Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Tag Archives: Italy

Diane needs…

I found this meme at Kim’s @ Laketrees. She borrowed it from Sandee’s @ Comedy Plus who was tagged by Mimi of Mimi Writes for the The Needs Meme. Mimi was tagged by Shannon’s Moments of Introspection who was tagged by Dawn’s Daily Life ……
This one is pretty simple and looks pretty silly.
The rules: All you have to do is Google your first name with the word needs behind it and post the results.

It sounded fun so I decided to play along too. I googled ‘Diane’ follwed by ‘needs’ and these are 12 of the 14,700,000 results I got.

  1. Diane needs a pigfoot and a bottle of beer…
  2. Diane needs someone claiming to be a long lost relative….
  3. Diane needs to reconcile both sides of herself…
  4. Diane needs to wake up…
  5. Diane needs a loan from her father…
  6. Diane needs help!
  7. (what) Diane needs is a good affair…
  8. (what) Diane needs is only moist, well drained organic soil…
  9. Diane needs to be more sexy and more out there…
  10. Diane needs bossing…
  11. Diane needs to eat more…
  12. Diane needs is a f*%*&*g good shower.

Well, what can I say? Some are spookily truer than others – but I’m not telling you which ones!

I’m going to tag the following blogging friends to have a go – but only if you’d like to.

TeresaAmyJennySueColinKyleePaulwritinggbScratchbags70steenAstridDrowsey MonkeyFracasLady BananaPeteej and anyone else who thinks this might be a fun thing to do….help yourself.

Now guess what?

I made a book! The weather has been very iffy again so I took the opportunity to use some of the lovely paper I have hanging around. I think I am back in the groove…

Now I know I promised not to bang on about Italy again but that was before I decided to sort out a cupboard (looking for #1 son’s passport) and came across some old photographs from 1999.  In fact, the date stamped on these photographs is 09.09.99. and as we are approaching 08.08.08 and I have just paid the man who cuts my lawn £108 on 01.08.08  (I am coming over all numerological. Is there such a word?) Anyway, it also happens the photographs were of a magical trip to – you’ve guessed it – Italy! Portofino, Carrara and Siena, to be precise. So for what I promise will be the last time I mention Italy for AGES, here are some highlights of the trip.

First Portofino, a picture postcard perfect village in Liguria, on the Northern coast of Italy. My ex and I drove there for a wedding anniversary – 23rd I think…

The harbour at Portofino


We left Portofino and drove to Carrara to meet up with a friend, Stephen Cox, who is a sculptor. He wanted to show us the marble quarry where he buys the marble for some of his work. It was one of the most memorable days of my life – for all sorts of reasons.

All images here on in can be enlarged by clicking on them

You can see Carrara as you drive along the motorway that follows the coast in Northern Italy. The mountains behind the town look as if they are snow covered but in fact, it is the white marble that the area is famous for, gradually being revealed by the quarrying which has been going on since Roman times. In fact, the Pantheon and Trajan’s column, in Rome are made of it. This is my favourite photograph of the Pantheon.

The interior of the Pantheon

When we reached Carrara, we drove to the place where Stephen buys his marble from. It’s a huge yard with an enormous machine like a band saw which saws the huge marble chunks into appropriate sizes.

The owner of the place then drove us in a Land Rover into the mountains to see where the marble originated. We drove up to the edge of town and then suddenly started to drive up a rough, gravelly track, barely wider than the Land Rover. This is the road we were driving up.

The road up the mountain

Whenever, we got to the end of a section, we had to do a three point turn to get round the corner. The back of the car was hanging over a precipice as we got higher and higher. If you enlarge this photograph, you can see cars parked at the bottom – see how tiny they are! After a terrifying journey, we arrived at the quarry and we were astonished to see the scale of the operation up there. HUGE earthmovers and dumper trucks (which had obviously done the same journey at some point – in fact the trucks do it several times a day – loaded with giant blocks of marble) were cutting away at the mountain face, carving enormous cubes of the stone.

Here are some shots of the process.

After we left Carrara, we drove to Siena, where Stephen had an exhibition in the square in front of the Duomo (cathedral) called ‘Interior Spaces’. He had placed 4 huge hollow marble boxes which resembled sarcophagi in the piazza. It was wonderful to see people interacting with them – peering through openings, looking at the light shining through them or even just using them as somewhere to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

We spent a few days in Siena which, as I have already mentioned in my previous post, is a beautiful city. It is famous for a horse race held there twice a year called the ‘Palio‘. It is hotly contested by 10 of the 17 ‘contradas‘ or districts of Siena. Each contrada is named after an animal or a symbol and has it’s own flag, colours, uniform and traditions. The race dates dates back to medieval times and during the year each contrada parades in the streets playing music and waving their flags to drum up support. I saw the ‘Aquila’ (Eagle) contrada parading through the streets.

Contrada flags

Here is a video I found on YouTube of a Palio race. It is my ambition to see one but perhaps not in the middle of this crowd – on one of the balconies overlooking the Campo would be my choice!

This has been rather a long post but I had to get it all in – promise I shall move on from Italy now.

At least for a time anyway…..arrivederci!


I’ve been tagged by Dunn over at Simply Dunn. The picture above gives you a clue to the theme of the tag (or the theme of the meme, I suppose) Can you guess what it is yet? (My best Rolf Harris impression).

It’s ‘Four’. I have to answer each of the following questions with four answers. So here we go.

Four jobs I have had

  1. Manageress of a fashion ’boutique’
  2. Civil servant
  3. Maths teacher
  4. Worked in an art gallery

Four movies I could watch over and over

  1. Singin’ in the Rain
  2. Cinema Paradiso
  3. You’ve Got Mail
  4. Amelie

And here’s a clip from one of these, Cinema Paradiso – Italy, cute children, dishy Italian men, gorgeous scenery, it has it all.

Four TV shows I love

  1. Heroes
  2. Doctor Who
  3. Torchwood
  4. Francesco da Mosto in anything

And for those of you who don’t know about this last one here is a clip from his new TV series. It has everything, Venice, dishy Italian men, gorgeous boats what more could you want?

Four places I’ve vacationed

  1. Thailand
  2. Barbados
  3. Los Angeles
  4. Italy

Hmmm, I see a theme emerging….

Four of my favourite dishes

  1. Pad thai
  2. Liver and bacon, mashed potatoes and onion gravy
  3. Lobster tails with lime butter
  4. Anything Italian

Oh dear, here we go again…

Four blogs I visit every day

  1. Fuel my Blog
  2. Daddy Papersurfer
  3. Diary of a 70’s teen
  4. The Struggling Writer

No Italian blogs I notice…I must remedy that :-)

The last time I was in Italy was with my good friends Claire and Julia, we did a wonderful tour, starting in Rome moving on to Siena, Florence and ending in Venice. It was a fantastic road trip, although I am very grateful that I was the navigator/tour guide and didn’t have to do any of the driving (which was hairy to say the least!) The soundtrack of our trip was Julia’s own song from her album ‘Concrete Love’.

This is us in St Peter’s Square in Rome after watching Pope John Paul II give his weekly audience to the huge crowd. We could really only saw the Pope on a large TV screen as the crowds were pretty large, but we did get chatting to a very friendly chap called Brother Clay – a priest/monk (can’t remember quite what he was) from the USA. One of the things the Pope does at these weekly audiences is bless newly married couples. They put on their wedding togs and line up to be blessed. I took this photograph after the ceremony, I have always loved it.

Here are some more images of my favourite country.

Now four people I am passing this on to

  1. Astrid
  2. Teresa
  3. Kylee
  4. Jenny

Before I go, I just wanted to show you this photgraph. I was sitting in my garden, enjoying the sunshine, when a movement in the trees caught my eye and I saw a bizarre sight. I rushed to get my camera and took this.

Can you see it? The world’s first flying tractor!

The Italian Job


This paper is an Italian design – a traditional pattern called a Florentine pattern (although the inner paper has a design of ‘Fleur du Lys’ which are French). Whenever I have visited Italy, (which is often, as it is my favourite country in the world) I have visited a chain of shops called ‘Il Papiro‘. They sell the most marvellous marbled paper made using traditional Tuscan methods, Murano glass pens, inks, notebooks, decorative papers, sealing wax, leather goods, stationery and cards. The shops themselves are small, dark old fashioned places but full to bursting with gorgeousness. There are branches all over Italy – in Florence, Rome, Venice, Siena, Orvieto, Pisa and I notice from their web site they now have branches in the USA and Australia!


Over the years, I have spent many happy times in these treasure troves and this is a photograph of the goodies I have bought. You will notice that they are all mostly in pristine condition. I can’t bear to use them so they sit in my workroom amongst my other treasures – I did try to use the seal and sealing wax once but it was very messy so the experiment was not repeated.


And to finish, I have modestly left this to last ;-) I was contacted by Justin at Pushapixel (a lovely blog which highlights artists’ web sites from around the world) and he told me that he has featured me! He has written a very kind review so I suggest you all dash over there immediately to check his blog out (well, when you have finished here!)