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Please sit comfortable and enjoy a cup of tea while I let you in into my life.

New destination

2012 August 23
Posted by Gra

It seems than more and more people are getting warning messages while trying to have access here, and I’m really sorry. It seems that they put this blog on quarantine, so it must be restored sometime in the future….

Anyway, to stay in touch I started a new blog (and I guess this will be permanent, even though I won’t delete this old one) so you can find me here

See you there folks!


France, part two – Jausiers

2012 August 1
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Posted by Gra

Jausiers, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, is located 9 km further up the Ubaye valley from Barcelonnette. The valley is wide between the mountains here, giving a light, open feeling. The mountains surrounding the village are gorgeous, and usually the top is snow-covered up to May or June. The village is tiny and there’s not very much commerce.  A small terrace café on the central street had just a spot of sun peaking over the high rooftops, and the little Office de Tourisme has a good selection of brochures and information. There was a strong silk industry here from the 16th to 19th centuries, when the populated immigrated to Mexico (as the near Barcelonnette) or dispersed along the Ubaye valley.

Jausiers occupies a good defensive position, and the fort of the Dukes of Savoy from 1388 to 1765 is evidence for that. In addition to the war damage over the medieval centuries, the town saw fierce fighting in 1944. The town suffered severly because of its position. The Wars of Religion took a heavy toll; Jausier was the center of the Vaudois and was sacked and burned several times. The town suffered through continued wars with Savoy, and was pillages by the troops of the Duke in 1692.

Hubby even found his personal “buen retiro” here, just in front of the Ubaye River……….

We did some shopping at the local store of regional products……… you know, I’m really addicted to jams…… hubby was lucky we hadn’t so much space in our bike’s cases….

We really enjoyed our stay here, taking little walks after dinner exploring the river up and down…..Maybe we will be back someday….

France, part one – Crossing the border

2012 July 31
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Posted by Gra

We left not so early in the morning with our dear bikers friends L & E heading north-west, hoping for some fresh air, because the day promised to be very hot. We had a few pit-stops for relax a little and for fuel, and at lunch time we were already at the Maddalena Pass.

The temperature was really a lot different, the sun was shining but the fresh breeze made it almost a spring day….. so when we stopped for lunch at the one and only shelter/restaurant at the border crossing between Italy and France  (a crowded destination for bikers, as you can see, with hubby and L chatting with another tourist) the right choice was ……………

…. yes! hot polenta with mushrooms sauce and sausages………… unbelievable where I live, in july! And damn, it was so good!

I know what you are thinking…. my diet? I knew exactly at  that moment that this would have been a diet-free vacation!

After a well deserved lunch, a little relax and a short walk ( hey…. that polenta HAD to settle, right? before on bike once more….) we took the road again, driving for a while along the Routes des Grandes Alpes …..

to our final destination for the day, the little village of Jausiers where we had a hotel reservation for a couple of days.

Yes, those are my feet, enjoying a little relax before going on a walk discovering the old village.

But that’s a story for tomorrow.


2012 July 30
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Posted by Gra

I’m back to work today after two weeks away on vacation….. and it’s really hard…… almost painful….

Will be back soon with photos and memories from France.


2012 July 3
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Posted by Gra

Finally june was here, the summer we were waiting for so long, finally came in its full bloom……here is the walled garden at the place I work in….

The river has never been so dried out, but the grass is so green………….

We had a fantastic night out with some friends listening to the country (and not just that) music from this incredibly talented band, great voices and amazing energy….have a look here. I had a long talk with them at the end of the performance, and I bought one of their CD, in the waiting of the release of the new one.

We had also a terrible morning at one of our local administrative office, I had to duplicate my ballot paper and it took the employee almost two hours to get me one!

June was most of all the time for a family reunion for my cousin Sara wedding, in the same church we all got married and were christened. We had a terrific time all together, celebrating her and her husband (and the new baby  due next month….)…. (look at the young blonde in red, she’s another cousin of mine, isn’t she stunning?)

We spent an entire hot sunday with friends, driving with our bikes up and down the Passo del Bocco where we had lunch (just perfect, even for a dieting celiac….) at the mountain shelter. It was also the perfect location for planning our summer vacation….

Me and daughter M spent a relaxed sunday morning at a public library in the small city of Busseto, home of the Maestro himself, looking for a book she needed for the uni (the library was the only one around here to have a copy….) and we had a coffee seated in a bar housed in the same home Verdi lived in, now waiting for a global renovation….

So sad the end of the month was a shock for all of us friends hoping our dear Paola was winning in her battle against breast cancer….. but that monster was the one to win at the end and we lost an amazing human being. She will be deeply missed………..We swear, we’ll be back to our loved Ireland one day and you will be there with us.

To my land, with love

2012 June 6
Posted by Gra

 Dear Mr Earthquake,

there’s a thing you didn’t understand about my land, I will tell you: to name it, it’s not enough just one word: Emilia-Romagna, Emiliano-Romagnoli’s, it needs at least two of them; and also a hyphen to unite them, and maybe not even those are enough.

Because we are so many things, all the same and all different, a continental winter, with a cold that freezes your breath and a tropical summer that loosens your head, and sometimes all together as Pierpaolo Pasolini once wrote, we can have a winter with the sun and the snow, lowlands that are flat to the horizon, and mountains among the tallest of Italy, the land and the water that melt together to the mouth of the rivers in a landscape that seems at the end of the world.

Cities of art and industrial districts, the beaches of the coast that pulsate both in the daytime and at night, and often only a road or a railroad to separate all this; and we live all these things, at the same moment, because we are people who work in Bologna, sleep in Modena, and go to dance in Rimini as Pier Vittorio Tondelli said, and each one seems to us the same city, that’s called Emilia Romagna.

We are so many things, all differents and all the same, we are for example, a region in the heart of Italy, almost in the center of Italy, yet we are a region of frontier, we are too a hyphen, a zipper between the north and the south, and if you want to go from the north to the south and vice-versa, you must pass through here, the Emilia Romagna, and like all the places of frontier, something gives but something takes from the ones passing by, and most of all from the ones who stay, who came here for studying or for working or to have a good time, and then has decided to remain with us his whole life, in this land that is not only a place, a physical place where to be, but it is above all, a way to do and to see things.

Because here for instance, earth takes shape and becomes vases and ceramics tiles, the land becomes product, and also the night and the sea become fun, they become industry, here we go, fast as the roads that crosse this region, so straight they seem drawn with the ruler.

And we do things to have, sure, but also to be, above all to be, to be better, the kindergartens, the libraries, the hospitals, the cars and the most beautiful motorbikes of the world.

Nowhere else in the world the people speaks so much at the table about what they eat, they talk, they quarrel even, the balmy vinegar, the stuffing of the tortellini, the right cooking of the fried gnocchini and the piadina, and more, there are more than 4000 recipes deposited in Emilia-Romagna; here, people study what they eat, because everything, also the most earthly, also the food, also the pork becomes philosophy, but it doesn’t stay up in the air, then they eat it. If in all the other places of the world the brains meet and converse in the living rooms, here they do it in the kitchen, because we are people who talk, discuss, quarrel, because to be silent really doesn’t suit us, so we come together to be heard, we found associations, committees, cooperatives, consortiums, movements, to do things together, often as a four-stroke engine, with fantastic dreams in mind, however with our hands that indeed, actually, do those things and what it’s left, it’s ok, it will be another dream for another time.

Sometime we succeed, sometime we don’t, because so many things often mean so many contradictions. Sometimes things don’t melt at all, sometime they are actually opposite to each  other, however they always cohabit.

So many things all different, all the same, because this is a region for which just one name is not enough.

I have now told you what we are, don’t believe to scare us with just two turns of mazurca making our land dance, I love this land, and as someone from Mirandola, an almost destroyed village just told me, this is my home and I will never leave it.

( Marco Barbieri)


2012 May 31

A lunch break spent strolling along the old part of town, across the river………

A night at the stadium, watching a football game for charity and for celebrating the champions who wore our colors over the years……….

Exploring even more the surrounding while walking with daughter M on a sunny and peaceful sunday morning….

Spending a day at the America’s Fun exhibition, enjoying the National Cheerleaders’ Championship, the old american cars models, some bulls and yes, some country dancing too! We had so much fun singing loud old tunes and try our best to dance country music like pros………while hubby tried to calculate how much the Starsky & Hutch car costs in Euros………….


I tried a new label of cereals (so much better) and a new quinoa recipe….

This was also the month of death and destruction, our friends’ parents are still sleeping under a tent but they are all safe and that’s what counts. Still praying for a better tomorrow………

I just realized……..

2012 May 23
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Posted by Gra

……… I have to do without my weekly appointment with this man  for almost 4 months…………. Am I supposed to survive exactly,  how? Thanks God for my internet connection!

419 Kms (260 miles)

2012 May 22
Posted by Gra

Two of my favourite people (ok…. two men I would do everything for) are both in Cannes right now, just a 4 hours drive from where I live…. what the hell I’m doing  here?

This morning

2012 May 22
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Posted by Gra

Walking along a quiet street to work…………….

to find our little family of ducks was back in our courtyard for the third year………….