Wednesday, 28 May 2014

European Election Shockers



The European election of the last few days have thrown up a lot of shocks in more than one country.

Here in the UK the biggest winners were the dreaded UKIP. Even a large percentage of people who voted for them have said they'd not vote for them to run the country in the main general election. They've said they want them to kerb the influx of immigration but haven't really thought things through, I don't think a lot of them have looked at the other policies UKIP are for in Europe, or more accurately what they are against. I am firmly of the opinion that being part of the EU is of benefit for us and if we leave it will cause a whole of of disruption and money loss.

UKIP came from nowhere in the rankings, and other fringe groups did well, Green won a lot more seats including here in Bristol - up from 3 to 6. The main parties mostly made a loss with Lib Dems doing worst of all, they lost a lot of confidence in the public. Parties are complaining the media had a lot to do with it, giving too much coverage to UKIP and less to others such as the Lib Dems. But that doesn't explain it all as so much that was shown was the worst of them, how biased and misogynistic so many party members are, accusations of racism running rife and other such insults. I fear for their term in office in the European Parliament, what will they oppose, what will they request? Members of the public are so disillusioned they've voted for the 'man in the street' forgetting he's from the background so many actually despise with the attitude and opinions they actually dislike. People can be easily swayed, sadly.

In other countries there were shockers with the National Front winning in France ousting Sarcozi. Germany managed to hold on to Angela Merkal though there are still complaints of immigration there. A neo-nazi was voted in, though, Udo Voigt who called Adolf Hitler a 'great man' and once urged voters to take up armed combat. Greece voted in radical left wing parties and have also won themselves 3 of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn politicians, while other members of this party are still in prison on murder and other serious crime charges. Poland have voted in a man, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who has said 'women are dumber than men and should not be allowed to vote' and wants to remove their right to it. Sweden voted in a woman who won by going to people's homes and chatting to them rather than using the usual method of advertising and big campaigns, a feminist who founded the Feminist Initiative party only 2 years ago.

Italy had a large turnout of voters, more than usual, and they voted for Renzi, a young leader for Italy, the youngest since Unification days in fact, the leader of the PD the Democratic Party. The Democrats won by a large margin pushing the next party's vote down which was the Five Star Movement lead by Beppe Grillo who is actually a comedian when not politicing. There are rumours Grillo didn't win as he didn't smile enough. The party previously led by Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia did badly with only 16%. Renzi is very pro Europe although there is a lot of anti Europe talk by the general public in Italy, maybe at heart they know being part of the Union is a good thing all round. Renzi also talks a lot about reforms he wants to make in Italy, he has big words to say about change including in the overstuffed parliament, far too many politicians who are often well over paid. We will see how he does it, if he does it.

The European Parliament has many strong characters with many very different agendas, polar opposites in fact. How will they come to any conclusions is hard to tell right now. Maybe they will all cancel each other out and the EU will stay moderate after all.

Monday, 26 May 2014

What is Daughter#2 Wearing Today?


Well it's only fair to show what my second daughter wears too, sometimes. This was actually from yesterday. She's in the Army Cadets and this is her parade outfit/uniform/whatever it's called (she'll be cross I don't know the correct terminology, oops) with epaulets, tassels and all. Now and again the cadets go on parades and marches, this was for a fund raiser for a local rugby club. Daughter#2 plays bugle and marches while playing and others play drums, it's all very impressive. They're very good, marching in time, instruments played very well. One day I'll post up a video of a march, perhaps one involving a lot of other paraders such as the ones for Army Forces Day which consisted of WW2 Veterans, Scottish military with bagpipes, Hell's Angels (Yes you read that right, they did their bit in WW2), and lots of old army vehicles now owned by the general public.

Doesn't she look smart?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

What is Daughter#1 Wearing Today?,


 
The top is from Zara, green jacket from Miss Selfridge and the necklace from Claires.
 The shoes are the ones she wore at school which more than likely came from good old sensible Clarks where most of her and Daughter#2 school shoes were bought - well, got to take care of your feet when young. Plus Daughter#1 must like them after all if she's still wearing them, even after all the moans and groans that Clarks simply aren't fashionable enough!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Reflections post 2014


As usual I enjoyed the A-Z Challenge. This year I did try to write posts up in advance, I got the first few done but didn't manage to keep up with it which was a problem as we had family staying over for a week during the middle of it making it harder to spend time writing, I did miss a couple of posts and added 2 in at a time on those occasions. Perhaps I should have just done those posts in advance instead of thinking start from A. If I know there will be a disruption like that next time this is something I will try out.

I also had less time all round for visiting as the month went on, though I did do my best, it seems a lot of other people didn't have the time either or lost the motivation they had had in the beginning. I do the first 5 blogs after my place in the list as we are advised, I also like to pick blogs from the list at random to see who I end up with, I find that a lot of fun as you never know what sort of blog you'll get and can find the most awesome blogs that way which you may never have seen otherwise. I always leave a comment. 

One great thing is reading the daily blog for the Challenge itself. They are motivating, not only in content but also because you know there's always a new one there, bar Sundays. It's good to see them. The comments from those posts also keep me going, I love to feel part of a community and the comments from other people here is a big thing for me, reading how they are getting on, if they are also struggling or having a blast or whatever, it's all good. It's nice to see the same names there as you get to 'know' them.

I wasn't going to do it this year but couldn't resist in the end, I bet next year will be exactly the same. If I can sort myself out I'm going to try to think up a theme and start writing months in advance, but if not (read 'probably won't happen') I'll just do the ones where there may be other things going on for certain days.

I'm off to go through the rest of the blog list now - see you there!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Zanzara

My A-Z Challenge series is about Italy, it's lifestyle, the country and other miscellaneous things in regard to it.

Zanzara, a word to strike dread in my heart when I hear it. Translated to Mosquito, anyone who has lived or travelled in Italy will know of these little beasties. Of course you get them all over the world, especially in hotter damp countries but I never used to have a problem with them in Italy till a few years ago. I don't know what happened but they started to like the taste of my blood which they never did before. Maybe I'm not eating enough garlic, one of the repellents said to work against their horrid stinging of you. Maybe I should just rub cloves of garlic all over my body, though nicer smelling citronella is better. To try to keep them away burn citronella candles or rub yourself with citronella wipes. There are several ways to keep them away including vibrational electronic gadgets which work to greater and lesser degrees but the best way to keep them off you is to keep a fly swatter near you at all times, or even better a fly zapper which resembles a bat but is battery powered and kills mosquitoes with a 'zip!' sound when hit. That'll do them!

They seem to be getting bigger the bites growing with them, and they don't half sting. Do not scratch it if you get bitten, you'll only make it worse, but apart from the sting they itch!! Horrid things. They are more prevalent near water, so if you are near the sea be prepared once the sun goes down, close all doors and windows and shutters once it starts getting dark as they home in on the light. Have plenty of cooling aids if you are prone to getting bitten, and try to get a suntan as they prefer whiter skin, probably as it shows up more in the dark.

Some parts of Italy are worse than others for Zanzare, Liguria is said to be very bad for them having mal aria (bad air) there in the past, though cleaned up now. In fact mal aria (bad air) is how the word malaria came about. You are fairly unlikely to get malaria in Italy, though with climate change it apparently is making a come back but too small to worry about, so I believe at the moment. I was going to add a picture of a Zanzara close up but though it might be too scary for some readers, I certainly didn't like it and just wanted to swat it, even though I'll happily rescue spiders and woodlice from my house These creatures carry my vengeance with them, which anyone who has regularly been stung by them leaving big red marks and itching will understand, I'm sure.

Not such a nice Z to end on the Challenge with, I'm afraid. I shall be persusing other blogs to see their Zs and see if they may be a little more cheerful. Well done everyone - we've done it!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Yakkety Yak

My A-Z Challenge series is about Italy, it's lifestyle, the country and other miscellaneous things in regard to it.

Italians do like chiacchierare, or chatting. They chat all the time, at home leaving home when they bump into neighbours, while walking to the shops in the shops, when bumping into friends after leaving the shops, going for their evening passeggiata (walk), with shop keepers bar owners, bank staff whoever they see, really. I don't mean discussing things of impotance, just general chit chat. This is part of the reason they know everyone in the vicinity of the area they live. Not only do they know them they know all about them. Gossip. To them gossip is just part of life, it's what would be called nosiness in other countries but there it's accepted that what you do in the morning will be known by the local pizzeria owner by evening. Life is lived outdoors as much as possible and secrets are hard to keep.

This poses a problem for some, including teenagers wanting to do something their parents (and Aunts, Uncles, Grandparent) may disapprove of, holding hands with the wrong boy or girl will be back to the parents in no time. It does help with keeping people on the straight and narrow, it also causes some conflict but no-one gets cross about the actual way the news travelled.

Once something is known it will be talked about. If that news was not what people approve of they will let that person know. Someone has decided to leave their job for another and someone else thinks they should have stayed they will tell them - not your business is something else not done here. It is their business, so they believe. Everyone feels they have the right to tell people how to behave, tell them if they think what they do is wrong, including things to do with appearance so if that dress makes someone's bum look too big they will be told, no need to ask.

This is frightening and a nuisance for non Italians moving over to Italy, expats need to develop a thick skin. They can't understand how Italians can be so rude, so nosy, so gossipy. It takes a little while but thy start to realise that it's all part of they way things are. No offence should be taken nothing is meant maliciously, people just like to talk about things, anything and everything. But food is still the main topic of conversation so if you are there and want to take the flak off yourself just mention you've bought some new vegetable and what's the best way to cook it and all attention will move to everyone telling you the best way to cook it is their own way.


Monday, 28 April 2014

Xavier Soup

Photo from here
There are many feast days in Italy, associated with the many Saints. People will either celebrate with big Festas, with smaller feasts with friends and family, or sometimes just at home with their family eating a meal in the usual way but with the designated food for that particular day.

One of these meals is Xavier Soup, also spelled Xaver Suppe. It's the meal for the celebration of St Francis Xaviour (1506-1552) an aristocrat from Spain who became a prolific missionary travelling to places previously never visited by the Catholic faith, such as India, Japan and Borneo. He also co-founded the Society of Jesus. His feast day is December 3rd, and this soup is meant to be eaten on that day.

Copied from Catholic Cuisine which in turn came from Cooking with the Saints.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, white
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley, chopped (for dough)
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoon chervil, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoon parsley, chopped (for soup)

DIRECTIONS:


Over low heat work the flour, cream, butter and Parmesan cheese to a solid dough. Work in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, eggs and egg yolks and parsley. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a big nozzle and pipe pea-sized balls onto a buttered tray. Let stand for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime heat some salted water until it boils, then drop in all the "dough peas". Cook for 5 minutes, then remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the warm chicken stock. Season soup to taste and add the chervil and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Serves 10 to 12 people.


Today, the 28th April, the feast Day is for St Gianna Beretta Molla. Tomorrow, 29th April, is for St Catherine of Sienna. Neither having a dedicated food for their feast days, actually, so if you have any ideas for celebratory food for them do let me know.