Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Temple of Concordia, Valley of the Temples, Agrigento

These are difficult times for the comuni of Italy:  the government has announced swingeing cuts in their funding   and schools, hospitals and other institutions all over the country are feeling the effect. Here in Modica, we have all been subject to discomfort caused by the failure of the administration to carry out its annual disinfestation process to deal with the summer's mosquito population and the courthouse is one of the institutions that we might lose    So worried are the country's mayors by the government's austerity measures that hundreds of them demonstrated in Milan on Monday.

It is no surprise, then, that mayors are trying to raise funds for their towns in any way they can and Marco Zambuto, Mayor of the city of Agrigento, is no exception:  this week he suggested that the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento's best known landmark, be managed as a "brand"  by private companies such as banks or auction houses for limited periods of time.  Under the proposals, the private companies would be able to use the architectural site for events along with the "brand" for their products and advertising in return for paying a fixed fee to the city.  The companies would also be "invited" to sponsor the maintenance and restoration of the site as well as the maintenance and improvement of its infrastructure.

Louis Vuitton, Versace and the London auction house Sotheby's are some of the companies that the Mayor is said to have in mind for the project.  Who wants a temple motif on their Louis Vuitton bag?


We all need our mums in this life, however old we are.  This song is for mine, who died 18 years ago today:

Connie Francis - Mamma

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I was delighted to be invited by Paul to participate in the fortnightly Let's Blog Off  event and, first of all,  I'll let him explain the concept here:

"Every two weeks, the blogosphere comes alive with something called a Blog Off. A Blog Off is an event where bloggers of every stripe weigh in on the same topic on the same day. The topic for this round of the Blog Off is 'What's the best book you ever read?' "

Now, I'm the woman who brought 6,000 books to Sicily so an excuse to write about some of them is always welcome. But the best book I've ever read?  How was I going to choose?

Well, I suppose a lot depends on how you define "best":  if the book I'm reading at any given moment is unputdownable, I'm likely to think it's the best I've read - until I start the next one!  I read a lot of biography and among the most interesting I've read in recent years are:  Maria Fairweather's superb account of the life of one of my heroines, Madame de Stael;   the aptly entitled Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton by Kathryn Hughes;  An Ordinary Man by Paul Rusesabagina;  and The Woman Who Shot Mussolini by Frances Stonor Saunders.

But wait a minute:  what if I define "best" in terms of books that have influenced me?  My studies have led me to read in three languages other than my own so I must admit that my literary influences are many and diverse.  Coincidentally, the other day I took part in a vote in which people selected their favourite authors from Nobel Prize in Literature laureates: after much deliberation I chose Albert Camus, not for L'Etranger [The Outsider] but for La Peste [The Plague] which I read in French at school and which challenged and changed my thinking more than any other book.  Then there is Voltaire who taught me tolerance, Balzac - so little read these days but a must for anyone interested in human nature - and my beloved Simone de Beauvoir. Lorca's poetry sustained my late teens, Gramsci's Letters from Prison my extreme leftie phase and I must not forget, among the poets, Modica's own Salvatore Quasimodo;  little did I imagine, all those years ago as I burned the midnight oil writing essays on his work, that I would one day come to live in his town.

Suppose, though, I take "best" to mean the book I would most like to take with me to get me through a  period of enforced solitude - on that mythical desert island, perhaps?   This, I've concluded, is the "best" definition of "best", when it comes to books!  At first I thought I would take something long and easy to dip into, such as the Larousse Gastronomique, but then I realised that such a volume might actually cause me distress if I only had berries to eat.  My next idea was to fall back on poetry and, having narrowed my poets down to Verlaine and Burns, I decided that Burns [with a glossary] just had the edge.

And then I remembered something else:  some years back, when I had to go into hospital, I took along Pages  from the Goncourt Journal to pass the time and I forgot all indignities, pain and discomfort as the nineteenth century French authors I'd studied so long ago passed through the volume like friends.  I even said "Hello" out loud to some of them.  In my life, friendship has been very important so a book full of "old friends" such as these is - for the moment - the best book I have ever read.

Below is the full list of contributors to this Blog Off theme:

Monday, August 29, 2011


Aeroporto di Trapani-Birgi
Image:  Wikimedia Commons

Sicily's Trapani-Birgi [Vincenzo Florio] Airport has this weekend been named the world's top airport for increased passenger use in the World Airport Traffic Report 2010 published by ACI  [Airports Council International]. It was ranked 406th airport overall in the study of data from 900 airports worldwide.

This is indeed good news for the airport that is the "gateway to western Sicily" and it could certainly do with some for, being a civil airport that is sometimes used for military purposes, Trapani-Birgi has found itself involved in the Libyan crisis, with NATO planes having taken off from there on missions to the country. This has sadly caused a 50% decrease in the airport's civil traffic in 2011.

Salvatore Ombra, president of the airport's management company Airgest, is, however, optimistic:  he says that, provided the Italian government lifts limitations on the use of the airport for civil flights from October 1st, as promised, the airport's apron is reassigned to civil aircraft and that the government pays the airport the €10 million due to it in compensation for disruption to civil flights, Trapani-Birgi will again be able to operate at full capacity, maintaining current routes and introducing new ones.

Good luck, Trapani-Birgi!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


This was inspired by a recipe in the September edition of La Cucina magazine which comes with Corriere della Sera.  I've altered the recipe quite a lot as it uses fresh mangoes and I couldn't find any mangoes, fresh or tinned, so I used tinned peaches [which I prefer].  I didn't have any dried chilli peppers either, so I used half a fresh one.  [They come larger in Italy than the ones usually available in the UK.] I also dislike recipes that tell you to brown the meat, then take it out while you do the vegetables;  I find this bothersome and usually unnecessary, as long as I'm using a nice, wide pan.  I liked the idea of using a good amount of chives, as my chive plant on the balcony survives despite my régime of benign neglect.  Anyway, this is what I did:

Brown 6 - 8 chicken joints, skin-on, on all sides in 3 tablesp olive oil.  Meanwhile, chop a lovely Sicilian white onion, 2 cloves garlic and half a fresh red chilli pepper.  When the chicken is brown, add these to the pan and continue to cook everything over a low flame till the vegetables are softened.  Add coarse seasalt to taste, the drained contents of a large tin of peaches, a handful of chopped chives, 3 tablesp water and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.  Garnish the dish with more chopped chives.

Buon appetito.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Amarena and ......?

And what did my friend have? - Not an ice cream.

Answers in the comments tomorrow.


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I'm ruminating about that old mystery, love, in this guest post at The Wounded Warrior today.

Just a word of warning: you may find some of The Wounded Warrior's content distressing but you will find some excellent poetry on the site as well.

Thanks for the invitation, Jan.


It was with great sorrow that I learned this week of the death of Yvonne ["Von"] Hadley-Jones, known to and loved by many as the "Devonshire Dumpling" of  No Clue blog.

Although I never met Von, I counted her as a friend and she was a very kind person:  when she was losing her hearing, she sent me some of her CDs as she wanted her favourite music to continue to be appreciated and when this single life got me down, she understood and was there for me.

Von's dry humour as a blogger put many a bureaucrat and politician in their place and I shall miss her observations on life in a part of the UK where I spent many happy childhood holidays.

Arrivederci, Von - I shall think of you every time I play Bocelli.   You give 'em what for up there, now!

Sally in Norfolk has more details of Von's last illness and Posh Totty has a fine tribute here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


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Palermo, according to the Milan Chamber of Commerce and Istat [the Italian Statistics Office] is second only to Naples for the number of coffee manufacturers in the city:  Naples has 69 [6.2% of the national total] whilst Palermo has 47 and Sicily as a whole 70. 

In Modica we have the headquarters of Caffè Moak and on some mornings the delicious aroma of roasting coffee beans pervades the modern Sorda area where I live.  This, of course, sends me scuttling to the nearest bar for my wake-up fix of espresso.

One of the greatest compliments I've received here was when a friend's husband told me I make a good espresso - "per un essere inglese" ["for a British personage"].

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa
Click top arrow to see proximity of Città del Vaticano

Following Friday's story of the policeman arrested for growing 17 cannabis plants in his barracks, today we learn of a 21-year-old man from Rome, with previous convictions, who was growing nine marijuana plants on his balcony in via delle Fornaci, a stone's throw from the Vatican City.  A stray branch, blown into the street, had alerted police.  

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Going potty in a different way were the 100 or so unfortunate passengers, including both Sicilians and Norwegians,  who landed at Palermo's Aeroporto Falcone e Borsellino on a flight from Oslo on Monday afternoon:  upon leaving the plane, they were led into a room next to the Customs post where they were abandoned, in a temperature nearing 40 C and with no openable windows, doors or air conditioning, for at least 30 minutes.  The bus that should have transported them to "Arrivals" never arrived and when some of the passengers tried to go back out through the door by which they had entered the room, they were forced back by baggage handlers because they were setting foot on the runway.  

By this time the elderly passengers were desperate to sit down - there were no seats in the room - the babies and children amongst them were becoming distressed and other passengers urgently needed to use a restroom.  Others were anxious about missing connecting flights.  Several tried to call for help on their mobile phones but no help was forthcoming.  

Finally, after some of the passengers had banged loudly on the locked glass doors and shouted at the tops of their voices, a man in uniform arrived and opened them.  However, recognising him as the same official who had led them into the room in the first place and then forgotten them while he spoke on his mobile phone, several passengers became angry with him and one, who took a photograph of him, was accused of insulting him.

Come, come, Palermo :  this is hardly the way to encourage tourism, is it?

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Italy, according to figures released by the small business association Confartigianato, has the highest youth unemployment rate in Europe with 1,138,000 unemployed under the age of 25.  Of these, young adults under the age of 24 are the worst affected, with 29.6% being unemployed as compared with a European average of 21%.

Sicily is the largest and worst affected of the Italian regions, with 28% of adults under 35 being unemployed.  This compares with a national average of 15.9%. In Southern Italy as a whole 538,000 young people are unemployed. The rate in Campania is 27.6%, in Basilicata it is 26.7% and the rate in Sardinia is 25.2%.  Things are very different in the North, the rate in Trentino-Alto Adige being 5.7% and that in Lombardy being 9.3%.  The rate in the country's smallest region, the Valle d'Aosta, is 7.8%.

I feel sorry for young people in Sicily, who, as I've written  here, do not go around burning the businesses of people who might one day have employed them, loot shops or terrorise the good citizens of their cities.

The unemployment rate for adults in Italy is 23.2%.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


What you need at the end of a day so hot that even the Sicilians have been grumbling is a cool garden to sit in, cool food and a gathering of the coolest people you know.  All three were on offer at Linda and Gino' s on Sunday evening and what a spread Linda and Chiara had prepared!

There was Parma ham with local cheeses and bocconcini of mozzarella. There were homemade bread rolls plus Linda and Chiara's pizza and focaccia. There were grilled aubergines, little baked, stuffed onions and tomatoes, olives and tiny broad beans from Linda and Gino's garden.  There was also a wonderfully refreshing salad of homegrown lettuce, local cheese and walnuts. Forgive me if I've left anything out, Linda and Chiara!

There were figs from the garden:

In Sicily, it is the custom to take along a dessert when you are invited to lunch or supper so I made my semifreddo di frutti di bosco again:

Linda and Chiara had made peach granita:

Ragusa's best Yorkshire cook, Jean, had made a Bakewell Tart.  [Yes, I do know Bakewell is in Derbyshire!]

And, as you can never have enough ice cream in Sicily, other friends had brought these delights along:

Then there was Modican chocolate:

Grazie, Linda, Chiara e Gino e tutti gli amici!

Frank Sinatra - In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening

Monday, August 22, 2011


Franciscan Cloister of Santa Maria del Gesù, Modica

On Saturday evening the Mayor of Modica, in a very nice gesture, held a reception for "Modicani  d'elezione", meaning those who have chosen to live, but were not born, in his town.  The event was held in the stunningly beautiful setting of the recently restored Church and adjoining Franciscan Cloister of Santa Maria del Gesù in Modica Alta.

The Church, extant from 1343, was reconstructed in 1481 for the wedding of Anna Cabrera, Countess of Modica and Federico Henriquez, first cousin of King Ferdinand 11 of Aragon [Fernando il Cattolico].   Having been built high up and away from the then most populous areas of the city, both buildings survived and neither was badly damaged in the terrible earthquake of 1693

The columns in the Cloister were constructed in a variety of styles, among them Arabic, Arab-Norman, Gothic, Romanesque and herringbone.  Each one is different.

I took so many pictures of the Church and Cloister, which were even lovelier in the evening light,  that, for ease of viewing, I have compiled them into a slideshow.  I hope you enjoy them:

It was a pleasant evening which included an interlude of traditional Sicilian songs.  And naturally, it wouldn't have been a Modican reception without some enormous trays of delicious,  handmade pastries from the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto

I am enormously grateful to the person who uploaded this lovely video onto youtube:


Ortigia, Siracusa
Sicily is sixth in the ranking of the world's best islands in Travel and Leisure Magazine's 2011 World's Best Awards. According to the list, the most popular island for tourism is Santorini [Greece] followed by Bali in second place, Cape Breton Island [Nova Scotia] in third place, then Boracay [Philippines] and the Great Barrier Reef Islands [Australia] in fourth and fifth positions respectively.  Well done Sicily, which moves up from seventh place in 2010.

Marco Bevacqua, the Sicilian  president of UFTAA, warns against complacency, however:  signor Bevacqua points out that although tourism statistics are better for Sicily this year, they are only better when compared with the past few years of the economic downturn and are not as they were before.  He also reminds the travel industry that one of the reasons for the increase is that many tourists do not want to visit North African or Arabian countries at the moment.

Travel and Leisure Magazine has also published a list of the ten best tourist cities in the world:  Bangkok heads the list with Florence in second position and Rome in third.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


It is 100 years today since Vincenzo Peruggia [1881 - 1925] stole the Mona Lisa or Gioconda from the Louvre and I have told his story here.  The painting was recovered two years later and Peruggia's defence was that he had acted out of patriotism, believing that the painting belonged in Italy.  He served only a minimal prison sentence and later went back to France where appropriately, perhaps, he opened a paint store.

Yesterday his birthplace of Dumenza [Varese, Lombardy]  honoured him by staging a play called Il Processo a Vincenzo Peruggia  [The Trial of Vincenzo Peruggia] by Giovanni Epis as part of its summer festival.  The play's director, Simone Toffanin, believes that Peruggia was a patriot but the Mayor of Dumenza has his doubts and says he does not want the town to be famous only as the birthplace of the man who stole the Mona Lisa.

What do you think?  Was Peruggia a patriot or a purloiner?

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Picture the scene:  a small Sicilian town on the last Saturday morning of Italy's two-week summer break.  It is very hot and the streets are almost as deserted as they were on the ferragosto bank holiday itself.  The few shops that are open on the modern via Sacro Cuore are offering massive discounts to get rid of their summer stock but even with these, they are empty.  In the supermarket there are only three customers and you can see that the staff are itching to get to the beach. The two cars that are illegally parked right outside a bar go unnoticed for now as our local vigile is sheltering from the sun in the perfumery and is enjoying himself chatting to the young lady assistants.  Raffaele, my hairdresser, who reopened for a few hours yesterday, had said I could go back for a comb-out at twelve today - this is the only time of year when you need to make what passes for an "appointment" - but had called an hour before to ask if I could go earlier so that he and his staff could all escape back to the Marina.  Grumpily, I go and he greets me with,  "You have the sea in your eyes" so what can a girl do but melt?

The economy continues to go down the drain, the rest of Europe panics but the Italians, who know that all things pass, are still at the beach - living.  I love you, Italy.

And I cannot let August pass without reposting the quintessential summer song.  Take it away, signor Paoli:

Gino Paoli - Sapore di sale

Friday, August 19, 2011


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What a day Thursday was for those whacky news stories that can only, it seems, happen in Italy.  For those of you who may have missed them, I'll summarise them here:

The first giggle was over the tale of a somewhat optimistic Viterbo [Lazio] police officer who was arrested by his own colleagues for growing no less than 17 cannabis plants in his barracks.  [The carabinieri are military in Italy.]  Maybe he had been relying on a law, passed by the Italian Supreme Court in June, under which we are each allowed to grow one cannabis plant, for personal use, on our own balcony or terrace.  I don't suppose even a barracks has 17 balconies and one has to admit that the unfortunate officer was - well, pushing it.

Basilica di San Salvatore al Monte, Firenze
Image:  Wikimedia Commons

No sooner had I stopped laughing at that than news came through of a group of monks in Florence who, having had two precious Bibles stolen from their Basilica, were praying for the thief to be punished ..... by an attack of diarrhea.  I wonder how long he'll stay on the run?

More seriously a survey of the five largest EU countries reported yesterday that Italian housewives are the most unhappy in Europe:  the economic downturn has worsened their situation and it is harder than ever for them to find adequate child care - assuming, that is, that they can find employment in the first place. In addition, 95% of Italian men have never so much as emptied a washing machine - we do not know whether they have ever loaded one but the odds are not brilliant - 70% have never used an oven and most do not help at all in the house or with bringing up children.  Half of the women interviewed said they regretted getting married and most, sadly, regretted having had children.  The antics of the Prime Minister, who is deemed to be setting a bad example to a generation of men who hardly need his encouragement,  were the last straw for many of the women.

Ruth Orkin: An American Girl in Italy - 1951

Then, late last night, came a surprising and delightful item of news:  Ninalee Craig,  the American Girl in Italy of the famous and iconic Ruth Orkin photograph at last spoke publically about the circumstances in which the picture was taken and how she felt about it.  It seems I was wrong when I wrote about the photograph here, which just goes to show what can happen when you judge one era from the viewpoint of another, but I am pleased to know that Ninalee was happy on that long-ago day and it was nice to end the evening on a positive note.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I love antipasti and was pleased with the result when I tried this recipe from the August edition of La Cucina Italiana. These contain some of my favourite ingredients - potatoes, peppers, capers and grated grana cheese:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


It was the 15th August and there were no bars open where one might have enjoyed a gelato in the sun, so what was a girl to do?  Make a semifreddo, that's what and I decided to see what I could do with ingredients I had in stock:  I've always got some panna da montare [the equivalent of whipping or double cream] in the fridge ready for just such an emergency and I've usually got a packet of forest fruits in the freezer for making quick desserts.  Savoiardi [lady's finger] biscuits were in the cupboard so I was ready to go!  Oh, I almost forgot - here was a chance to use some of that strawberry and vanilla cream liqueur I bought at the strawberry festival.  [You could use Framboise, Cassis, Maraschino or Kirsch.] Here's what I did:

First thaw a 450 gr packet of forest fruits and reserve the juice plus a few berries for decoration.  Put 6 savoiardi biscuits in a freezer bag, put a clip on the top of the bag and give them a good bashing with a rolling pin.  This is immensely satisfying to do, particularly if you are angry with someone!  Whip 500 ml panna da montare, whipping or double cream to stiff peaks and add 50 ml sugar, a goodly drop of your chosen liqueur, the crushed savoiardi and the fruits.  Mix very well. Line a long 2lb loaf tin with cling film and spoon the mixture in, levelling the top [which will become the base] with a palette knife. Wrap the tin in more cling film and then in foil and freeze for at least 5 hours but preferably overnight.  Add a dollop of liqueur to the juice with the grated zest and juice of a lemon and chill  until ready to serve.  Turn out the semifreddo - it will come out easily - decorate it with the reserved fruits and some mint leaves if you like, slice it and serve with the juice.

Buon appetito.


Elvis Presley, my twitter stream reminds me, died 34 years ago today.  Below is a guest post about him that I wrote for the [now defunct] Shades of Grey blog in 2007 but I never did  post it here. Ian Grey now blogs at the new Shades of Grey.

Welshcakes from Sicily here, with a post that has nothing to do with Sicily whatsoever:

The King and I
I used to be able to recite Elvis Presley’s army number. I don’t know what good I thought this feat would do me, but my Dad thought I might have made a passable spy because I could commit this kind of information to memory. [To this day, I don’t have to write telephone numbers down.] Knowing and regurgitating useless facts about our pop idols was just something we did in those days of the Romeo andBliss girls' comics.

Elvis Presley entered my life after Tommy Steele and by this time we had 45 rpm records that you could stack on the spindle of your record player. I would watch entranced as the stylus arm automatically made its way across, used its side to knock a record onto the turntable then lowered itself onto the edge of the record to play it. Our record players didn’t need to be wound up any more [yes, I remember the gramophone!] and they were portable – not in the sense that an MP3 player is today, of course – but portable enough to put them on the floor in our bedrooms and stretch out beside them listening to and dreaming about Elvis or whoever else was in the “top ten”. It's hard to explain to younger generations the freedom we felt that this gave us: it made the music "ours", you see; we could listen to it in private or just with our friends; we didn't have to share it with our parents [who knew nothing about anything, did they?]

Elvis, of course, outlasted them all: Every time I received a record token as a present or saved up 7/6d [pre-decimal British currency] I was off down to the record shop in Stapleton Road and time and time again I came back with an Elvis recording because they always made it to number one in those days.

And in some ways, I think Elvis was my generation's first anti-hero [although the world had been assured by no less a personnage than Ed Sullivan that Elvis was a "fine, home-lovin' boy"]: he wasn’t baby-faced like Cliff Richard , ill-looking like Billy Fury or seemingly undernourished, as Adam Faith appeared in those days [though the latter became a thoroughly fanciable actor in a later incarnation]. The older “square” generation [though not my parents] were scandalised by Elvis’s pelvis twisting and you only had to look at those shadows under his eyes to swoon! [My Dad roared with laughter at Elvis’s pelvis antics in the film Love Me Tender, which was supposed to be set in the nineteenth century!] We needed anti-heroes, perhaps, because we had been brought up on so many tales of the unmatchable heroes of WW2.

I saw all the Elvis films and couldn’t have told you even five minutes after they finished what had happened in any of them, for I spent their running time snogging in the back row with my boyfriend Clive. All these films were fairly plotless vehicles for Elvis’s voice, anyway.Blue Hawaii was the first Elvis LP my Dad bought me and I still have it, along with the 45s.

How I cried over that version of Are You Lonesome Tonight?, absurd though the spoken part is: “Someone said ‘the world’s a stage’”; would it have sounded much less romantic to have said ‘Shakespeare’? Or was that too "square"? And that diction! “I wonder if… you’re lonesome tonight…” I played it over and over again after the break-up of my two-year romance with Clive and even now, when I hear it, I think of a “bright summer’s day when he kissed me and called me sweetheart” .

Then suddenly along came a group called The Beatles and the sound was unlike anything any of us had ever heard before . They looked different too – those strange suits and all that fuss over what were quite innocent haircuts. We transferred our loyalties to the sound of Liverpool and the Elvis releases stopped becoming automatic number ones. I’m ashamed to say that some of us forgot him, for a while. But he was still there, in the background and, older, fatter and often drugged up, he started to stage come-back concerts. I didn’t go for the religious songs he recorded in those later years but I loved the newer versions of the ballads – and strangely enough, my generation discovered, so did most of our mothers! I am listening to the “Love Songs” CD now, as I write.

My favourite Elvis songs? Always on my Mind – the line about “little things I should have said and done” always makes me cry and I think of my Mum; Anything that’s Part of You because I’m such a sentimental hoarder! And Return to Sender because it still makes me want to get up and jive!

When, thirty years ago today, I heard that Elvis had died I couldn’t believe it. It seemed that part of the “punctuation” of my youth had gone and of course it was so sad: all that money; a still fine voice; women who adored him all over the world; yet the king of rock ‘n’ roll had been so unhappy, walled up in Graceland finding solace in goodness knows what. So much has been written about that final decline that I am not going to go into it here, except to say that the death of his twin at birth may have had much more effect on him than we realise and certainly affected his relationship with his mother, whose death I don’t believe he recovered from.

I miss Elvis, who most inconsiderately did not show up in a Carson City supermarket during my one visit to the USA . I imagine him as a stunningly handsome older man, portly perhaps, but with a shock of white hair and still those haunting eyes, wowing the ladies as ever. But it was not to be. Perhaps he would never have been content. Who knows? And like another icon who died twenty years later during August, I don’t think Elvis ever knew how much he was loved.

No reason left for me to live
What can I take, what can I give?
When I’d give all of someone new
For anything that’s part of you

We weren't able to upload youtube videos directly to blogs back in 2007 so I'm happy to be able to post my two favourite Elvis songs here today:

Monday, August 15, 2011


Hi, folks.  It's Simi here!

That Queen lady who is mummy to all those corgis is not the only one to post messages at holiday time, you know!

Well, I'll bet you've all been wondering how I cope with the heat in August:  it's not a problem really, as I've had my second summer haircut and my mummy bought me this hat.  That ole black poodle down the road is swooning away!  

My mummy says it's not a holiday today in all of your countries and that it isn't one in Wales, where we used to live.  I can't remember because every day's a holiday for me - hee- hee!

Wherever you are, fans, I hope you've had a very woofy and waggy ferragosto!

Love from

Simi xxxx woof!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


My dear friends Jean and Gino truly have hearts of gold so it was with great pleasure that I attended their golden wedding anniversary party at the Marina di Ragusa on Friday night.  Jean and Gino have been living happily in Sicily for 17 years and Gino, as you may imagine, is of Italian descent.  

The party, appropriately for around 50 of Jean and Gino's friends,  was held in the elegant, covered courtyard of a restaurant which has the original name of Stasera pago io! ["Tonight I'm Paying!"]

The generous antipasti came plated and were very prettily presented. [There was melon under the Parma ham.]

Then there was wild asparagus risotto

and pasta with speck and mushrooms:

The main course was fillet of beef in a mushroom sauce

served with a side salad:

There was a refreshing macedonia for dessert

before Jean and Gino cut this beautiful cake, which had been made in a tiny, nearby pasticceria:

I wonder if they remember the first time they did this?

Unlike Will and Kate, Jean and Gino repeated the kiss several times for their friends - and for themselves!

The cake tasted every bit as delicious as it looked:

Every guest received one of these beautiful bomboniere [wedding favours]

decorated with a crystal bunch of grapes and containing golden sugared almonds:

Here is your intrepid blogger with Jean, Gino and our friend Linda of whom I've written many times on this blog:

Yes, that's a chignon I've got for the occasion, courtesy, of course, of Raffaele the hairdresser and I know he won't forgive me if I don't show you the back!

And now I'd like you all to join me in a toast: To Jean and Gino, our golden couple.  May you enjoy many more happy years together.


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