Friday, 30 June 2006

Thursday, 29 June 2006

I think I know where I went wrong with the gluten-free bread recipe. I got the weight of milk and the weight of gluten-free flour mixed up. Doh! Hopefully it will work this time.

After going to Exeter College's open day to ask about the teaching assistant course, I came to the conclusion that it's probably not worth pursuing that career idea. At least this idea hasn't wasted as much time as Pharmacy.

Mum suggested I find something to stimulate me and stop me getting bored, one idea was to write up an autobiography for the edification of other aspies. Seemed an interesting idea so I started working out a timeline, if anyone's interested in contributing info, feel free. Obviously I will check with all family members before publishing anything, so Adrian can breathe a sigh of relief.

I couldn't remember the road name of the first place we lived in Farnborough, found it in the end, "West Glade" but in the searching I came across a site with very damning views of both Farnborough and Aldershot.
With one excerpt on the Farnborough College of Technology followed by "[Critical comment on FCoT has been removed because of threats by FCoT against the ISP]"; it reads like an issue of Private Eye.

Tuesday, 27 June 2006


Monica has got a job up until roughly term-time. Better pay, walking distance. Monica's been accepted for a part-time degree at Exeter.

Huzzah! Thanks for any prayers you've been sending our way.

Monday, 26 June 2006

Good morning. Today's the day I'm coming home. Should be back before 9, all being well.

S'been nice.

I should be going back to my job with the NHS, but I'm not sure - I probably have a voicemail about it on my mobile, but I think Italy's confusing it. Monica appears to have a job up until approximately the start of the academic year, which is close to ideal.

See you Exeter people in a little while.

Sunday, 25 June 2006

I decided since the World Cup was present (infesting) most channels I'd watch some recorded programs. I borrowed Angel season five on DVD from the library, included an episode where Angel gets turned into a living puppet and the reactions from the other characters are wonderful. Only problem is that Angel series seems to mostly be set in gloomy surrounds, so in order to see clearly I've had to close the curtains, not ideal in the current hot weather.

Went to my housegroup's barbecue after the Belmont morning service, sited at a static caravan outside Exeter, specifically near a large duckpond. Enjoyable conversations, good food, and gently letting down a very junior fossil hunter, (may have lumbered his grandfather with a trip to Lyme Regis.) An enjoyable bit of techno-chat until we agreed that we were confusing (and boring) the non-techies. Dragonflies, geese and ducklings on the lake pond. Great fun.
What have I been doing, I don't hear you ask:

Last time I remember blogging it was halfway through the day and I'd just finished watching The Incredibles with Monica. Owing to the huge post, I didn't mention that I thought it was good.

In Italy, the woodlice are bigger, and they call them the little pigs of St. Anthony. I have no idea why. They also have an exciting insect called, in dialect, a cavaocchi, which caused me no end of trepidation when I encountered one on my way to take a slash. I can't find the proper name for it, or I would have found out more about it, but cavaocchi means something like "one who takes out your eyes", which I recall Freud linking to fear of castration. It is really long, and looks like it shouldn't be able to fly, but it does. I thought it was two insects in the marital embrace, but apparently not. Yellow and black deal. I also saw a thing like a daddy long-legs which was black and yellow too. I've seen a couple of lizards as well - cool. The Zagaglias have an orchard, and they keep the car near it, and there are chickens near that. Chickens remind me of velociraptors.

We went to see Marghe at the convent in S. Angelo in Pontano t'other day. Was good. Did evening prayer as well. She says hello to my family, so there you go - hello from Marghe. She made a comment about God being a playboy, but always making you feel that you're the only one, which reminded me of this:
Show me dear Christ, thy spouse so bright and clear.
What! is it she which on the other shore
Goes richly painted? or which, robb'd and tore,
Laments and mourns in Germany and here?
Sleeps she a thousand, then peeps up one year?
Is she self-truth, and errs? now new, now outwore?
Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore
On one, on seven, or on no hill appear?
Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
First travel we to seek, and then make love?
Betray, kind husband, thy spouse to our sights,
And let mine amorous soul court thy mild Dove,
Who is most true and pleasing to thee then
When she'is embrac'd and open to most men.
We also went to Offagna Rock Festival #2, which was an experience. Four bands, of which we saw the first two. They were both amateur, and one basically covered Rage, the other Metallica. The second lot could play their instruments, but their trouble was that they liked Metallica.

Went to an ordination yesterday. I like ordinations; I've decided. It's a good service, and a lot of singing, though I wasn't sure about the choir. [N.B. Monica has been assuring me that only in England can you see men in pink shirts who aren't patently gay. Italy? You must be kidding. I counted four in the one service and have been watching, with great success, for more since.*] I like the litany of the saints, I like the laying on of hands of basically all the priests in the diocese (not least because it's great to see loads of different priests all at once; fat, thin, old, young, grave, cheerful) followed by a really enthusiastic hug from all the priests in the diocese. It's a joy to see.

* A word from Monica: "I'm not responsible. Since I left this country's lost it's way."

Friday, 23 June 2006

A fair point and an interesting summary of the current state of the Catholic apologetics subculture, if somewhat long.

I think I'm more opinionated about the liturgy these days. Converts eh? I like apologetics, but I can only cope with so much or my brain hurts, and there are enough people who want to hurt my brain without me joining in.

Thursday, 22 June 2006

I have a breadmaker now, quite pleased with the first loaf, still not square, but enough surface area to feel it's worth making into sandwiches, tastes ok (at last). I will try the recipe from my newly acquired gluten-free bread flour bag, next time.

Something I've been wondering about, how do I get a nice colour for my posts like my siblings? A pale blue (R:100, G:205, B:255) would be nice, I've never really been a fan of grey.
I'm well behind, but I intend to give you a flavour of what I've been up to if nothing else.

Most dramatically I guess, we went to Rome for the weekend. More than 3 hours on the train, but it was kind of a posh one - like an aeroplane on wheels. Inside I mean. The air-conditioning was really good, making the not inconsiderable heat of Rome rather more of a shock to the system than it might have been.

We booked a night in a hostel online, not without consulting a map. It was on a road right by the station, but, as we discovered by a steady pedestrian process, not quite at the same end. We popped in to check in and then took a bus to...

...the Colloseum! If you're from the EU and from x-24 years old, you get in half price. I am 24 - Jurassic park. The colloseum is quite big and impressive. And all the arches seemed to be constructed just slightly differently. It was interesting. Apparently JPII conducted an annual Via Crucis from it re. all the martyrdoms facilitated within. There was a bit of a sculpture exhibition within, of muses and philosophers, which was good. My knowledge of muses is pretty serviceable it would appear.

We then had a butcher's at the triumphal arch of Constantine. I mused on the Romanness of the depiction of angels in Christian tradition.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the forum. Well, not so much funny as pleasant. We went to Palatine Hill, which is rather nice and full of ruins. We found a big ruined foot, among other things. Ruins and gardens, gardens and ruins - sorted. It had plenty of water fountains, if you haven't been, you mightn't know that Rome in general is punctuated with these helpful devices, which help to counteract the clearly exploitative price of beverages in what I am told is known as "the eternal city". My trained intellect immediately flagged up the difficulty with the nomenclature - a truly eternal city could not have been built in any number of days, and I'm sure my buddy Thomas would back me up on this. Having bathed both in water and in smugness, I moved on, Monica opting only for the water.

We then went to the Spanish Steps. They're nice. When we went, there were no flowers. You can't have it all.

We also went to The Trevi Fountain. Monica ironically complained about all the tourists on my behalf, thus saving me the bother. I threw a penny in (this approximates to the done thing) which apparently is the fee for coming back to Rome. It's a funny old world. I was firmly charged not to take roses from the rose-selling people well in advance - I'm not sure whether I would have been got otherwise; they hand them out like leaflets and then ask you for money. As I sometimes don't bother to refuse leaflets I guess I'm prone.

we only went to the gardens of Villa Borghese for a brief spell, but Monica was loving it. She especially loved the "Temple of Aesculapius", which is a fake by a lake. Pond really. There are boats, but we couldn't use them as it was getting on a bit.

Monica had intended to watch the Italy game, but was knackered, so we went back the hostel for some sleep instead.

In the morning we headed for St. Peter's for mass inside the Basilica. They have signs up requesting that people dress modestly and people to check - I just got away with my swimming shorts, which were the only legwear I had with me, what with the heat. I was perturbed at this scrutiny for a little while, and braced myself for a dry, by-the-numbers, 'official' mass - but it was quite good actually. They gave out service books with plainchant - brilliant - but they'd got a choir from Copenhagen in, so I feared we'd be listening rather than singing. After a false start where they sang some of the ordinary for us (Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggh! Not really very Vatican II is it?!) it turned out alright.

We then rushed out for a bit of a papal blessing. We thought we had a good spot until he got going, and then we considered ourselves in a rubbish spot. Anyway.

Monica was disappointed with the papal tombs, and quite rightly so - it was as noisy as a market and really crowded. Everyone wanted a piece of JPII, so they have people to move you on. A bit like the crown jewels I guess. Noise in churches was something of an endemic complaint - also cameras and camcorders or whatever you're meant to call them.

We had intended to go to the Vatican museum, and visit the Sistine chapel, but unbeknownst to us - closed on Sunday. I expressed an interest in the pantheon, so off we went. It's advertised as the pantheon, but it's been a Christian church since the 7th century apparently. I think I'm within my rights to have been disappointed, but it was interesting. The tomb of the last Italian king is there, as it happens. Or possibly not; Monica's not so hot on Italy's monarchical history.

Last stop was the Quirinale. And that was our trip to Rome fairly well done with.


Monday was a dozy day, especially in the morning. The rest of the day was spent visiting. First we went to see Monica's Nan, and then to see a lady called Stella.

No time to go to the beach today, so we went to Ancona instead. Monica wanted to look for stuff for her friend Marghe the nun, so we went to this amazing bookshop. It was like a Catholic SPCK and they had loads of encyclicals and apostolic letters for a euro a pop.

I also completed my selection of Italian music to take back to England. Singing along is a good way to practise pronunciation I'm told. Another good way to practise your pronunciation is to read Harry Potter e il Principe Mezzosangue to your girlfriend and watch as she drifts up to sleep. At least I think it helped.

We played the listing game. Monica won. We did flowers, animals at the zoo, and fruit. We also went to mass and watched the England game, which wasn't hugely exciting as you may well know.

Another day at the beach - this has been a good holiday. Nothing very unusual about it, but the sea was reaaaaaally clear, which was good.

No car today, so we simply watched The Incredibles. And that's what I've been up to.


Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Does anyone else get accused of sneaking up on people besides me? This morning I was doing the usual morning clean-up of the shop area, opened the front door to receive the post and then went back into the work shop to put away the glass cleaner. Startled Trevor a bit, he thought I'd left the shop.

Still it has been quite a good day, if hotter and more humid than I care for. David is back at work again, which is a relief, although the amount of catching up he's had to do must seem like a mountain-load. The customers seemed to realise that David was back, as about five people came into the shop in rapid succession, this morning.

One more bit of good news, David has come second place in a 'employer of disabled people' thing, he hadn't applied for this, but it is not really a surprise to his staff as he is a very good employer and since only one of his staff doesn't have some form of disability.

Friday, 16 June 2006

Hello again. It's catch up time before we go to Rome tomorrow. Also this evening is a sociable type event with friends of Monica's upstairs in Vane e Lorenzo's.

My memory being what it is, I can't remeber what happened what day exactly, but we've gone to the beach two more times. I'm not burning, but I'm not changing colour either - it's a revelation in terms of freckles. Bathing is good. The sea's not exactly toasty, but certainly manageable. I swam a lot yesterday. Monica's braved it the one time, somehow opting for the day when the water was at it's coldest. People wander round Italian beaches trying to sell earings &c. to young people. They don't have much luck that I can see. There is also a coco bello! man who has an amusing horn and a loud voice with which to shout "coco bello!" Today we ran into some of Monica's friends, who were on a family outing. Nice.

It may well have been Wednesday that we went to Assisi, which looks a bit like this:

Gosh pictures are slow to upload at whatever connection speed this is. Anyway, that's Assisi as in St. Francis of so there were many churches to look at, rather fewer that I can now remember the name of. They were all good, but, unfortunately, I wasn't as much in the mood as I might have been. Hottest day so far - may have had something to do with it. I'm told Rome will be warmer. Mmm.

So, let me see if I can get this straight - firstly we went to the church where St. Francis hung out with his monk buddies when he wasn't wandering around doing cool stuff. Nice. Then to the main church, which is where he's buried. Nice. And then to S. Damiano, which is where it kicked off for Francesco; he was told to rebuild a church by a crucifix. I can't remember if was an extant crucifix or a vision. I believe St. Clare later based herself there as well. Nice.

Now, I need to get some sleep, or I shall never do anything in Rome.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

For the record, Italy v. Ghana was 2-0, but I guess you all could find out if you wanted to. We were upstairs at Vane e Lorenzo's, with Giovanna, Monica's dad and the two of us. Monica's mum was there for a little while. Thye felt it wasn't a very good match, but I've seen a lot less interesting England matches. Lorenzo dug out some beer for me. Was good.

Monday, 12 June 2006

Okay, this is the beach I was at for three hours today. Not alot to say about today other than that. We ran some errands like food shopping, going to the pharmacy and village hall. Then we cooked a bit of dinner and spent a while on said beach, trying to slowly change colour. Not something I do very frequently.

Now we are waiting for Italia v. Ghana. Oooooooooooooooooooh. Ooh.
Buongiorno. It's just Monica and I in the house at the moment. As t's Monday, everybody's doing something except us, so while she performs various grooming tasks, I blog.

After the aforementioned, we had a look around Offagna's castle/fort/tower thing, which is good for taking pictures like this from:

It is like a little castle, it's got guardrooms, munitions rooms, battlements, a tirture chamber - the works. Monica used to give the tours so she could tell me everything the guidebook could directly. In one of the weapons rooms there was an excerpt, apropos of nothing, from the Bayeux tapestry. The tower was built 3/400 years afterwards, so it was something I might have smugly mentioned in the visitor's book if there was one. There wasn't, for the benefit of all parties. It also has a bell. This is what it looks like when an inglese in a floppy capello gives it a ring (you can do these kinds of things in an Italian villlage apparently), realises it's un po forte and runs away in embarassment:

And this is me looking about as tough as it is humanly possible for me to do at the behest of la mia ragazza. I look like a complete spoon:

Finally, from the picture point of view, this is central Offagna, looking up. We're quite close to Monica's house, which is up the hill:

Hmmm. It's not working. Maybe there's a three picture limit or something. Never mind. Then we had a little walk in the sun. And then it was finally time for mass.

It was nice, realxed, and what with a very comprehensive service sheet, I could follow it and do most of the responses, but they really whizz through the creed in Italia. "Dio di dio, luce da luce, generato non creato" is one of the easier bits.

Had pizza for dinner, which was good. Though Monica pulls a rather disgusted face when she sees ham and pineapple on an English pizza, they seem to have stooped to chip pizza in Italia, which seems absurd to me. Not that any of the Zagaglie really seemed to like it.

Sunday, 11 June 2006

Happy Trinity Sunday everybody! Anche, sono in vacanza in Italia!

Well, I intend to try and keep an up to date blog in light of this, but I feel it would be unwise to promise anyhthing. I guess I might see if I can get Blogger to let me have some photos in as well. Well, let's see - what to tell:

Because our train was for 1 o'clock, I had plenty of time to go to Saturday morning mass, which is a good way to start a holiday I feel. I haven't fulfilled today's obligation as yet, but there's mass at 1900 hours, which means I've had a much needed lie-in. Italian windows have shutters which actually restrict the level of light in a room, making lie-ins that little bit easier. This is why I needed one:

Firstly, the train from Exeter was delayed. No big deal really, we'd allowed plenty of time, though it was in hindsight something of a portent. We then had to take the tube, which again, was fine. We did actually get on the wrong line to start with, but it so happens that it was heading in the right direction anyway.

Now the Stansted Express was incredibly annoying - it was really busy, and there were so many inconsiderate bastardi around using spare seats for their bags that it was untrue. I very nearly murmered quietly to myself, but I restrained myself. Though all the windows were open, it was really close, London being rather hot at the time, and every stop was delayed I think. And it was really, really loud; had we been going into space, I could understand the incredibly irritating, malevolent whine permeating the carriage whilst in motion, but as I understand it, the Stansted Express terminates before space. Anyway, we were delayed further.

Then Stansted itself. It was pretty busy - no harm in that per se but there was a biiiiiig hold-up at security, which meant that everybody was substantially late - we were about 40 minutes late. I'm sorry to report that there was queue-jumping by some people whose nationality it would be insensitive to name. Anyway, as it was 40 mins after the stated boarding time, we had a little bit of a jog to the gate. Just as we got there, the tannoy quoth 1 minute to go, which we felt was harsh, but made the best of it while we could.

The flight was pretty uneventful. It was quite good, according to Monica, who usually flies rather badly.

When we landed we did the usual thing, except that the part where you greet someone at the exit who whisks you away to somewhere more domestic went a little awry. We were at Bologna Forli airport (like "London Stansted"), they at Bologna. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune let up a bit at this point, but we still had to wait about another half an hour. None of us were feeling so very social when we rolled into Offagna at around 0130 Italian time.

I am given to understand that worse things happen at sea. I guess we'll find out if we visit Ireland.


Today has been quiet, as befits a Sunday after a long journey. Slept 'til about half 11, whereupon I discovered that Monica was waiting outside the church along with half the village noseying at a bride, along with her wedding dress, going in to get matrimonified. So I joined her for abit until she came, pointing out which outfits seemed "interesting" to me; the joys of being a foreigner.

Paid a quick visit to Vanessa, Monica's sister, and Lorenzo, Vanessa's farfallino (leetle butterfly) on what is, coincidentally, their wedding anniversary. I received a belated birthday present of Il Piccolo Principe which I have in the mother-tongue from the inestimable Zosh.

Then had a lovely dinner of tagliatelle, and some form of delicious meat, followed up with a cup of tea and a bit of cake which seemed like seedcake, but is apparently flavoured with blueberry yoghurt. Yum.

Monica is currently visiting an old lady re. a recent death (this may not be the exact situation, but it's certainly remeniscent of it) whcih to my mind makes her seem a little like a character from a 19th century novel, perhaps one of Austen's.

Anyway, because if you've made a bad joke once, you may as well make it again - that's ciao, for now.

Friday, 9 June 2006

Just what I was thinking

"Am I missing the point, or are the grown men who staked out a medical facility for the best part of 18 hours just to frantically shout a fat Scouser's surname at him for four seconds completely psychotic?"
- Darren Ford in a letter to the Guardian (football bit) regarding Rooney's long awaited injury report.

Wednesday, 7 June 2006


I played squash last night, and it nearly killed me. I suppose this has made me stronger according to Nietzsche. I'll find out at hockey tonight. In other news, I think I've landed a temping job - as a slightly responsible office monkey. Pay's good, and I need the cash.

That is all.
Phrases annoying me at present: "hang fire" and "hence why".

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

“This is My Friend”

Let me tell you how I made his acquaintance.
I had heard much of Him, but took no heed.
He sent daily gifts and presents, but I never thanked Him.
He often seemed to want my friendship, but I remained cold.
I was homeless, and wretched, and starving and in peril every hour; and He offered me shelter and comfort and food and safety; but I was ungrateful still.
At last He crossed my path and with tears in His eyes He besought me saying, Come and abide with me.

Let me tell you how he treats me now.
He supplies all my wants.
He gives me more than I dare ask.
He anticipates my every need.
He begs me to ask for more.
He never reminds me of my past ingratitude.
He never rebukes me for my past follies.

Let me tell you further what I think of Him.
He is as good as He is great.
His love is ardent as it is true.
He is as lavish of His promises as He is faithful in keeping them.
He is as jealous of my love as He is deserving of it.
I am in all things His debtor, but He bids me call Him Friend.

Robert Hugh Benson