Author Archives: Nancy Hampton

New kitchen – work begins!

Exciting times. I met with Irma, my architect, along with Alessandro and Donatello. Such pretty names for construction men. Donatello is the idraulica, plumber. He will move the pipes and gas. Alessandro will do the demolition. The work begins tomorrow. There is nothing much interesting in these pictures except to document what it looked like before the work started. First The Wall. This will be demolished.

The floors will be jackhammered up and removed. This was a conundrum for Irma. With two floors there already, how can we integrate a third? It had to kind of blend in color-wise, and also not clash with the patterns. It had to be plain. I hope what we finally settled on will look ok.

The place where the kitchen used to be which our sellers removed when they left. That is the caldaia on the left on the wall. A caldaia is a boiler. We have two. This one doesn’t work now. Most houses heat the radiators and the water with these. This means the wall is full of pipes. Water and gas for the heating system upstairs and the water. This makes demolition a bit harder. The pipes will have to be run under the floor and they will install a new caldaia outside.


I boxed up all our books and things and piled everything up on the two couches so they could be covered and sealed against the dust. This is just the one. The guys will roll up the carpet for me.

I don’t know how awful the noise will be yet. If it is too bad we may have to find a place to retreat to in the day time. More for the cats than us. We could always leave but they can’t unless we find a place for us all to go. Jackhammers are loud 😳.

The work will last about two months. The worst should be over in the beginning. They will completely seal the upper floor from the lower meaning to access it we will have to go out and up the elevator or stairs and then in the door upstairs. Not really all that hard. The washer and drier are up there and some plants outside which will need watering.
I have only one key to the upstairs door. I went out last week to our Ferramenta – hardware store EmporioCasa. They made two keys. They didn’t work. Back this morning. I pointed out the difference in the two keys. He made two more which looked the same to me. They didn’t work 😡 So I went back right away because I need the keys tomorrow. Finally this time they work. Whew.

The Ferramenta is a cool little place, long and skinny with two floors the bottom of which is open to the top floor. Stuff is everywhere! You don’t really browse in here. You ask for what you want. I sometimes take a picture of it and show it to them, which helps. Although the place is a jumble, the father and son and helper know where EVERYTHING is. This is outside sign. The building is right behind the train station.

You really can get just about anything here. Zoom in on these. This first one I wanted to show all the baskets they have up on the ceiling, for hunting mushrooms and truffles.

Two more. They have things seasonally. Now you’ll find heaters and fireplace tools and grates. Also pellets for the stufe. In the olive harvest season, they have rakes, and beaters, nets and the big cans the mill puts the oil in as well as smaller tins for separating it into usable sizes.

We decided to go out for lunch on Sunday, Calagrana was having a Sunday Roast and all the fixings. This is a British tradition every Sunday at all the pubs. It had been a while since we had eaten out. My appetizer was an artichoke, beet and goat cheese insalata (really good). And we had the roast. Which was not beef but lamb and pork belly. Pictures.

Ely seated us at a table next to Americans who live here part time that we had never met. Dale and Mark from Dayton Ohio. They have a house near the Niccone valley. We had a very nice time getting acquainted. They apparently had just met friends of ours a few days before Joanne and Lynne in a cafe in Passignano. There are a lot more of us around here than we know!

So stay tuned for more regular posts about the kitchen renovation. Ciao!

Bye January — good riddance!

Today is January 30. I really dislike January. It is long. And it is cold, with short days. I don’t like to go out in the cold. Truth be told, it isn’t THAT cold here. Last night was our coldest so far 26F – or -3C. I remind myself it is good for the olives. I can’t complain about the sunshine. It has been bright and sunny. Bright and sunny usually means colder. Cloudy is not so cold. I’ll take the sun!

We have been using our stufa – pellet stove – for most of our heat during the daytime. We turn it off at night. I turn down the gas heat to pretty much off at night. Then I usually turn up the gas heat in the morning for an hour and turn on the stufa. As it got colder, we realized the heat from the stufa was going right up the stairway and the cold air was coming right down. There is presently no heat upstairs. We are waiting for the construction to begin. I studied the stairway. It is open in several ways. But I saw that with some extension curtain rods I could devise a curtain to close off most of the heat loss. It really makes a difference. Here is my fix. The curtains will come down in the spring and be stowed away until next winter.

I did make a yummy pasta dish. It is a traditional Sicilian recipe. I googled and there were lots of examples with slight changes, as always, to some of the ingredients. It is called variously, Sicilian sausage with fennel sauce. I mixed and matched and it was very delicious.

Here is what I did. I used about half a pound (or less) of sausage for the two of us. (Note: this would be delicious without the sausage if you don’t eat meat) I sautéed it until browned, then I added 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, 1 onion, one fennel bulb (all diced) and 2 garlic cloves. I covered and cooked about 15 minutes until vegetables were soft. At the end I added a minced jalapeño (frozen last summer from my garden). I take the frozen pepper out of the freezer and immediately deseed it and mince it while it is still frozen. The Sicilians do like a nice bit of spice but you can leave it out. I deglazed the pan with wine but any liquid will do. Then I added about half a cup of stock and covered the pan and simmered another 15 minutes. For the pasta, I chose to use a big tube type pasta called Calamarata. It is named that because it looks like squid rings. Penne or rigatoni work fine too. I poured a dollop of cream into the sauce to make it creamy (some recipes use ricotta which I would definitely try) and then tossed in the drained, almost cooked pasta. I found the sauce liquid enough that I didn’t need any pasta water. I tossed it until the pasta was nice and al dente. Serve with grated cheese like pecorino Romagna, grana padana, or parmigiana. Garnish with fennel fronds if you have them.

It has been slow around here. It is one reason I have not posted, not much to write about. I have moved my office from upstairs down to the 3rd bedroom on the bottom floor. I also have been packing boxes of things upstairs and am almost done. I am anxiously awaiting the kitchen to start. We contemplate moving out for the daytimes if we can find a place to stay. It will make the noise easier to handle. I want the noisy stuff done soonest – the rest should be tolerable. New office location.

Okay! I am ready now…bring on Febriao!!

Orecchiette con rapini

Last night I made probably my favorite dish. I could eat this for every pranzo and every cena. If you asked me what I want for my last meal, it would be le orecchiette con rapini 🙂. In the winter, which is when rapini grows, I snap some up to make this pasta whenever I see it. Yesterday I stopped in the Egyptian market next to us and saw some, nice and fresh. I won’t recap how it is made because I have written about it before, but here is the link orecchiette con rapini and a picture of our pasta last night. It is super easy to make.

We have a cold front coming but the last few days have been springlike. Yesterday started rainy, then turned sunny, then partly cloudy, and then, a thunderstorm rolled through. It made an amazing sunset after it passed. And during the storm I went up to the terrazzo and snapped a couple photos of the rainy, winter terrace. Then the sunset.

Buon weekend!

Long term health cards!

Today we went to our health department to see about the new Tessere Sanitaria we need to get every January. The new fees are quite a lot higher. €2,000 flat fee per person plus an income based extra amount. It is quite a lot more than we were paying in all the previous years. But we had read that we’re eligible for the health care for free now that we have our PdS Lungo Periodo – or permanent residence. Thing is not many of us immigrants have gotten this long term card yet. You’ve got to jump through a lot of hoops to get it and only after 5 years continuous residence. Also, we were on the early edge of retirees moving here. So, that meant our health department had never seen one before. As you can imagine, many phone calls were made. Much ass covering was done. But in the end we walked out with cards good for five years, AND for FREE! It is a very good day. This card will also give us coverage in all of the EU. Very handy.

Last night I decided to make risotto in the instant pot. I had read it was a great and labor saving way to do it. I had some left over shrimp stock and some shrimp so I adapted the recipe for that. The recipe is here – instant pot risotto. I cut the recipe in half and used shrimp stock instead of chicken. Pretend you see shrimp on top of this…we ate them before I could take a photo! 😋

i went for a little walk today. The weather is pretty nice, the cold is gone and highs are in the 50s in the daytime. Here are a couple pictures. One is the park near us called le pinette. And the other is a cute preschool they built last year. I love the little buildings with big windows and high ceilings and bright colors! Really attractive.

Finally, here is my wonky lemon tree. She’s inside for the winter, or until construction starts. She gave us lots of lemons as always.

I heard about the deep freeze dipping far south — state al caldo!

Old fashioned town

When I was growing up, Thursday afternoon was the time the banks didn’t open. And shops didn’t stay open late, ever. And never on a Sunday, would anything be open except restaurants. Even in my 20s in a small town called Jackson Ohio it was the same.

Umbertide is like the towns from my youth, only more so. I am sure I have mentioned the “pausa” here in this journal before. For those not familiar, it is similar to the Spanish Siesta. All stores and offices close at 12:30 or 1:00 and stay closed until 4:00 or 4:30. This happens all over Italy except for the biggest cities (still small shops will close there too) and also tourist towns whose shops stay open all day. On Sunday, only the four grocery stores in town open, and only in the morning. All this takes quite a bit of getting used to for us immigrants. Italians also don’t like to rush into the week too quickly. Many places open on Monday afternoon but not Monday morning. This means one never plans anything on Monday morning. It is the way!

I was reminded of all of this this morning when walking back from the market. There are two little shops along Via Roma, one of the shopping streets. One is a housewares shop (Brescia Casalinghi). Lots of pretty nice stuff, plus stuff outside on sale for cheap.

The other shop is named Idee di Nuove di Volpi. It sells everything it seems. Casalinghi (housewares), articoli di regali (gifts), cornici (frames) and ferramenta (hardware). Yep a diverse offering! I love to browse in there. All sorts of stuff. I think in the US we called it a Sundries Shop, an old fashioned word. This picture is at Christmas with cute stuffed elves.

Florist – fioraia – next door.

Every town also has its “Chinese store”. They are always owned and run by Chinese. They are full of cheap stuff. Pretty much whatever you need, you’ll find it there, and cheap, but don’t expect it to last.

As an aside, this building is a fixture. It has been for sale forever, from way before we moved here. We could see it from our last apartment. It is a palazzo of great age. It is built into the city walls. It had fallen into disrepair. But the new super bonus incentive here and the fact it was bought by the city has allowed it to be restored. The scaffolding is gone and it looks terrific. I love that top floor loggia. I am not sure but I think it will be apartments.

It has gotten cold for Italy anyway. It is never terribly cold. Otherwise we wouldn’t have olives. But it sure feels cold. Stai caldo – stay warm! Un abbraccio a tutti e buona domenica!

I’m back!

Hi everyone! I know it has been a while. Once we got back from England and got through the Christmas activities things slowed down — and so did I!

The week after Christmas was quiet. The 26th is a holiday here so that was a four day weekend. Our neighbors across the hall brought us some delicious brownies. Hand decorated by Celeste and Chiara. Really sweet of them and sweet to taste too! My birthday is the 28th but I never really do anything. Having a birthday in the week after Christmas is stinky. No one feels like doing anything…including me! So that day passed quietly.

I stayed up until midnight watching the new year come in all over the world on CNN, every hour. There were some pretty amazing displays. I also wanted to see the crazy fireworks in Umbertide from our roof. I can see the town fireworks from here easily down by La Rocca, which I couldn’t see from our old apartment. And then all the Italians are mad for their own shows and boy did they ever. Our next door neighbor, with a roof terrace too, shot off some pretty big and sophisticated fireworks. I took a video which I tried to edit but it didn’t work – sorry. The fireworks farther away are the city fireworks. The ones right above me are from our next door neighbor.

New Year’s Day we went to the New Year brunch (yes a brunch!!) at Calagrana. Brunch isn’t a “thing” here. I haven’t been to one since being in the US. Great menu. It was very hard to choose. We both decided to have the Acciughe which is anchovies. Not just any anchovies but Cantabrico from Spain. With toasted bread and butter. Mmmm. Then I had the Mac and cheese 😁 But Wait! Not just your run-of-the-mill Mac n cheese…it was truffled Mac n cheese! It was good!

We had dinner at C’Era una Volta with the folks who bought Joseph and Paul’s house. Their daughter who lives in Rome came as well. It was nice to meet her. And we had dinner with Susan and Gary.

Susan was an important part of why we moved to a Umbertide in particular. She had a blog about her little vacation apartment on the piazza and I found it. Back in 2013 there weren’t as many blogs about Italy as now. I reached out to her a bit before we came. We also found another tiny blog by a (now) friend in Montone and he put us in touch with Jim our real estate agent. Jim found us a little apartment to rent for three weeks. So we came on a house hunting trip. We looked all over Umbria but by then, we found we quite liked this little town, so we bought our first apartment and flew back home to move permanently here. Thanks to Susan and Gary. The bittersweet is that they moved to Florence a couple years ago and we saw them less frequently but they still had their pretty place here. This dinner last week was our last super together here. They had come to move their belongings because they had sold their house. The end of an era. We will stay friends. I am sure.

Saturday was Epifania, Epiphany. The twelfth day of Christmas. The day the Magi came with gifts for the baby Jesus. The day before was when Befana, the Christmas witch came to visit all the children and leave gifts (or coal if you were bad) in their stockings. Remember the all Santa Claus band recently? Well this night we had an all Witch band!

Waaaay back before Christmas, you may remember the trip report of our short trip to England. Remember the lost backpack that Luther left in the rental car? Well ever since then Luther has been working to get the thing shipped back. We had the help of one of the nicest people ever to work for a rental car company, Victoria. She kindly packed the backpack in a box and affixed the label. It was ready for shipping. The first courier he chose used another company to pick things up and twice they claimed they couldn’t find the Enterprise Rent-a-car desk at the airport. Now seriously…who among us has not been able to find a rental car place in a strange airport? None of us of course! But these dolts couldn’t. So Luther regrouped and tried UPS. He got a message the package had been picked up! Yay! Then nothing. So Luther contacted UPS and they said the package had never arrived to them. They said he should check the shipper. Luther reminded them that THEY are the shipper! Hmmm. So they said they could try to track it but Luther couldn’t ask for that since he didn’t send it. He would have to ask Victoria to do it, which he did. Even though she was on vacation she said she would. Yesterday a courier dropped off a package for us and I went down to get it. It was a small box but it was from the UK! And it was from Victoria! And delivered by UPS. So the long lost backpack is back. The important item was Luther’s hearing aids. €3,500 that we didn’t want to lose. The champagne flowed last night. So relieved!

The cold weather is upon us. I find myself staying in mostly, but I am getting much done. I’m packing our smaller things, books, pottery, etc in preparation for the kitchen to try to keep the dust off. We also are trying to renew our health coverage which expires each year in December 31st. The problem. Italy passed a new budget and they changed the amount that we stranieri have to pay. But no one knows how to implement it since it just was passed December 29th but went into affect on January 1. They are just telling people here in Umbria to come back. It could put us all in limbo for a long time. But I’m hoping we will get resolution soon.

We also are doing jigsaw puzzles. We have always done this in the winter, since I was small. Luther loves them. This one is coming along. Only the really hard-to-do part is left.

I have many wishes for this year. I won’t list them all but I hope we can work together more and there will be more kindness and caring for our fellow humans.

Rocky and I wish you all a Buon anno!

Doings on and around Christmas

I made a big ole batch of my chocolate chip pecan cookies which I make every year. I had a lot more places to take them this year. On Saturday I took them to Angelo, my old friend in Centro near our old apartment. And also to Irene at Bar Mary as I always have. I also took a box to Vera and her family. I just snuck into their building and left it near their door – they weren’t home. Luther and I took one box to each neighbor in our stairwell. We don’t do a lot of socializing with them, we just see them in passing. They are very nice and seemed to be happy to get them. The two little girls across from us made us a lovely thank you card which they hung near our door.

Hand made card from the little girls across the hall, Celeste and Chiara.

We were invited by friends to a Christmas open house on Friday and I took some cookies to them. They live out in the mountains between Umbertide, Pietralungo and Gubbio. Beautiful home and location. It was cozy and we really had a great time. Here is a picture we took on the way home. Amazing views as you run along a high spine of a mountain.

Winter can be beautiful!

Christmas Eve I heard a band playing outside! Who says nothing happens outside the Centro?!

Santa band

I picked up an 8.5 kilo Turkey, which is about 19 lbs on Christmas Eve from Calagrana. It came stuffed with aromatics and stuffing balls cooked on the side. Such a pretty day. Winter in Umbria is upon us. I took a picture.

Niccone valley, all buttoned up for winter.

Christmas Eve we were invited to friends house for dinner in Montone. We walked down to the small square to see the town tree. And a presepe (crèche) on the way back.

Montone tree in the one and only piazza.
Presepe contest in town. People put these nativities outside and townsfolk vote.

There were six for dinner, our Montone friends and an Australian couple who are part time Montone residents. An extra special evening. Delicious food and good conversation. We went outside their home to view their Presepe. I thought it was lovely and a bit spooky. I would vote for it!

When we got home that evening we found this in the hall. A little something for Babbo Natale and his reindeer.

I cooked the Turkey and made mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli and the dressing from Ely on Christmas. Very nice and now I don’t have to cook for a while! I see many turkey sandwiches in our future!

Finished gravy
Tacchino was delizioso!

Later we had the very special panettone we pre-order from the bakery in the Centro, pistacchio creme. Amazingly delicious.

Today is also a holiday here. We are taking it easy after our over indulgences of yesterday. Turkey sammiches for lunch! 🥪
Alla prossima! Nancy 💕

Merry Olde England

This is a trip report, not terribly long. It started rough, and ended a little rough but in between was nice. You can’t have it all!

Well, the trip started with a thud. We drove to Perugia airport and parked. We got all checked in. Then we found out our incoming plane was delayed. It arrived around 30 minutes late. But after the passengers disembarked they wouldn’t let us on. Finally they said it was delayed for (fill in the blank time). They kept adding to the delay all day. They gave us  €4 euro vouchers to use in the expensive snack bar. Yay. I amused myself with people watching if I could — here is Stanley Tucci who was on our flight. 😉

Anyway, long story short they flew another plane in from Germany. The original plane had gotten warning lights about the landing gear and it was not a simple fix.

Seven hours after our 10:15am departure time we finally got off the ground. Seven hours in an airport with really nothing to do or see was excruciating. Because we arrived in England after dark we decided to book a room near the airport where we had been many times before. The Saracen’s Head. It is convenient and has a restaurant. It meant we missed our first night in our cottage but I guess it could be worse. We had dinner, not the best but convenient after a very long day and we had a bed. 

My first dinner. Seafood pie. Unremarkable.

Saturday December 16 – We rose and had breakfast in the pub. Then we headed out right away to our destination, Corfe Castle in Dorset. A 3.5 hour drive, which was uneventful. We stopped for lunch just before we got there at the Claypipe Inn. Luthers first bitter and a nice interior. Lots of locals there. A nice vibe.

We stopped in Wareham for groceries and headed to the cottage. It was cold and spitting rain. We lugged all our groceries and luggage up the steep path from where we could park the car to the cottage. 

We didn’t feel like going out again so we decided to cook in the cottage. We had bought a whole chicken already seasoned and with stuffing. It was sealed in a bag and the instructions said to cook in the bag an hour and then open the bag and cook another half an hour. Pretty fool-proof. Except for the fact I couldn’t figure out the oven. I found a book with all the appliance papers and finally figured it out. We also had green beans and a baked potato.

I built a fire in the wood burning stove and before long we were nice and cozy. We watched some TV. A nice evening.

Next day was Sunday. We always buy crumpets, butter and jam for breakfast. Yum! We went out to explore the village. As I mentioned, the name of the town is Corfe Castle. Apt name since its claim to fame is a ruined castle which was built in the 1000s by William the Conqueror. This morning the sun came out from the clouds just as we walked out the door. The castle is right above our cottage on a hill. It was stunning in the morning sunlight. The village is very cute and very old. All old stone buildings, with an old Norman church just like the churches in all the other villages. Also built in about the 1000s. There are at least 5 pubs. There is a National Trust shop with some nice things for sale. We found a nice deli where we bought some cheese and some chorizo cured sausage for a snack sometime. There were also several other small shops selling souvenirs. And finally we came upon a small grocery which was also the Post office and Western Union.

Our first view of the castle from our cottage. Sunshine! The only day we had any.

We set off to Durdle Door which is a National Heritage Site. The parking lot is way up high on a bluff over the ocean. From there, a path leads down to the beach. There must have been fifty mile an hour winds and it was COLD. I was not prepared for this weather. We decided not to do the walk down. The hardy British were all out. Fully suited up for this and even had babies in baby carriages. It would have been lovely on a nicer day. The area was chock-a-block with holiday mobile home cottages. Hundreds and hundreds cheek by jowl. Not my cup of tea. But some of them had great views.

We decided to visit Swanage. It is a town at the end of the road that goes through Corfe Castle and down to the coast. Ferries leave from there. There’s a beach and lots of beach hotels. Some shops, restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. Maybe half of the shops were open. We walked and looked. Along the road I took a few pictures. Pretty countryside.

After our walk about we decided to eat lunch at The Anchor. It was surprisingly empty. The two young women working there were strange. One wore a black band type top covering her breasts. She had a bare midriff and shoulders. She had a Cardinals jacket on over her top. She clutched it closed as though embarrassed to be half naked. And it was a very cold day. Really odd. 

We thought maybe the restaurant was empty because they don’t offer a Sunday Roast. This is a well loved British tradition. On Sundays the families go to a pub which serves the Sunday Roast. It is prime rib or roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and all the fixin’s. Well the Anchor didn’t have this so I guess that explained the lack of customers. The food was quite good. I got a sea bass filet in butter with veggies. Luther got a meat pie which was super juicy. Not dry like so many are. Everything was piping hot. Anyway, a successful lunch.

We spent the evening in again with chorizo and cheese and bread as a small dinner. Warm stove. Bad TV. 😁
Monday was a gray day. We couldn’t decide what to do. Finally we settled on a drive to West Bay. It is where the British series Broadchurch was filmed. It was cool to see. We walked along the seaside. They have a nice promenade. I’m sure it is nice in summer. Today it was windy and cold and the sea was angry. Very dramatic cliffs in both directions but the town was in a nice flat place in between.

After our walk we headed to West Stanford near Dorset. We had done some research and finally found a well regarded Gastropub. This is a pub with better than average food. It was called the Wise Man Inn. It was quite nice. Kind of half and half pub and restaurant. The way normal pubs work is you go in and go up to the bar and order your drink which you take to a table. From there you either look at the big chalk board menu or sometimes paper menu. You decide on your food and return to the bar to order the food. They bring it to the table when it’s done. This one you order your drinks then sit and they bring menus and return to your table to take your order. Along the way I took these pictures.

We both had roasted plaice. It was a whole fish each with grilled pak choi and what was supposed to be potatoes rösti. The potatoes were not good but everything else was. Oh and we started with baked Camembert with onion chutney. We poured the hot melted cheese on the bread slices and topped with chutney. Delicious. 

The little town of West Stanford was so cute. Thatched roofs and stone buildings. Picture perfect English village. I didn’t take many pictures. But here is one. Nice holly tree in front.

We headed back. Every day on our outings we always had to pass an army camp where they train the soldiers to drive tanks. There were signs along the road saying things like Tank Crossing and Sudden Gunfire. And No Stopping. They had a tank museum too.

That night we did what we always did. We had left over roast chicken and salad with a baked potato. We had a toasty fire in the wood burner as they call it here. We watched game shows on the Beeb. Game shows here are very different. The questions are really hard! Outside our cottage. The castle at night.

Our last full day here in Dorset. As was predicted it was raining steadily. We had planned to go to Wareham for dinner shopping and return to Corfe to try one of the pubs. Which we did. Wareham has a nice butcher where we got two racks of lamb. Then we returned to Corfe and went to the Greyhound Pub. So cheery inside it was what drew us in. The menu was a bit u usual with Raclette and Fondu as choices, along with schnitzel wursts, and BBQ pulled pork.

Luther went traditional and I had the pulled pork sandwich. They were both very yummy. But huge. I loved the Christmas music and the decorations. The women who served were nice. 

I didn’t mention the steam train that goes from here to Swanage. Here is a blurb about it: “The heritage railway attraction operates full-size steam and diesel passenger trains along the five and a half miles of line from Norden to Corfe Castle and down to the Victorian seaside town of Swanage ”. The track went right next to our cottage. I always ran out when I heard the whistle. In winter it doesn’t do a normal run. But now it has become the Polar Express. A family attraction reenacting the movie. You are urged to wear your pajamas and all the characters from the movie are on the train. It goes from Swanage to the North Pole. I got a few pictures from our cottage. Not too great.

Dinner was in and I did the racks of lamb, asparagus, salad and potatoes. We used up most of the stuff we bought. Not much went to waste.
We left the cottage next morning at about 9:30 for the haul up to near the airport for the flight the next morning. It takes a little over three hours to get in the vicinity. We were headed for our last pub lunch. I chose the Blind Fiddler. It was out in the countryside in a small village. Very much the country pub. Unpretentious. But they were REALLY into Christmas. There were stars on the building and a huge (and pretty ugly) Santa out front. Another life-sized Santa was inside. There were nutcrackers beside the fireplace and a whole Christmas village with a train. There were many locals inside having lunch or a pint with their mates. 

We had burgers. I wished I had gotten the brisket. They were known for that but I had just had pulled pork yesterday so I decided not to. Buyers remorse. The burger was OK. We drove to our hotel afterwards. Our room was much nicer. Larger and on the ground floor. 

Dinner in the restaurant that evening. We tried to have a pre-dinner drink but the noise level was literally deafening. So we went in and ordered dinner. I got the sticky beef Thai salad. Luther got the ham steak with egg and fries. We both liked our choices this time. This place is hit or miss on the food. I’d get the salad again.

Up at 6:30 and off to the airport. Dropped the car off. I cannot recommend Enterprise Rent-a-Car enough. They were super nice and efficient and the car was nice. We jumped on the bus to the terminal. I asked Luther where his backpack was as I didn’t see it. Oh no! He’d left it in the car. Well there wasn’t time to return so we figured we would have to have it sent to us.

The flight was fine this time. Wicked winds so we got here 30 minutes early. Good tail wind! Getting through passport control was slow. And we are now home. Our first thing to do was to try to get the backpack sent. The agent at Enterprise was very helpful but we had to arrange the shipping. Sending anything from one country to another is always trying. They want to charge you duty on your own stuff. We hope we got it all right on the online forms. But who knows. There is some crucial and expensive stuff in the backpack. Crossing fingers. A doppo!

National Trust

For our upcoming short trip, we love to book a cottage from the National Trust in the UK. But for an American, the reservation form you have to fill out is unusual (and amusing). This is the list of titles they expect they could need. I was tempted to pick Lady. Or maybe Dame! 😁 And what do you think Mx is?

The National Trust in the UK is like the Historical Society in the US. Many of the old families who have inherited large, historically significant properties cannot afford to keep them up and have donated them to the Trust, who restore them and maintain them. This would include some very magnificent gardens, as well as the buildings. The Trust makes holiday rentals of many of the small outbuildings on these properties that used to house grooms, gardeners, gatekeepers, etc. The cottages vary greatly in size, comfort levels, location and price. Here is a link to the National Trust Holiday Cottages. You’ll see they are varied and interesting.

The cottage we rented is small and in a little village called Corfe Castle. It is called the Grooms Cottage. Check it out. It is unusual as it is in a village, not in the countryside like most are. We have rented about five or six of these cottages over the years.

We fly on Friday from Perugia airport on RyanAir to Stansted airport north of London. Super easy because Perugia airport is about 20-25 minutes from us. Easy parking. Two gates! 🙂 Then we rent a car and drive to Devon. Google says that should take about 3 hours. This vacation will be laid back with pub lunches and touring nearby villages and cities. We will shop and I will cook in the cottage in the evening. The village we are in has some eateries so we may walk out to dinner.

Stay tuned for the trip report.