A mum and a wife and sometimes just me

Saturday 24 July 2010

Incendiary by Chris Cleave

I don't know how to write this post as this book as left me somewhat puzzled. Did I love it, I don't know but am I glad I read it, well yes. A mother's letter to Osama Bin Laden it captured me at the beginning, lagged a bit in the middle and then caused me to sit upright at the end.

I felt that at first I was prepared for what I was going to read but once I started I kept looking for the safety net to keep me reading it. Saying that in the end I really could not put the book down and it was a swift two day read and finally it was all over. Having read 'The Other Hand' I was prepared for a bit of pessimism, negativity, or over realism, or whatever you want to call it, when Cleave sets the scene, I can only describe it as "no holds barred".

There is a way that Cleave presents his characters that I think you either love them or you hate them. It seems to be their normality that gets to people but which I really take to. There are always one or two statement his characters make in his book that I want to write down and never forget as they ring so true in the most beautiful prose. There are bits of the book that are sexually driven but rather than disgust they heighten the emotions in the book.

What I got was not so much a commentary on terrorism but on a woman dealing with these facts, images and most importantly the loss of her son. He follows her through the book in such a simple yet powerful and distrubing way, that in the end I understood her plea:
'Come to me and we will blow back the world together WITH INCREDIBLE NOISE AND FURY.'

Monday 19 July 2010

A night with the Vivian girls

So hubby is a huge music fan of many genres...except anything that happens to be 'mainstream' that is. Actually according to some he might be fit for the fires of hell and I think it is definitely too late to try and save him...

Anyway so any opportunity that presents itself to go and see live music is a must when a band he likes is playing. Italy in the summer is a great place to be then as they are numerous festivals with a variety of bands and usually it's free. Saturday night we headed to a small town in Brescia for the no silenz festival only an hour drive away from home.

As a festival it was a selection of many things....

and so much more.....

but seriously it was really about going to watch the Vivan girls...

an American band from Brooklyn,NY. Don't ask me to do a music review because I lack the skills to wax lyrical about this kind of stuff. Just trust me when I say that these girls successively banged out their songs that moved the joint.

Anyway don't hear it from me here is a little bit of their story from them...

Friday 16 July 2010

Keeping cool in summer

Trying to do so much here to keep cool this summer. The day from early morning to late night never seems to want to drop below 30. I notice the little kids downstairs in their swim suits playing with water to keep cool. I remember when it was me and my friends on our street in Jamaica begging some parent to allow us to turn on the sprinkler so we could run through it continuously with our swimsuits on. Then they were kiskopops! In the UK they call them ice lollies, in Italy there is ice-cream. Then there is watermelon...

I only remember getting a small pieces and using my hands. Here in Italy you get usually a rather large piece and a knife and fork! It's big, red and juicy which ever way you serve it. Can't get enough of the stuff.

Monday 12 July 2010

It was picture postcard perfect

The mountains of Italy are lovely in the summer and the winter. You can go on lovely walks and sample some great food in the summer or skiing and walking with snow shoes still sampling some great food in the winter. This weekend I had the opportunity to go walking in Val di Funes in the Puez-Geisler Nature Park.

Our walk started through a forest along a stream, I believe to be called Brogles Brook, with continuous and beautiful views to the Giesler Peaks or Gruppo delle Odle, depending on whether you fancy speaking German or Italian.

Our intended destination was to go straight to Giesler-Alm/Rifugio delle Odle (never mind that the sign clearly pointed in the other direction) but we took a wrong turn (or the longer way depending on how you want to look at it) and as such we followed the road to view Malga Gampen. I was in hubby and his parents hands and as such can't really give specific directions of the way we took. I was not complaining though as the road was gentle on the feet and the views were beautiful...

Once we realised we had gone the wrong way we figured it was a bit much to just keep on going so we headed back to our crossroad and this time followed the sign! We decided to take a break before heading on our way with a quick sip of water and a sandwich and some fruit...okay so we stopped to have some lunch.

Though not a road it was a fairly easy trail to follow with no large ups or downs to maneuvre which was great for me. You get pretty close to Gruppo delle Odle and they are pretty impressive and of course you get to see some lingering snow.

Of course the best is when you finally arrive at Geisler-Alm. The refuge itself was a very nice set up and what seems to be a great place to stay for a few nights. A lovely play park for the kids with goats and all. Behind the refuge they had what they call the 'Cinema of the Odle' with chairs to catch some sun, relax and enjoy the view. We stopped for a drink to enjoy the view. My pictures probably don't do it justice.

It definitely was picture postcard perfect!

Friday 9 July 2010

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

So it's not often that I ending up watching the movie before I read the book. I was actually quite keen on watching the movie as I am sure I had read somewhere that it was a good book but hubby kind of burst the bubble when he mentioned that it did not get that great a review(we always somehow turn to the Guaridan). So there I was sitting on my second plane (part of my 27 hours of travel from New Zealand to Italy) thinking well maybe this is a good opportunity to watch it, which I did and well it was okay. Anyway this is not about the film this is about the book...which was a hundred thousand times better...I know someone always says the book is better than the movie....

What happens is that the movie left out so much that made the book a lot more interesting and real. The story does not focus solely on the grilsy topic of death, but rather on the afterlife and a families struggle to deal with the loss of a daughter and sister. It was a very touching novel to read and fills the imagination with sometimes beautiful but sad images. I did start to loose track a bit by the end but it did not spoil the overall effect of what I thought was an engaging read.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Royal Gossip with Phillipa Gregory

So maybe entitling this post as gossip might be a bit misleading but it is the best way for me to explain how much of page turner this book is! I would definately recommend it as one of those books that are great for holidays lazing on the beach. That and the fact that I have no interest in much historical non-fiction about royalty meant I could take this book at complete face value and I was unable to debate how well it sticks to the story, so it was fun.  'The Other Boleyn Girl' is filled with intrigue, romance, family and traditions and the book in so many ways engages with the reader. It's portrayal of the rivlary between the two sisters, Anne and Mary, really captures the imagination and I literally felt their battle of loyalty and resentment between each other. I found all the character's well rounded and actually found myself taking sides and becoming a part of the plot.

Overall a pretty good read.

Making Home-made Jam

I have always had the opportunity to take home jars of hubby's mum home made jam. So you can only imagine my excitement when the opportunity arose for me to actually help! There has been an abundance of fruit....the fridges are overflowing in this house, from peaches, to apples, to apricots. Just as a matter of note you cannot say no to gifts of fruits from the neighbour's either. So this morning we were making peach jam and I was overwhelmed with how easy it really all was. The bottles had been washed with boiling water and prepared and ready.

The next step was the peaches which needed to be peeled and cut into small pieces. A lot of our peaches were pretty mature and very easy to peel. I have boiled peaches in the past if they are not very soft to make them easier to peel but something tells me they won't make as nice jam! You should have about 1 kilo of peaches.


You then need to add the peaches with 350grams of sugar and put it in a large pot to boil. Hubby's mum then added a packet of 'Fruttapec' which means you have to add less sugar and boil for a lot less time. I found it great the she has a special wooden spoons only for making marmellata! After boiling for about 10-15 minutes she felt that the pieces were still too big after boiling so gave it a quick whizz with a hand blender. 

Now all we needed to do was fill the jars with sticky juice using a ladle. Of course be careful when handling the jars as once they have the jam inside they will be hot!!!! Then we turned them upside down and left them for 10 minutes while we started the process again.

And the next day...well just YUM!

Little things Italian

So here I am in Italy for 2 whole months! 2 whole months of holiday as well so I really can't complain! I really do love Italy as much as it frustrates me some times. Of course two of my favourite things are the food and the wine. I love the idea of cooking with the seasons, eating what is local, fresh and abundant. So there was certain simple joy in the fact that I was able to go on two very if rather small but special outings for me.
The first was going directly to the local farmer to buy some vegetables. As we arrived there she was coming in from the fields with her basket loaded with fresh tomatoes! The second was heading off with our big white jug to get some wine from a local producer. The best bit of course was being able to sample the produce! The best bit for hubby's day was that it cost 1 euro a litre! Of course as most Italian families there is a cantina downstairs where all this lovely produce is stored. Hubby's dad then bottles the wine himself when it is then chilled and ready to serve at dinner.
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