May 2015

W/C Monday 4th May

After the last few days of calm, this week has been pretty busy. Monday was the usual quiet lazy one, but the part finally arrived for the Goldwing, so I started work on that. The cam cover swapped out fairly easily, but it looks like the handlebars have twisted a bit. Should have guessed it wasn’t going to be so easy πŸ™ I tried to straighten them out, but it looks like I’m going to have to strip the forks off the bike and rebuild the front end, damn.

On Tuesday the Satellite man & the engineer from Tiscali showed up.Β  Sorting out the TV was pretty successful, after a bit of playing with the Sky box. We now have all the Sky channels apart from the UK terrestrial ones. We don’t have On Demand either, but I have a cunning plan for those. I can use a UK VPN service to connect on the PC, then use a Chromecast dongle to beam them to the TV, and best of all I can do this for free πŸ™‚ Broadband took about 3 hours to sort out, but now we have a pretty good Internet service. At last

Most of Wednesday was spent online, updating contact details etc. on the websites we are on. I also fired off an email to a Language School in Spoleto to see if there was any work available. I suppose I should start to try and earn something πŸ™‚ I am starting to go a little stir crazy, so it would be good to have something to do. I was very surprised to get an email back from the language school on Thursday, I wasn’t really expecting a reply so quickly. Not only that, but they want to meet me on Friday. I spent the rest of the day brushing up on my TEFL πŸ™‚

The meeting with the language school was at 11:00, and it’s a good 60 miles away, so I set off nice and early at 09:00. Not a bad journey, half of it on dual carriageway, and I made good time arriving at 10:30. The school seems a perfect fit for me, it’s small with 3 other English teachers, and the classes are made up of 4 to 6 students. I had a good chat with Elisa (the owner) and we seemed to hit it off quite well. I must have done something right as she asked me to come back to see the lessons and possibly teach part of one next week. Things are moving very fast πŸ™‚ It’s a shame it’s not a bit closer, as the hours are 15:00 to 20:30 on a Monday, Thursday, and Friday. So that’s going to mean getting back home around 22:00 at night πŸ™ The pay is also quite low, only 15 Euros an hour, plus I’ll have to pay a 20% tax on that. But, it’s a job, and considering I have no teaching experience it pretty good and I’m very thankful to Elisa for giving me a chance. Justine’s work is now coming to an end, she’s on her last script this week. She then has to wait at least 3 weeks before we find out whether there’s any more work. It’s good in a way, at least she can now have a break.

It’s Saturday, and it’s just occurred to me that I have probably forgotten most of the things I learned on my TEFL course, mmm. Time to start learning what a transitional verb is (no, it’s not a verb that dresses in other verbs clothes). Thankfully the school seems to be fairly laid back about grammar, and concentrates more on getting the students to just be able to engage in conversations. Elisa is expecting me to do a bit of teaching at some point in the week, so I’d also better revise a bit about lesson planning.

I also have to fix the hole in the netting on the front of the project house. Kopek has rediscovered his Houdini skills and keeps escaping every time we both go out. Speaking of Houdini skills, Aisha (the puppy next door) seems to be a good student of this, we keep waking up to find her in our garden in the morning. The dogs seems to get on OK with her now, so it’s not a problem for us. It is however driving our neighbours crazy as they keep fixing their fence and trying to discover how she’s escaping. Ah, memories πŸ™‚

W/C Monday 11th May

We did a bit of exploring around the village today in the car, to see if we could find a good walk for the guys. We tried one “road” that I’d already walked 20 odd minutes down. Mmm, “road” is probably an optimistic word to describe it:

What is considered a B Road in Italy

A B Road!!!Β 






More of the same road

It Get’s Better

Later in the day it was time for my first day’s trial at the language school. I must admit to being a little nervous, but really looking forward to it at the same time. I met Rebecca, a nice lass from Edingborough, who had several years experience of teaching TEFL. I was to sit in on her lessons for first the Pre-Intermedeates, then the Uppers. I was very impressed with the grasp of English the PIs had, and the lesson was very enjoyable. I spent the last 15 minutes doing a question and answer session with the students. The Upper class was also impressive, the standard of students at this school is very good. The lesson was on Gerunds, which took me a couple of minutes to reach into my memory to remember what the hell they were πŸ™‚

After the lessons I agreed with Elisa to come back on Thursday & Friday to actually teach a couple of lessons. I guess I’m going to be busy the next two days creating a couple of lesson plans. She gave me free reign to cover anything, so I’m thinking of doing something around interviews. At least I seem to have this advantage over most other TEFL teachers in that I have a fair bit of real-life business experience

Well, Thursday tought me there’s a huge difference between training and teaching. Although the students seemed to enjoy my lesson on Interviews, I could tell it wasn’t the best teaching experience. It wasn’t till I was halfway through the lesson that I remembered I was supposed to be correcting their English πŸ™ I was concetrating too much on the interview answers. After the lesson I went through the feedback with Elisa, who was very kind and didn’t give me too much of a hard time. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Today’s lesson was with the Uppers, and only one studwnt turned up. Apparently attendance varies with the how good the weather is, and it was quite a nice day today. This lesson went a lot better than yesterday, it helped that the student had attended a lot of good interviews at hgih levels, so I didn’t have to think about his answers as such. I got some pretty positive feedbck from Rebecca today, so that made me feel a lot better. I had a good chat with Elisa later about what I could do at the school, and she was very positive on me doing some seminars and a few business type lessons every month. This will depend very much on whether she manages to get any students for the new term which starts in October. So I’d better start putting in some effort closer to home in the meantime.

I had booked a nights stay for Saturday night back at the campsite in Figline Valdarno as an anniversary surprise for Justine. It was here just over a year ago that we saw the house and decided to buy it. We weren’t supposed to check in until 3pm and we set off around 10am, so we decided to drive the scenic route. What was a one and a half hour journey by Autostrada turned into a three hour trek, often going in complete circles. Oh well, we did see some very beautiful parts of Umbria and Tuscany on our way πŸ™‚ We arrived at 1pm to find we could check in early, and wasted no time heading for the bar. This place is so good, they seem to invest a lot of cash every year making things better and better. A few beers later it was back to unload the car and settle in for a few hours before heading back out for dinner.

In the morning Justine headed off to the spa to be pruned in the hot tubs and other stuff women do in those places, while I whiled away an hour or so having coffee and people watching. Justine joined me for coffee after her swim, and after a brief chat we decided to stay on another night. It was an odd feeling sitting in the cafe bar and knowing our home was only 70 miles or so down the road. We had a very relaxing day playing at being on holiday, especially as this was Justines first break from work since we’d arrived. Headed back hom on Monday, took less than an hour and a half πŸ™‚

W/C Monday 18th May

Travelled back from Figline on Monday, then went to Aldo’s in the afternoon for a few beers. Met a few interesting people there while we drank the afternoon away, there always seems to be someone new to chat to πŸ™‚ Finally managed to make it back home early evening to throw some food into ourselves, then an early night.

On Tuesday our Enrico (our Geometra) turned up to say we had the OK from the commune for our building work, now we just need to get it from Perugia and we’re set to go. Looks like Andi could start by the middle of June which would be great. I can’t wait to make a start on my workshop, it’s awkward working on the bike in the grassy car park. Tomorrow Steve is hopefully popping up to give me a hand with the bike, I need someone to hold it steady while I jack it up. I’ve arranged to meet a guy I met on the Expat forum in the afternoon for some beers at Aldo’s, so should be a fun day.

Met up with Mike from the Expat forum, great to meet a normal Expat. Not sure what it is but a lot of Expats are a little odd. I suppose it’s something to do with normal people don’t leave their home country πŸ™‚ Wonder what that says about me and Justine. Steve couldn’t make it yesterday, so he’s coming tomorrow instead.

Steve came up on Thursday as promised, and we managed to get the bike back together in a ridable state. The bars aren’t quite perfectly aligned, but it’s still good enough for me for now πŸ™‚ It was great being able to go for a quick ride again, I miss not having the bike.

Friday it was raining all day, so we decided to pop along to Castiglione to do the weekly shopping at Lidl. As in the UK, Lidl has some delights that the normal supermarkets don’t. Backed Beans, although not Hienz, are one of those. I didn’t realise how much I missed beans on toast πŸ™‚ On top of the choice of goods, the shop came to 53 Euros, which is about 20 less than normal. We used to spen around Β£70 in the UK, so it’s now costing us half, bonus πŸ™‚ I also had a message from my daughters today, it’s been a couple of months since I last chatted with them. Looks like we’ll miss both of them when we go back in August πŸ™ Tina is off on to Turkey for a holiday, but looks like she’ll make it out for a visit when she gets back, which will be great. Fran has managed to land herself a job as a showgirl in France which starts on the 1st of August. She was picked one of three out of 200 girls. I’m so very proud of her, she’s managing to make a success in a very hard profession. Her contract is for a year, so hopefully we can make it over to see her before sometime this year.

The weather is a little better today, at least it’s brighter although still drizzling a bit. IΒ took an old exercise machine to the local tipΒ for one of the Expats down the road. It’s very handy having the Range Rover. Sunda started off overcast, but ended up fairly bright. The forecast has us going from mid to late teens up to late twenties next week πŸ™‚

W/C Monday 25th May

A quiet start to the week with a relaxing Monday. On Tuesday it was Justine’s Birthday, so a bit of celebration was in order. We drove over to Perugia to look over a medieval garden that Jus had found on the net.


The view in Perugia

The view in Perugia

An Old Castle

An Old Castle

As it started to rain we came straight back home. Jus had wanted to try and find a climbing rose for the front of the house, but couldn’t find anywhere that sold them. Garden centre’s in Taly don’t seem to sell many plants. I remembered seeing something garden related on the way to Castiglione, so with the weather brightening up we drove over to see if they had anything. We were lucky and managed to get the last plant the guy had in the shop πŸ™‚ A happy Justine. On the way back home we popped into Aldo’s for a couple or three drinks πŸ™‚ Enrico dropped by for some final signatures for the new build early evening

An exciting start to Wednesday, Andi (Builder) turned up at 07:30 to put up the scaffolding at the back of the house:

Scaffolding at the back of the house

Scaffolding Up At Last

He says he should be starting on Monday, bye bye big bank account balance πŸ™‚

Thursday morningΒ was set aside to register the animals at the local vets. Having spent an hour catching Gucci to put her into her box, when we turned up at the vets they didn’t need to see the animals at all. In fact they said they would register them when we needed their next injections. So, with time on our hands we decided to visit the local and have an early few drinks. Naughty at 11:30, but what they hell, it’s a great day πŸ™‚ We managed to drag ourselves back home for 14:00 where Jus had an afternoon siesta. I finally managed to find a way of casting the PC screen to the TV (there’s a Beta version of Google Chromecast), so we watched a bit of BBC for a couple of hours.

Saturday was a busy day. We’d found an ad for an event called Books for Dogs in aid of a local kennels for strays. It was fairly close to Umbertine which is where our original surveyor lives, so we sent him a mail to see if he fancied meeting up for a drink. As we went the scenic route, as usual, it took us about an hour or so to reach the town. Plus we stopped in Perugia to buy a few thinks from Breko, which is like a UK B&Q. The town itself is fairly typically pretty, with a castle on the outskirts of the centre.

Umbertide Castle

Umbertide Castle

We had a beer in a cafe in the main square and caught up with Marco. It was nice to put a face to the name after so many emails. After we went to the fete which was about 20km down the road. It was a usual charity fete with bookstalls & brick-a-brac. We did bump into an artist who happens to live in the next village to us, so we exchanged numbers etc and said we’d be in touch. We finally got back home at around 4 pm, so quite a full day of it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *