Posted on October 23, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay11 Comments »

I hate shopping.  And also, I’m famous for not wanting to know about Christmas until the last possible minute.  These two facts are quite probably connected in some way.

However, this year is a little different.  Why, you ask?  Well, think of me as a struggling artist.  Yes, I know it taxes the old grey matter, but try.

You see, I have an Etsy shop where I’m trying (without much success) to sell the jewellery that I compulsively make up in the front spare bedroom whenever the mood takes me.  I have at least a hundred pieces now, not counting those I’ve already taken for my own use or given away to friends and family or put up in charity auctions for the greyhounds, so – since people are very complimentary, and since everything is holding up very well to ordinary wear and tear*, I decided to sell to a wider audience and perhaps raise a bit of cash for myself with a percentage going to the dogs.

It’s not doing very well.  There’s a huge amount of competition in the jewellery market, for sure, and there’s a bit of a financial squeeze going on, true, but other people sell stuff and I’m a bit aggrieved!

Anyway.  This post isn’t really about me and my jewellery.  What it’s about is this:

I was reading a fellow Etsian’s blog this morning and she has had a great idea.  The Homespun Loft is going to feature some Christmas gifts under $10 which you can find on Etsy to help you with your Christmas shopping!  And of course, since it is a great idea, I’m going to be a good little pirate and steal it.  For you, dear readers, I’ll make it £10 sterling, although of course whatever the listed currency, there’s nothing to stop you buying from overseas providing the seller will ship it, and I’ll try to make sure that they will.

So, now you know why I have a picture of a cute pair of pot holders at the top there.  These can be bought from The Homespun Loft at the bargain price of £5.15 GB, or $8 USD (plus shipping), and yes, she will ship across the world.  Click on the link to go straight to this item in her shop.

I’m going to leave you with one more item from the Homespun Loft. This is a really nice pet placemat

No more dog food all over the kitchen floor!  Pop one of these underneath the bowls and it goes right in the washing machine when there’s an ‘accident’.   You can find it in the shop here, and amazingly, it’s only £2.41 GB ($3.75 USD) plus shipping.  Sheesh, at these prices, you can afford to buy both!


* Except that one bracelet I gave to the lovely T to product test.  It was black micro macrame with purple glass beads and a magnetic clasp.  She loved it, but it kept sticking her arm to the wall.  In fact, she lost it a couple of times and found it later stuck to the fridge. I suppose I could have sold it as a practical joke …

Posted on October 23, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything, The Home Front by Jay5 Comments »

I am STILL having trouble getting to my pictures!

I’m working on it, and hopefully, once my new laptop is up and running there will be no more problems because it has oodles of pristine, unsullied disk space.  Till then, I can only ask for your patience …

I’ll try to get my Bergamo post up today, but the process as it is at the moment is tedious to say the least and I don’t know if I’ll have time.  It’s written, just waiting for the pictures.  *Sigh*

Anyway, please don’t all run away – I will be back!

By the way, some of you may recognise my feeble attempt to reproduce a certain iconic picture.  Kudos to you if you can tell me what it is!

Posted on October 17, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay21 Comments »

Yes, here I am again at last!!

I’m back from my nice long Italian holiday in the sun – and boy, did we have sun? As my dear OH said, it was wall to wall blue. Well, we did see a cloud, once, but it was so unusual that I took pictures of it – that’s it up there. It was quite a dramatic cloud, but it went away without a single drop of rain falling and the sky was blue again for the rest of the day.

To tell the truth, it was too hot at times, especially as the air-conditioning was either broken or entirely absent in some of the agriturismi. One guy told us that it had been knocked out by a storm … I suppose it must have been that cloud. When I asked if it would be fixed by tomorrow, he replied ‘Oh yes. I’ll ring them tomorrow’ and of course it was NOT fixed … which probably sums up the Puglian attitude to keeping the tourists happy when there are olive trees to see to. He was a nice chap, and he did his best, but clearly his mind was not totally engaged with his rather lovely bed-and-breakfast business, preferring to dwell on more important things like donkeys* and the coming harvest.

And, see, the reason I have been completely and totally absent for these three four weeks is that the promised internet connections across Italy were so completely unreliable that I managed to get online, briefly, about four times in total, and then, for some reason, I couldn’t access The Depp Effect. I could barely get my mail! Often, it was a case of ‘if you go outside and sit on the third step, sideways, with your laptop at an angle of 45 degrees to that oleander, and don’t breathe too heavily, you might get one or two bars of signal’. One place had us sitting with our backs as near as dammit pressed against the neighbour’s back door. Another had internet, but not wi-fi – and my laptop has no port for a cable. Yet another had wi-fi, but though we could connect to the system, we couldn’t get onto the internet. Next time I think I’ll try this new roving wi-fi thingy that Skype are now offering. It might prove expensive, but at least I’ll get online!

And then, when I got home, I found that I couldn’t get my photos off my travel laptop (Windows) and onto my Mac (er … not Windows) for editing.  A combination of two almost full hard disks and a corrupted memory stick plus a few senior moments has meant that it’s only now that I can start to use those two million photos I took in the Land of Sun, Spaghetti, and Stony Beaches.

Anyway. Here I am, and I have to tell you that Italy was just lovely. Large amounts of it are stunningly beautiful, and then there are parts which are horribly neglected. But many of the neglected parts are extremely picturesque, unlike our own, home-grown neglected parts. Their long history was evident everywhere, the graffiti was interesting, the food was delectable, the wine was … mmmmm! Extremely drinkable! Most of the people were wonderful; helpful, generous and friendly. I practiced my Italian at every opportunity and everyone was very patient.

And in Genoa, our last stop before flying home, we met with Paola, a Skype ‘language’ friend of mine, and her partner Umberto, who are both lovely people and have become – in the space of three days – real friends. We enjoyed their company enormously! OH can’t speak Italian, and Umberto spoke almost no English, but we managed just fine, especially as Paola’s English is pretty darned good. They showed us their city, and cooked for us two days running – we both agreed that it was the best Italian food we’d eaten – and I want those recipes!!  For example: radicchio and stracchino risotto.  Trofie with home-made genovese pesto (mine with walnuts instead of pine nuts).  Aubergines rolled around tomato, cheese and olives, and baked into deliciousness!!  Even OH loved that, and he doesn’t even much like three of the four components!  And even if the pannacotta was a little less formed than it might have been it didn’t matter in the least, because that particular combination of cream and chocolate has got to be one of the nicest ways of eating them.

Oh yes – and my pinky-purple hair was apparently quite fascinating to the Italians. At one point, OH counted seven heads turning to watch me as I walked past a bus stop (I, of course, was oblivious), and Umberto found a dolphin balloon which he said was exactly the same colour.

I didn’t believe it until I saw the photo, but there you go.

Next time I will begin at the beginning and tell you about our stay at Bergamo, which I had expected to be quite uninteresting since it’s the location of one of Milan’s airports. After all, who spends more time than they have to in the area around Heathrow or Gatwick?

However, I was wrong.  Very wrong!

* Yes, he really did have donkeys.

Posted on October 16, 2011 in Oddities by Jay11 Comments »

I’m having a lot of trouble getting a post up with pictures.  As you will know by now, I love photos and hate to post without one, but this is getting ridiculous!

Hopefully, later today, I’ll sort out my problems, but in the meantime, just talk among yourselves.