   So over the next few days he’ll be off to London and reading the manuscript during his spare time.  When he has done his thing, I will send the it off for a professional edit in London and finally select the new cover and organise the publication. So watch this space.

Our first narcissi and the mimosa tree peeking between the tree trunks. Photo J Finnigan

Our first narcissus and the mimosa tree peeking between the tree trunks.
Photo J Finnigan

The other great thing that happened last Tuesday, as if to congratulate me, the wind dropped and a hot sun turned our upper terrace back into an outside dining area, so we had lunch Al Fresco and a glass or three of fizz!  What a perfect day.  Also this last week, I organised my lovely sister-in-law to come out from England at the end of March, as she has agreed to do all our spring potting.  I’m really looking forward to that.  Our January garden is currently doing quite well.  Whilst most of the fragile plants are under cover or wrapped in muslim, we can still enjoy flowering Cyclamen, Primula, a couple of Narcissus opening up and the Fiorentina purple Irises.  The Mimosa is now a big tree and heavy with buds just waiting to burst into bright yellow blossom.

Benedetta's puppy Leo, races around Laura's Bar trying to help. Photo J Finnigan

Benedetta’s puppy Leo, races around Laura’s Bar trying to help.
Photo J Finnigan

Back at Laura’s bar/alimentare in Fiano, Benedetta’s fast growing puppy Leo, was helping to dismantle the Christmas Decorations on 12th day.  Running around with a tinkly bell in his mouth, which was retrieved just in time before he swallowed it!  But things are returning to normal.  As you will have heard me say before, the Italians love a Festa and will prolong it as far as they possibly can.  Then another Festa pops up, and work stops again, like last Tuesday, which was Befana (Day of the Witch).

The Man leads the way to Ristorante 'C'era una Volta' wearing his new birthday hat. Photo J Finnigan

The Man leads the way to Ristorante ‘C’era una Volta’ wearing his new birthday hat.
Photo J Finnigan

It is now Sunday, the day after my man’s birthday and we have just come back from meeting our beautiful daughter and granddaughter at Bar Solferino in Certaldo for coffee and presents.  My man was sporting his new birthday hat, which I think really suits him.  Shortly we will pop up to Ristorante ‘C’era una Volta’ for lunch as I really don’t have the energy to cook, so that will be nice.  Last night we went down for supper at Ristorante Latini, just over the border from Certaldo in the Provincia di San Gimingiano and ate lovely creamy deserts and drank Vin Santo.  Yes I know, we are always eating out, but I love it.

Farty Barty returns to refuel. Photo J Finnigan

Farty Barty returns to refuel.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, Farty Barty the cat is strutting his stuff.  Dissapearing off on dates and returning briefly to refuel.

Well, must go and make myself beautiful again as it’s time to go to lunch.

Have a really great week and do drop me a line.

Amore June x

PS  Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin.’  You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

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Buon Anno and welcome to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

LB (standing) and Zoe after a game of rugby. Photo P Finnigan

LB (standing) and Zoe after a game of rugby.
Photo P Finnigan

A gorgeous Sunset Phot P Finnigan

A gorgeous Sunset
Photo P Finnigan

Granddog sitting is wonderful.  There is nothing nicer than cuddling up to a granddog who loves you unconditionally and only harasses you when pulling furiously on the lead.  Oh yes, and barking to be let out really early in the morning, because that is what they are used to!  So there we were, my man and I, enjoying  Zoe’s and LB’s company on New Year’s Eve, whilst the family went off skiing on the French/Italian border.  Our daughter and family have recently moved to the middle of nowhere between San Gimigiano and Volterra and the views to the west coast are fantastic.  We saw the New Year in watching the fireworks from our lofty eyrie.  My man stayed on for a further two nights, witnessing some gorgeous sunsets, whilst I returned to Farty Barty the cat and to complete the last few chapters of my novel ‘The Bolivian Connection.’

Another gorgeous sunset Photo P Finnigan

Another gorgeous sunset
Photo P Finnigan

It has been said, particularly by my man, that I am a disaster if left to my own devices, because my head is so full of fiction.  On Saturday evening when my man was returning home, I lit the log fire that he had laid before he left.  I put the guard in front and returned to my desk to write a few more lines.  I was a little longer than I intended, and suddenly I smelt smoke.  Disaster!  Smoke was swirling up the stairs so I opened the landing window, then rushed down, almost choking on the way, to find the sitting room ceiling thick with the dark grey stuff.  I threw open the french windows and then the front door.  Thank god, I had not opened any of the upstairs bedroom doors.  I grabbed a rug and started swirling it around like a human fan and tried to get closer to the fireplace, which was still billowing out smoke.  There must be something stuck up there, I thought.  Then, somewhere in the depths of my memory I heard my man saying, “Now this is the second time I’m going to remind you.  I have closed the metal cover in the chimney to keep the cold out.  If you are going to light the fire DO NOT FORGET TO OPEN IT!”  “S..T” I gasped, “You idiot June!”  I groaned aloud as I coughed and spluttered with my head in the fireplace trying not to singe my hair.  Somehow, I grabbed the lever  and managed to open the cover.  Ten minutes later the house was almost clear of smoke, but I was not going to be able to disguise the smell.  I just knew my man would walk in and I would have to tell him the truth.  Dammit!

Back at Laura’s bar/alimentare in Fiano, my man and I are enjoying our morning coffee.  At the next table a local lady is sharing her coffee with her pet miniature dog.  Well this is Italy, coffee is a way of life, as is Chianti here in Tuscany.  Sadly, Laura had gone down with flu and Benadetta had succumbed overnight, so their husbands were manning the fort.  It’s the time of year for the hunters to be out and about in the countryside and I have to say they are not my favourite people.  A motley crew of three came into the bar wearing muddy boots  and camouflage gear.  It is not a gentleman’s sport here, shooting wildlife, it is the working country folk (contadini) who are mostly out there at first light on a sunday morning, shouting and firing at whatever moves.  However, I remind myself that this is all part of life’s rich tapestry, but when this motley crew started cracking walnuts in their hands and throwing the shells into the bin clearly marked ‘paper only’ I was not impressed.  Hey ho….

Silvio "I am a normal human being, look eight fingers and two thumbs!

Silvio “I am a normal human being, look eight fingers and two thumbs!

Francis “Well halo, halo. I am an exalted human being, see my wings?”

No time to check out Silvio Berlusconi’s activities I’m afraid, however, his picture was in this morning’s paper, so he’s obviously still out there strutting his stuff.   On the next page was a picture of our other Laughing Cavalier, Pope Francis greeting the New Year with his fan club in Rome and welcoming fifteen new cardinals to his mens’ only club.

Well, must go, things to do , places to go and people to see.  Once again Buon Anno to you all you lovely people, and see you next week.

Amore June x

 

 

PS  Here is the direct link for my novel ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan. You can also visit http://www.amazon.com & http://www.amazon.eu

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

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Ciao to all my Loyal and New Followers

'My Father, The Assassin' By June Finnigan

‘My Father, The Assassin’
By June Finnigan

For a seven-day period, you will be able to download my romantic thriller, ‘My Father, The Assassin’ by J W Finnigan for just 99p!  This is a whopping 60% discount, so do take advantage and tell all your friends.  The promotion will run from 8am on Monday December 8th through to 12am on Monday 15th.

I love receiving books for Christmas and even more love reading them.  So I will also be downloading lots of books to indulge in over the Festive Period.

If you do download my book, I would love it if you could return to Amazon when you have read it and leave a review.  I will be launching the follow-up, titled ‘The Bolivian Connection’ in the spring, so watch this space.

Molto Amore June xx

ps here is the direct UK link for ‘My Father, The Assassin’

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Father-The-Assassin-Finnigan/dp/1481904396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358800225&sr=8-1

 

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Benvenuti to all my lovely Loyal and New Followers

Last week was undoubtably one of the busiest this year.  so I thought I would get in to calm mode and take you out into our garden.  Firstly to look at the plants and then to enjoy an evening glass of Chianti with my man.

Lovely Clematis on the upper terrace. Photo J Finnigan

Lovely Clematis on the upper terrace.
Photo J Finnigan

It is the time of year to get the Clematis and Pansies into beds and pots.  Now don’t think this is something I spend a lot of time doing, unfortunately I don’t.  It’s a question of dashing outside for half an hour, in between work and writing.  On Saturday mornings we tend to drop down to Certaldo for coffee, buy veg, fruit and cheese and if we are lucky, some plants assuming our lovely plant selling lady is there.  She was there last Saturday and, it being the first one of the month, there was also stands selling handbags and shoes!  I put on my blinkers and headed over to buy plants, as time was short.  I needed to get back and write another chapter, which was burning inside my brain.  So we got the C’s and P’s and I managed to plant the former when we got home, before dashing upstairs to my keyboard.  Come the evening, it was all so worthwhile, enjoying a wine or three and the splash of colour in the freshly planted pots.

Back at my keyboard, I was agonising over one of the evil characters in my current novel, ‘The Bolivian Connection.’  Sapphire is an Italian hired assassin and I felt I had made her too horrible in the scene I had just written.  She came across as a pathological killer, however, it did not feel right.  So I finally changed the murderous act to be something she regretted, but deemed necessary.  Now I am happy and am able to forge on without doubts!

2014-09-21 19.17.08

The last orange of the season. Photo J Finnigan

Returning to our garden, the man has been tidying and trimming, and the air is heady with the smell of grass and hedge cuttings.  I just love that.  We have two terraces and tend to enjoy our evening aperitivo on the upper one, with distant views between  Barberino Val D’Elsa and San Gimignano.  Yesterday I sliced into our last orange of the season for our aperitivo, however, thankfully the trees are already heavy with new green ones.

2014-09-18 19.38.01

A bottle of Chianti to warm the cooler evenings. Photo P Finnigan

Later in the evening, we enjoyed a bottle of Claudio Corbenelli’s delicious Chianti.  We can actually see his farmhouse across the valley from here.  The evenings are cooler now, but as long as the wind stays light, it’s still plenty warm enough to sit outside.  Also, there has been a bright moon over the last few days, all very beautiful.

There has been a rash of American tourists here over the last two weeks.  I don’t say rash unkindly, we have met some very nice ones.  We have an American friend who owns a property nearby and we met some friends of his who were staying at his house while he was away.  They were hugely enthusiastic about being in Tuscany and we were able to give them some pointers.  If you guys are reading this, we hope you have a great holiday and we recommend you to pop into the Alimentare/bar in Fiano for a coffee, fresh bread and groceries.  I also managed to slip a few of my author cards their way!  We met them at C’era una Volta,’ one of our regular restaurant haunts and it has proved quite a good hunting ground for potential readers of Romantic Thrillers!

The Italian James Bond

The Italian James Bond

On that same subject, I wonder if Silvio Berlusconi has read ‘My Father, The Assassin’, my current published novel?  Theres a hint of mafioso links in the book.  Does he find time to read?  Probably yes, he has so much more time on his hands these days.  There seems to be very little going on news wise, so I have just downloaded ‘Silvio Berlusconi – A Biography’.  I know, don’t say anything…..  Did you know he was a former film star and singer?  Well apparently he made two films, ‘Mediterraneo’ and ‘Volere Volare.’  Watch this space.

Well back to the day job and some more writing this evening.  Thank god for the local wine.

Have a great week.

Salute June xx

ps visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/junefinnigan/author

 

 

 

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Welcome to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

Big fat juicy grapes from a neighbouring vineyard. Photo J Finnigan

Big fat juicy grapes from a neighbouring vineyard.
Photo J Finnigan

Most of you will know that by the end of September, the bulk of the grape harvest will have been completed.  It seems to have been particularly frenetic over the last two weeks with tractors and trailers roaring past our little villa, empty and rattling one way, then smelling wonderful with a big load of fat purple grapes on the way back.  Like some crazy person, I have been dashing out trying to get a photo, but they are gone too quickly!  Finally, I was on the way back from coffee and there was a parked trailer waiting for a tractor.  Whoopee, I screeched to a halt and took the photo, with the sound of the tractor arriving full pelt down the track behind me, in a thick cloud of dust!

The Museum st San Marco in Florence after the storm. Photo The Florentine

The Museum st San Marco in Florence after the storm.
Photo The Florentine

Florence and a large part of the valley around the city, was hit by a ferocious tornado just over a week ago, and whilst you may have heard about this and that the city was ankle-deep in hail stones, some the size of golf balls,  you will not have realised just how devastating this was for the crop farmers in the region.  Whole vineyards were destroyed, buildings badly damaged and the estimated cost is several millions of euros.

Getting work is difficult enough in Italy, however, the Italians are very good at creating ‘jobs for life’ in the most devious ways.  We have a local man who drives a little truck loaded with a shovel, broom and little else.  Now, he is employed by the local commune to keep the gutters free by the side of a B road and he is out in all weathers.  We have a lot of water running off these hills and it is important to keep the roads flood free.  Our man shovels the mud and silt from the gutter and throws it back up the hill from whence it came.  Yes, you’ve worked it out, it quickly washes down again as soon as it rains!  So here is a job for life.  By the time he’s worked his way from one end of the steep curving road to the other, he needs to start all over again.  Nevertheless, he is a popular character and locals often stop and chat, no doubt recognising a kindred spirit!

Lovely wild yellow daisies by the side of the road near our villa. Photo J Finnigan

Lovely wild yellow daisies by the side of the road near our villa.
Photo J Finnigan

I have recently had a letter from the USL in Certaldo, that is the local Health Centre, telling me that I will not automatically get a discount on health services and medicines unless I go and put my plastic health card (Tessera Sanitaria) in a new machine to register.  So I go and there is a massive queue.  I get to the machine and it asks for my password; I did not know I had one.  So I get in the other queue of people who are also confused by the request for a password, and wait for nearly an hour for the single lady at the desk to be free.  By then, I still have at least ten people in front of me, so I give up and go with four other frustrated ladies for a prosecco in the local bar.  Only in Italia…..

Nearly finished the Chianti and onto the Crema di Limoncello at C'era una Volta Restuarant. Photo J Finnigan

Nearly finished the Chianti and onto the Crema di Limoncello at C’era una Volta restaurant.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, life continues at a gentle pace in our local village of Fiano.  Lots of grey-headed tourists are wandering around, September is a popular time for the oldies, and I hand out my author cards to several English and Americans visiting Laura’s cafe bar/alimentare.  My man thinks I should keep a box of books in the car and sell them directly to the tourists and sign them.  Perhaps he’s right.  There is no way I can tell if my book has been bought on-line by someone who had my card.  Over coffee, I note that I have new photos arrived on Facebook.  “Do you have a Facebook account now, some family photos have been posted?”  I ask my man, who is deep into Il Nazione newspaper. “No, but that’s alright, I know what they look like.” He returns to his paper. I sigh.

Last night, one of our favourite restaurants C’era Una Volta, was very busy with a mix of Italian, German and Swiss.  We met another really nice couple from Germany, Helta and Harold.  If you guys are reading this, we hope you are enjoying your holiday.  Today, Sunday, we are ringing the changes and heading off for San Vivaldo near Montaione, as we have heard about an interesting restaurant called Il Focolare, which will be having vegan fest in October and is in the grounds of a historic monastery.  We have vegan friends, so it would be nice to take them somewhere where they can relax and enjoy their food.  It is not difficult to eat vegetarian in the area, but vegan dishes are harder to find.  So we are off to check it out first.

Silvio at AC Milan Photo Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Silvio at AC Milan
Photo Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

I’ve just checked on the gorgeous Silvio Berlusconi, and it seems he is back in the news.  However, he spends much of his time visiting his football team, AC Milan by helicopter, where he has been photographed a lot with the players.  This is outside the four hours a week he spends doing social work at a hospital for those suffering from dementia.  I’m surprised he remembers to turn up.  Apparently, he recently met up with his rival, the prime minister Renzie, but I can’t find anything interesting to say about that.  I expect his little dog Dudu would be able to tell us a few interesting facts, perhaps I’ll give the mutt a call.

So, its back to the real world, an aperitivo on the upper terrace, gazing at the sunset lighting up the few clouds in the sky, going for coffee in the mornings and greeting the locals, doing the odd bit of work and writing my current novel.  Life can be hard at times.

Have a really good week and don’t forget to read ‘My Father, The Assassin’ before I publish the sequel ‘The Bolivian Connection’ later this year.

Salute June x

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September Hawthorn berries on the edge of our upper terrace. Picture J Finnigan

September Hawthorn berries on the edge of our upper terrace.
Picture J Finnigan

Benvenuti to all my New and Loyal Followers

This morning, I am writing to you from Beautiful Tuscany and feeling a little under the weather.  This is nothing to do the weather outside;  in fact it is luke warm and sunny, gorgeous in fact.  No, I over indulged in Verdure Sott’olio yesterday, which simply means Vegetables under oil.  However, Sot’olio is often and usually is, a very hot spicy oil prepared with chilli peppers and garlic.  Lesson learnt.

Back at Laura’s Bar/alimentare in Fiano, Sig Rotund is again pinching the Sporting paper from right under the nose of an old boy who was still reading it.  He sits down at the same table pulls his T-shirt up, exposing his over generous belly to clean his glasses, and starts reading.  The old boy smiles approvingly, as if Sig Rotund is royalty and appears pleased to have the honour of having his reading session interrupted so rudely.  Meanwhile, Laura takes a plate and flops a generous mound of ricotta on it and covers it with sugar.  She sits down at an adjacent table to eat it.  She sees me staring and shrugs, “It helps to keep me going, now that I have given up cigarettes…” she says, in Italian of course.  I blow out my cheeks and hold my hands out in front of me giving the impression of a big stomach, well bigger than the one I already have, and she nods, stuffing another big spoonful into her mouth.  Last Sunday was Laura’s thirty-fourth wedding anniversary and when I asked if she celebrated with candles and amore, she shrugged and shook her head.  Her man is very nice but has the speed of a striking slug, bless him.

Locals are still parading around with suntans that range from bright orange to dark chocolate-brown. The beginning of September is the return to work after the August break and the Italians are very proud to be sporting evidence of their visit to the seaside.  This year however, the weather has been awful with a lot of rain and cold winds.  But the sea air usually does the trick anyway.  The tourists are now very grey haired, as the children return to school and the oldies come to Italy.  Particularly from England.  Now, it is rare to meet an interesting English grey head, but we did have fun with a couple who were introduced to us in the restaurant by Gianluca the waiter.  The husband was a Londoner and a driver/chauffeur for forty years and had some fun stories about that.  His lovely lady partner was his third wife and he explained that his first wife died from too much alcohol.  “I went down the pub, got filthy drunk and went home and shot her!” he said very seriously.  “Then there was the time I met Princess Anne.  She said, ‘are you local?’ No, love, I said, I was born just down the road from your Mum.”  If you guys are reading this, it was fun to meet you both!

The Red Knight, 1968 edition, originally published in 1921 Picture J Finnigan

The Red Knight, 1968 edition, originally published in 1921
Picture J Finnigan

Some English can be very rude in restaurants.  Most of you will know that this is the land of slow food.  Wine, water and bread will arrive quickly, however, the rest is cooked to order.  Last sunday a family of four arrived in the busy restaurant and were shown a table.  We could see from our vantage point that they were not comfortable with the normal loud conversation and busy atmosphere.  Within ten minutes, they upped and left without cancelling their order, that kind of behaviour really annoys me!

But enough of that.  I am so lucky to be surrounded by music, words and amore.  Amore being my man, of course.  We both read a lot and he is currently deep into a novel called ‘The Red Knight’ by Francis Brett Young, first published in 1921.  There is a prolific use of adjectives and adverbs in this book, like many others of that time and indeed up to the sixties, and the words are just beautiful.  ‘Mellifluous’ is the best word to describe this style of writing, which means ‘sounds and utterances that are rich and harmonious or flowing with honey or sweetness.’  Sadly, modern readers and writers no longer appreciate this style of writing.  I find this very sad, however, I somehow try to write with some compromise in both directions.  A few years ago, the first literary agent who looked at my initial attempt at getting a novel published told me to cut out all the adjectives and ‘modernise’.  What do you think?

Silvio looking very Mafiosi. Photo Reuters

Silvio looking very Mafiosi.
Photo Reuters

Well, hello again to Silvio Berlusconi, who has just popped his perfectly made-up face, topped by his neat rows of hair implants, above the parapet.  It seems he did recently attend a football match between AC Milan and Lazio.  He also flew to Reykjavik where a local taxi driver told him that the only thing likely to make the earth move there was the eruption of the volcano Bardarbunga.  SB was also spotted fiddling with a discretely hidden hearing aid.  News also has it that Toto Riiana, an imprisoned mafia man, was overheard saying in the prison yard, that SB paid the Sicilian Mafia protection money between the seventies and the nineties.  Well, perhaps no surprise, but at least things are getting interesting again!

Farty Barty in his terracotta pot on windowsill. Photo P Finnigan

Farty Barty in his terracotta pot on windowsill.
Photo P Finnigan

I am getting on well with the ‘Bolivian Connection.’  I am hurtling away with the storyline and will go back to fully painting the picture when I have finished.  It’s rather like going back to the beginning of a ‘Painting by Numbers’ book; the drawings are all there, you just need to pop in the colours.  I used to love those books and canvases when I was a girl.

Well, enough of that.  Farty Barty is enjoying a bit of sunshine in his favourite terracotta pot and it’s time to check my emails.

Have a great week and do drop me a line.

Amore June x

PS Don’t forget to visit my author site at http://www.amazon,com/junefinnigan/author

 

 

 

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