My boys – The Gallery #132

Marianne and her boysI have two boys, my first born, Thomas born in 1988 and his son, my grandson, Evan born last year on the same day as my late father 30th January and has recently celebrated his 1st birthday.

They both live in Folgaria in Italy with Oana, his lovely partner and Tommy works in the family hotel Alpen Eghel sometimes in the kitchen sometimes at the bar and out of season doing maintenance to keep the hotel in tip top order. I am VERY proud of him and a word to all mums out there who may worry about their kids

Tommy was never academic, he hated school from the word go, his first exercise books were bubbled with his tears where he refused to do his homework and I had to get him to do it. WAR! We struggled the WHOLE of his school years and even the teachers at his Scuola Alberghiera (Hotel school) were pleased to see the back of him and took a huge sigh of relief as he walked out of their door for the last time. *sigh* there was nothing I could do to make him see that school was fun and a place of learning.

The joker of the class, in fact he has some great long lasting friends, always ready to make everyone laugh and make a fool of himself for that very reason my boy has turned out to be an upright man, a hard worker who is not afraid to one day be painting the hotel balconies to the next working alongside one of the top chefs in Trentino on long 15 hour days in the Christmas season.

My boys The Gallery

He’s an avid reader, he’s well spoken and bilingual, he’s very intelligent and has a vast general knowledge that touches on hundreds of topics I never knew he was interested in. His passions are kite surfing, kite surfing oh and kite surfing and above all his family who he cherishes and works damn hard for.

You got it didn’t you? I love him and am very proud of him

Evan – my newest boy, a little sweetheart who is as good as gold, easy to please, always smiling and you can’t take your eyes off him BUT with a MASSIVE temper should you get something wrong! The one time I babysat for him when his mum and dad took a rare day off to go to London, I made the dreadful mistake of offering some yogurt to him which he clearly didn’t want at that moment and he screamed the house down. What a temper! I ended up putting him in the car to quieten him and it worked, a drive around the streets soothed his bad mood, my frazzled brain and we were friends again but boy can that little man throw one!

However all that said – look at those eyes. You’d forgive him anything wouldn’t you? Pop over to Sticky Fingers to see fellow bloggers celebrating their boys today

the gallery photography sticky fingers

Autumn in Trentino: Folgaria

newborn baby sleepingIt’s time for another flying visit to Trentino, my favourite place in Italy as Evan is going to be christened this weekend and I am going to be there.

It’s with mixed feelings that I leave as on one hand I must leave Paul and the twins behind in the UK but on the other I shall be free to enjoy Tommy and Megan and their families without any distractions. Of course I wish I could share the lovely things I will see and do with all of my family together but needs must so excuse me whilst I get very excited all over again.

My suitcase is stashed to the hilt with toys for Gracey, presents for Evan, lots of clothes for me as I can’t make up my mind what to take and it looks like rain too but of course my few belongings will rattle around empty on my return trip on Monday.

I’m taking my camera, my video camera and my laptop with me plus my brand new G Drive slim where I have now transferred all of my iPhoto library, you know I never used to be this gadget orientated but look at me now how I move country..

The autumn is a great time for wild mushrooms in Trentino and I hope to fit in a risotto or side order of funghi. I also have a pizza high up on my list, a Crodino which you never see here, an espresso (proper one) some mountain photography if the weather plays ball and a slice of strudel. They also make a wicked Sacher torte.

Folgaria in pictures

It’s big wine season too and I shall do my best to try a Marzemino which is typical to the area of Trentino, a Pinot Grigio, a Pinot Nero and a must-have Gewurztraminer. You know when I lived out there, I did the first course on my way to being a somelier and we used to hold wine tastings for our hotel guests.

I shall be visiting the ‘kids’ in the Alpen Eghel hotel and I’ve been booked in for a manicure on Sunday morning.

folgaria night

I shall meet with my best mate and chat too much, drink too much and probably spend too much in her Benetton shop too but it’s got to be done, a fill up until next time we meet which will most likely be the wedding in March.

Don’t know if you can tell but I am really looking forward to being there and you’ll hear all about it on Tuesday, love to all and have a great weekend – I will!

…and then they were 4 – Birthday Letters to my girls

It’s been a long time since I did a twin news catch up and of course their 4th birthday today is the perfect opportunity for me to write my diary entry as it were only I’m going to write them both a letter instead

Happy 4th birthday at preschool

Dear Alice,

Today you are four years old and you are beautiful. You are a joy to daddy and I and a constant source of happiness for us. This past year has been a very big one for you and you have come out of your shell proving you are a confident, still sometimes shy, lovely little girl.

We must say special thanks to your teacher Anita who has helped you on your journey, she has been there every step for you. When at first you would cry when I was about to leave you at preschool, she would come over for a cuddle and soon you’d be bouncing all over the place and happy once again. You also had another relapse after the Easter holidays but she coaxed you around then too.

You are naturally shy and you are an observer, preferring to watch a situation before diving in but once you’ve made your mind up you’re perfectly happy to continue with that decision.

You prefer to be playing on toys or running, jumping and riding your bicycle rather than sitting down and colouring in or learning to write. Anita didn’t have much in your file for a good part of the year whilst you ran around preschool trying all the toys but then you helped her out and filled up  your file in no time – does this mean you’ll be a last minute student later on I wonder?

Sometimes you break out into song and you LOVE whistling, we can hear you whistling all the time which annoys Bessie a bit as she hasn’t learnt how to do it yet. You love our bedtime story moment and you adore being cuddled and tickled.

You have a very special relationship with your sister, sometimes you rule, sometimes she does but on the whole it seems very equal. You both have chosen Hannah as your ‘Best Friend’ but you have made friends with many other children too and today we have invited 16 to join us at Go Bananas to celebrate your birthday. You have a lot of stamina Alice, more than your sister and you’ll be the last to drop into bed and fall asleep and Big Teddy remains your faithful favourite along with Aurora and Cinderella

You are a good girl Alice and you have a heart of gold. I think you’ll make a wonderful friend and a loyal partner when your time comes. You have already proved you’re a wonderful sister and daughter.

Happy birthday today on your 4th birthday daddy and I wish you a wonderful day


Alice blows her 4 candles out

Dear Bessie,

You were born a minute or two after your sister and therefore you are always mentioned second in ‘Alice and Bessie’ but this has no effect on you whatsoever, in fact due to your boisterous, fun-loving nature everyone learns the name Bessie first much to Alice’s annoyance who has had to endure being called Bessie all year. ‘I’m not Bessie! I’m Alice’

Although you and Alice may look identical to many, you are different in character and you are the courageous one. You find the joke quickly and laugh your head off, you will jump into a puddle without stopping to think of consequences wheras Alice will wait and watch and then seeing you are ok, she’ll follow.

You are a pleasure to daddy and I, you fill our lives with laughter and fun. You are a cheeky monkey, a gorgeous one at that too. I have also seen you bow down from your sister on various occasions allowing her to have her way which is very admiral of you.

You have a temper young lady! When you don’t get what you want or if you are told no you become very loud, you will plead and you will try to get your point across. I will admit to being defeated by you on occasions allowing you to get your way rather than carry on arguing with you but don’t think you’ve got the better of me. I know young lady that you are tired and fractious and that I will have the last laugh as I tuck you into bed.

Which brings me on to my next point, sleeping. You are an Olympic Gold in sleeping Bess, you love your bed and you love your teddy too, you will not be separated from him or his blankie. You like to fiddle a hole into his fur with your finger which has been sewn and re-sewn so many times now. I ask you not to do this but I catch you doing it without thinking. Your favourite princesses are Tiana and Belle.

You also suck your thumb, everyone has told you not to, even the dentist but you won’t listen and continue to suck your thumb when you’re tired, or when you’re anxious.

You are fun to be around Bessie, you too love a good story, a DVD or cuddles on the sofa. You are beautiful and we love you very much indeed. I think you’re going to make a wonderful friend and a fun loving partner too one day but that’s a long way off and we have so much to do together before that day arises.

Have a wonderful 4th birthday little one


Bessie blows out her 4 candles

And a very big thank you to these guys who have been the best babysitters till now

Baby Ted and Big Teddy

Ten Things I learnt from the Italians

I moved to Italy when I was 20 and left when I was 37 so I guess you could say I became an adult there. I am sure that many defining parts of my character where finely honed by the Italian culture and here are some of the best bits I brought back with me…

Italian Food

I learnt to cook! Not that I couldn’t cook before but I moved on from Learner to Cook. Mum is the best cook I know and my brother is a chef so the appreciation of good food runs in the family. However the Italians are very conscious of their food and adore telling you how their Mediterranean diet is the best in the world. I like that they use products that are in season and grown locally or at least Made in Italy

Italian Wine

Young people do not HAVE to get blindly drunk to enjoy a Friday night in Italy…sometimes it happens but it’s not a necessity. Enjoying good wine and spirits is a huge part of the Italian lifestyle. Alcohol costs a lot less and there are no age limits in bars but underage drinking exists on a much lower scale than here in the UK. Youngsters there don’t have to get trashed to prove they’re as big as the next guy or to be able to say they had a good night out.

Italian Art

Everywhere you go in Italy you cannot help but be in awe of your surroundings. Churches, town halls, villages with wall art and artists painting, sculpting or creating masterpieces in the village square for all to see. Every place in Italy, be it a tiny village or a city, has something beautiful to show.

Italian Fashion

Some of the greatest designers in the world are Made In Italy, every Italian is enormously proud of their standing in the world’s fashion stakes and this is so visible as everyone takes pride in what they wear and the majority look like models themselves. Makes it a damn sight harder to keep up with the Rossi’s I can tell you!

Italian Family

The Italians I had the pleasure to meet, all put family in first place. The elderly are looked after and respected by all. Italy is also VERY child friendly sometimes verging on the extreme as some parents let their children run riot in restaurants, shops and public places shrugging their shoulders as if they can’t do anything about it. ‘They’re children!’  Hell for waiters and shop owners but be rest assured any holiday in Italy with children will be delightful as you can take them everywhere you go and people will stop to praise them.

Con calma

or Take it easy… yes, there’s no rush, don’t go stressing yourself out, take your time and get it done properly. There’s always tomorrow.

Italian House rules

Whenever you wash your dishes by hand you MUST always rinse the soap off. True! You wouldn’t  dream of leaving shampoo in your hair. Money – don’t get in to debt. Pay as you go and go without if you can’t afford it. This makes for easy sleeping at night.

Italian Patriots

They all share a deep adoration for their country, after all they have got it all; sea, sun, sand, mountains, skiing, lakes, beautiful cities and beautiful people. Their summer vacations are taken within their boundaries, Sicily, Sardegna, Puglia to name a few. Ski trips to Trentino, Courmayeur or Alto Adige, Weekend trips to Florence, Venice, Pisa…I could go on forever.

The Italian language

Of course, I came away bilingual. My written Italian isn’t perfect as their grammar is unbelievably complicated but I can read and of course talk till the cows come home just don’t get me started on their politics….

photo by kerben

Silent Sunday

preschoolers playing