Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Chicken soup

January 8, 2016 Leave a comment
"He who has his olives picked ..."

“He who has his olives picked …”

Yesterday I came across the Italian proverb:

Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo which means literally: “An old hen makes good broth”.

I asked Clive what the English equivalent might be and he came up with: There’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle.

As a near sexagenarian myself, I find that one a bit more appealing!

This set the two of us writers off inventing our own satirical proverbs to illustrate recent thoughts and experiences. Here are a few examples of what we came up with:-

  • He who has his olives picked will never taste his oil.  [NB Our neighbour still hasn’t brought any of the oil deriving from our grove.]
  • One songbird in the pot doesn’t fill the belly. [Referencing a horrible practice that exists in Italy.]
  • A wise man will never admit to not knowing.
  • Vehicles grey and pasta each day keep all original thoughts away.
  • A promise today is the lie of tomorrow.

We found it a good way of letting off steam!

La Befana in the clouds

January 6, 2016 Leave a comment
Cloud effect before a hailstorm

Cloud effect before today’s hailstorm

A storm brewing over the valley; maybe whirling in its midst is La Befana, the Italian Christmas Witch who visits at Epiphany.

She’ll be departing now, having done her rounds of leaving sweets and presents.

I came across an elemental description of her by the Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli:-

Viene, viene la Befana
Vien dai monti a notte fonda
Come è stanca! la circonda
Neve e gelo e tramontana!
Viene, viene la Befana

This is my English translation:-

Here she comes, the Christmas crone
From mountains in the dead of night
How tired she is! she’s wrapped up tight
In snow and frost and all wind-blown!
Here she comes, the Christmas crone

Lucky charm

August 17, 2013 Leave a comment
Four-leaf clover

Four-leaf clover

This is the one and only four-leaf clover I’ve ever found in Italy.

Mind you, I don’t really look for them.

I’ve pressed it inside a Latin dictionary underneath a volume of the Shorter (always made me laugh as a child) Oxford English Dictionary.

I hope it comes out very erudite and brings us luck with our writing business.

* * *

This is my last regular post on this site but please follow me to Daily Reflection on our Self-Publisher Website. There’s a sister post already there about the four-leaf clover …

I’m proud to have had your company over the last 2 years!

Common name confusion

August 13, 2013 Leave a comment


I love common names for wild flowers: things like Johnny-go-to-bed-at-noon.

The problem is that they don’t always refer to one plant, but rather to a group of similar plants with a shared characteristic.

More problematic still is when one name is used to refer to completely unrelated plants.

A case in point is centaury. This, to me, is centaury, here on the left.

But what I call knapweed is apparently sometimes referred to as centaury, an aberration insidiously supported by its scientific name being Centaurea.

Long live muddle and confusion in our language.

Knapweed (also known as Centaury)

Knapweed (also known as Centaury)

Queen Anne’s Lace

July 25, 2013 5 comments
Note 'blood drop', in fact an attraction for insects

Note ‘blood drop’, in fact an attraction for insects

Queen Anne’s Lace is one of those lovely vague poetic names which can actually refer to more than one species of plant – in this case either cow parsley or wild carrot.

The photos here are of wild carrot, which has more compact flower heads and also a little red flower in the middle which is supposed to be Queen Anne’s blood from when she pricked her finger.



However it was cow parsley which I had in mind when I wrote my novel Queen Anne’s Lace and featured the plant in a pivotal scene. I also meant the title to be a comment on the complexities of family relationships.



A spider scuttling for shelter

A spider scuttling for shelter

It was windy yesterday when I went to photograph the wild carrot blooms and the intricacies became a blur so I brought a couple of stalks indoors.

Almost immediately a very attractive spider dropped out from under one of the flower heads, raced across the work surface then, finding a precipitous drop, followed its silk all the way back to the flower!

Underneath of a bloom


Little Mouse Valley

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment
Kepler looking like a wolf in the snow a year ago

Kepler looking like a wolf in the snow a year ago

Valtopina, the name of our small town, means ‘valley of the Topino’, which is the name of the river.

Topino itself means ‘little mouse’, being the diminutive of ‘topo’ or mouse.

The whole name can therefore be translated as ‘valley of the little mouse’ or ‘little mouse valley’.

Our dentist,  once he has my mouth locked in position, delights in regaling me with English translations of local town names.

Apart from valley of the little mouse there’s ‘flowery hill’ (Colfiorito), ‘singing wolf’ (Cantalupo), ‘falcon’s mount’ (Montefalco), etc.

Starting 2nd March 2012 when Clive was in Germany, I’ve been writing a novel called ‘The Wolves of Little Mouse Valley’. Today I got to the end (which doesn’t mean I’ve finished it).

It’s set locally, and has an element of the supernatural.

I told our dentist about it last time I saw him and he was very amused. I said I’d put in an acknowledgment to him!

Come and get it

January 1, 2013 Leave a comment
Kepler teasing Joules 2

Want it?

This morning Joules was barking excitedly in the field and I thought he might have cornered some small animal. I put  my bare feet into wellies and went to investigate.

I soon realised what was happening. Kepler had a white ball – which I recognised as a piece of frozen bread – and was tempting Joules to grab it but then making off with it before he could.

Chase me then!

Chase me then!

Kepler is very good at this game, and had me playing along until I swung my camera at him and distracted him just long enough for him not to be able to grab the bread before he ran off.

I was a spoilsport and confiscated the bread, although Kepler made a couple of lunges at it as I carried it into the house.

Joules was very happy with my intervention.

Can't have it.

Whose side is she on?

My offer of ‘Come and get it’ is much more genuine.

Daily blog awardAnysubject Ltd awarded me this ‘Daily Blog Award’ and I invite anyone with a genuine daily blog to copy the award and post it on their site. The only thing to do, which would be much appreciated, is to include a link back to Anysubject Ltd, as the originators.

Just incorporate a link to if you feel you qualify for this award.