Friday, 27 February 2015

I Feel Fine - Roll back the years bopping about today

There is no quicker way to put joy in your heart than listening to your favourite music.
A friend and I were talking about the music from our teenage years. She said the moment she puts on a David Bowie cd she feels sixteen again. Rod Stewart does it for me. When 'Mamma Mia' came out we embraced it enthusiastically not so much because we liked Abba but because it took us back to our youth, it was actually quite uncool to admit to liking Abba once. So just for fun I've written a poem about the music from my youth. I hope you like it and it inspires you to write one too.

Angie's Teenage music.

When I was ten I had a wonderful time
Dancing to The Beatles, 'I feel fine'
The Rolling Stones, 'As tears go by'
Was my favourite lullabye.

Doing the twist I felt so alive
Falling in love with 'The Dave Clark Five,'
One moment I was playing with toys
Then my dad was shouting 'What's that noise?'.

One moment I was climbing trees
Scuffing my shoes, grazing my knees,
Then I was trying to decide
Between the boys of Merseyside.

Waking up to Radio One
Ready for school in the morning sun
Tamla Motown made me bop
Around my bedroom I would hop.

The Rolling Stones made me feel funny
Gave me butterflies in my tummy.
When I went to see Elaine
We played the Beach Boys again and again.

Rod Stewart always made me dream
My brother raved about The Cream
Led Zeppelin belted from his room
Leonard Cohen made him swoon

Jimi Hendrix was his favourite
All his albums were a hit
I liked The Monkees, he did not
Saying scornfully 'Oh what rot.'

Suzi Quatro drove us wild
I became a flower child
One day we went to see 'The Herd'
Screaming loudly, quite absurd.

Traffic, Neil Young and Donovan
James Taylor, Sting, Van Morrison
Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and The Who
Bread, Deep Purple, The Hollies too.

Now I could go on and on
Even mention Elton John
When all this music fills my ears
It surely does roll back the years.

Angie B

Oldies but goldies

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Poems from when I was ten. My Party Dress


My Party Dress

When I was ten I had a dress for parties
Snowy white net, velvet spots like smarties
I grew so fast as children do
There was no point in having two

Of that dress I took such care
Wore it to parties everywhere
To Sonia's house across the green
I learnt to peel a tangerine

To Karen's house down in the town
Her brother acted as a clown
We laughed so much it was such fun
We ran around in the evening sun.

To Linda's house in the avenue
My cousins came to that party too
I held them close I protected them
To keep them safe in the mad mayhem

At Eileen's house we played some games
Postman's knock, made daisy chains
The boys would wrestle in the dirt
Chase after you and lift your skirt

At Kathleen's house there was a dog
Sausage rolls and a chocolate log
In the garden there was a stream
Her sister bought us all ice cream

At Gary's house his mum made toffee
Chatted with my mum drinking coffee
That is when she turned to see
Noticed the dress was too small for me

Oh  how sad that was the end
My party dress was like a friend
We'd had such fun going out together
Playing at parties whatever the weather

Now in my sixties if a dress won't fit
It's not because I've grown out of it
I've put on weight and that's not good
It means I've eaten too much food.....

One party dress at a time

Jack finds love at Le Bar Marchè part one

Wednesday was market day at the small seaside town along the Còte D'Azur and there was a long queue of cars into the car park. Jack felt the sweat trickle under his collar. His back was sore from making sandcastles with the twins and ignoring Claire's offers to rub some suntan oil on him. He was thirsty and wished they were by the pool.

'I can't bear this, it's more fun going to work. I'm fed up with this holiday. I wish I was on my own in a hotel.' He snapped.

 Claire turned to look at him and he ignored the hurt look on her face.

'Why don't you drop me off with Emma and the twins and then park the car and we'll join you at the bar? Can you manage the baby and the buggy on your own?'

Jack tensed at the unaccustomed sarcasm in Claire's voice and pulled the car over.

'Great idea,' he was abrupt and gruff, 'I'll meet you at the bar in twenty minutes.'

Claire walked away holding tight to the twins, without giving her usual display of affection, only Emma turned round to smile and wave before skipping away alongside her brothers.

The baby Sam, sensing the tension refused to sit in the buggy, his normally soft and cuddly little body going rigid and proving surprisingly strong. Jack decided to carry him and push the buggy.
 He stopped in front of the elegant hotel with the Michelin star restaurant and gazed longingly into the foyer. It looked so cool and inviting. He thought of the air- conditioning,  the clean tablecloths and the peace and quiet within.
 Someone slapped him hard on the back. He grimaced and turned round.

'Oh Jack it's you, I didn't recognize you at first in those clothes. You look hot and bothered.'

It was Matt his colleague from the London solicitors firm where he used to work. He was dressed in smart freshly ironed shorts and was hanging on to a beautiful blonde woman in a low cut top and high heels.

'This is Flora. We're staying here in the hotel. We're going to Monte Carlo today to try our luck at the casino. Come by for a drink this evening with Claire. Not with the kids though.'

The baby held out his little beaker and gave one of his deep throaty chuckles. He looked at Jack as though they were best mates enjoying a joke, and while staring at the expanse of Flora's bosom said his first word. 'tee-tee.'

Matt and Flora smiled rather self-consciously and moved away.
Jack took advantage of the moment to strap him into the buggy and hurried off to the bar. He couldn't wait to tell Claire about Sam's first word.

He hoped that she would be back to her usual cheerful self. She was so good-natured he wasn't used to sulks and bad moods. All the children had inherited their mother's sunny nature and Jack wondered for the first time whether perhaps he took it too much for granted. He saw them standing next to the bar waiting for him. Claire's face lit up at the sight of him as it always did, but she stayed where she was and then they all went towards  a free table at the front near the plane tree and the accordion player.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Italian sky, Irish sky

Even in the middle of Winter the Italian sky is bright blue and cloudless.

Italians and the Irish have a lot in common. They both begin with 'i' for a start, they are charming witty and very lovable. One thing the countries don't have in common is the way the sky above them behaves. The Italian sky is deep blue and cloudless and that's the way like it. From April to September most of the rain that falls evaporates anyway, so we just need a few showers during the night to water the flowers and clean the air.


Here is a lovely song about the Irish sky by Fiorella Mannoia, I hope you like it.


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Everyday fun

Most towns have at least one children's playground. In Italy and England they usually feature some swings, a slide, a roundabout and various other attractions, maybe a climbing frame or a train.  When I was growing up they were all set on hard rough concrete and woe betide you if you fell off anything. For a long time my knees were permanently covered in grazes and plasters. Over the years some playgrounds have improved health and safety measures, thick rubber matting on the ground for soft landings, the swings enclosed by some sort of fencing to avoid accidents, enclosures to make sure dogs and cats cannot litter the area. In Milan some of the parks are divided into separate areas, for children, old people or dogs. Whatever playground they go to children will inevitably learn some useful skills.
A trip to the playground is always welcome and they are a very important feature of our towns. My poem for the day is dedicated to the people who make sure playgrounds are available to children.

A Trip to the Playground

Pink wellington boots
A push on a swing
In the park
We try everything

On the roundabout
Round and round
On the Fireman's pole
Slide to the ground

On the train
We go for a ride
Climb the steps
Down the slide

In the corner 
A tree to climb
We always have
A wonderful time.

Angie B

Put on your boots and have fun on the swings

Monday, 16 February 2015

Winter bids farewell


There is a definite feeling of Spring in the air today. The snow on the mountains looks pretty and inviting especially knowing how warm it can be in the daylight hours. Buds are plump and hopeful on the trees and the Japonica and Forsythia are coming out. The landscape at first sight still looks wintery but if you look carefully you can see that Nature is poised for its spectacular Spring time display. Winter has turned around and is off to the Southern Hemisphere.


Winter Bids Farewell

The mid-day air is warm again
On this lovely sunny day
Crocuses and hyacinths
Say Spring is on the way

Winter's hands are waving
And making us aware
He's going to Australia
To see what's happening there

No longer is the frost a threat
The ice does quickly thaw
No freezing gusts of icy wind
Creeping underneath the door

We fling our windows open wide
The sunbeams dance around
If you listen carefully
You'll hear a buzzing sound

The buds and blossoms on the trees
Are waiting for their cue
As soon as it is warm enough
They'll all know what to do.

Cleaning is a pleasure
As the sunshine shows the dust
Pots and pans are gleaming
Let's rub away the rust

Some very welcome visitors
Will soon be coming back
The swallows and the martins
Will grace the chimney stack

But there are some small creatures
That I hoped would stay away
The ants outside my kitchen
Have come back again to play.

Angie B

Time to wake up

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Poem for the day for Carnevale

It's carnival time in Italy. Many people will be going to Venice to admire all the wonderful costumes. In towns all over Italy it is traditional to throw paper confetti and streamers, blow trumpets and generally let off steam in the street party atmosphere. Children love dressing up all year round not just at carnival time and a dressing up brings hours of fun. A bit of imagination and a few props and children can sail the high seas as pirates, rescue damsels in distress, slay dragons, fly to the moon, explore the jungle, all from the comfort of their own home.

Today we had a party
All in fancy dress
Everyone's identity
Was very hard to guess
The first one to arrive
Was a little Snow white
Following right behind her
Was a very gallant knight
Then Princess Annalisa
And a cheerful Mexican
Running round in circles
With a lovely Spiderman
Then a handsome pirate
With a very pretty wife
A Scotsman with a kilt
With a shiny plastic knife
A Professor with a moustache
A dragon green and gold
An emperor from China
Looking oh so bold
Then a pretty lady
who'd overslept in bed
So instead of her new costume
Wore her dressing gown instead
Then arrived a ballerina
In a very short skirt
With a helpful French maid
To clean away the dirt
A very sultry creature
In silver pinks and blues
Graceful and delightful
With pretty golden shoes
Everyone was happy
No chance of getting bored
Especially with Zorro
And his flashing crashing sword.

Angie B

Ready to party

Friday, 13 February 2015

Lucky for some

Today is Friday the thirteenth. Many people recoil in horror when this date is mentioned, in England anyway. Italians are less fazed by it, being much more wary of Friday the seventeeth. Whenever I ask the reasons for this no one seems to know, whereas I have my answer ready for the origins of Friday the thirteenth, mumbling something about the Last Supper. As it's Valentine's day tomorrow I'm feeling excited. I always have found Valentine's day exciting. It's the feeling of being in love, lots of people being in love and being made aware of it, even those who are cynical and refuse to take part in the commercial side. Well I can tell you there are few more erotic sights than a man handing you a bunch of flowers or a single rose and whispering those magic words. I've gone off the track now because I was going to write about Friday the thirteenth and superstitions.

So here's my poem for the day :)

If you meet a ladder on your way
Don't walk under
Just go round it
This will save you from  a plight
A bucket falling from a height

If a black cat comes your way
When in England
Shout hurray
In Italy  proceed with care
You might find some danger there

If you put on your pyjamas
Inside out
And see they're wrong
Don't take them off and change your fate
Leave them on to compensate

All these funny things we do
From dawn till dusk
To bring us luck
Just keep hoping for the good
Cross your fingers and knock on wood.

Angie B

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Bread and Roses

Yesterday I went to see the film 'Pride' about the miners strike in 1984-5. The song was sung by the women at some point and brought a tear to everyone's eyes.
It reminded me of a book I read over thirty years ago called 'Csardas.' The beginning of the story was set in Budapest the last days of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Csardas is the name of a traditional Hungarian dance. My mother gave me this book and I read it to her. It had a profound effect on both of us, it was written beautifully. I can still remember the first and last lines of the book, after all these years.

'It was generally agreed that the Ferenc sisters (Eva and Amelia) were the prettiest girls in town..'

Then the story goes on to tell you about the lives of the two sisters during that tragic period of their country's history, up to de end of the Second World War. At the end of the book Eva's daughter Terez has fallen in love and amidst all the devastaion and horror  her boyfriend/lover brings her a bunch of roses. When Terez's mother Eva sees him arriving with the flowers she turns to her sister Amelia, both broken and aged by now, and whispers,

'Look Amelia roses, roses for Terez.'

It still makes me want to cry even now.
This ties in with the lovely heart warming song beautifully sung by Bronwen.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Writer's block, not a shock

A poem, a sunset and something funny.

Yesterday it happened
I was expecting this
It's cos of often hearing
'Who does she think she is?'
It's always been there lurking
In the fathoms of my mind
A feeling of being useless
That's never far behind
I knew that it could happen
It wasn't such a shock
It seems it's not uncommon
The dreaded writer's block
I've often wondered why
I feel this urge to write
It's usually in the morning
But sometimes late at night
My cousin once did ask me
'Why lay yourself so bare?'
So when I thought about it
It's 'cause I like to share
A really lovely sunset
Or flowers 'long the way
A funny thing that happened
That brightened up my day
So what we can do, you see
Whether to knit or sew
I sure can share with you 
And you share with me

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Weekend Sport

What a great start to the Six nations tournament for England. Not so good for Italy. It's always a pleasure to watch though. There were so many smiley happy faces in the crowds many wearing brightly coloured hats and scarves in their team's colours.  All over the world on Saturdays and Sundays people will be going to stadiums and sports grounds to cheer on their favourite team. Every country has it's favourite spectator sport. Italians are passionate about football. We live near a football stadium. You know when there's a match. First of all there is a steady stream of men and boys and the occasional woman. Most of them wear a scarf or hat in their team colours and many carry a cushion to make sitting on the hard concrete seats more comfortable. There is a calm expectant atmosphere. While the match is on there are different types of cheers:-

1- Goal for the home team
2- almost goal for the home team
3- goal for the away team
4- almost goal for the away team
5- fouls
6- contested actions
7- contested decisions

You can tell who's won just by the sounds of the cheering. I often think how happy men look when they are at a football match.
The same applies to Rugby matches, Tennis matches and ski competitions, in fact any sport can hold your attention. Yesterday I watched the synchronized swimming, it was just amazing, such skill and grace and strength.

Some of my favourite childhood memories are of Sunday afternoons watching sport. My dad would sit in his armchair with the paper and watch whatever sport was on. It was nice to know he wouldn't go anywhere, he was ours for the afternoon. We could play around him, style his hair or bring him cups of tea, enjoy his presence thanks to the sport. So whenever I hear the roar of the crowd or the cars on the formula one race track I think of him and how nice it was being with him.

I always like the Sunday sport
It reminds me of my dad
when watching Rugby matches
He felt he was a lad
He'd sometimes go to Twickenham
To join in all the fun
His very favourite part of it
Was seeing everyone.
He liked to talk with Uncle Max
A professional referee
Who'd had to get another job
After damaging his knee.
My Auntie Mary always had
Hot chocolate for us all
It really cheered you up
When the wind began to squall
So for everyone that's cheering on
Their favourite team today
May it be a perfect match
A game full of fair play.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Duel nationality

You might think I don't know how to spell, but I was thinking about dual citizenship and how many problems it can cause, like a duel, as you try and fit into two countries.

One of my fellow bloggers has written eloquently about the distress of having to renounce her citizenship to be able to carry on living in her husband's country. She describes the pain of having to give up the citizenship of the country of her birth.
In some countries you can happily keep both nationalities, have a passport quite legally for the country of your birth and that of your adopted country, whether by marriage or work or whatever.

When I first came to Italy I had to have a Permesso di soggiorno, a permit to stay here. This was actually a great excuse to visit Venice to go to the Consulate and speak to people in my mother tongue. Often my future mother-in-law would come with me and we would have lunch in a pretty square and enjoy each others' company.

Once when we were at the Consulate they told me that I needed a professional person to sign a document. My mother-in-law offered to sign it. They looked at her doubtfully and told us that only people with degrees were allowed to. My mother-in-law informed them in her timid and modest way that she had a degree in Law from Florence university.  There were broad smiles all round and offers of tea and coffee.

When I got married I automatically became an Italian Citizen by marriage. This law has changed now as Italian citizenship has become more appealing. Luckily I am allowed to keep my British citizenship with a right to hold a passport if I so wish. so I don't really think about citizenship much at all.
 Reading the blog about having to renounce the citizenship of the country of origin made me aware of how difficult that could be. It could feel like you were renouncing all your roots, family and friends.

People that emigrate or move to another country for whatever reason can go into mourning for the life they have left. If you spend the first twenty or so years of your life in a country then that will inevitably be where your roots are. The years between fifteen and twenty are recognized as beeing the most important for the formation of a person's very being.

You need to find something in your adopted country that will help you  overcome this loss and find a new balance. You can't go around with your head in the past and you can't forget it all either. So you end up being two people, having two parallel lives.  You still keep up with what's going on in your land of birth because you love it and are interested and care about it. At the same time you have to build a new life, make lasting friendships and become familiar with new habits and traditions. Some people are better than others at this. Most people will suffer from homesickness at some point, or nostalgia, as Italians would say, but then there will come a point where they are more at home in their new country.
I like to think that I encouraged my family to look for the best in both countries, to love them both.

It must be awful to have to choose though, like my fellow blogger.

Interesting roots for this Magnolia tree. Our roots are very important.

Snowdrops give hope new life piercing the snow, like trying to build a life in a new country

Monday, 2 February 2015

A country walk to a monastery

Dandelion clock

The first snowdrops

San Daniele

The monastery on top of the hill
Seemed a very long way to go
I've been indoors for nearly a month
My feet were very slow.
As I neared the pilgrim way
Winding up the hill
I saw a little blackbird
Standing very still
There were some snowdrops growing there
In clumps beneath the trees
Fresh and lovely, white and new
Among the old dried leaves
A dandelion clock stood out
It's perfection clear to see
Round and soft and delicate
Mother Nature's filigree.
So when at last I arrived at the place
Where monks enjoy their chants
There was a spring in my step, sun on my face
My feet began to dance.

Angie B

Yew trees line the path to the monastery


Daisies are our silver

It's only the second day of February and officiaaly still Winter but everywhere there are signs that Spring is round the corner. Amongst the carpets of dry brown leaves fresh green stalks of snowdrops appear. They hang their heads as if to salute the retreating Winter and protect themselves from the last final flurries of snow.
There are always daisies to be seen. So many poets, from Chaucer to Wordsworth, Burns and Shelley,
seem to have  had a thing about daisies and it's easy to understand why.  They grow everywhere for everyone. They're happy to be picked and made into chains or clutched in tiny fingers.

Here is a selection of verses from poems about daisies by famous poets.

daisies are always there for us

There in thy scanty mantle clad
Thy snowy bosom sunward spread
Thou lifts thy unassuming head
In humble guise
But now the share uptears thy bed
And low thou lies
Robert Burns To a Daisy

Above all flouris in the mede
Than I love most those flouris
White and rede
Soehe that men call daisies
In our towne

Daisies, ye flowers of lowly birth
Embroiderers of the carpet earth
That gem the velvet sod
John Clare

Daisies those pearled Areturi of the earth
The constellated flowers that never set
Percy Shelley

Child of the year! That round dost run
Thou pleasant course when days begun
As ready to salute the sun
As lark or leveret.
Thou long lost praise thou shalt regain
Nor be less dear to future men
Than in old time - thou art not vain
Art Nature's favourite
William Wordsworth - To a daisy