Archive for January, 2012

The cat came back, we thought she was a gonner

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

sam the cat
In the evening Sam the cat normally comes downstairs, jumps on the sofa beside Bill and falls asleep. A couple of weeks ago she didn’t. She stayed in her basket all evening and we knew she was obviously ailing. So the next day we went to the Vets. Normally she cries when being taken to there but this time there wasn’t a murmer. She seemed so poorly and as she is now 17 we also began to think it was her lasts days.

Checking Sam over the vets thought it may be a problem with her kidneys and decided to keep her in for some tests. The blood tests showed that her kidneys and liver were fine but that she had a urine infection which could be treated by antibiotics. They also decided to do a test on her thyroid which, if not functioning properly, could make her prone to infection. The tests showed the thyroid was working normally and so confirmed that the problems were due to the infection.

The antibiotics came in liquid form which we had to syringe down her throat. The first couple of days it was relatively easy but once the infection began to subside and Sam returned to health the protests, at having strawberry flavoured antibiotics pumped into her mouth, began to increase. Each morning and evening became a battle as we were also having to give her vitamin tablets. We were so glad when the treatment period was up and the vet gave Sam a clean bill of health and gave us the bill.

Cortina – the crisis is over

Sunday, January 15th, 2012


Cortina is an up-market ski resort in Italy which has been in the news since new year as the takings from hotels, restaurants and bars over the Christmas and New Year period increased by 300 to 400% over the same period last year. Could it be a sign that the crisis is over at least for the rich?

Unfortunately the answer is no. This year the Finance Police had a crack down in Cortina. This meant that they were checking if bars and restaurants were issuing proper receipts and so providing tax to the state or were they pocketing the money themselves. From the increase in issued receipts and declared income it was obviously the latter.

The Finance Police also checked on the number of very expensive cars on the streets of Cortina. They discovered that there were over 200 expensive cars and of these 30% of the owners had a declared income of less than 30,000 euros per year.  Something not quite right there.

The event caused a stir in  all the papers and reaction went from, it was a good thing as it showed up how widespread tax evasion was in Italy and that is wasn’t just something which happened in the south, to criticism that it showed Italy in a bad light as Cortina was the “pearl of the Dolomites” and what would foreigners think.

Fighting tax evasion is one of the major aims of the new Government. In the local paper yesterday there was an article about a new ipad applications which allows customers to report to the police if they buy something but don’t get a receipt. The system doesn’t identify the specific shop but just the area in which the event occurred.

Strong flour

Friday, January 13th, 2012

manitoba flour

One of the pleasures of Italy is having breakfast out – which means having a cappucino and a brioche/cornetto filled with apricot jam. Having seen a recipe for them in a book I got bought for Christmas I decided it would be something I could make at home. To make them you need “Strong flour” or bread flour. I have never worked out what this is in italian getting completely confused with “00” flour, “0” flour”, flour for pizza, flour for cakes, soft wheat, hard wheat, durum wheat etc

So the other day we were having a coffee in the “Dolce Vita”, a cafe not too far away which has delicious brioche and I asked the owner which flour he uses. He told me it was “farina manitoba”. This is flour made from soft wheat grown in more nothern climes and which contains higher levels of protein and makes better bread. Although the wheat used may come from Canada, Russia etc in Italy it has been given the name of the Canadian Province.

So yesterday in the supermarket I saw a packet of “Manitoba Flour” and the first batch of bread (not the brioche) is  in the oven as I write.