Santa never sleeps

My three-hour ragù joined the risotto base at 5 pm, sat cooling while I made today’s dinner (pork and apple stew). Once the little ones were abed, I set up a super supplì production line, trying to recapture the memory of our years in Rome.


Can’t wait to hear the reactions tomorrow, at our four-team, twelve-tapas Xmas dinner.

I’m entering my supplì in the “Best Italian starter with rice” category

Leaving this place

I’m not profligate with my categories (nor with my posts). So when I see that I have 22 posts in the category “Leaving this place”, I know that I’ve been leaving more than I’ve been staying these last few years.

And on a night like this, at 1:13 am, with the cold Harmattan wind whipping through the palm trees, I can say, enough is enough.

Once the kids (1, 2, 3) were in bed, Mr B and I got down to the real work of the day: sorting through our stuff before the packers arrive. In comparison with previous blogged moves, it’s more like our leaving Rome than our leaving Kingston. The difference is that now, as in Rome, we are simply sorting stuff for the movers to pack, whereas in Kingston, due to a broken-down removals lorry arriving 8 hours late, Mr B and I, 7 months pregnant, ended up doing all the packing — humping and heaving — ourselves.

Bwoy! Were we busted!

This time we’re just sorting into stuff to bin, stuff to take on the plane, stuff to give to the US club, stuff to donate to charity, stuff to give to colleagues, stuff to give to the home help … OK … so that’s why it’s now 1:34 am.

… zzzzzzzzzzzzz ……

Mmm … Easter

To Valzani'sEaster eating in Jamaica is not very exciting. The traditional Jamaican speciality of bun and cheese pales in comparison with the orgies of chocolate we’ve known elsewhere.

In Rome, one of our favourite shops was Valzani’s pasticceria (confectioner’s), which alone justified a walk over the river (Trastevere). The street and the shop itself were very unprepossessing, but once inside there was no denying you were somewhere special. Their handmade chocolates were laid out like exquisite gems and included a wicked chili-flavoured truffle. We usually limited ourselves to their perfect meringues – crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle. (‘Scuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.)

At Easter, they made a giant chocolate Easter egg, so big that Signor Valzani had to stand on a stool to decorate it while we stared agog.

On the walls hung faded photos of Valzani’s previous works of art, including a model of ancient Rome sculpted out of sugar.

This is a photo of one of Valzani’s giant Easter eggs, circa 1974, judging by the hair style.

Mmmm ... Easter

You say black I say white

Cycling in Civitella del Tronto

Photo taken in July this year during one of our best day trips in Abruzzo. Civitella del Tronto boasts the narrowest street in Italy, about 60 cm wide, and a spectacular fortress, scene of the final showdown in 1861 between the Bourbon forces and those of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, led by Vittorio Emanuele I. The victory of the southerners led to the formation of contemporary Italy.

Got some more photos from the village, but don’t want to spoil you by showing them in one go.

(Read: I don’t know where they are and if I do I can’t be bothered to wait for my old notebook to grind through Photoshop, taking around 60 seconds per action.)

Where there’s muck

Out cycling this morning, I passed a field being ripped up. Walking a few metres behind the earthmover (It’s Scoop, mama!) was a man with a metal detector and a spade.

Where there's muck ...

Get a lijf! (alt.dutch.humour)

“Dude! WTF!!” I shouted, but he was too busy to look up.

I can’t imagine what he hoped to find. Since the land has been reclaimed from the sea, it’s only been used for cow pasture.

Bah! Two metres of compacted dung.

Beep! Beep! Beep! My god, he’s found something! …

Just kidding.

In Rome, developers were reluctant to dig in many places for fear of hitting a buried ruin. Once that happened, the ground would be seized and cordoned off by the Ministry of Monuments.

” ‘old yer ‘orses, Marco. You’ve only gone and uncovered the almost pristine remnants of a paleochristian oratory, ain’tcha, you dipstick!”

I’ve freely translated from Romanesco, the local dialect. Although it may not be long before Roman builders do talk like this. The spread of Estuary English seems relentless – it’s already reached Friesland where my Dutch mother-in-law talks like one of the Slaters (she’s a devoted Eastenders viewer).

And she has a sense of humour …