Hebden Bridge…olivespastavino paid a visit…

A Birthday Gift from Hebden Bridge
A Birthday Gift from Hebden Bridge
(well actually from Jean and Steve)

I have met some lovely expats whilst living in Le Marche and they include two good friends, Jean and Steve, who have a holiday home here, with a swimming pool, (but that’s not the only reason we like them – honest!). They come from Manchester and usually drive over from the UK when they visit and they bring with them gorgeous ‘things’ for their home and also bring generous gifts for birthdays and anniversaries etc., Whenever I ask them, ‘Oh that’s lovely where did you get that?’ the answer is always the same, ‘Hebden Bridge!’ So, when I took a trip to the UK earlier this month and stayed with the lovely couple in Didsbury, Manchester I was happy to go along with any of their plans as long as it included at TRIP TO HEBDEN BRIDGE PLEASE!

The Moors (Obviously)
The Moors (Obviously)

I was not disappointed, we went on a Sunday which was a trifle silly as the weather was glorious and of course the world and his wife were visiting Hebden Bridge. I loved the journey across the moors and thought the scenery breathtaking and magnificent. I was sure that I had been to the area before but it must have been at least fifteen years ago and I couldn’t remember seeing the open moorland and far reaching views. In fact I remember being distinctly unimpressed so I don’t know where in Yorkshire I was. I do remember that I went to a factory that made clogs and have yet to find out exactly where that was.


We had to drive all the way through the town before finding a parking space as it was so busy but I managed to get a taste of the shops as we passed by. I couldn’t wait to have a good wander and nosey about. We lunched at a trendy cafe/restaurant, delicious Spanish Omelette and salad. Yum. Then hit the shops. What a treat, textiles, candles, bric-a-brac, jewellery, bookshops, toyshops, antiques, coffee shops, shoes and so much hand made stuff and craft shops, food markets and lots lots more.


I saw some great knobs for my kitchen dresser project but couldn’t remember how many I needed (renovation has not yet begun). I loved it all so much but then I never actually bought anything! What a twit. The problem was that I was travelling on trains and planes (no boats this time) and therefore not really in a position to carry much back in my luggage. However,  I have promised myself and informed The Man that we are going back next year with the car/truck and will be filling it up for Italy. He didn’t seem too keen until I reminded him that the Tour de France was starting in Yorkshire in 2014 and wouldn’t he like a roadside seat?





To finish off the afternoon we walked back to the car along the canal. Wonderful. I was carried into another time, it seems trite to say it but it’s true. I expected to see children in Victorian  dresses and boots running though the gates at the end of the little roads beside the canal, chasing each other, skipping or playing with a stick and a hoop.




The back to back houses had washing lines strung across the road.  I thought that at any minute I would see a Beatrix Potter lookalike..(I know I was in the wrong county but I’m just trying to get you to understand how it felt!)


The old mills and factories next to the water looked the same as they might have done 150 years ago. It was peaceful (no traffic sounds) and for a short while it felt as though I’d been transported back in time. It was romantic and dreamy.


Short lived though! I was soon brought back down to earth by the sight of our car with a puncture. But it was efficiently fixed by Steve.  Jean and I gave him a gold star, excellent work!


I have the price for the work on the car, finally….



My third attempt to get the bill for the car was this morning successful. Although, he hadn’t actually prepared it, he invited me into the office while he got out the necessary paperwork. ‘You’d better sit down’, he said, then laughed. The phone rang and of course he answered it, he didn’t tell the person to hang on or call back but left me sitting and staring whilst he chatted on the phone as though he (and I) had all the time in the world.  This is typical of Italy of course and I have learned to be patient, this is the way things are done here. I looked at his oily finger nails then my eyes went to the shelf behind where there was a lovely chocolate cake sitting under a plastic cover, the two things seemed at odds, dirty hands and delicious cake. I wondered if the garage men get used to the smell of oil, diesel, grease and petrol? It would put me off wanting to eat anything. They must have special washing machines in their houses just for the dirty overalls. I was thinking all this while I sat and waited. I turned around and looked at the photos on the wall, the usual calendar of naked women and cars and there were also photos of the mechanic when he was younger sporting leathers and astride a rather fancy looking motorbike. Faded family photos also adorned the office and this took my mind back the the dirty overalls, knowing that the wife would be the one to be dealing with them, not many Italian men know how to use a washing machine….I have been lead to believe.

Aha, he’d finished on the phone and smiled at me, adjusted the adding machine and began to punch in the numbers… 110, 45, 67, 18, 18, 19, 31…something like that anyway and then the big one 450…I was hoping that was the total but – unlucky – no, the total came to just under €800. So expensive or not? I think okay, considering six weeks ago we were talking €2,500/3000!

So the waiting is over, I know now how much is, ‘not much’ it’s €800 much.  I took the bill in my hand and smiled.

‘A domani, o dopo domani, o…’ I said, ’til tomorrow or the next day, or…’

That’s the good thing about a small town in Italy, you may wait a long time for the bill but they will also wait a long time for payment. I am British though, so probably won’t keep him hanging on longer than a week.  

I fly through the air with the greatest of ease…NOT


I paid a short visit to the UK last week to see some friends and family. Before I left I got in a panic because the forecast in Italy was not good, there was much talk of Cyclone Penelope, she was bringing bad storms with high winds, rain, thunder and lightening. I’m not the best flyer and panicked that the take off would be dramatic with the plane trying to fight its way off the ground, battling 60 mile and hour winds, bump all over the place and people would scream and shout and I would silently try to control the rapid beating of my heart, the sweaty palms and jelly legs with Yoga breathing; count slowly to four and breathe in through the nose and count slowly to four and breathe out through the mouth, or is it the other way round? Either way it doesn’t seem to calm me or slow the heartbeat, believe me I try it for every take-off and landing.

Before I left for the airport I emailed all my children, just in case…well just in case. They replied with suitable encouragement, ‘you’ll be okay Mum’…’the flight will be fine’…I put on my lucky bracelet and underwear, (yes lucky underwear), I’m not superstitious at all!

I collected my car from the garage – it went like a dream having had the bearings in the gearbox replaced – still no idea of cost though. As soon as I do know I’ll post on here. The weather was pretty dire as I drove to Ancona, and I was intent on observing every little change in the sky, watching the tree tops for the slightest change in movement showing the wind had eased and I imagined myself walking from the car-park to the terminal building getting soaked, cold and with the umbrella being more of a hindrance than a help. I was going to have to dump the umbrella before check-in as obviously it’s considered a lethal weapon and Ryanair would definitely not allow me to take it on board, I expect for a price I could have put it in the hold though. However, I didn’t need it, Yay!

I arrived at the carpark and found complete stillness in the air, very little cloud and no rain. Penelope had obviously decided to stick to the west coast of the country and move south enveloping Tuscany and Umbria, avoiding Le Marche altogether. It’s a mistake a lot of people make, they stick to the ‘other side’ thinking it’s better because it’s been a popular destination with holiday makers and ex-pats for long time. Sadly many people still don’t take the decision to investigate Le Marche with its hilltop villages, beaches and mountains. We have it all.

I do love living here but then I like to go back to the UK to visit friends and to see family, which means I HAVE to fly quite a few times a year. We have only driven back once but it costs more money and takes more time. The advantage of driving of course is that you can fill your car with goodies from England and drive them back. But then there’s always a friend to help with that. Thank you Hugh and Helen for taking me to the shops, I’m looking forward to the delivery next week. Thanks also to Jean and Steve for my stay in Manchester and visit to Hebden Bridge, a blog about that is to follow folks.

I got just as panicky before the return flight as the forecast was again horrendous with high winds, storms, people in Norfolk evacuating their homes,  the full malarkey. I experienced torrential rain hammering on the window of my bedroom and the rattling of shutters which, disturbed my night’s sleep and I awoke in a sweaty state of fear, because of the weather not because it was a trip with Ryanair. Luckily for me it must have blown itself out as the flight was again smooth and incident free. I really must get over my dread of flying, but I think it will stay with me forever. It began after a bad experience about 30 years ago landing at Hong Kong airport (the old one). The plane rocketed around all over the place, I was frozen with fear, my head pushed into the back of the seat in front and two, yes two gin and tonics, one in each hand held high. I couldn’t drink them.  My husband asked the hostess if they could give me something which they kindly did, unfortunately it didn’t work until we’d landed and I then fell asleep in the taxi, missing all the sights on the way to the hotel.  It didn’t help being told afterwards that Hong Kong airport had been on number 1 alert and I think we were the last plane to land before they battened everything down and closed the airport!

I’m not so scared that I can’t fly at all, I know I have to if I want to travel, but when I look around at my fellow passengers they always look so casual and relaxed…but… are they?