Thursday, December 13, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

(Click on "comments" to leave a greeting message).

Sunday, December 09, 2007

21/10: VI years of wedding (@ Oxburgh Hall)

The 21st of October we celebrated VI years of wedding anniversary.
This is the second time we celebrate it in UK.

We visited Oxburgh Hall, an estate looking very much as a castle, in Norfolk.
Between all the rooms, there was one to be considered as a modern "study room". The amazing thing is that the desk is facing the window with a wonderful look on a wide section of the garden and water on the middle (the wall palace is surround by water).
I wish my office to have the same view!
(Maybe at the moment I could just change desktop background to improve my 'view').

A very nice place, for a nice and relaxing sunny afternoon.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

5/9: Agnese goes to school!

The 5th of September was a remarkable day: Agnese begins her school life!

Here in the UK they starts school quite early (in the month of September after the child turns to four).
The first here is called reception and it is essentially an "advanced Kinder garden", where the pupils play but where they also learn how to read and write.

I had a short break from work to assist at the entrance... but it was very quick since Agnese greeted us quickly and run inside the classroom!

She was looking forward to it since months and especially much more in recent time, when her uniform was ready inside the wardrobe.

This morning, Sunday, Agnese was sad... asking why I got this answer:
"I'm sad because today the school is closed".
How long she will keep this enthusiasm?
Mail me to bet!

27/8: Hedinhgam Castle

We spent a lovely sunny afternoon together with a family of friends at Hedingham Castle, a medieval Norman building from XII century.
There was a special event in that evening: "Jousting Knights".
A company of brilliant riders was entertaining the crowd with a middle age tournament play.
They were clearly having a lot of fun, but honestly they were not the best actors I've seen (=polite form).

After the play we went inside the castle, where Agnese e Rachele were appointed ladies by Queen Matilda, who named them: "lady Agnes" and "lady Rachel".
At the end of the ceremony Agnese had a crown in her head and Rachele a woman veil.
Then Rachele asked for the crown and her small head slippered quickly inside it.
(I would like to promise to publish a video about the ceremony, but I know that it won't happen in a decent time).

Saturday, August 18, 2007

10-11/08: Derbyshire

We went for a two days trip to Derbyshire, having a look around the National Park of that region.
The weather was wonderful and the surrounding landscape was beautiful too.
The first half day we visited Kedleston Hall, an old mansion with a big garden and park. Unfortunately the house itself was closed for a wedding, but it was very pleasant to have a walk around there.

In the afternoon we visited Matlock Bath, a very nice village placed inside a narrow valley crossed by a river. I was really captured by it.... well, I really miss the mountains! :-)

Finally we went to the B&B we booked the day before: Manor Barn, which turned out to be in the middle of nowhere, surrounded just by sheep and close to a lake. It was absolutely lovely, highly recommended.

The day after we went to Ilam Park and then we had a walk in Dovedale, a site of the national park where it was possible to have a long walk beside the river. Since it was warm and sunny, it was really crowded. Still, it was beautiful to be there.

The most enjoyable part was probably the "stepping stones", a kind of path - of stones - to cross the river. All kids where enjoying it (as Agnese in the picture) and several had fallen in.

Finally, with half destroyed kids, we took the way home, but not the most sensible one: we decide to climb up the hills to admire more that landscape. We were surrounded by fields limited by fences made of stones (a kind of Brave hart scenario).

It has been a really lovely trip!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

12-19/7: Alghero

After a very stressing period at work (let's also why there were no posts for a long time), we had one week of vacation in Sardinia.
It was the kind of vacation that you don't dream about doing, until you have kids :-)
We spent most of our time at the beach and we were really happy to have such a lot of time only between ourselves.

We have been dwelling at Hotel Mistral, and we were happy about the choice.
It was very warm during the whole time and for 8 days we didn't see a single cloud!

Agnese and Rachele had a lot of fun on the beach and Agnese learned to swim by herself with the help of the inflatable arm supporters (who knows how they are called!).

Alghero is a pretty lovely town, with a lot of Spanish influence, well kept walls and other old point of interests.

We have also been by boat to Neptune Caves.

It was a very nice excursion and Agnese and Rachele were really curious about their first experience in a cave. These were discovered during XV century and therefore are quite damaged or, better said, dead, meaning that the stalagmites are not growing any longer.
But they were really beautiful.

And clearly, as probably in any place in Sardinia, the sea water is fabulous!

We had a wonderful time!

First picture: sun set in Alghero's harbour.
Second one: Neptune Caves.
Last one: a coast landscape.

16/6: Lavenham

We have been visiting Lavenham, a cute middle age village.
One of the ancientest building of the village is the "The Guildhall of Corpus Christi", now turned into a museum.
What it is particularly interesting about this village is that there are many old buildings, out of which very few (....or maybe none) are standing in a straight position!
The top floor is very seldom aligned with the ground one.... and one has the feeling that the roof is going to collapse as soon as you turn the corner.
We visited the Guildhall inside and the floor was pending in every room, in some one even about 20-30 centimetres, or more.
Coolest than what I could imagine, the furniture is adapted to the floor: so you'd see tables with four different length legs, wardrobes adapted to stand in a slope and so on!
And I'm sure there must also be a convenient way to wash the floor....

In the picture one of these houses: although the fuzzy-shape effect is not so evident, look at the orange building top floor.

23-30/5: in Italy!

From 23rd to 30th of May we have been in Italy for a wonderful event: the Wedding feast of our friends Marco & Michela!
It was a very nice ceremony and day and we were really glad to be there.
We wish to them a wonderful life together.
During this day we managed to have taken a picture of the all four of us: last time that happened was in September 2005, at the wedding party of our friends Mario and Rosa Elena (is the picture in the first post of this blog).

During that period there was the "Palio di St. Eleuterio", a fest in my village, Cupramontana, which I never had seen before!
It is a very recent recurrence , which was introduced I believe six years ago, when I had just left Italy.... a nice to see one!

We also managed to go once on the beach, since the weather was really good.

A good trip, beside the very bad start: our Ryanair flight got cancelled because of Alitalia personnel was under strike again. The only way to be on time for the wedding was to divert to Forli' the day after and leave from there again (after having paid for Ancona, which is more expensive). It is a bit hilarious that every time Alitalia workers go on strike (well, not really workers, since by definition workers are at the working place) , people are wondering: "would it this be the last strike before the company goes in bankrupt?". The answer is always "no", they'll always manage to strike again!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

30/5: Agnese is four!

Agnese is four!

She speaks a "brilliant" English, according with her kinder garden teacher.
She is very interested to the "proposed activities" and "very obedient", again, according with the teacher.
(Especially about last point, we may have something different to tell...).

She has been growing up a lot, and she shows interest for many different things, but it is difficult to say if there is something where she is really committed to.
Between the funny things she likes, there is the Opera (which I am very happy about :-).

She spent her birthday travelling back from Italy (we were there a week for a wedding and the whole holiday was shifted of one day, with many thanks to Alitalia always-striking personnel).

We had a party for both of the girls on Sunday the 3rd.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

19/5: Rebels and Redcoats at Wimpole hall

We have been in Wimpole hall again, this time for a live acting of Rebels against Redcoats, showing what happened around 1750 (I may be few years off).
Redcoats was the name given to the English King soldiers, and they were wearing red to hide their blood during battles.
Rebels were Scottish allied with Jacobins.
It was very nice. What impressed me most was that the actors were volunteers and they were obviously enjoying themselves very much. They were very kind about giving information to visitors, about the historical context and habits, but they were having fun on the while... one soldier told me: "be careful about your camera if you see a Jacobite... and about your kids and wife too... you know they pretend to be nice...", and it went on again and again.

Then we moved on the Jacobine camp and it was definitely non in order as the soldiers one (the discipline gap was very remarkable). While they were drinking they launched hurras agaisnt the king and so on...
Then the was the battle... it was quite instructive about their military strategies.

We moved then to the farm where the girls loved to watch from close little lambs, pigs and many other animals.

18/5: Rachele is two

Rachele is two years old!
She is... so much different from the sister at first...
She speaks a little, not much, and is quite funny that she always asks for a confirm at the end of her confused sentence, saying "OK?".
She has a quite destructive attitude, especially towards her sister items...
She is also very affectionate and always seeking for hugs.

Two years and... she has been living in three different houses already. I'm quite afraid that one day she will have her revenge on us :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

15/5: one year @ NemeriX anniversary

We are quite plenty of anniversaries this month:
. 2nd: one year since our first landing into UK (for the house searching)
. 11th: one year since I moved into UK
. 15th: one year since I started in NemeriX
. 26th: one year since the rest of the family moved into UK
And most of all, soon will have Rachele (18th) and Agnese (30th) birthdays as well!

One year at the current work place. I have to say that it went very quickly...
I have been working in two major projects/technologies and just started the third one, plus several minor ones.
I have learned a lot, and it is still on going, which keeps me very motivated.
My colleagues are very nice people and the overall experience has been very positive so far.

The only negative side is that long working time keeps me far from the family... that really annoys me sometime, but it should/could be better soon.

Enjoy the cake!

6,7 / 5: Camping in Southwold

The 6th and 7th of May we had a Camping in Southwold, which was organized by my colleagues.
Actually we were supposed to go there by the 5th, but the night before Rachele didn't feel well enough.
After many days of sun and warm weather, that particular weekend was the unluckiest choice: cold and raining...
However we had fun enough on Sunday, when we had a walk on the village (very nice), a barbecue, and a walk on the beach and the pier.
Than we face the first night in a tent for Agnese and Rachele: both enjoyed the experience.
In the early morning started raining, with a short pause to give us time to warm milk (lucky!) and then it started again and again and never stopped.
We went for a very English breakfast in a close place in the harbor: it was nice and typical "harbor -like"...
Then we bought fresh fish (in a harbor shop) and the girls enjoyed an aquarium.
It was still raining: we dismounted the tent and went home.
The weather had obviously a negative impact on the experience: it is not so nice to camping with small children under the rain, especially if your tent is small and meant just for sleeping (our tent was the smallest of the group, meant for 3).
However, overall it was a nice weekend with friends.
We are thinking to do it again... maybe later in the summer.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

9/4: We are moving! (again)

The 9th of April we moved into the new place.
That was almost one year later our last move... and the fourth time in less than 6 years of marriage.

It was tough, but comparing to last time, this moving was a "piece of cake", mainly for two reasons: at first we started to do it little by little and we have essentially no rush to finish in one day; secondly both of my parents came here to help and therefore we had someone to watch after the girls too.
We were excited to the idea of going as quick as possible to the new place and more, we wanted to leave the old tenancy even because it was not "meant" for guests, meaning that we were really tied with my parents along.
So after dinner, we went all there to sleep on Monday the 9th. The four of us slept on the floor, as training for the coming camping (will hopefully happen in May).
Than Tuesday we completed the actual moving (almost completed actually).
During the first days we had time to remind ourself the "pleasure of little things", like:
. appreciate how comfortable is to sleep on the bed;
. appreciate how pleasant it is to go out from the shower knowing exactly where your underpants are located;
. open a kitchen door knowing that there is food inside, rather than having to explore the whole furniture to find something... and so on.
So we are in, still plenty of boxes all around, but definitely enjoying the new sweet-home.

Friday, April 20, 2007

6, 7 /4: DIY - Do It Yourself

The 6th and 7th of April we have been working intensively in our new home.
We received an invaluable support from Bonamico family, to whom we are very grateful.
On Friday Anna Maria and me were painting the lounge and dining room, on the while Katia was kindly looking after the girls.
On Saturday Mastro Alberto and me were installing the floor in the two rooms of above.
That task was much more difficult than expected because of the particular kind of floor brand, which apparently has a patented technology to make the installation easier, but it is actually more complicated for various reasons.
However, after a long day, we did it!
We are now ready to move in.

In the picture: "Bob the builder, can we fix it?".

Thursday, April 19, 2007

5/4: we got the key

The big day has finally come:
We got the key for our new house!

In the morning our solicitor called us saying that everything was fine and so we are now owning a new house!
In the afternoon I shown up to the agency and got the key (*)!
And we went all there!
The kids were excited as well and Agnese didn't want to leave it.
We have to make some minor works and decoration and then we can move in.
In the picture a Roman empire KEY.

(*) it is actually quite hilarious that having never seen the agent but just talked with her by phone and mainly by email, I shown up at the agency and said: "I'm Michele" and they give me the house key straight away. On the while when you buy any thing else on line, like 30 pounds worthy of computer memory, they ask you for a proof of identity and a bill to prove that you are resident where you declare to be....

Saturday, March 24, 2007

27/3: We are purchasing an house

After a relatively long search (we have been visiting 17 houses), we have found the one we liked and the one we think is the best compromise for our needs and taste, location, price, etc.
Visiting that house we thought immediately that that was the one to be bought.
The seller told us that there were already two couples offering the asking price. We offer the same, but we were in a better position since we are cash buyers, while the others should sell first.
By the same evening another couple (according to the agency) saw the house, said that they were as well cash buyer and were ready to pay the asking price.
The seller was very nice with us and was happy that another family with kids was going to live there: so they said that they were happy to give their house to us.
But then the agency had to figure out if we were capable of paying the asking price and there I was in a very bad position, since in UK we have no credit history... It may be an impression but I had the feeling the agency was a kind of reluctant towards us: I understand this, since we are foreigners, they know nothing about us and they could loose other potential customers.
Therefore I went to the bank asking them to sign a commitment letter for a mortgage and I fax that together with the act of sale about our previous flat in Finland to the agency (in Finnish!)... and suddenly everything changed!
The agency called me saying: "Hello Mr Marchetti, actually... should I call you Doctor?".
I laughed - could not resist - thinking how easily someone could change opinion!
That was the end of January and it was just beginning. Yep, the beginning since the way that the system works here in UK is so crazy that everyone could loose money on the attempt of purchasing an house: we paid (partially) the solicitor, the technical survey to be done for the bank and the more technical one we wanted to have for our peace of mind and yet the seller could tell us: "sorry we changed our mind, we don't sell it any longer".
That happened to several people I know and happened once to us, but at that time we didn't pay yet for anything.

But today we had the exchange of contract, which involves a deposit from both of the sides, and makes the thing more serious: now there is something written.
We expect to complete the transaction and get the keys very soon...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

20/3: Arrivederci nonna Annetta!

Today, the 20th of March 2007, my grand mother Anna passed away after a long and painful agony.
She would have been 98 next summer and she was still self sufficient.
She was the root of five living generations, 2 sons, 2 daughters and 28(!) between grandsons, grand daughters and great-grandsons.
We are quite happy that we manage to talk to her when she was spending her last days at the hospital: it was absolutely exceptional that all of us could talk with her by phone, since she was almost hear impaired and since long time ago we gave up about trying to talk with her if not in person.
Everyone of us (meaning the extended big family) was loving nonna, each one in his/her way. I was very tied to her, since she was living with us and I spent my life with her since day one.

Of course now we are all sad, but we are conscious that we will meet again.
As St Paul wrote (1 Corinthias 15,13.14): "If there is not resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty too your faith".

See you again nonna!

Oggi, 20 Marzo 2007, mia nonna Anna e' deceduta dopo una lunga e dolorosa agonia.
Avrebbe compiuto 98 anni la prossima estate ed era ancora autosufficiente.
Era la radice di cinque generazioni, due figli, due figlie e 28(!) tra nipoti e pronipoti.
Siamo contenti di essere riusciti a parlarle durante i suoi ultimi giorni di ospedale: e' stato veramente insolito, perche' era quasi sorda e da molto tempo avevamo smesso di provare a comunicare con lei se non di persona.
Ognuno di noi voleva bene a nonna, ognuno nel suo modo. Io le sono molto legato, poiche' lei viveva con noi e ho trascorso la mia vita con lei sin dal primo giorno.

Ovviamente ora siamo tutti tristi, ma consapevolu che la incontreremo di nuovo.
Come San Paolo ha scritto (1 Corinzi, 15,13.14): "Se non esiste risurrezione dai morti, neanche Cristo è risuscitato! Ma se Cristo non è risuscitato, allora è vana la nostra predicazione ed è vana anche la vostra fede."

Arrivederci nonna!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

4/3: Science Museum, London

We spent a very nice day in London, Science Museum.
For Anna Maria and me it was the second time we were there, and having or not the kids behind (or better ahead) makes a huge difference!

However, it was enjoyable and interesting for them too: we were together another family of friends and all the kids were enjoying most of the attractions.

In the picture Agnese is attempting of making the biggest bubble ever...

Friday, February 23, 2007

18/02: Carnival party

Following the success of last year experience, when she organized a "Festa di Carnevale" for kids in Kivenlahti - Espoo, Anna Maria and her friend Katia proposed a Carnival party for children.
This year the party happened in Cherry Hinton, Cambridge, about 2000 km away than last time (this clearly makes Anna Maria a Party Manager with international experience).

There were 10 families and 19 kids, which is not bad at all considering that the first invitation was sent just 4 days before!
There was good food brought by everyone, the kids had fun and I guess the parents had more free time in the very same evening, since I expect that like our daughters did, every child was in bed earlier....

Thursday, February 15, 2007

4 / 02: the winter garden

In a sunny Sunday afternoon of February we were randomly driving to get Agnese and Rachele fall asleep.
Usually we have cheaper ways to achieve the same goal, the car is just for desperate situations. It was one of these... As always it worked in a time range between two and five minutes.... for both of them.

We ended up again in the Anglesey Abbey. It was the third time, but the first one during winter.
We had no expectations, since in winter you don't usually fancy anything about a garden....

We were really surprised!
Beside the fact there there were quite several kind of winter flowers, the composition they arranged with the naked trees and other kind of plants were really enjoyable.

No need of waiting for the spring to admire the nature!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ryanair: touching "the ground of the bottom"

We have been in Italy for Christmas holidays, as we always do.
We travel with Ryanair and this time there was an interesting new policy.
Ryanair doesn't number the sits. But so far families with kids were allowed to board first, so that they can sit together.
Instead, from a recent time on, you have to pay 2 GBP (or 3 euros) per person, per way if you want to board first.
That means 2x4x2=16 GBP for our family.
It is not a big deal, but why would I? Beside we didn't know about that since when we bought the tickets (last July) this silly policy was not in place.
I will never pay this (I think), I mean: if I cannot sit beside my daughters, they will bother someone else than me, not too bad after all :-) !
Or possibly they will cry for two ours, which is the flying time... but again they will bother someone else...
But it was on the way from Ancona to London that Ryanair gave their best picture: people who bought the right to board first, were led to the aircraft BY BUS; the rest of people (let's call them the "poor people") were WALKING there!
(Note: the distance from the terminal to the aircraft was about 100 or maybe 150 meters....).

The worst thing is that to "the worst" there is never an end...

In the picture: the new Ryanair sits: maybe less comfortable for passengers, but surely cheaper!