Tag: Italy

October Chat with a Dad: Richard of Living in the Langhe

I’ve been following Richard’s renovating stories of an old farmhouse in the relatively unknown, yet beautiful area of Italy called the Langhe, for over a year now on his blog aptly called Living in the Langhe.

Today, the house and all the rooms are beautifully done and finished.  But before we mention more about the house, let’s find out that other if not, more important part of his life right now… What its like to be a dad.

Tell us something about yourself and your little one.

I’m a renovating, writing, photographing father of a 20-month-old Italian called Bee. My wife and I moved from Bristol to Barolo, in north-west Italy, about three years ago and not long after that our little bundle of energy was born. Despite strictly being just a quarter Italian, she is by far the most Italian of all of us; she can destroy a plate of pasta in seconds, is already a hugely irresponsible driver (she crashes her wheelie toys into everything) and she is forever waving her hands around while shouting incomprehensibly. We speak English to her but everyone else speaks to her in Italian, which seems to have resulted in her speaking a kind of Japanese-Italian hybrid language.

What was your little one’s birth story like?

It was an exciting time… I probably wouldn’t have had much of an idea what was going on had it been happening in the UK, but in Italy I was completely lost and of no use at all. My lasting memory of the whole experience is standing in the delivery room filling out form after form while my wife lay on the other side of the room screaming. You’ve got to love Italian bureaucracy!

What you wish you knew about being a Dad before becoming one?

I wish I’d known quite how many forms I’d have to fill in. Seriously, at one-day old, does she really need a tax number?

How do you balance your time between work and fatherhood?

I don’t have to balance work and fatherhood in a traditional sense as we’re living a slightly strange life right now. We’ve just finished renovating a large farmhouse in the vineyards and we’re now starting to rent it out as a holiday villa. There were times during the renovation where I hardly saw her, but I always knew that it was only for a short time as we were working to a deadline, trying to get it ready for this summer. Also, if I really wanted to, I could just down tools, walk next door and hang out with her. That said, it was great sometimes to be able to say I was really busy and sneak away to leave my wife dealing with the fallout of some huge disaster like the entire banana being finished.

These days, I’m still working on the house a bit and also starting on marketing. I’m always at home though, which means I get to spend as much time with her as I want.

How do you manage child-free time with your wife? Do you have date-nights?

Living away from family in a country where babysitters don’t really exist (they do exist but they don’t work evenings, weekends or any other times when you might actually need them), date nights are tricky. They usually consist of takeaway pizza and a film while Bee sleeps upstairs. That said, I was never that good at dates pre-Bee either so maybe she just provides me with a great excuse to be lazy.

Any favourite anecdotes of your little one?

We have a dog, Otto. He and Bee have something of a love-hate relationship… she loves him to bits, she’s forever chasing him around trying to cuddle and kiss him. He hates her. Unless of course, she’s holding food, in which case the love is briefly reciprocated, at least until he manages to make of with her food. Her love isn’t limited to Otto though, whenever she see’s another dog in the street, she shouts “puppy!” (which sounds a lot like the Italian for ‘daddy’) and sprints towards it, arms out wide, ready for a cuddle. We get some very strange looks.

If there is anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

I used to really dread the birthday parties, mainly because I struggle to make small-talk in Italian. Lately though I’ve started to love them… there’s always a few nice bottles of local wine on the go, usually some pizza too, and I’ve discovered that a large proportion of Italian men just want to know as much as possible about English football.

If you were given the chance to be a stay-at-home-Dad would you take it?

I’ve done the stay-at-home-dad thing and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I would have hated not being around to see Bee growing, watch her take her first steps, hear her first words and clean her up when she triumphantly smeared poo all over her face like war paint. Obviously, it’s not possible for everyone, but we decided early on that if we were going to have a child that was how we were going to do it, and I’m so glad we did.

Best Advice you’ve ever received about Fatherhood?

I’m pretty sure someone once told me not to move country, renovate a house and have a child all at the same time.

If you can give yourself advice before becoming a Dad, what would it be?

Don’t move country, renovate a house and have a child all at the same time.

Thank you so much Richard!

So if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in this part of North-West Italy, look no more.  You’ve just found your place!  This 5 bedroom farmhouse sits among the vines of Barolo and can easily house 10-12 people.  Perfect for large families!  It has its own private pool and of course your very own  view of excellent Italian scenery.

You can also find them over at AirBnB.

If you’ve missed last month’s Chat with a Mum, have a read here.

Or you can also click here to catch up with the other chats with past Mums and Dads as well.

August Chat with a Dad: Pecora Nera

Here at Chats with Moms and Dads, not everyone is a newbie at parenthood like me or most of the other featured moms and dads and our August Chat with a Dad is definitely not one!  Pecora Nera as he calls himself is one of my favourite bloggers.  He mostly writes about life as an expat in Italy married to his lovely Italian wife known in the blogosphere as Mrs. Sensible.  His blog entries will make you laugh so without much further ado, I hand you over to Pecora Nera, an English man in Italy and also a proud father of three.

Thank you so much, for inviting onto your blog, my little ones are now all grown up. In fact my son now has a little one of his own.

Tell us something about yourself and your little one(s).

My little ones are all taller than me,  maybe I am still a bit taller than Lucy.  I live in Italy and they live in the UK. Either I fly to the UK or they fly out here to see me. Sometimes we pick a city in Europe and fly there to meet. Last year Sarah and I met in Bratislava for a weekend and by pure chance there was a beer festival on. My children are all very different from each other, Lucy is a teacher, Richard manages a shop and Sarah has just joined the army. I pity anyone who starts shooting at her.

 What was your little one(s) birth story(ies) like?

In 1988, I spent New Years Eve hurtling up West Street in the back of an ambulance while, Beverley (Ex wife) shouted its coming, its coming. I wasn’t sure if she meant the New Year or the baby. In the end the New Year arrived on time and Richard arrived on the 25th of January. We even managed to squeeze two more frantic races to the hospital before he put in an appearance.

I was told, when a baby is born, it will copy you; at the birth of each of my children, as soon as I was holding the baby I poked my tongue out twice, remarkably they all copied me by poking their tongue out twice.

What you wish you knew about being a dad before becoming one?

What do I wish I knew before becoming a dad? It’s a difficult question. If I knew all the problems I was too face in life,  I might have decided, the time was never right to  have  any children at all. So for me, blind ignorance was best.

I have a great dad, so I tried to teach, nurture and discipline my children the same way he treat me. I didn’t always succeed.

 How do you manage your time between work and fatherhood?

My little ones are all adults now, and we live in separate countries, I try to fly to the UK every 2 months to meet up and go for a curry and a beer. I also fly to the UK for business, so I manage to drop in on my children and grab a couple of extra days with them. I will be in the UK next month to watch my daughters passing out parade.

How do you manage to arrange child-free time with your wife/partner?  Do you have date-nights?

I remarried eight years ago, and Mrs Sensible and I don’t have any children, so this isn’t applicable to me. When we are child free we go out and eat pizza, which are most days…

 Any favourite anecdote about your little one(s)?

I gave Sarah the nickname Grub Grub. She was always digging and grubbing around in the garden; she would dig little holes with bits of sticks. I could shout Grub Grub, and she would come running.

One Saturday morning we were sat in my bed looking at a gardening book.

What’s that daddy? A butterfly, do you like the colour?

Yes, what’s that? A snail, it has its house on its back.

What’s that?  A grub.

Sarah looked at the grub, looked back at me, closed the book and went back to her bedroom. The next day at a video shop a young woman said to me, “your daughter is very cute” Sarah gave the woman a hard look and said “ I no cute, I Sarah Grey!!! There was no way she was ever going to be called anything, but Sarah, and defiantly not Grub Grub.

What is it about fatherhood you love?

I loved watching them grow and become independent, the unconditional love they give, the pure joy when they succeed at a difficult task.

 If there’s anything about fatherhood you dislike about, what would it be?

Living so far from them, and realising I should have spent more time playing with them.

 If you were given a chance to be a stay-at-home-dad, would you take it?

Oh yes, with both hands.

Best advice you’ve ever received about fatherhood/parenthood?

 Don’t get angry with them, remember your childhood, you were the same.

 If you could give yourself advice about being a father before becoming one, what would it be?

Remember to always love them, breath before you shout, and finally the time you have together is fleeting, make every minute count.

Thank you so much Pecora Nera!

Do visit his blog for some laughter and Italian lessons 😉

A laugh-out-loud read: Cooking with Fernet Branca

The first James Hamilton-Paterson book I’ve ever read was Playing with Water.  This book isn’t fiction, it’s more of an autobiography Hamilton-Paterson wrote about his stay in an isolated little island some where in my home country, the Philippines.  This book made me teary-eyed and homesick.  It’s a lovely book about a writer’s reflection on life and his childhood.  But I digress, this post isn’t about that book, it’s about another one, a laugh-out-loud book – Cooking with Fernet Branca.

If you’re looking for light reading, but don’t really want to read trash and just want to read a book and be entertained, and maybe even have a few laughs.  This book is for you.

James Hamilton-Paterson is not a writer known for writing comedy or even light fiction.  But when he does, it’s just hysterical.  Cooking with Fernet Branca is the first of a trio of books about a pretentious Englishman who happens to be a ghostwriter of celebrity sports personalities.  He purchases an isolated house in Italy hoping to find some peace and quiet to write his latest book.  The house isn’t as isolated as he hoped it would be as it turns out that he has a neighbour, whom the Italian estate agent swore was only there a few times in a year.  The neighbour turns out to be an East European woman with an indomitable character.

Read about Gerald Samper who considers himself a fine cook and entertains himself (and others) with his singing of arias and invented operas, not knowing that Marta, his neighbour has an impressive background in music.  He thinks that she is a pauper, not knowing that he is actually living next to someone who is considered royalty in her own country.

It is funny.  My husband read the book before me, since I was still busy finishing another book.  He would read this in bed and from my daughter’s room where I would try to put T to sleep, we would hear muffled laughter and giggles.  I would stomp in the room and find him red in the face, covering his mouth to conceal his guffaws.  It is that hilarious.   So yes, cooking with Fernet Branca is a definite must-read… that is, if you want to laugh.