Living in Italy

August 22, 2008 16 comments
The house with pool and orchard in the foreground

The house with pool and orchard in the foreground

Italy has been our home for more than 12 years now, and the house in the photo for most of that time. This blog documents the joys and problems of our existence day by day.


We have our difficulties. My husband, Clive, is permanently disabled. In addition, he recently spent 9 months in French hospitals recovering first from a coma and then from an operation to remove a massive bowel tumour. He’s just finished a course of chemotherapy at home, and is learning to walk again.


Some of our difficulties derive from where we live, but I still love living here. Clive is more circumspect. By reading about our daily life, perhaps you will be able to tell whose view is the more accurate. Does the pleasure outweigh the pain? Or will my writing betray a less rose-tinted reality?


You can also see the books we’ve written and published by clicking on the image below:


Damaris blog - home page advert

Comfort and prestige

September 24, 2016 Leave a comment
Galileo and Florence in a manufactured truce

Galileo and Florence in a manufactured truce

This is the sofa opposite Clive’s bed.

There’s no doubt that it’s comfortable, but there also seems to be a great deal of prestige attached to sleeping on it.

Both the dogs insist on occupying it alone, and will drive the other off.

How come they’re both on it now, you ask? Well it’s because I was squeezed between them till a moment ago, acting as a buffer, and then slipped away leaving them fast asleep!

Another autumn rose

September 23, 2016 Leave a comment
Every bit as beautiful as in summer

Every bit as beautiful as in summer

The nights are drawing in and the evenings and early mornings are distinctly chilly, but the roses carry on blooming.

Rather tattily in some cases, but not in this.

Pleasant and unpleasant surprises

September 22, 2016 Leave a comment
A portion of the snakeskin, where I found it

A portion of the snakeskin, where I found it

Cutting back a cotoneaster, I found the skin which a snake had obviously shed by squeezing through a narrow gap.

That was the pleasant surprise. These are grass snakes which eat mice which eat the air filter in our car, and I’m happy to have them around.

Also a snakeskin is a thing of beauty – like fine crochet work.

The unpleasant surprise came when I phoned the pharmacy this morning.

I asked that we be able to pick up next month’s supply of colostomy bags for Clive and was told “No”.

The reason for being denied them is that the district doctor forgot to write the 2 words ‘in deroga’ (which means something like ‘exceptional’) on the paperwork.

It’s by no means certain when this will be resolved.

A red, red rose

September 21, 2016 2 comments
Autumn roses

Autumn roses

These roses are on the bush overshadowed by the wisteria.

They’re a real scarlet red unlike a lot of roses which are more crimson.

The blooms persist until there’s snow on the mountains creating a strange contrast.

In fact the bush is never entirely without flowers or leaves even though I would consider it one of my more delicate roses.

Moving the goalposts

September 20, 2016 Leave a comment
A soothing view

A soothing view

It’s just as well there are views like this one close to the house. I need something to soothe me after a morning of countless attempted phonecalls and fruitless phonecalls.

All last week it was in the hands of Foligno hospital to find a CT scanner suitable for Clive and they supposedly found somewhere in neighbouring Tuscany.

Today they officially asked me to take over.

The place they’d so-called found hadn’t even been contacted. The radiology department there declared a limit which would have been just acceptable, but when I spoke to them again an hour or so later, their Professor had moved the goalposts and the scan was out of the question.

I honestly don’t know where we go from here.


Natural selection

September 19, 2016 4 comments
Red rose dwarfed by the neighbouring plants

Red rose dwarfed by neighbouring plants

Almost entirely shaded by the canopy of the wisteria is a red rose.

I have a choice to make: do I allow the rose to be plunged into eternal shadow, do I prune the wisteria severely back, or do I try to grow the red rose taller so as to form one side of an arch? (You can see through the leaves of the silverberry bush to the right how high it’s gone already.)

Nature has a habit of answering these dilemmas herself, though – I may end up having no choice at all.

Be careful what you wish for

September 18, 2016 Leave a comment
Skull and antlers of a roe deer

Skull and antlers of a roe deer

An antler would be nice, I thought. I’m fond of the ‘drop’ antler that lives in my pencil jar.

So next thing I saw was Florence in her ‘killing field’ (the area of gravel behind the car where she chews fruit, wood, toys etc) with two antlers attached to a skull.

I might almost have cleaned it and made it into an ornament, except that we’re trying to get rid of things rather than acquire them.

A little later there was a pelvis and two hind legs.

Finally, after Florence had appeared at the far end of the orchard with the fourth leg, I went looking and found the rest of the carcase.

There wasn’t much left other than backbone, bits of hide, and tufts of rufus fur; I cleared it all away as best I could.