Tuesday 8 November 2022

My October half term

 The weather was temperate despite some rainy days and chilly starts. I wore long loose jumpers and leggings in blue, bottle green, maroon and sand colour. A colourful scarf from Betty&Claude is always around my neck and I choose earrings with autumn colours. A few of my tomatoes are still ripening and cyclamen, geraniums, morning glories and zucchini flowers still bloom. At the same time trees are splashed with shades of yellow, ochre and red; it is an amazing spectacle of criss-crossing of seasons.

I travelled north with my husband and my daughter as soon as I finished school. We spent a few days in Newcastle with my sons and their families and met some friends up there too. It wasn’t cold so I wore my corduroy dresses and leggings. We went to Pani’s restaurant all together with our friends Greg and Gillian as well, their son Jack, and Alex, a fellow poet and friend. We had delicious Sardinian food, Mediterranean starters, ravioli sardi and culurgiones. We all loved it and chatted about our families, hobbies and interests. My granddaughter Violetta showed off a bit but was very well behaved. We brought her some toys I made for her, crochet flowers and some plastic fidget things. Unfortunately, the last day she was sick but still lively and curious.

We visited The Lindisfarne Gospels’ exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery and the 7 Storeys building that features books for children and young adults with displays that show stories and illustrations in colourful pictures. The children are engaged in exploring the different rooms not only looking and reading the books available but also producing their own work in comments and drawings. I bought some books for the little children I know and whom sometimes I meet, supporting their growth in my own way. The exhibition of The Lindisfarne Gospels was very interesting. It hosts one of the world’s best preserved illuminated books on loan from the British Library. It is a manuscript composed at

Lindisfarne Abbey in the 8th century by a single scribe, Eadfrith, who took ten years to complete it. Eadfrith was also one of the the bishops of Lindisfarne and wrote the Gospels in honour of St. Cuthbert who died in 687 AD. The book is perfectly preserved with portraits of the Evangelists at the beginning of each Gospel and decorations in geometric patterns which were influenced by Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Mediterranean designs. The pages are made of vellum and the pigments used for the illuminations are from plants and minerals. The exhibition also displays cross fragments and slabs as well as modern artworks that link religious, spiritual and contemplative devotion to art. Not only religion but also nature and visual experiences inspire meditation and self-healing in a search to make sense of life. I have written the review of the exhibition for London Grip, here is the link: 


We also visited the Northumberland Zoo where you can get close to lemurs and wallabies and had a delicious brunch at Kennedy&Rhind in Newcastle with excellent cappuccino and sublime pastries.

My article on the fabulous yoga retreat in the Isle of Wight is out on Woking Writers Circle’s website, here is the link: 


And here are the links to the reviews I wrote during the summer until now:

Hannah Maria Stanislaus, Extremely Aggressive Uneducated & Rough


James Bell, On the Royal Road: with Hiroshige on the Tōkaidō


David Cooke, The Metal Exchange


Sanjeev Sethi, Wrappings in Bespoke


Ian Seed, ‘Unsettling encounters: The poetry of Ian Seed’ (Tears in the Fence, issue 76, October 2022)

Richard Skinner, Dream into Play


Ron Scowcroft, Second Glance


Robert Garnham, Woodview


Ian Seed, Betrayals


Conyer Clayton, But the sun, and the ships, and the fish, and the waves


Joshua Nguyen, Come Clean

Robert Garnham


Eleanor Hooker, Of Ochre and Ash


Ralph Calver, A Passable Man


Greg Freeman, The Fall of Singapore


Jennifer Dick, That which touch has no name


Brit Shneuer, The Cat comes and with her garden


Stephen Claughton, The 3D Clock


Charlotte Harker, The Novel and Other Incidents


And here are the reviews of art exhibitions:



Lubaina Himid


Africa Fashion


A Window on Scottish Art


The Lindisfarne Gospels


Canaletto and Melissa McGill: Performance and Panorama


The Ingram Collection: Revisiting British Art


Feminine Power


Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2022


Casa Balla


Some of my poems and a short piece have been published here:

No Good no Bad; Pristine


Yoga Classes


I remember how to fly; Worlds to come: Regeneration; Risacca; Luna




Tightening in/loosing out, Built to match existing, architectural plans, I don't mind failing in this world, You are not supposed to be rude, On giving up, The delay of summer 


Obsessed With Pipework published my poem ‘Villa Torlonia revisited’ in issue 100.

Besides my participation to the Tears in the Fence Festival and my contribution to its blog as well with my essay on Ian Seed’s work on TITF issue 76, I am also taking part in the Ver poets (https://verpoets.co.uk/ ) zoom workshops that focus on single poets such as W.H. Auden, Fiona Benson and Michael Longley and also give feedback to the members’ poetry. I joined zoom sessions with the poets I used to meet when I lived in Lancaster such as Sarah Hymas, Barbara Hickson, Mike Barlow and Ron Scowcroft and my profile is now on Second Light website:


The launch of Write Out Loud anthology at The Lightbox on the 27th of October was very successful. The book features excellent poetry from the poets that took part in WOL open mics in the past years. The anthology can be purchased on Amazon here:


I was cocompare for the first time and introduced the second part with poetry on a Halloween theme. I dressed up a bit and read some poems from the poetry foundation website (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/collections/142010/halloween-poems ) and my poem ‘Bat Files’:

Bat files

Halloween creatures, flying mice

roosting in trees, buildings,

cliff faces, old mines and bridges.

The reassurance of stereotypes rises to significance, 

a momentary reiteration of old tales.

Their communication is a silent music 

of echolocation that defies language 

to navigate the landscape, to signal food

or distress and mating opportunities.

Pipistrelles and noctules, 

Barbastelle bats, myotises; 

the familiar ugliness of long ears, beady eyes, 

hand-wings menacingly unfurling 

in our imagination against the high, white moon.

My new collection Workwear published by The High Window is finally out. Here is the link to a new web page on my website where you can know more about my work and purchase a copy of the book:



I will also add links to reviews as soon as they are published as well as the link to the publisher’s website. The launch will be next year both on zoom and at The Lightbox. The book is also on sale at The Lionsheart bookshop in the centre of Woking, 67 Commercial Way, GU21 6HN (https://www.lionsheartbookshop.co.uk/ ).

My webmaster Andrew created the page. He is not only managing my website and A2A Advertising (https://www.a2a.co.uk/ ), but he is also a great cook. Here is the link to his blog:


His recipes have intriguing introductions and great pictures. I made the excellent ratatouille and will try the blackberry, apple and plum pie soon. He also posted Italian, Greek and Turkish recipes, a revelation.

The Woking Art Society’s exhibition at The Lightbox was great. I sold a folio, ‘Bird Dress’ inspired by Alexander McQueen’ s creation,  and I also bought a piece of sculpture by Sophie Coad (https://www.instagram.com/soulsculpturebysophie/?hl=en-
  https://twitter.com/coad_sophie ), ‘Dormouse’, a cute small piece you can hold in your hand. I had commissions to reproduce my ‘British Mania’ series and a painting about Indian textiles. At The Lightbox the Ingram collection’s new exhibition has just opened, ‘The Ingram Collection: Revisiting British Art’, in the Upper Gallery. The event coincided with the launch of the book Revisiting Modern British Art (Lund Humphries, 2022) edited by Jo Baring and sponsored by the Ingram Art Foundation. It is an interesting and varied show that displays artworks made by British artists in the 20th century such as Eduardo Paolozzi, Graham Sutherland, Anthony Caro, Edward Burra and William Turnbull. Here is the link to my review:


We celebrated Halloween with my daughter Valentina dressing up and painting our faces and decorated the front door with pumpkins, bats, spiders and other scary things to encourage treat-or-treaters to knock on our door and welcomed them with plenty of chocolate and candy. We had great fun. My daughter Valentina loves Halloween and sometimes wears her Halloween costume until Christmas. 

My crochet pumpkin is installed at Tesco in Chobham with the addition of crochet poppies. I am planning a star for Christmas and I am also working on some crochet decorations for the craft fair at The Lightbox on 26 and 27 November (http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/?Readings_%26amp%3B_Fairs ). 

We have been having a roller coaster political period both in Italy and in the UK. Liz Truss seemed to be the best option just two months ago. They said she would bring positive changes and unity. It didn’t happen and the failure of her mini-budget, which had been predicted, and the U-turns proved fatal. It was embarrassing. Labour party’s opinion polls rocketed taking advantage of the Conservatives’ infights. Rishi Sunak became the favourite leader though Boris Johnson attempted a comeback like Cincinnatus. Sunak looks handsome, fit and confident; he promises stability. Why didn’t he gain the majority of votes in the first place? Now everybody thinks he will do better than Truss. However, the global situation is not easy, Covid-19 still lingers in different variants, the Ukrainian conflict and the energy crisis are patent and consequently the inflation, and global warming issues menace our planet. It is a challenging extended period of crisis and instability, a ‘permacrisis’.

In Italy the right-wing coalition won the general election and formed the government. I don’t agree with their program, but I must say that Giorgia Meloni is good looking, elegant and charismatic. In her first speech addressed to the Italian Chamber of Deputies to obtain the confidence, she said reasonable things in a comprehensible straight language. She referred to women politicians such as Tina Anselmi, Nilde Jotti, and to other prominent Italian women such as Rita Levi Montalcini, Maria Montessori, Grazia Deledda, Oriana Fallaci, Ilaria Alpi, Mariagrazia Cutuli, Fabiola Giannotti and Marta Cartabia. Most of them were or are leftist. This doesn’t mean that her achievement is terrific, she is the first woman to hold the position as prime minister of Italy in a country where women are mainly considered as mothers, carers and lovers. Let’s see what she can do in this chaotic situation.

The good news is that Ukraine is gaining territories and Putin seems to be in trouble. King Charles III is doing well though we all miss the queen, who was an icon. I like his eco-friendly attitude and his flexibility. I think he had some difficult times in the past but he recovered well and gives the impression of being stable and in a good relationship with the Queen Consort Camilla. 

Using the pulp of the pumpkin I carved for Halloween, I made a risotto with a soffritto (a mix of onion, carrot and celery finely diced and fried slowly in olive oil), then added the pumpkin pulp cut in cubes and some water, salt and pepper. I let it simmer until the pumpkin was soft and finally added the rice and some parsley. I served it with parmigiano. It was delicious. I also made a cake cooking the pumpkin pulp in water with three tbsp of demerara sugar. The ingredient for the cake are: three eggs, 150 g of sugar, 300 g of self-raising flour, three tbs of sunflower oil, one tsp of baking powder and ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda.

I blended the pumpkin and added it to the cake mixture and finally baked it in a greased cake tin at 180 C for half an hour. I turned 60 on the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes night. I made a cake with the same ingredients of the pumpkin cake but without the pumpkin pulp and filled and decorated it with buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. A real treat. At school they celebrated my birthday as well on the Friday together with Claire, the other TA, as we were born on the same day though she is thirty years younger than me. On the Saturday, my husband and I were too tired to go out to celebrate so we planned to have a cosy evening at home watching a film from Amazon Prime, and eating the creamy cake washed down with prosecco. I took it easy, I had my yoga class in the morning, attended a demonstration with the Woking Art Society and skyped with my daughter Valentina and my granddaughter Violetta in the afternoon. 

I am having some check-ups. Apparently one of my adrenaline glands produces too much hormone, which is called cortisol, that is affecting my bones, diabetes levels, cholesterol and high blood pressure, and maybe my crispy hair too. They might decide to remove it. On the whole, I feel fine. As an Italian commercial on laxative says ‘la felicità è andare in bagno’ (happiness is in bowel movements), which is quite diminishing, but certainly being in good health helps happiness.