Monday, 9 December 2013

Praying Mantis

I angered him by pulling up a big thistle he liked so he hung round to remind me of my criminal act!


Why does food in Italy taste so good?

I get fed up with eating bread -although it is delicious so I make these Potato Cakes and gently fry in Olive oil! Lovely.
 Serves: 8 
  • 1/2 lb cooked potatoes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • I tablespoon butter, melted
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • A little milk

 And why can't we buy tomatoes like these in the UK?

these are a bit like Mince pies in taste but have a soft cake-like filling -I think I'll make some using a Bakewell tart recipe with lots of spice! I'll post a picture soon.

Italian Painted Furniture

And these are of a beautiful paper box I bought from an antique shop in Lostwithiel which is handmade and painted in 1918 and will be winging it's way to Abruzzo soon!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

how many spoons?

The theory is that 'normal dogs' begin the day with a certain number of theoretical 'spoons' in the case of Billy here probably at least 10 but with a fearful dog like Jock maybe only 3! If there are 2 very stressful events in that dog's day then he is down to just one spoon and if he looses that then we really are dealing with a situation that needs careful handling.
Sometimes owners overestimate the 'number of spoons' and once a dog has lost them all there could be some truly awful consequences . The mauling of children 'playing' with dogs can be because that child has been 'playing' with a dog who is so to speak at the end of its tether and unable to cope with more stress.
Owners should try to recognise signs that a dog is becoming more stressed
Licking Lips
Looking away and not making eye contact
Standing very still
These are all signs that the dog is not happy and should be left alone and not forced into any interaction with people or other dogs.


If you walk or drive up the Contrada Foce you will come to a tarmac road leading to a large quarry.

This quarry was in use in Roman times when bitumen was extracted and used in boat building on the coast. It is owned by SAMA/italcementi.


2008 -il centro

MANOPPELLO 's city council resolved a long-standing dispute with the company Italcementi SAMA approving an agreement that ends to 20 years of litigation.  Sama  owed ​​ sums due to the removal of material in the quarry located near Foce Valle Romana.

The agreement provides for a compensation of 1 million 100 thousand and EUR 85 thousand euro , and for an annual fee to compensate for future mining activity.

Below -looking towards Gran Sasso
As I follow the path around this massive quarry I climb higher and higher.In the next picture you can see at the very top the mountain where the monastery is.


The quarry today is only used for stone and then not very frequently.

History - some lovely images from Abruzzo

Santa Maria Arabona -Manoppello

Santa Maria Arabona

Turrivalignani -San Giovanni


Unusual inscription in Chieti Cemetery -I have to translate it!

Carved doorway in Manoppello



When were these hand prints made?

Still Summer

It may be blowing a gale in the UK but in Abruzzo late October means warm balmy days picking olives and grapes in the sunshine.
Above Manoppello along the trail of St Thomas

lovely Italian Oak
olives picked!

Kitchen Plastered

Finally the kitchen is plastered. Andrew, Pete and I have all contributed to the first few coats and a local guy put on the finishing coat using BIO CALCE intonaco plaster. It took about 6 sacks.

The texture is a bit more open than we really wanted but a slurry of lime could be brushed in to the very open areas

clay paint would work very well in this room

The centre of this area is the colour the paint is when mixed and then it dries to a pale ochre.I added yellow ochre to a paint mix of clay and wheat flour paste.
The clay I used is English China Clay from St Austell , kindly given to me by Jo Moore who is the custodian of the China Clay Museum there.
So an Italian house has Cornish clay paint on its walls!!!


My first attempt at lime washing was not entirely trouble free - I began by spraying the walls well and mixing a big bucket of uncoloured lime wash 9/1 portions water to lime putty.

The first coat went on well but I made the mistake of using a big lime wash brush and causing a fresh bout of 'tennis elbow'.I bought a smaller brush from the local ferramenta and this was much easier on the arms.

The next coats had pigments added;all powdered earth colours which are first mixed with water.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Beautiful Ideas for hedge in Abruzzo

This looks like a lovely idea for a hedge with the added benefit of providing a crop of fruit. Not sure if it would work running along the top of the terrace.


A brilliant idea for a screen on a patio


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Stone Carving

Early Christian symbol

L'aquila or Eagle

Scottish 'Green Man'

Abruzzo 'Green Man'

Total disrespect for a lovely piece of historical carving!

carved (upside down) tablet

A very silmilar christian symbol to that on our own house


All the rain has gotten everything growing but luckily my kind neighbour has helped by strimmimng the grass in the olives.

The Italian glads come from our local garden center in Harrowbarrow but they really look better in Abruzzo!

Nothing beats my olive grove for an afternoon snooze.