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When we went to the Feast of San Vittore back in May with our guests from Arizona, we  learnt that they were taking a break after running a photography course in our neighbouring region of Tuscany.

Joel Wolfson is a professional landscape photographer who runs photographic workshops with his wife Barbara.  Barb is the “resident naturalist” for the workshops.  She also writes The Photographer’s Wife.

Joel and Barbara’s workshops were recently highlighted in Italian Living.

All of the photographs on this post were taken in Le Marche by Joel and illustrate what D. was talking about when she mentioned the living tapestry of the landscape in this region.

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I was tagged by my favourite site: The Cottage Smallholder. It’s a down to earth, no nonsense site which is full of common sense and tips on cooking, gardening and smallholding.

Vita Lenta nel Bel Paese also tagged me on the same theme. I only found this site recently, but it’s already among my favourites. She has a good eye for detail and her photos sum up life in Italy.  

The rules are that I should give six details about myself, link back to the original site(s) and tag six more people.  

As I was tagged twice, I’m offering eight details and tagging eight people.  (I’d rather that than do this twice!)  

  • I don’t like I’m not too keen on parties.
  • But I love dinner parties. It doesn’t matter if I’m the host, or the guest as long as there aren’t too many people around the table.  My preferred numbers are five, seven and nine – just call me odd. 
  • I don’t like department stores.  This has everything to do with the neon lighting and air conditioning.  My dislike intensifies during the winter months when the heating is on so high that the sales assistants are wearing short-sleeved blouses/shirts and I am struggling to find what I came in for whilst sweating under layers of clothing.
  • But I love markets, village shops and specialist stores. 
  • Like The Cottage Smallholder, I cry easily. In my case, too easily.   
  • But I love to laugh.  I have lovely side-splitting laughs with one of my very best friends, whose company I miss terribly.  We speak frequently on the phone, but it’s not the same.  (Oh for goodness sake! I’ve started to cry again and this was supposed to be the happy bit!) I also have great laughs with my sisters, and Dan and I have at least one good laugh and several giggles every single day.  My favourite comedians are Eddie Izzard, Paul Merton, Billy Conolly and the late Tommy Cooper.  I also adored the fantastically whacky Spike Milligan.  Perhaps the person who makes me laugh most is my dad, who starts to laugh so much himself when he tells a funny story, that he can never reach the end.  It doesn’t matter though, because the journey is always hilarious. 

  • I’m not very good at reading fiction and have read fewer novels than I care to admit.  The last novel I read that I can honestly say I loved was: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, by Mark Haddon.  It made me laugh (particularly the battenburg bit) and (this won’t surprise you) it made me cry too. 
  • But I love reading non-fiction, particularly books on linguistics, history of language – anything by David Crystal or Noam Chomsky.  I also read cookery and gardening books.  My greatest loves are poetry and Shakespeare.  OK – just call me odd and pretentious.

Here are the people I’d like to tag: 

  • Ogni Piacere: Because she’s got a HUGE heart and loves dogs and poetry.
  • Jo at Little Ffarm Dairy. Who makes her own goat’s cheese and is an Artisanal Gelato maker.  She left a really informative message on my ‘Gelato‘ post.
  • Compost In My Shoe whose post “Angels Come To Dinner” is one best I’ve seen recently.  Not sure this tagging thing is up his street, but I wanted to share this with you, in any case.
  • A Tuscan View From Umbria whose blog I always read.  Moreover, they tagged me a while ago, but I messed up!

 

  • The Feast Within written by Gabi in the States.  She once left a message here saying she wished she was my neighbour.  “Ditto”, except that I couldn’t keep up with her incredible cuisine.
  • Proud Italian Cook.  Another great cook who also offers many cook-ahead dishes, which I always love to do when entertaining
  • Napa Farmhouse 1885, because she always starts with good basic ingredients, doesn’t mess about with them and comes up with some great recipes.

  • Lastly, I really want to share this site with everyone: foodOgraphia.  I’ll eat my hat if this guy isn’t a professional food stylist and/or chef.  He writes in Italian, but then gives a translation in English.  Apart from the photos, there are some really original, yet simple ideas for desserts – always my weak point, but his I think I could do and would love to eat.

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Grey

This is Grey.  He was our first dog here at Casalba and he was only with us for a very short, but beautiful eight months.

He chose us from the rescue home we visited.  I know everyone says that, but it’s true.  It was the way he looked at us as we visited the kennels. All three of us knew immediately: he knew, I knew and Dan knew.

I thought he was a cross between a Setter and a Spaniel, but later learnt that he was a pedigree English Setter.  This breed is smaller than the Gordon or Irish Setters and is widely used in Le Marche for hunting. 

Grey eventually died from the injuries his previous owner had inflicted on him.  We still miss him because he was so very special.

Why was he special?  Well, firstly, he was very sensitive.  There was no need to raise your voice when he did something wrong.  A simple ‘no’ in a disapproving voice stopped him from whatever it was he was doing and he never did it again. 

Secondly, he didn’t bark unless it was absolutely necessary. Indeed, he didn’t bark at all for the first three weeks and we thought he couldn’t.  The first time he did, Dan turned to me and said, “He’s got a nice voice, hasn’t he?” 

Then there was the fact that, even though he was bigger than a Spaniel, he’d climb onto my lap when I settled down for the evening film.

I could carry on (and on), but I’m welling up…  So, can we just leave it at that?

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