Thailand in December…

Olivespastavino went on a trip to Thailand for a couple of weeks. This post is more about photos than writing, enjoy.

This is the house of our host (my son) absolutely beautiful….

We stayed in The Dog House in his garden….


and then in The White House  200 metres away….

The White House
The White House…on the Romance Resort…

Thoughts on Thailand.

pretty cow

Cow Bells


sunny afternoon

Misty cool mornings and sunny hot afternoons…


Street food, barbecued pork and chicken, squid on a stick.

Fried Insects
Fried Insects

Pancakes, chai-tea, fruit smoothies, fried insects…yes really!


Coconut flavours and coconuts everywhere, banana trees,(tiny sweet bananas),


fruit growing in abundance, mangoes, durian, papaya and more.


Bananas for the …….


Elephants – a little sad as not in a sanctuary but more a tourist industry.

Chickens, stray dogs, tropical birdsong.

A sleeping stray dog…they don’t move, not for anything…
night market
Night Market in Pai


Laundries, open fronted shops, jewellery, cheesecloth clothing, aging hippies left over from times past. Modern day hippies, young, tattooed.
7/11 stores and oh….in Chiangmai there was…..


Tescos…Hmm, Tesco/Lotus –

Wall of Rice
Wall of Rice

the largest store I’ve ever seen with a wall full of different types of rice in mega large packets.


Love the Thai food….

Flip flops…the most popular footwear for Pai.

Flip Flops

Busy Chiang Mai town. Mopeds, tuk-tuks, red taxis. A singing language impossible to interpret,
Sawadii (hello), mai pen rai (it doesn’t matter), sabai (chill/relax).

One of many Temples

Music and chanting from the temples can be heard for miles around, the sound travelling across the valleys.

Smiling faces. Barefoot children.
Hard working Thai people, on the land in the rice paddy fields. Heads covered in straw conical hats or headscarves. Many wear face masks to avoid breathing in the fumes from the hundreds of vehicles buzzing around town.

Colourful Hats
Colourful Hats

Colours, primary and bright, plastic trinkets in contrast to the local crafts and colours of the long neck tribes.


Water – everywhere. Pouring down from the hills. Jungle terrain except where cleared. Winding roads, 762 bends between Chiangmai and Pai and don’t we know it! We travelled the road 4 times.


I miss you Pai and Thailand, looking forward to the next visit already…don’t know when – but it will happen.




Creating, Cooking and a little Confession…

This morning I was determined to get on with writing. I’m part way through two online courses and I need to GET ON with both of them. One is memoir writing which I’m really enjoying but it tends fill me with nostalgia so I have to be in the mood.

The other course is for Creative Writing and the module I’m working on right now involves writing the synopsis for a novel and character studies for four of the main characters in the book, ‘piece of cake’ I hear you say well…I’ve got about as far as the title.


I was also hoping to have been at Swanwick this week in Derbyshire but circumstances did not allow it. I was sulking this morning and day dreaming about being there and wondering what delights I was missing.

I sat and looked at the blank computer screen for about five minutes and knew I wasn’t going to write a single thing so I decided instead to cook. I made a banana cake and then launched into making my own pasta tagliatelle – the way Roberto demonstrated back in July.

Getting Ready
Getting Ready

I gathered all the ingredients together, flour, egg, oil, vino cotto. Took out my pasta board and rolling pin inherited from an American lady a couple of years ago. I don’t know where she got it from but today was its first outing, I hauled from it’s hiding place and put it to use.


Flour, egg, oil, vino cotto
Flour, egg, oil, vino cotto


I did everything exactly as I remember Roberto showing us. I mixed with my fingers and kneaded with love and emotion. My wrists ached and my mind wandered as boredom struck after only five minutes. I carried on, even though my carpal tunnel pain started up. The mixture was not doing what it was supposed to. It remained more like a cricket ball than a dough ball. Despite that, I thought I would have a go at rolling it out but it was dry and reluctant to stretch or roll out any bigger than a tea plate.



Rejected Pasta

Reluctantly, I threw it to one side and began again.

Now, here’s where the confession comes in. I made another lot but this time I mixed it in the Kenwood food processor (embarrassing admission) but it worked a treat! I had to roll it out by hand of course, to a paper thin translucent state, and cut it up and that was done without the aid of a machine – except for the rolling pin. This time it was entirely successful!

Perfectly Rolled Out
Perfectly Rolled Out
Looking just Like Roberto's
Looking just Like Roberto’s



I wasn’t sure how long to cook it but I guessed about 5 minutes. I made a sauce of onion, mushroom, pancetta and wine with chilli and a small amount of cream added at the end of cooking. The verdict? Scrumptious.

Finished Dish served with Salad
Finished Dish served with Salad

It was easy to make the pasta when I used the machine and why put myself through the pain when the end result was so much better?


The Man was thoroughly approving and has requested that more should be made tomorrow!

Busy Baking Biscakes…


Today I wanted to be busy in the kitchen so I began by preparing some bread and whilst it was proving I took the dog for a walk. When I got back the bread was ready for the second proving bit. In the meantime, The Man had got some help to remove a small kitchen from a room upstairs in the house. I thought I would be a good hostess and make some Scottish pancakes and ginger biscuits to give to the lads when they had a break and a cuppa.

I’d never made ginger biscuits before (here was the first mistake) and I didn’t have any golden syrup but thought I could substitute runny honey. I took the recipe from the Internet and wrote down the ingredients and amounts on a piece of card. I thought I would just shove it all in the mixer and whizz it up.

I put in the dry ingredients added the egg and whizzed. It resembled breadcrumbs, no sticking power at all. Well maybe one egg wasn’t enough, I thought, so I decided to put in some milk, whoops too much milk, oh…damn…(or words to that effect) I’d forgotten to put in the butter or the runny honey, too late for the butter it was still in the fridge but I did add the honey. Now the mixture was definitely on the liquid side, better add some more flour, oh and a bit more bicarb. The contents of the bowl resembled marzipan, but soft marzipan. I considered binning it all but thought I might as well cook some to see if it was edible.

Surprisingly, they weren’t too bad. Not aesthetically pleasing, they looked nothing like biscuits, more like flat cakes. The man and his mates loved them and gobbled them up…I named them BISCAKES…(derived from biscuits and cakes or mistakes ha!)

The moral of this story is:-

Don’t give up on something because you haven’t got it quite right, the end result might be pleasing anyway.

I’m sure some readers can think of a better moral than that so I look forward to a few comments. Oh, and don’t ask for the recipe for my BISCAKES as it was all totally thrown in and I have no idea of the amounts.

By the way, the bread turned out beautifully and the pancakes weren’t too bad either.


A Walk on the Wild Side…

mountains Escursione guidato nel parco fra erbe ed olive in fase di raccolta
Guided hike in the park between herbs and olives at harvest (literal translation)

Each Sunday during October and November Petritoli celebrates herbs and olive oil with the Erba Olio Festival. It is the time for picking the olives and taking them to the press, I’ll blog about that soon as we’re in the middle of our harvest now. The Comune (local council, pronounced co-moon-nay) organise events at different venues. They usually involve a talk about wild herbs and then a meal incorporating herbs and olives/olive oil in some way.

Last Sunday with friends, I decided to take part in a guided woodland walk before a substantial lunch priced at € 22 a head including wine, coffee and liquers. at Parco Galeano, a local Agriturismo. An Agriturismo is usually in the countryside, it will have a restaurant, accommodation (B&B), possibly a shop and a proportion of the food served must be their own produce and the remainder must originate within a very short distance (within 20k I think).

The walk and talk was supposed to start at 10am but when I rang to book they said to come closer to 10.30 which my two friends and I duly did. Of course, this is Italy so there was not another soul to be seen. They were working hard in the kitchen preparing our lunch but no-one had yet arrived for the walk…so…we sat in the glorious sunshine, it was about 25 degrees. We waited…and waited…A lady in a tracksuit, anorak, boots and hat arrived after about 20 mins, she carried with her a large bag, she was Italian, we knew she was Italian because of the amount of clothing she was wearing. As it’s October it’s obligatory to wear autumnal/winter clothing regardless of the ambient temperature. We expats of course were in T-shirt and light-weight trousers. We did sport our trainers in preparation for the ‘hike’. This well clad woman definitely didn’t need a guided walk as she proceeded immediately to fill her bag with all types of green foliage and it was soon bursting with a huge scrumptious feast for… a bunny maybe? At least that’s what we thought then, but later we would be so much wiser.

At last our guide Lino (pronounced Leeno) arrived. He was delightful and after introductions and lots of jolly laughter he looked around asked where everyone else was. We shrugged our shoulders and said, ‘solo noi,’ (only us) and pointed also to the bag lady, but she was bottom up in the corner of the abandoned vineyard, digging up some root or other. Lino must have realised immediately that she was ‘on her own’.

Me, the girls and our guide Lino
Me, the girls and our guide Lino

My Italian is not so bad, my understanding is better than my speaking and my two friends Helen and Jan, knew some and a little Italian respectively. It was going to be an interesting walk.  To look the part I wore my walking shoes and my small back pack. ‘Lets get going then! Andiamo!’ I pointed to the track leading down to the woods and parkland. We moved less than a metre, in fact the whole ‘hike’ took us no further than 25 metres from start to finish. Which I suppose is impressive when you consider I took over 60 photographs of different types of herbs, grasses, fruits and other plants, all with varying degrees of health giving properties, ailment fixers, de-toxing thingies, I mean this small area had more goodies in it than any health food shop or whole food store. Gosh and golly it was awesome!

One small area with many different herbs and grasses.
One small area with many different herbs and grasses.

The trouble was there were so many diverse plants with Latin names, family names, common names, nicknames etc., and they often looked very, very similar. I cannot remember a single one…oh I lie I can remember Rucolo Romana (Roman Rocket) with a white flower, but I didn’t photograph that. I already knew the wild rocket with a yellow flower, dandelion, cornflower and blackberry, that was about it. Shepherd’s purse I had heard of but would not have been able to identify. Lino told us it was called Shepherd’s purse because of the triangular shape of the seed pod, shaped like a Shepherd’s purse. Am I repeating myself here rather too much? I absolutely loved every second of Lino’s interesting talk, he knew so much and wanted to share his knowledge with us. We tried hard and he wrote lots of notes down for us in Italian or Latin but at the end all I could remember was,

Non mangiare. Va bene mangiare. Buono per cucinare. Non raccogliere (Don’t eat. Okay to eat, Good for cooking. Do not pick.)

DONT eat this!
DONT eat this!
Not good to cook!
Not good to cook!

Wild Rocket...okay to eat!Wild Rocket…okay to eat!

I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t walk through the fields now and identify many of the ‘va bene mangiare’ and experimenting would not be a good idea. I wrote down the number of each photograph on my piece of paper with the plant name beside it, but when I uploaded the photos I think I must have made a mistake somewhere as I had the blackberry bush identified as Corbezzotto Arbutus Unedo…WRONG as you will all know…the blackberry is Robus Hulmifolius…so there! (hope I’ve got that correct!)

There was one other category this was for the plants that were good for the ‘suocera’ (mother-in-law!) Hmm…

Don't know what this was...maybe one for the mother-in-law?
Don’t know what this was…maybe one for the mother-in-law?
Lino didn't know much about mushrooms and toadstools but he thought this one was okay.
Lino didn’t know much about mushrooms and toadstools but he thought this one was okay.
Cornflower..."put this in the ice cube" Lino suggested.
Cornflower…”put this in the ice cube” Lino suggested.
"veronica" she gets everywhere!
“veronica” she gets everywhere!
Edible fruit, tastes like custard with the consistency of blancmange.  Sounds weird? It was strange but okay.
Edible fruit, tastes like custard with the consistency of blancmange. Sounds weird? It was strange but okay.
Blanket of something delicious (I believe)
Blanket of something delicious (I believe)

Next blog will be about the lunch! Watch this space…..:)