Wednesday, 29 January 2014


There is something quite satisfying about digging up your own potatoes for your roast dinner...even if it isn't Sunday!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The egg Mafia!

 The chickens in their run!
Our crazy chickens have provided us with hours of entertainment in the last 18 months, and through them we have also created some entertainment of our own! Some of you will already have heard of our egg antics, but I felt it was time I shared some of them with the world.

Set the scene: two British immigrants, a Sicilian door lady, a bunch of Italian school teachers and six chickens - what could go wrong?

It started one day with an innocent question to a member of staff at the boys' school. Dougie asked after her chickens and during a short and animated conversation we found ourselves bamboozled into bringing 20 eggs for said member of staff (who it turns out we'd mistaken for someone else and didn't have her own chickens at all!). And so egg-gate begins...

"How much are your eggs?" "Err..20 cents each?" we tentatively replied, not having a clue how much we should charge, never expecting to sell our eggs, but knowing roughly how much we had paid for free range eggs in the UK. The response we got was not what we had expected. "20 cents, you CAN'T sell them for that. That's not enough! You HAVE TO charge 30 cents per egg." "No," we said backing away, slightly scared of the Sicilian door lady, with images of godfather movies flashing through our heads,"30 cents is too much. 20 cents is plenty." "Absolutely not, we are paying you 30 cents per egg." So much for the eggonomic crisis I thought (sorry couldn't resist!).

After much discussion and obligatory Italian hand waving, we agreed to meet half way and we accepted 25 cents per egg. I think it is the first time I've ever heard of increasing prices due to consumer pressure.

The following day we went to school with our twenty eggs. Believe me, we had no idea what lay ahead. A request for another thirty eggs...word was spreading quickly about the availability of good quality, local free range eggs. We offered a possible further twenty (six chickens lay quite a lot more eggs than a family of four can eat!) which would use up our stockpile but explained we didn't have enough to bring thirty. No problem, we naively thought, customers satisfied and they will lay another 6 tomorrow and the day after, that will be plenty for us this week.

The next day we presented our twenty remaining eggs, to be met with a demand (and I don't use this word lightly!) for forty more eggs - "no," we explained, "we don't have 40 more eggs" "But the other Maestras (teachers) want them," says our Sicilian door lady, in a tone that means don't mess with me, "and they will be paying 30 cents an egg." "Uh, but it's impossible. The chickens don't lay that many eggs - we only have six of them." "Oh, they only lay one each?" "Yes, one each per day maximum, if they all lay." "Oh, how many can you bring then?" "Uh, none - we don't even have any for ourselves." "Oh...when can you bring forty then?" "Well, we can't!" "Can you bring 20 then?" "We can bring 20 next week." "Next week! Can't you bring them before then?" " No, we need some eggs for ourselves and we need to wait until we have 20 to bring." "Then you need to buy more chickens!"

And so the discussions continued for several weeks! Every time we brought eggs in to school we were asked for more, while we explained over and over that they only lay one egg each per day so we would bring what we could. We got to the point of tossing a coin as to who would take the boys into school and face the wrath of the egg mafia. Eventually, we crumbled under the pressure of the constant demands and increased our chicken flock to 8 , with a couple of losses along the way (there will be another post about that) and yet the demand continues. Long live the egg Mafia!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Just another manic Monday!

Sore shins, burning thighs, glowing face and a huge smile only means one thing in our season is here!

A few blues, reds and blacks were the perfect start to the day. This is one of the reasons we love living in Abruzzo! Hope you like the phots:
Our own private ski slope!

Sun coming up over the mountains.

Aremogna in the sun.
If you want to find out more about skiing our 'secret slopes' read what The Independent had to say:

What are you thankful for?

Ok, so I have missed Thanksgiving (and now December too - sorry Heather!), but a few weeks ago I made a promise to an amazing lady, funky mum, immensely positive person and one of a handful of long term survivors of a rare form of cancer, despite being given only 15 months to live 8 years ago (you can read about her story here ) that I would write a blog post about something I am thankful for and help people become aware of this terrible disease. As I'm not American, I'm hoping my rather lapsidasical attitude to time keeping to Thanksgiving might be overlooked on this occasion! Plus, this way I get to be one of the first people to push Heather's message into 2014!

Before I write my 'thankfully things' though, part of my reason for not having written this blog post until now is that really, when you look at it, I have so many things to be thankful for, the little things, the big things and the obscure things, I'm not entirely sure where to start. (I know...aren't I lucky, yey!)

Secondly, I'm not exactly a gushy person on the outside (yes, gushy is a real adjective, whereas, there is some discussion as to whether lapsidasical is even a real word...I digress...), so displaying the things that I am thankful for out there, in full view, in the public arena, fills me with some trepidation. The cause, however, is most definitely a noble one and therefore I am prepared to make myself slightly uncomfortable in order to help fight it.

So, I have narrowed my Thankful list to two major goes:

1. I am thankful for my family - I won't go through them all (although I could because I think there are so many amazing people in my family) but here are the ones I want to share for now:

My two sons who make me laugh, cry, cross, happy, sometimes ashamed but most definitely very, very proud. You are my world, my good, my bad and I will always be here for you...probably far beyond the time that you want me to be here for you, mind you!

My husband, who supports me in all my mad ventures and crazy ideas (albeit a little bit too much of a realist at times for my liking!!), who picks me up when I am down, who loves me when I am horrible and no-one else would and who's loyalty I am probably thankful for most of all. I love you.

My incredible sister, selfless, an amazing mother, role model, woman. I have missed you since I moved away to University and wish I could pop in for tea, go shopping or take you out for lunch. But when we talk it's like you are just down the road and I can't wait to see you again soon.

2. I am thankful for my life. I am in good health, I have food on the table, clothes on my back, a roof over my head, a job in a place where employment is difficult, friends who make me laugh, challenges to keep me occupied and mountain views all around me that take your breath away. In the last 18 months I have experienced things that some people will never experience in a lifetime. My problems are small in comparison to others (although they often feel to me like some of the mountains I am looking at) and I can genuinely say there is something in my life that makes me smile everyday - even if some days I have to look harder for it than others. In all of this I consider myself to be a very, very lucky lady.

On a final note, as this is my 'thankful' post (just in case you had missed that fact!), I am thankful to Heather, for contacting me and asking me to write this. I would never have done it otherwise. 

So, tell me, what are you thankful for?...