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Posts Tagged ‘Romantic Thrillers’

Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week and stay safe.

Salute June x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visit my author website at My site

Salute June x

 

 

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salute June x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salute June xx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salute June xx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salute June x

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Welcome and Benvenuti to all my Lovely Followers around the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week.

Salute June x

Visit my website at my site

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