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Benvenuti to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

Aroar of frustration for Italian rugby.

A roar of frustration for Italian rugby.

“England were stuffed last night, I can’t believe it!”  My man was very depressed over the Rugby results, so I try to change the subject.  “I can’t wait to get back into my book this weekend.” I say, meaning my current novel ‘The Italian Connection.”  “Oh you mean you can’t wait to get back between the covers?”  He grins.  Then his face drops again and he says, still on the subject of rugby, “Let’s hope Italy do a better job when they play Ireland this afternoon…..”  I hope so too, as I cannot have both the teams we support going out of the world cup;  our little villa will be under a dark cloud for days!

Daniel joins us for coffee.

Daniel joins us for coffee.

Meanwhile, over coffee in Certaldo we are joined by Daniel Craig.  I know, not really, but his picture is in the newspaper and I can’t wait to see the new Bond film Spectre.  Are you a Bond fan?  Oh, I also read that a Cinghiale, wild boar, was rescued six kilometres off the Calabrian coast by some fishermen.  The poor thing was exhausted and swimming round in circles!  This proves that pigs can swim!  But what’s this?  Would you believe it, six British tourists have been arrested for skinny dipping in the Fountain of the Naids in Piazza della Republica in Rome!  It was the early hours of the morning, but it is against the law to go in or throw anything into Rome’s historic fountains!  Perhaps these people would like to go back to holidaying in Spain!

Fresh salad from the farmers market. Photo J Finnigan

Fresh salad from the farmers market.
Photo J Finnigan

Back in our lovely terraced garden, we enjoy a late lunch with the sister-in-law who has arrived for seven days.  The man is off to London the next day, so immediately after lunch, he rushed around cutting our weedy lawn.  We girlies were forced to drink the rest of the wine and watch him go up and down.  Then a little flying stone hit me on the eyebrow, so he had got his own back!  Earlier, we had picked up some lovely fresh salad in the market in Certaldo and we could see all the stands going up for the afternoon’s Slow Food celebrations.  The sister-in-law and I intend wandering around tomorrow and sampling the food as my man heads off for London.  Sadly it’s now belting down with rain!

Sig Jazzman in Il Castello Bar in Certaldo Alto. Photo J.S.

Sig Jazzman in Il Castello Bar in Certaldo Alto.
Photo J.S.

Fast forward to Sunday and we drop my man at Certaldo station.  The rain is still heavy, so we trudge up Via Giugno and catch the funiculare train up the hill to Certaldo Alto.  To get out of the rain, we rush into the nearest bar and grab a table.  It turns out to be part of Il Castello, which is a popular hotel and there is yet another wedding celebration going on.  In the small bar we sip our wine and wait for the rain to stop, then discover an upright piano and the barman comes around and starts playing some jazz on it.  His English is good and he explains that he’s really a jazz drummer, and did we know that Scott Hamilton lives in the village?  My sister-in-law is very impressed and I tell him that I sing rock music.  His face drops, he’s not into rock…….

Man on stilts with the sister-in-law. Photo J Finnigan

Man on stilts with the sister-in-law.
Photo J Finnigan

Ah, the rain has stopped, so we head up the main via and visit all the local produce stalls, people are selling big porcini mushrooms and questionable looking Tartufo (truffles).  I buy another jar of Certaldo red onion marmalade, which I love with cheese, and then pop into the artisan shop to buy a little present for a friend I’m visiting in England next week.  Then we try to find somewhere for lunch, but it’s heaving with tourists, however, we manage to squeeze in for one course of pasta.  Walking back to the funiculare, giants are walking towards us!  Oh no, it is actually stilt walkers and the sister-in-law poses with one, as she likes to do, pose that is.

Well, I really must get this blog off to you as it is already Monday morning.  I’ll update you on Silvio Berlusconi next weekend.

Have a truly fabulous week and do drop me a line.

Salute June x

PS We now know that both England and Italy are out of the Rugby World Cup – Oh No!

 

Visit my author site at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

'My Father, The Assassin'. Book one in the series.

‘My Father, The Assassin’. Book one in the series.

'The Bolivian Connection' Book two in the series.

‘The Bolivian Connection’ Book two in the series.

 

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my Lovely Loyal and New Followers

The main reason for moving to Italy was to learn the language.  We also thought that the weather might be a little warmer, brighter and dryer.  Whilst the latter was a secondary issue, right now we are beginning to wonder if the Roman Gods are being unkind to us.  Looking out of the double windows opposite my desk, it could well be a view of English grey skies, and the sound of wheels splashing past the villa sound so wet and chilly.  These days our Italian friends in the cafe bar in Fiano, talk as much about the ‘brutto Tempo’ (bad weather) as we brits did in the local pub after work in England.  This is not a complaint, just an observation, well actually I am complaining, let’s be honest.  However, I have just bought a lovely new pair of soft leather boots from Gabor and my beloved waxed coat has come out of the wardrobe.  These may not sound important to you, but to little old me, these are two of the perks of winter.

Farty Barty refuses to leave his nice warm chair. Phot J Finnigan

Farty Barty refuses to leave his nice warm chair.
Photo J Finnigan

Meanwhile, Tuscany is still struggling with serious flooding and landslides.  We are desperately waiting for the rain to stop and allow some of the poor homeless people to get back to repairing and rebuilding their homes.  Our little bit of Chianti has so far suffered much less than some areas; may that continue.  Farty Barty the cat, remains in his comfy kitchen chair and refuses to go out at night……that says a lot.

Gluten free pasta and white truffles photo J Finnigan

Gluten free pasta and white truffles
photo J Finnigan

But then all turned bright and sunny on the weekend, metaphorically speaking, when our beautiful nine, nearly ten-year old granddaughter came to stay for two nights.  Absolutely no work or writing got done, we were forced to just relax and enjoy ourselves in her delightful company.  We went out to lunch twice.  Firstly to Ristorante Montalbino for, yes again, white truffle pasta.  It is a tiny family run place where they specialise in fungi and it’s really good.  Then on Sunday we went back to La Gramola in Tavernelle, where we had the most delicious Red Wine Pici with cheese and pepper.  This is home-made spaghetti infused with red wine, so comes out a sort of ruddy colour.  It’s really delicious tossed in pecorino cheese and pepper.  Then I had pears that had been poached in Vin Santo, a wine liqueur made from grapes that have been left to wither on the vine, or so I’m told!

The game of Pick'Up'Sticks Photo J Finnigan

The game of Pick’Up’Sticks
Photo J Finnigan

Back at the villa we played the games of ‘Sorry’ and ‘Pick’up’Sticks’.   We also had a fun time, by having a book each, and reading the first full line of each page one after the other.  This can be hilarious, however, our poor granddaughter had a John Le Carre book in her hands and he tends to write very long sentences.  We were very impressed to find that her reading of difficult English words was brilliant.  She is English, but when you consider that she has only been educated in an Italian school, speaks fluent Italian, and generally reads a lot of Italian books, so brava to her.

Well, I hope that you will not mind if I cut this post a little short.  I have a busy workload today and must knuckle down.

Have a great week and don’t forget to visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/author/junefinnigan

Salute June x

 

 

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Benvenuti to all my Loyal and New Followers

English Park Benches on our upper terrace. Photo P Finnigan

English Park Benches on our upper terrace.
Photo P Finnigan

People who come to visit us for the first time, always ask where we got our lovely wooden benches that are carefully positioned to enjoy our panoramic view.  Well, they are a pair that we bought in England back in the 1980’s and they have moved with us to every home we have lived in.  So, ten years ago, they came with us to Italy and my man lovingly oils them every year and patches up bits of rotting wood with Sugru and other things.  The bottom of the legs are vulnerable to damp so we keep them standing on small round and very hard pine cones.  It would be a very sad day if we were to lose one of these treasures.

Now I try not to talk about bad Italian drivers too often, as it is much the most common thing to mention, and sometimes boring.  However, on Saturday morning my man drove us down to the market in Certaldo, which is thirty minutes in total there and back.  Within minutes of starting out my man started to groan, then the expletives started.  Now we rarely use the F word but this day it was warranted.  I made a note every time my man shouted out to other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists on that journey, not that anyone could hear him from inside the car.  OK, here we go.  “What the f…; that cyclist didn’t even look!”  “What the hell is that fecking idiot doing?” “Does that plonker have a death wish?” “Am I an fecking car, or what?” “Go on, back out why don’t you, I’m only a bloody car coming down the road!”  “Get your dog on the inside, you idiot!” “Take your fecking time, why don’t you?”  (to two women gossiping in the middle of the road and ignoring my man), “Look at that idiot, he’s right up his bottom!” “Oh, you’re turning right are you?  What’s wrong with using your fecking indicator?” I may have missed a few.  Needless to say, my man did not enjoy his drive, however, the coffee and pastry at Cafe Solferino in Certaldo was worth it!  The smile was soon back on his face.

Inedible fungi in our garden. Phot P Finnigan

Inedible fungi in our garden.
Photo P Finnigan

Last week was very wet, however, this brought forth some beautiful fungi in the garden and of course lots of Porcini are in the markets and veg shops.  White truffles are still being found and the other day we spotted two truffle hunters and their dogs.  Why, we asked ourselves, are they wearing camouflage clothes?  Can the truffles see them coming without this gear on?  The other thing is, there are shooters about, so wouldn’t it make sense to wear the same bright orange jackets the shooters wear, to avoid getting shot?  But then I’m just a simple English girlie with, what I consider to be, a little common sense.  But the Italians are very strange in the way they take risks, every year hunters get shot and killed, but hey ho!

Hot Chilli Peppers drying on Paolo's balcony. Photo P Finnigan

Hot Chilli Peppers drying on Paolo’s balcony.
Photo P Finnigan

Back at ‘C’era una Volta’ ristorante, Paolo  sold my man a small truffle (Tartufo) as he wants to take it to England today for a friend.  It is now packed inside dry risotto rice in a sealed glass jar, which is also encased in bubble wrap.  It’s not just protecting the truffle, it’s also trying to prevent the incredible pungent smell from creeping out into his suitcase!  On Paolo’s balcony, where you can dine if the weather’s right, he has also been drying the most beautiful hot chilli peppers that he has grown in his own veg patch (Orto).  Mmmmm.

A jewelled cobweb in the early morning mist. Photo P Finnigan

A jewelled cobweb in the early morning mist.
Photo P Finnigan

Over the weekend, we have woken to a view of thick fog after the earlier rains and subsequent sunshine.  As you know, we always go out for coffee in the early morning and yesterday spotted some wonderful spiders’ webs glowing in the fog, with tiny jewels of water droplets hanging off.

Now what next?  Ah yes, you are probably waiting to hear about Silvio Berlusconi’s latest exploits.  Well, I have to tell you that I have just started reading his biography, so things are a little historical at present.  Don’t sound so shocked, he is an historical figure, you know!  Give me one more week and I’ll report, not only some fascinating snippets from the past, but also a complete up date.

So, for now.  I wish you a great week and see you soon.  Don’t forget to drop me a line or visit http://www.amazon.com/junefinnigan/author

Salute June x

 

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Benvenuto to all my Loyal and New Followers

Never, ever decide to take a day off and do something that you just should avoid!  Last Saturday I decided to have a really relaxing day without work or writing.  What did I do?  I decided to cook……nothing difficult, all things I have done before with my eyes closed, then disaster struck!  The first thing to go wrong was tipping the steamed cauliflower into a baking dish which was far too small, the florets bounced over the work surface and two landed on the floor!  “Dammit” I cursed and stepped back onto the third one that had cunningly escaped my attention!  I skidded across the floor towards the Tardis (my big new fridge) and grabbed the handle.  The door slowly swung open with me hanging on for dear life and praying that the thing would hold my weight!  Meanwhile, by feet are scrabbling around trying to get a foot hold.  Somehow, I remained upright and the Tardis held firm.  Then I had to clean up the mess and hit my head on the hot oven door, which I had previously opened, and the potatoes on the baking tray inside, rolled slowly forward onto the inside of the horizontal door!  By now I am F…ing and blinding and I was sure my man would come down from his study any minute!  Meanwhile the plums from the garden that my man had lovingly collected, because he was looking forward to a nice creamy desert, got forgotten whilst I recovered on the kitchen chair with a large glass of Pinot Grigio.  A little later I told my man all about it and he shrugged, “Your taking a day off to relax and then cook, was a contradiction in terms, you should have known better….”  So no sympathy there then.

Paolo at C'era una Volta restuarant with fresh Zucchini flowers

Paolo at C’era una Volta restaurant with fresh Zucchini flowers

Our first Passion Fruit

Our first Passion Fruit photo P Finnigan

So, may I ask you a huge favour.  Please, please invite me to yours for some lovingly prepared home cooking, I can’t remember what it tastes like.  On the other hand you may not want to cater for someone who does not eat meat, fish, eggs or gluten…..I know its difficult.  The other thing is, I do like loud rock music and after a couple of glasses of vino will probably start head banging.  I also do bad impressions of Devonshire farmers and recite the same limerick wherever I go.   If you think you can cater for all these factors, you are my gift from heaven, however, I do understand if you would rather give it a miss.  I’ll just keep frequenting our wonderful local restaurants, like C’era Una Volta.  Oooh, nearly forgot, we have three passion fruits in the garden and the grapes have turned a gorgeous shade of purple!  So at least we can pick and eat fruit from the garden…..

Regarding the latter, we went to Montalbino for lunch today, with our lovely daughter and the family, as she has recently enjoyed her birthday.  There is only one little restaurant in Montalbino, which is a tiny hamlet between Montespertoli and Certaldo, here in Tuscany of course.  You may want to check it out as they specialise in Fungi, particularly truffles(tartufo) and porcini.  Our thirteen year old grandson has come home with us for a couple of nights, which is great, and I can hear him and granddad guffawing in the sitting room as they watch a hilarious ‘Black Books’ DVD.

Meanwhile, my man and I take our regular trip into Fiano for coffee in the mornings, and after really bad rain for days on end, the track is pretty bad and we thank ourselves for the foresight in choosing a high four-wheel drive car.  “What a good thing I didn’t buy that low Maserati or Lamborghini,” my man commented in a dead-pan voice.  At Laura’s bar/alimentare on a Saturday morning the Italian men like to get into track suits, or worse, flannelette T-shirt and matching shorts.  Floppy flannelette shorts are seriously unflattering, but then we have to remember that we live amongst country folk; this is not Milan.

Flannelette shorts photo J Finnigan

Flannelette shorts
photo J Finnigan

Well, enough of that.  What has our handsome hero Silvio Berlusconi been up to?  O dio, the latest sensation is that SB probably paid ‘Ruby the Heartstealer’  between five and seven million euros during the Bunga Bunga period.  He still maintains that he only paid her fifty-seven thousand euros to ensure that she did not fall into a world of prostitution.  That poor girl, life can be full of disappointments, she probably expected a lot more…..

Well, I must go and join the men downstairs.  As of tomorrow it is head down as I have a deadline of 31 August for finishing my latest novel, ‘The Bolivian Connection’.  I have left my heroine Joanna Wilde, at a soiree and at least 80% of the guests are cold-blooded assassins!  Time to rescue her….

Have a good week.

Salute June x

PS Have you read ‘My Father, The Assassin’?  If yes I would really appreciate it if you were to pop back to Amazon and leave a review.  Grazie Mille. x

 

 

 

 

 

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Ciao Ragazzi and a big welcome to all my new followers,

Today I am talking about my visit to England, Marketing ‘My Father, The Assassin’, Signing Autographs, Cuckoos, Giant Moths, Fungi, My Man Home Alone, Silvio Berlusconi (who?) and The Rock Concert.

Yesterday I returned from six days in England having left my man in charge of the villa and cat.  I am always homesick when away from Tuscany and the homecoming is always very emotional.  My man organized some lovely fizzy prosecco on the upper terrace and I started to unwind in no time.  It was a good week, meeting with new potential clients, promoting the book and seeing family & friends.  I particularly enjoyed handing my writer’s card to people on trains & planes and watching them immediatley download onto Kindles or order on-line direct from their phones – incredible!  This morning we went for our coffee fix at Fiano and was greeted by the lovely Laura & beautiful daughter Benedetta like a long lost friend.  Benedetta even asked me to sign her autograph book – wow!

Laura & Benedetta at the Alimentare/Bar in Fiano (not to be confused with the other bar in the piazza)

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My Man had quite an eventful time when I was away and talked a lot to Farty Barty the cat.  He also had a lengthy conversation with a giant moth that landed on his lap and stayed for ages. 

Giant Moth on the man’s trouser leg.

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Then he was visited by three cuckoos, which is extremely rare as they are very shy and usually alone, so he chatted with them.  Then he discovered the most amazing fungi in the garden and chatted with that.

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Finally, he resorted to taking a picture of his own reflection, but he’s OK now……

My man in reflective mood.

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Anyway, what is the latest from the hunky Silvio Berlusconi?  You may be aware that he is being prosecuted for under age sex (he’s 76) and fraud, amongst other things.  He claims that he is being persecuted by by Italy’s magistrates.  On Saturday he turned a ‘political’ rally in Brescia into a protest against the Italian judiciary.  Karima el-Mahrong now claims that she never slept with Silvio when she was seventeen and that he gave her money purely out of the desire to help her build a life for herself….. Well, just look at that face below, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a used car from him or accept a donation to further my career.  What do you think?

Silvio in Brescia

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And finally, I really must get on with some singing practice as Stefano, my lead guitarist and mentor, wants to do a rehearsel on Thursday!   The Rock Chick Band’s concert will be on the 22nd June, which is only three weeks away – fantastico.

Have a great week and ci vediamo la prossima weekend.

June xx

PS if you are in Fiano, you can buy my book from Milko’s Cartoleria or on-line by clicking the top right hand side of this page.  Enjoy! xx

 

 

 

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