31 December 2006

We've started preparing this evening's feast... The menu will be something along the lines of:

Tartine con lo storione (sturgeon)
Assaggio di acciughe salate
Bruschette al pomodoro

Paccheri o linguine agli scampi

Spigola (seabass) in casseruola
Gamberoni alla griglia
Salmone alla griglia
Polipo all'insalata

Insalata verde


Rosso: Aglianico d'Irpinia 1997 – Vignadora Mastroberardino
Bianco: Fiano di Avellino 2005 – Terredora

They've already started with the fireworks outside....
Well, I went home for Christmas and I had a really really nice relaxing time. When I first get back it's always a bit strange and I get analytical and pensive about so many things (more so than usual :) ) - both Italian and English. I look at both sides as an outsider, weighing up the pros and cons of everything. It usually passes quickly.

What I miss about England following this trip is the peacefulness and the fact that there was almost no traffic and you could choose your parking space! What I found to be so nice too is that people who I didn't know would stop and say "hello" or "merry Christmas". How nice. Plus constant "excuse mes" and "sorrys" - even when it was me who had bumped into someone else! This would rarely happen here, but then I'm sure a lot of it is to do with the fact that I live in a village in England and a city here. I'm sure that in some villages here the politeness is the same - I hope so, because it makes life just a little bit more pleasant.

I've been back 2 days now, so I'm settling back in :) It's a lovely day today and we've been shopping for this evening's feast - fish based. Yum. Time to hit the kitchen soon - only as supervisor/helper though, I'm not very good at cooking fish.

23 December 2006

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas everyone!
I'll be back blogging after Christmas.

Top of the tree

Here's what I ended up putting on the tree this year. The star that I got from Ikea was so heavy that the tree doubled over when I put it on :D so a bow it had to be.

22 December 2006

A wise turkey

This turkey could teach his friends a few things.

21 December 2006

Snow on Vesuvio

There's snow on Vesuvius today - for the first time this winter! This means it's COLD!
I'll try to post a picture tomorrow - if it's still there, which it should be (the snow that is, not Vesuvius :) )

Christmas Lights

I love the run up to Christmas as much as Christmas itself. I love the lights and decorations everywhere and general Christmas cheer :) .

One thing I haven’t seen much of here are houses covered in lights! You know, National Lampoons Christmas style.

Reasons I pose for this lack of illumination are that near me there aren’t any houses – good reason – there are only apartments, but still, they could put some lights up, maybe the flickering/flashing/glare could be annoying for the neighbouring apartments though. mmmm.
Secondly, the electricity costs are sky high here (in comparison to pay), so that might put people off too. I always think of the electricity meter going round on those houses covered in lights.

I miss Christmas lights on houses - both the tastefully done ones and the less tasteful competition-winners with illuminated inflatable Santas and the like.

19 December 2006

Booking flights online

Not wanting to sound loopy, but before flying I always get worried that I haven’t booked my ticket properly. It’s so easy to book plane tickets online now, with just a few clicks, so this makes me worry that I’ve booked too quickly and done something wrong…like booking for the wrong date etc. The fact that I have no ticket either, just an email, doesn’t help to reassure me.

Last year, a few hours before leaving for Christmas, I decided to double check my booking and I realised that I’d booked myself Naples to London on the 22st and Naples to London again on the 27th – leaving me without a return ticket. Oops! Fortunately after I got over the feeling of dread I was able to amend the booking fairly easily and without costing me an obscene amount despite it being a busy time for travelling.

Taught me not to book in such an hurry :D

18 December 2006

Commenting on blogs

Why is it so hard to comment on blogs sometimes? Often I have to try about three times to write those funny letters, getting it wrong every time.
Then if someone hasn’t got word verification turned on I still have problems putting my password and user name in. Mamma mia!
I’m beginning to wonder is it my fading vision and memory…. I've even had problems commenting on my own blog :( ! Let me in!

17 December 2006


We went out for Chinese last night. I'm sure that in every country Chinese restaurants adapt their menus to the country they're in - like MacDonalds does for example - seen Pulp Fiction where they talk about how they sell beer in McDs in France?

On the menu here you can get steamed ravioli - which I don't remember seeing on menus in UK Chinese restaurants - it's really nice, I intended taking a photo of the ravioli, but before I had time to think like a blogger, they were already in my stomach, sorry - la prossima volta :) . There is also spaghetti alla piastra on the menu (see photo) - not sure how that translates, maybe noodles on a hot plate? Next we had algae fritti/seaweed (- as pictured), bamboo and mushrooms, Cantonese rice and beer to drink, all very good and for a very reasonable price.

Being always the Neapolitans - meaning that we cannot eat without bread, we also ordered pane cinese (Chinese bread) hahaha (see the picture below if you don't believe me) I'm sure that was created purely for the Neapolitan Chinese restaurant market, but I may be wrong....

I adore the food here - maybe even too much! - but I do enjoy a trip to the Chinese for a change of taste. On a Saturday night it gets quite busy with quite a young crowd out to taste something different to the usual.

16 December 2006

It's a beautiful day!

...(Once said by a famous Irish man)

There's not a cloud in the sky and I have no work to do today. Hooraaahhhh! Nothing to do except maybe a giro and a bit of cleaning. Easy life (well, today anyway ;) . I love the weekend!

(BTW, it's about 8°C)

13 December 2006


The TV in the kitchen started to make a loud crackling noise like it was going to explode on Monday so we decided that a replacement was necessary - especially as dinner is just not the same without Un Posto al Sole ...So we passed by Carrefour (big supermarket) last night after work where we got a small TV and I got some bargain half price fairy lights too! It's the right time to buy them now that most people put up their trees. I love fairy lights, you can never have too many! I quite like a trip to Carrefour, they could open a few more tills though, oh well, it's so often the case.

The traffic coming back was really bad, the rush "hour" here is from about 16:30 till 20:00, and in the morning from about 7:30 to 10:00 so it's not easy to avoid it. There's a busy time around lunch too when many schools finish for the day and some shops close for lunch.

I noticed last night that on a two laned (one way) road, the drivers had turned it into a three laned road. Creative eh? So this way three lanes of traffic can pass - tight as it may be - rather than just the two. OH explained that this is because Neapolitans are very good at making the best use of the little space they have. They are forced to do this because too many people live in too small an area, so they need to make these space saving solutions, another traffic related space saving idea would be triple (not just double) parking.

It seems that road markings are a waste of time here really - pedestrian crossings, those down the middle of the roads to divide the road, parking spaces etc, all not much use... All that studying I did for scuola guida too, all through the window! :)

11 December 2006


Here's Lilly looking like a well behaved cat....

Christmas Shopping

I don’t enjoy Christmas shopping much at all, I hate the pressure of having to buy things for that particular day (does that sound Ebenezer like?), but as I’m now feeling quite Christmassy and time is flying by, I decided to make a start on my Christmas shopping this weekend.

I headed out nice and early to beat the crowds, armed with my carefully planned lists I was confident on getting quite a bit done. Instead I only managed to get 2 gifts which is quite a long way off target - how I miss the UK high street at Christmas especially :( . I got drenched too when the heavens opened.

On Sunday I had a much more successful shop thanks to the internet. How nice it is being able to sit in your slippers and click away, instead of battling with crowds and shop assistants. I managed to get most of my shopping finished thanks to Amazon UK and Marks and sparks – all free delivery too, this way I don’t have to carry the stuff in my luggage either when I go back for Christmas. Perfect!

I just need to get a couple more things for people here now (including OH – help!) and I’m done. Unfortunately internet shopping here isn’t very big yet so I’ll have to brave the shops once more. Wish me luck :)

9 December 2006

Clemetines and advent calendars

Today I got a parcel from my parents with a Cadburys advent calendar in it. As it's already the 9th this means I get to eat 9 "doors" today. Brilliant :) Thankyou Mum and Dad. Sometimes I think maybe they won't send me one this year, you know, with me being 29 an' all, but they shine through every time.

I bought my first clementines of the season today at the market. See the photo. Notice the leaves and imperfections. Lovely.

The Vet

We had to take Lills to the vet today for a vaccination. It's called “trivalente” in Italian, I'm not sure of the name in English but it protects against 3 things including cat flu/herpes.
We felt confident about getting into her carrier today.....HOW WRONG WE WERE! She put up with a few attempts of us picking her up and trying to get her into the carrier, but then she decided “enough of this game” and went into hiding.

With this OH contacted the vet and said we can't do it. So the (very good) vet came up himself. Lilly ran like the wind! She got under the tv unit, so we coaxed her out using the hoover, then she ran into the hall way where she was cornered. Here she HISSED like I'd never heard before and her fur puffed up, she even jumped up. The vet is fearless though - luckily. Next she headed under the sofa, and got into the lining of the sofa, we managed to ply her out of there and into the cage. It was quite traumatising both for her and us I think!

At the vets she purred away, seemingly content, then we brought her back home and now she's gone into hiding again. Not been seen for about 4 hours. I'm not as worried as I was when we first got her and she hid, probably because I'm sure she'll come out eventually. OH is more frustrated because he'd really made an effort to befriend her and it could be that we're back to the beginning now :(

7 December 2006

Star or spikey thing on top of the tree?

Tomorrow is a holiday here - Immacolata, so no work. Yippee! Traditionally it's the day when people trim the house up for Christmas and prepare the tree and sometimes the presepe (nativity scene/crib) which are popular here. So this is what we'll be doing tomorrow. Just the tree though, no presepe.

I needed to buy a star for the top and a few more decorations too. looking around I've noticed it's not easy to find a star for the top of the tree here, instead I've found lots of long spikey things which I've found out are called pennacchio (?) - as can been seen in the picture. I'm not sure if this a Neapolitan tradition, or if it extends further afield.

Preferring to have a star on the top of the tree I thought where can I go? Then I decided that surely the Swedes have stars on top of their trees too, so Ikea it was! Mission complete, Ikea saves the day once more, so the star will go on top of the tree tomorrow.

6 December 2006

Here's Lilly!!!

(BTW Sorry about the dodgy eyes on this photo, just be glad she was out from under the sofa long enough to pose for a photo :) )

New cat :)

After some research and consideration, we went to the local vet to ask his advice about getting a cat. Like a used car sales man he said "I've got just the cat for you!" as he knew a woman who had rescued a cat from some kids at a school in a rough area and she was looking for a home for the kitten. She was out doing her shopping with said kitten at the time (don't ask, we didn't) so we waited until she arrived with the soon-to-be-ours bundle of joy in a bird cage (we didn't ask about that either).

After the vet checked her over we took her home and opened her cage, she edged out, hissed at me and then got behind the washing machine where she remained until the next day when I had to use the washing machine and so off she went again. We searched HIGH AND LOW but she was no where to be found - we even doubted that she was in the house anymore. We discovered eventually that she was under the sofa and that we had't lost her as suspected - phew! We had looked under the sofa during our search so I can only imagine how she had been huddled in a corner or clinging to the bottom.

Until recently as soon as she saw us she dived back under the sofa, but now she's getting slowly a little more courageous and comes out to sit on the sofa or play. She still gets scared if we make much noise or sudden movements, but hopefully piano piano we are getting there.

Her favourite things so far:
Washing hanging out to dry
Plastic wine cork
Plastic ball with bell inside.
Toy mouse attached to scratch mat
Xbox - used to reach the curtains
The curtains

4 December 2006

Christmas is coming......

You know that Christmas is coming when you get woken up by 3 singing Father Christmases below your balcony at 9 o'clock on a Sunday morning..
They kicked off with "Jingle Bells" - a good Christmas classic, then they moved on to "Happy Birthday to you" mmmm I think their play list wasn't prepared too well.

Having people come round singing and playing music on a morning (especially Sunday) is quite common in Naples. The idea is that you throw money down either to get them to shut up, or on rare occasions, to show your appreciation. In fact, one of the singing Father Christmases shouted "Buon Natale a tutti! Amma mangia pure noi" (Translated: "Merry Christmas to everyone. We need to eat too!"

Strangely people are quite tolerant of this. Kids particularly enjoy watching and throwing a few coins down - inevitably hitting the odd car or cat. In many other areas I'm sure they'd get nothing more than a bucket of water thrown down - or worse.