martedì 27 maggio 2008

Crik Crak

Today I had an out-of-body experience at the Osteopath’s (Chiropractor if you’re from North America, apparently!). I’m not really one for alternative medicine; to be honest I’m not really one for medicine at all if I can possibly help it, but following a recent spate of head / neck / back aches, Luca convinced me to take his appointment, and so I did. This particular practitioner is supposed to be one of the best, and has a waiting list of three months, so on the insistence of Luca’s mum (we had a double appointment), we set off two and a half hours before the appointment time, and arrived thirty minutes later. With two whole hours to spare, his mum proceeded to tell me the slightly nauseating tale of her pregnancy and labour with Luca, complete with graphic explanations of her terrible experience, doctor / butcher, 40 stitches etc. etc. In the end, she put it down to the lack of technology / mountain mentality of 1970’s Sicily, but I have to say it was a pretty scary story. When the doctor’s assistant arrived to show us in, she said “I won’t offer you coffee before your appointment as the doctor says you should be nice and relaxed”. Ha! I wasn’t. However, I also wasn’t prepared for the experience I was about to undergo. I’ve never been to an osteopath before and so wasn’t really sure what to expect, but when he took one look at me and came out with statements regarding my health and lifestyle which are 100% true, I started to feel a certain interest. This guy was an absolute magician. Apart from the crik-crak neck / back / hip treatment, he also ‘profiled’ my body type, and was right on every assumption he made. He picked up on illnesses / injuries from years ago, and even seemed to know certain aspects of my personality. The most worrying part was when, at the end of the session, he told me I have the bodily structure for twins or triplets. My first thought was ‘so you obviously think I look fat’, followed closely by ‘What?? After all of the horror stories I was put through in the waiting room???’
Needless to say, my scepticism has been somewhat abated for the time-being. Anyone else have experience of alternative therapies or osteopathy? I’d be interested to know!

lunedì 26 maggio 2008


Looking good, is it not?
Following a long, tiring day of painting, we set off home on Saturday night with practically no fuel in the car. Feeling relieved at finding a petrol station which had a self-service machine, despite being practically in the middle of nowhere, we stopped to fill up. The pump didn't seem to be working properly, so with a trickle of diesel running down my arm, I put my wallet on top of the car and went to get some paper towels.
As we pulled out of the petrol station, I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see something lying in the middle of the road. My only thought at that point, animal-lover that I am, was that I hoped it wasn't a bird or a small woodland creature. Nope, it was my wallet - only I didn't realise until an hour later, once we had travelled 50 kilometers and were sitting at home with a glass of wine. Once the panic had subsided, I logged onto the web and started cancelling my credit cards. As I have come to expect, it took me a total of 5 minutes to cancel two UK cards, with the help of polite, helpful telephone operators, each of whom confirmed to me that my replacement cards would arrive at my UK address within 2 working days. “Can I help you with anything else at all? No? In that case, have a good evening and thanks for calling.”
Banca Intesa’s turn. I called the free-phone number advertised on the website, and was told by a recorded message that it was open from Monday to Friday. Very unfortunate if you happen to have your card lost or stolen on a Saturday night…. Refusing to believe that this was the best they could do, I searched some more and managed to stumble across the emergency number from overseas when I turned in desperation to the English version of the site. The operator at the other end confirmed my personal details, put me on hold for about 2 years, and came back with a ‘secret code’ which I have to take into my branch, after which I need to wait 10 WORKING DAYS for my new card to be issued. Surprised? Not really. So at lunchtime today I shall be skipping along to my branch (still awaiting word on my compensation claim for the Zerotondo fiasco) and withdrawing just about everything I have so that I can go furniture shopping. This really was a very bad time to have to cancel my credit cards!!!
There is a happy ending, however. When we went back to the house the next day, we stopped by the petrol station and found my rather sad, run-over wallet lying by the side of the road with its contents strewn, covered in dirt across a 50 metre area. I managed to recover all of the important documents, including my driving licence, and having had a nice wash with warm soapy water, they are now nestled snugly in my new purse. I have learnt my lesson.

mercoledì 21 maggio 2008


It's been raining and miserable for about the last million years here in Milan, and is set to continue for at least the next few days. What does one do when faced with such a situation? Obviously, one decorates one's new apartment! Or, as the picture shows, one gets one's boyfriend to do it, whilst taking random pictures and enjoying back-to-back tea breaks on the balcony....

martedì 13 maggio 2008

Moving on....

If I've been a bit slack at the old blog updating recently, it's for a good reason. We found a house in a cute little village south of Pavia and we move in at the end of the month. I say house, but it's actually an apartment, although being on the ground floor, with just one person above makes it feel like a million miles from the traditional Milanese definition of an apartment (8 storeys, crumbling façade, car park view...). Also, when I say we move in at the end of the month, I actually mean we start paying rent at the end of the month, but can't move in until the kitchen arrives. I've heard 5 different versions from 5 different Italiarredo employees, so am currently accepting bets on the actual delivery date. Let's just say that it would quicker and easier for me to fly to the Amazon, chop down a tree and make it into kitchen cupboards myself, but then that's the way things are done around here.....

If anyone out there reads this blog on a reasonably regular basis (why oh why??!!), you may remember a bank-related rant in which I let off some steam about the charges and (lack of) service at my local Intesa-San Paolo. Well, there's news. Having received my latest statement, I did some calculations. The account I have is not supposed to cost me anything - no commission, no fees, no charges. By my calculations, I worked out that I have been paying an AVERAGE of 38 euros per month (£30) just to keep my account open! Everytime I go into the bank to kick up a fuss, they always fob me off with excuses, so on this occasion I decided to take affermative action and INSISTED on meeting with the manager, having written to the italian consumers association and - amusingly - having created a Powerpoint presentation to send to Le Iene (they're gonna let me know if they decided to feature me on the show!).

So I met with the bank manager, and her first reaction was "Mamma mia, this is all wrong! You shouldn't be paying this / that / the other.... This charge is not right..... Here is a mistake...... Hang on a minute! This account is not Zerotondo - it's NON-RESIDENT. What? So I have a contract in my hand stating that I have a zero expenses account, opened 9 months ago, and all along I have been paying the most that you can ever pay to bank in Italy??!! I have never even been a non-resident since I first arrived 5 years ago!!!

The bank manager swore that this has "never happened before" and assured me that I will be fully re-imbursed all charges unecessarily levied (I'll believe it when I see it!). In the meantime I really hope the miserable staff who work in the branch get to hear about it and realise why I always turn into psycho-bitch every time I walk in the door!!

Anyway, if all goes well, a life of peace and tranquillity in the beautiful Oltrepò Pavese awaits as of next month.... Here's hoping!