Monday, 21 November 2011

Rome Pass

Just booked to go out to Rome in February-hopefully it will almost be spring in Rome by then! Last year it cost us quite a lot to buy tickets for museums and sites so I decided to investigate buying a pass for 25 euros which lasts for 3 days and allows you to travel all over the city o the metro or by bus.

You get 2 free entries and after that a concession.

I can't wait!I've been to the forum 3 times now but it still remains a completely magical place for me.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

£12 an hour

My sister in law has a cleaner.She pays her £12 an hour.

My daughter who is extremly talented and has a degree earns less than £7 per hour and for my work I rarely earn more than £15 an hour.That's for 50 years experiance!

I wonder why we bother when we'd earn more cleaning toilets!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

MISI Handmade | Craft Supplies | Haberdashery

ome useful craft stuff here:

MISI Handmade | Craft Supplies | Haberdashery

Handmade Christmas at Cotehele

I was at Cotehele yesterday running Handmade Christmas workshop.It seemed to go very well although I think I was a little over ambitious with the number of projects I tried out!


Almost certainly my least favourite month of the year.

This November it's been so warm that I dont feel winter has arrived just yet and since summer for me began in April and lasted until 5th October when we returned from Italy I'm feeling slightly more positive.

I'm hoping for a 3 month winter;not least because of the cost of wood and heating oil!

One morning last week I opened the door to let Pippin out and saw this.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

On Vegetarian Food

My local Transition group held a film and discussion evening recently;should we stop eating meat to save the planet? As a result some of the group are trying to go veggie,at least for most of the week.20 years ago we knew a young couple from Scotland who had watched The Animal Film.They were so upset that they decided to go veggie,but they knew absolutely nothing about cooking so they ended up eating tinned tomaroes poured onto pasta.Not a terribly inspiring dish to have 7 times a week.

Some members of our group are also finding things tough now they need to replace their chops and stews with a meat free alternative.

I've put some of my tips on the SEA blog;most importantly about the importance of good flavouring.I've just dressed a salad with some delicious vinegar that I made earlier this summer by leaving blackcurrents in a jar of white wine vinegar.I added a spoon of sugar.On my allotment as well as fruit and veg I grow tasty herbs like sage,rocket and flat leaved parsley.We have a couple of bay trees to as I find that bay leaves are an essential ingredient in winter stews and roasts.

Sometimes I need spices I cant grow at home like nutmeg,cinnamon and lime juice.

Whatever you cook remememer the herbs and spices and it will taste wonderful!

Friday, 11 November 2011


My uncle Frank died a few weeks ago.He was 92.

When we first talked to him about Abruzo we were amazed to find that he'd been posted the in WW2.

The place he stayed at no longer exsists -I'm not sure why?It was called Salarola in the 1940's but I think it was completly destroyed by German bombing after they left.

3 of Frank's friends from Essex died there.They were trapped in a small cave when the Germans threw a shell in.Frank could not go in and retrieve their bodies as there were German snipers everywhere.

I took some pictures of the 'Salarola Valley' in 2009.I like to imagine the farmers that sheltered Frank all survived and that the old house here perhaps also survived.

Sad abandoned house

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Gesso or Gypsum?

We bought a bag of white powder plaster at Orsini builder's merchants which we were told was pure Gesso.The countryside around Manoppello and Roccamorice in particular seems to have deposits of this mineral that is a dirty yellow grey colour with quite large crystals.A company called La Farage still make Gesso in Abruzzo.
Locally several villages are named after this mineral;Gessopalena being one such place.

thanks to website panramio for photo

The mineral is burnt in a furnace and the resulting white powder is called Gesso in Italy and Gypsum elsewhere.It is actually Calcium Sulphate.The process can also create 'plaster of paris' which apparently gets its name from the plaster used by specialist French masons who came to work in English cathedrals during the middle ages.Its not something that naturally lends itself to stone pointing or building but maybe it was mixed with some other substance?

The term Gesso in England is really only used to describe a 'ground' for paintings on canvas or wood panels.

thanks to The National Gallery for this information:

Gesso is the Italian word for the white mineral gypsum. It is used as a ground or preparatory layer to ensure a smooth surface for painting or gilding on wood. It was also sometimes used for the priming of canvas.

Gesso consists of gypsum bound in size (an adhesive made from animal skin and waste). The common practice was for a coarse lower layer to be applied (gesso grosso), followed by a finer upper layer (gesso sottile). It has to be scraped and sanded to make it absolutely smooth. In some unfinished or damaged pictures parts of the gesso layer can be seen.

The gesso could be built up to form a low relief on the wood known as pastiglia. It could also be cut or incised - much of the fine details of picture frames is cut in the gesso rather than in the wood below. In panel painting north of the Alps, instead of gypsum chalk or some other form of calcium carbonate was generally used bound with size as the white ground.

I imagine that the gesso made in the north used lime putty or dry lime rather than gesso powder?

Beach Houses in Pescara