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Posts Tagged ‘June Finnigan’

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

As I write this blog the sun is peaking through the wintry clouds and we are celebrating still being a Yellow Zone in Tuscany. Here in Italy we have four zones from a Covid point of view; Red, Orange, Yellow and White. Red is the most restricted zone and whitehass no restrictions at all. Unfortunately there are not any white zones as yet but the country is rapidly turning yellow, which is good news.

And as if to further celebrate our yellow status, we have spotted a few Mimosa trees in blossom, but not many. March 8 will be when the blossoms are cut to celebrate Festa della Donna, International Women’s Day. Bunches of the pretty yellow flowers are gifted to the women we love or appreciate, no matter their status. So I hope there will still be blossoms on the trees then, we have had a few years of the blooms appearing rather too early!

Remaining on the subject of yellow, there are plenty of Italian fashion houses producing gorgeous outfits in this sunny colour and Italian men are not adverse to wearing daffodil yellow either! The on-line fashion houses are currently busy with sales; as much as 70% off some Italian fashion!

Meanwhile, it’s not just fashion here in Tuscany that hit’s the button. I was amazed to read an article in The Florentine magazine about how many products are actually manufactured in Tuscany and despite the virus, production has continued! In this picture you will see IVV glassware, Mangusta Yachts, Locman watches and Laika caravans, all made in Tuscany. ‘Tuscany’s focus on international trade is borne out in the share of Tuscan exports compared to total Italian exports, with a percentage of over 7.5%. Fashion, engineering and precious metalworking sectors are the primary sectors for exports. (Source: ISTAT, Italian Office for National Statistics)‘ for the full article written by Helen Farrell visit the latest magazine at http://www.theflorentine.it

And, what else would you like to hear about? A reader asked me if it’s warm here in January. Well, I have to say no, however, when the sun shines and the wind drops it’s perfectly possible to sit outside and enjoy an aperitivo before lunch! There are fabulous sunsets on some evenings. It’s not just the sun going down it’s the reflection on the opposite hillsides that take the breath away. The countryside can turn a bright orange for just a short period. This foto was taken this evening from my bedroom window!

Well, life is pretty good here in Tuscany. We returned to Paolo’s for another delicious lunch and the first daffodil is out in the garden! Yet more yellow. The government continues to be in disarray over arguments about how to spend the recovery funds being made available by the EU; there’ll probably be a new PM in place soon…. But these things don’t really effect us too much. We continue to work remotely and enjoy our morning espresso in Bar Querceto (our sitting room).

And, on the subject of working remotely, I’d best get back to the day job!

Have s great week, stay safe and well.

Salute June x

Visit me at http://www.junefinnigan.website

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Welcome back to all my Lovely Followers around the World,

Yes I’m back, to let you know that I can really ‘Shake ’em down’, yes I know more sad 60’s lyrics, but we love them don’t we!

Anyway, you want to know what’s happening here in Beautiful Tuscany, don’t you? Yes, of course you do. Well, the good news is that we remain a yellow zone. In Tuscany Covid cases are less than in many regions and we are able to go out to the restaurant to eat, usual rules still apply; masks, except when sat at the table, distancing and strict use of hand cleansers at the door. It is rare to see anyone out and about without a mask and I do not agree with the idea that you are safe in the open without one. Fortunately, the police here will clamp down on anyone seen without one, I wish to god that people around the world would just wise up and wear the masks as a way of life like we do.

Well, we were so happy to return to C’era una Volta Ristorante on Thursday for lunch, the first time since November, and to find both Paolo and Gaia fit and well. Only one other table was occupied, so it was nice and quiet. I drooled over Grilled Polenta con fagioli e cavolo nero, a gluten free version of bruschetta with black cabbage and white beans, swimming in the latest Extra-Virgin Olive oil and fresh herbs from Paolo’s orto. Then it was pasta in a pecorino cheese sauce with a dash of white wine; Paolo’s special recipe. Oh, not to forget, the whole meal was washed down by one of my favourite Chiantis from Bibbiano! Sigh…. http://www.ristorante-ceraunavolta.com

As most of you know, the food and wine here in Tuscany is truly delicious. We have lots of pots of honey, some given as presents, some bought. Yes, Tuscany produces some of the most mouth watering honeys and all are different. We have just finished a pot of Miele di Castagno (chestnut) from Castello Sonnino in Montespertoli. Drissled over a mature Pecorinino cheese the combined flavours are to die for. The Castello has a beautiful shop and you can also buy their wines on-line with other lovely goodies at http://www.castellosonnino.it

Now, like many of you out there, I have found it difficult to think about planning the future. Few flights are going out or coming in here in Italy, which for some time is going to continue effecting things. But there is nothing to stop me putting a date in the diary for my next Tuscan Rock Chick Band Concert and starting on a repertoire and some practice. One has to be optimistic! OK, so we may have to cancel again, but let’s at least knock the idea into shape! Let me know if you have a favourite rock song, I might include it. To give you some idea my favourite music includes Robert Plant, Thin Lizzy, REM and George Harrison, I have a low voice which means I can sing many songs usually performed by men. Female singers I like include Chrissie Hynd, Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks. I like a lot of stuff, so let me know!

Well enough for now, hopefully I will be out and about a lot more over the next week, with more to tell you.

Stay well, stay safe.

Salute June x http:www.junefinnigan.website

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

Phew! Things have calmed down a little now after horrendous storms bringing heavy rain yesterday and overnight. The sky remains grey and there is a steady light rain. We can see some quite big branches that have been blown off into the garden and It will be much worse if we went further afield, which we have no intention of doing! North and south of us the country has had terrible flooding and people have been evacuated from their homes. So, the fact that we are not supposed to travel is not such a bad thing.

The view from here remains beautiful. December is the month when the European Oak tree turns coppery orange and there are thousands in Tuscany. So for the uninitiated, Tuscany looks like it’s in the midst of Autumn. We love it! The misty rain has highlighted a giant cobweb in our garden. A very big or very industrious spider and a beautiful work of art!

Meanwhile, Tuscany has now been moved from Red (High Risk) to Orange (Medium/High Risk) from a Covid point of view. So for the time being, we can move about on essential trips and go outside our immediate commune, but this will be much stricter over the Christmas Period. Currently, we cannot go to restuarants, bars or coffee shops except for take-aways. I really miss my lunches at Paolo’s! I rarely cook pasta at home as I have to cook gluten free for myself and I always destroy it. It’s only a matter of seconds between being just right and falling to pieces! So we eat a lot of potato and rice dishes.

Anyway, my man went for a Covid Test on Friday and the next day our lovely doctor Flavio emailed to say the result was negative! Hurrah! Mind you, my man will tell you that having the test is not a pleasant thing. It was two long cotton type buds up each nostril and beyond, then a throat swab at choking depth! Very uncomfortable indeed. Whether it’s done this way everywhere, I don’t know. You need an appointment through your doctor, then you receive an SMS with a date and time for a drive through test. My man’s appointment was very specific to the minute and he was to arrive 15 minutes early. The queue must have been at least thirty cars and they had not yet got everything ready. So if you go to the Certaldo for a test, be very very patient!

On a much lighter note, I laid the Christmas table this morning. The usual dusty old cloths and table centre, but we love it. I know, it’s still the first week in December, but as everyone else has started celebrating I was easily encouraged to do the same. Thinking about Christmas get togethers, we should make better use of Skype or Zoom this year and look up family and friends we won’t get to see otherwise. What do you think?

Now you may remember that I like to follow the English language on-line Magazine called The Florentine. It keeps me up to date with what’s happening in Florence and the surrounding regions. It also picks up on some interesting facts and historical snippets like the article on the very elegante Grand duke Pietro Leopoldo. Quoted on Saturday 5th December #OnThisDay in 1786, the Grand Duchy of #Tuscany became the first state in the world to abolish torture and capital punishment.  A progressive leader, Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo was the one who made it happen, inspired by Cesare Beccaria’s 1764 essay “On crimes and punishments”. Well, yet another first for Tuscany! https://www.theflorentine.net/

And, finally, don’t forget I’m giving away free copies of my short story ‘The Man in Black’ to all readers who send me a photo of themselves, cat or dog holding one of my other books. Email me at june.finnigan@virgin.net. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Visit my website at http://www.junefinnigan.website for lots more information.

Have a safe week, Salute June x

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

So sorry, but am ‘snowed’ under with work at present so will have to send you a big newsy blog next weekend. At least I managed the tree and here is a picture to cheer you up until next time.

Salute June x

PS Buy my books for Christmas via http://www.junefinnigan.website

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

Well, since I spent most of Saturday morning a week ago ordering stuff for Christmas, packages have been arriving every day since. Now I do find it frustrating that Amazon.it don’t seem able to send my orders in one box, every single video, book etc is packed separately! Far too much packaging in use, however, I understand that they are using the Post Office a lot, as the cost is much less with small packages! Mmmm, methinks Amazon is wealthy enough, but hey ho! Nevertheless, I am enjoying building up the pile of presents to wrap. Lets hope that our plans to be with our family at Christmas goes without a hitch. Our grandson has a flight booked from England, so fingers crossed! I see our daughter has already got the tree up, bless her.

So, back to our garden in our little bit of Chianti. We went outside last Saturday and covered all the vulnerable pots against the expected frost. And, we were amazed to see our English climbing rose in bloom! Mind you, there was a strong cold wind coming from the north, so we were glad to get back inside. Today the sun is shining and looks beautiful looking out from the warmth of our lovely old converted monastery farmhouse.

Meanwhile, I continue to window shop the fashion designers here, who are mostly now on-line as it’s the only way they can hope to survive. To be honest, I don’t need any clothes and anyway there’s no point in glamming up as we are not allowed out! But I have ordered myself some brightly coloured slipper boots for my man to give me for Christmas. He’ll wrap them up and put them under the tree. I won’t tell you what I have bought him as he reads this blog! Anyway, here is an outfit that I love. A hint of festive sweater with a rock chick edge in faux leather trousers! Enjoy.

Now I’ve been doing a bit of research as I have been reminded to share an Italian Hunk of the Month. And, I have found an Italian Actor and producer who has made an impact in films like John Wick 2 (2017) and Loose Cannons (2010). His name is Riccardo Scamarcio and was born in Apulia in 1979. Hope you approve!

Anyway, what are you up to during this current lock-down? We continue to work remotely and relax reading. We’ve got a massive amount of books that are slowly being read now. I’m currently reading book five of the Strike novels called ‘Troubled Blood’ by Robert Galbraith. Brilliant private detective stuff! You should start at book one as it is a series.

Do drop me a line and get ordering my own books in time for Christmas! If you send me a foto of yourself holding one of my books, I will send you a free short thriller called ‘The Man in Black’ which is based in London’s theatre land. http://www.junefinnigan.website

Have a great week and enjoy your on-line shopping!

Salute June x

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

Espresso facts. Do you know precisely how a traditional Italian espresso is made? I found this extract from an article in visittuscany.com wiritten by Flavio Cori. “Un Caffè” is an espresso: only 25 ml of water. A perfect one has an even brown cream on top and must be ready in less than 30 seconds.
“Caffè lungo” is obtained by draining more water than usual. A long coffee, although it is less dense, contains more caffeine than an espresso.” My man and I prefer the Lungo! We always start the day with a due lungi and a chat.

“I’m torn between writing my blog and going down to the sound studio and doing a bit of singing.” I sigh. My man smiled his melting smile across the table, which separated us in Bar Quercetto, formerly known as our sitting room, whilst cupping his second espresso lungo in his right hand. “Well, it is Sunday and executive decisions are difficult to make on a weekend. Why don’t you go down to the sound studio and write your blog there?” He suggests. I think about this, but I know I will be distracted by my music and I cannot write with music playing. I take my bowl of fruit and bufala mozzerella to my study desk and start writing. The decision is made.

Yesterday, Saturday, was a fabulous sunny day. A gentle breeze and hot sunshine. If you have not visited Tuscany in late Autumn and Winter, you should know that the sun is always hot here, that’s when it is shining of course. The air temperature can be very chilly but if you take your folding chair to a sunny sheltered spot you will be lovely and warm and even catch the sun! A wonderful time of year. My man and I enjoyed a bottle of Toscana Bianco before lunch sitting on our favourite bench under the younger oak tree. Acorns were falling like pebbles, bouncing off branches before landing on the grass surrounding us. Any minute we were expecting one to land in our wine or on our heads! Here is a rare picture of my man hiding behind his wine glass, bless him.

Today, we received our first Christmas card from the UK. I hear that festive trees are being bought early as if lockdown is feeding the mind with the need to bring the big day foreward! Not so here, no sign of anything festive in our local village of Fiano yet. My man is not going out at all, whilst I go to the village twice weekly for water refills and groceries. But I am prompted to think about on-line shopping for presents as time is rushing by and at least it’s something fun to do at this time. Last night, my man and I decided on getting any of the latest Bourne Series and Matrix on DVD for ourselves. Foto The Guardian

My man said to me earlier, “You know, you should write more about yourself in the blog, not constantly talking about handbags and shoes. Readers what to know what you are up to here in Tuscany.” “Well, I do actually talk about myself,” I snorted. “I spend a lot of my free time, which is limited, window shopping handbags, shoes and fashion! It’s what I do!” He sighed. So anyway, here is a beautiful outfit for you to drool over, gorgeous cut and quality and made in Italy of course. https://www.luisaspagnoli.it/

What else? Oh yes, I thought you would like to know that the beautiful weather has brought out the olive pickers in ‘droves to the groves.’ We can hear the whining of the mechanical hand held pickers and the shouting and laughing of the contadini. (Country folk) Can’t wait for that first cold pressed tasting of the green nectar.

Well, I must sort out some fotos for you and add them in. Then I must get down to the Sound Studio and do at least a couple of songs before lunch. Phew!

Do drop me a line. I would like to know what you would like to hear from Tuscany and our little bit of Chianti. I know that lots of you are really missing being here, I’m sorry about that.

Thinking of you all, stay safe and well.

Salute June x

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

And, yet another beautiful day in Tuscany!

Yes, it’s Mini-lockdown time here in Italy, so called because it will be short and only up until November 24th. To be honest, I am relieved as things had become far too relaxed. We are back to plan A, exactly the way we survived the last lockdown, only going out for groceries and the chemist (farmacia) when really necessary. We had a delivery of local Chianti Wines yesterday, so that sorts us out for the next couple of months! Also, Senoir schools are mostly closed and it’s a relief to know that our granddaughter will be taking a break from being crammed into school buses every morning! foto The Florentine.

Now if you long to be in Italy but can’t be, I suggest you compensate by doing some on-line Italian classes. I was reading The Florentine magazine yesterday and saw an article about Barbara Livolsi’s Europass Italian Language School in Florence. What a good idea! During this period of Covid-19, she has quote ‘gone beyond any logistical limits and created online courses to be close to foreigners who could not come to Florence.’  My man and I really need an advanced course, despite having been here for sixteen years. We must try and make the time to do this too! http://www.europassitalian.com foto The Florentine.

Meanwhile, I am turning my thoughts towards books for Christmas, it is after all 1st November today! My good friend and writer Rosie Meleady has a new book launch today and it’s based on her move from Ireland to Italy. Rosie is a very amusing and entertaining writer, I think you will enjoy her book; it’s called ‘A Rosie Life in Italy.’ A ROSIE LIFE IN ITALY ON AMAZON

I’ve also just looked at the Book Depository in the UK. I like this site and delivery to Italy has always worked well. They have some beautiful hard-backs that I might well order having just put them on my wish list. http://www.bookdepository.com

Ok, what else? Well, as you know I am not the greatest cook and lockdown does mean cooking everyday! If you love Italian food you should go on-line and watch Judy Witts Francini’s cookery demonstrations. She’s also got a lovely cook book you can buy on-line too. Judy is a friend and neighbour and would normally be doing guided foodie tours, but instead has come up with some really good entertaining live demonstrations. If you are feeling a little brain dead over what to cook, let Judy inspire you! http://www.divinacucina.com

OK, hopefully that’s got you well and truly immersed in things Italian for a while to take your mind off the current crisis.

I love to hear from you, so do drop me a line either by email june.finnigan@virgin.net or leave a comment on this blog! Tell me about your plans for lock-down and what you miss most about Italy!

Have a great week, stay safe and well.

Salute June x

Ps Buy my books for Christmas here http://www.junefinnigan.website

PPs Well done to England for finally winning the Six Nations Rugby Cup!

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

Now, we have lived here in our beautiful bit of Tuscany for sixteen years and other than the country sinking below the waves, I will certainly spend the rest of my life living in Italy. So what, you may ask, has got me so rankled? Well, we are asked to complete two Attestazione di Iscrizione Anagrafica (Certificate of Registration) due to Brexit. So my man and I called into the office in Certaldo, were given two forms each and an appointment for the next day at 9.30. We were instructed to get the top of all four forms stamped by a tabacchi (sells Tobacco, stamps and lottery tickets). So off we went for the stamps. After going into two tabacchi we discovered that they no longer sell stamps and we would have to go to the Post Office. I waited in the car until my man came out and he said, “You’ll never believe it, we must go back to a tabacchi and ask for a Marco di Bollo, which is different to a Francobollo (postage stamp) the latter being what used to be used!” He raced back into a tabacchi and returned with his purchase. “The ruddy stamps cost sixteen euros each, so I just spent sixty-four euros for forms that no-one needs!” He groaned. Anyway, the next day at nine-thirty the forms were completed and just when we were about to leave, the embarrassed young man said, “Err, you need to pay us fifty-two cents for each form!” He pointed to the top left hand corner of the forms and there it was in print, another euro and eight cents were handed over and he responded by handing us our two copies. Shall we send an invoice to Boris?

Anyway, on to brighter things and the subject of the Olive Harvest, which is in full flow. Brightly coloured nets stretch out over the grassy slopes under the olive trees and we can hear the strange whining of the hand held electric pickers echoing across the valleys. There are thousands of groves in Tuscany, some so small that hand picking for family consumption is all that is required. Others big and commercialised. We are generally gifted a bottle of the green nectar as soon as it is cold-pressed; fresh bread for dipping or drizzled over toast and garlic is just to die for!

Also, the fruit harvest is producing delicious plums and pears. We have a bowl of chopped fruit every day for breakfast; I confess to adding some Mozzarella di Bufala to mine. Now before we moved to Italy, I had not discovered Mozzarella di Bufala or Burrata, an even creamier verson of the former. If you have not eaten these heavenly cheeses before, please do. The only danger is you could get addicted. But hey, life eeez good, life eeez now!

What else? Well, I don’t have a lot of spare time on my hands, but I am doing a little more on-line window shopping. As you know I love Italian Fashion and try to keep up with what is happening here in Italy. Like the rest of the world, the fashion industry is struggling here, particularly if they have not got a good on-line site. But yesterday, I realised that it’s pointless thinking of buying new clothes when Covid is keeping us at home. But hang on a minute! We need to go out for groceries so window shopping for cuddly coats and boots is OK. And, amongst James Lakeland’s lovely coat selection, made in Italy, I found this gorgous faux fur snuggly look. Hurrah! http://www.jameslakeland.net

So, now it’s time to tuck-in and be grateful for our comfortable home in the Chianti countryside. Good Wine, olives, cheeses, fruit and autumn vegetables, all readily available and of course Amore. Time to light the log fire and enjoy an aperitivo with my man. The next month or so we are returning to plan A and lockdowning by choice. What will you be doing?

Have a great week, stay safe and secure.

Salute June x

Ps. Visit my author site at http://www.junefinnigan.website

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Yesterday morning, Saturday, I drove into Fiano for groceries. It was damp but the sun had broken through. I parked the car in a very quiet Piazza and carried the water bottle crates to the fountain to fill up with fresh water. I felt an overwhelming pressure in the air, like a looming storm, but there was nothing to indicate this in the sky. I walked up the empty street to La Dispensa, just three people were inside and, the conversation was subdued. Rosella behind the bar chatted with me and her final words were, ‘There is talk going about that we are likely to be in lock-down again by December.’ So it wasn’t just me. Today, Sunday, we are expecting a big announcement from the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte.

But we are not worried, Life eeez good, Life eeez now! My man and I are very fortunate, we live in the middle of the Tuscan countryside and can easily work from home. We are already in partial lock-down by choice and this morning’s walk around the garden was really uplifting. Everything remains lush and green, with heavy dew in the mornings and sunshine to encourage continued growth.

Masses of acorns are falling from our oak trees and we should probably rake them up. Last year several took root and my man has been mowing the tiny shoots down. The thought crossed our minds that maybe we should let them grow and have our own oak-tree forest! What do you think? A neighbour has nets under their big tree, collecting the acorns for some reason. Wine, tea? Any ideas?

I mentioned fungi last week and the damp weather continues to encourage wonderful displays of mushrooms and other fungi at the base of some of the older and rotting tree stumps. And, from the lower terrace the view was stunning as we watched the morning mists gradually dissapating in the rays of the morning sun.

Back in my study I checked my emails and was once again was reminded of another reason why I love Autumn so much. Yes, I’m talking about Autumn/winter Italian fashion, you guessed! Here is an outfit that I love, again from Luisa Spagnoli; I’m on her mailing list. I know, but I am only window shopping, one day when I have made a fortune from book sales, I’ll fill my wardrobe with her stuff! http://www.luisaspagnoli.it

Well, that’s enough, my man is expecting roast potatoes for lunch. I can’t complain when he looks at me the way he does, I just love him to bits. He’s currently overjoyed about Exeter Chiefs winning the European Rugby Championship. Exeter is my city of birth and my man used to go to the old Rugby ground there when it was still ‘standing only,’ weeds growing up through the cracked concrete and on the site of the old speedway racing stadium! Well done Exeter Chiefs!

OK, time to sign off and send you this blog. May you all remain safe and sound, I miss you all, maybe we’ll meet again next year.

Salute June x

PS Visit my author site at http://www.junefinnigan.website

Fotos J & P Finnigan.

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Yes, it’s pouring down with rain here and thunder has been rumbling across a leaden sky all morning. And, when we came back from morning coffee in Fiano, the electricity had gone! It was so dark and gloomy we lit a candle and placed it on the coffee table! Funny how, even in Tuscany, we have the same dilemmas as every other country that normally has electricity, what shall we do now? There was enough light to see but not to read. We contemplated lighting the log fire, but it wasn’t cold enough. Then, the moment we decided to relax and sit in the rather pleasant candle light to talk, it came back on again!

Despite unpredictable weather, October is a very popular time for visiting Artist Groups; some are currently packed into the holiday cottages just up the lane. The forecast is so bad this week that I am starting to feel sorry for them. I use to get a little irritated by the fact that they had positioned their easels so that they could paint the vineyards with our home in the middle, or in our gateway so that they could paint our view! But I have discovered something called tolerance, I can’t say I feel the same about the hunters though, but that’s another subject! foto ancoradelchianti.

But I cannot deny that right now the Autumn vines are a site to behold and a joy to paint. This picture was taken by my friend Ute who works at Villa Il Pozzo, just down the road. Every year I see the vines changing colour and there is one spot coming out of Fiano that is glorious, but difficult to photograph. So with Ute’s permission, I am sharing her foto which was taken from Villa Il Pozzo just a few days ago. Absolutely gorgeous. http://www.villailpozzo.it

Meanwhile, the banks are full of golden yellow wild crocuses. Also the ground is throwing up an amazing number of different fungi, a fascinating time.

And, at last we have Tartufo Bianco, White Truffles, being served at Paolo’s restaurant C’era un Volta and are now just about affordable. I set up the table ready for the arrival of my plate so I could photgraph it for you. Then to my horror my man said ‘What are you doing? You’ve just scoffed two huge mouthfuls without taking a foto first!” So I must apologise, I just couldn’t wait as it was our first taste of the season, food of the gods, that’s all I can say. So sorry about the gap in the middle!

So, what to do on this cold wet Sunday? I know, some on-line window fashion shopping will sort me out. Somehow, Italian men and women fashionisti seem to be recognisable wherever they go. Oh, we say, they must be Italian! Now, I love Italian Fashion, as you know, but somehow despite being very Italianised I still can’t quite pass myself off as anything other than English. But I can dream, can’t I? foto whowhatwear.co.uk

Anyway, perhaps we should light the log fire and have a nice glass of wine before lunch. How about you?

Do get in touch, I love to hear from my readers. Hoping you are well and safe in your little bit of the world.

Salute June

Ps Visit my author website at http://www.junefinnigan.website

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