Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday 25 July 2010 - Florence

This morning we went for a walk down some streets we haven't been down yet. We were headed towards an English church to find out what time the service was on Sundays.

We came across Basilica della Santissima Annunciata a catholic church, that was open to the public and free. We saw many paintings and candles and some people saying thier prayers and making offerings. It was a beautiful sight.

We went on and found a cafe that we could not resist. We had macchiatos, 2 gelati (boys) and a custard and choc filled cornetto(croissant). Didn't burn too big a hole in the wallet.

Through the streets to the English church we strolled to find it very near the Santa Croce church. It said something on the door about being somewhere else during July. So I sent them an email for more information.

We walked on across the Arno River and found some Aussies on the bridge, we stopped and chatted for a while, discussing how fabulous the weather is. It was nice to talk to some Aussies here.

Again we moved on down the southern side of the Arno towards Ponte Vecchio, over the bridge of jewellery and headed back towards the apartment this time stopping into the camera shop. Iain purchased a great camera for his birthday present and got a great deal too.

We couldn't resist the pizza shop near the train station :) We bought 2 slices of peperoni pizza for the boys and a drink. The slices ended up feeding the 4 of us and the owner invited us to sit at one of the tables (normally you pay to do this). We paid 10euros for all 4 of to have lunch. I ended up picking the peperoni off because it was really hot. The pizza was the best and cheapest we have had so far. We met some more Aussies in the restaurant from Melbourne, they were surprised at how good and cheap the meal was too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hop on, Hop off double deckers rule...

Well on Thursday we purchased tickets for the hop on hop off buses around the city to get our bearings on the area. We ended up with quite a good deal 2 adults at 50euros (for both) and children free for 48 hours use.
The buses are best from the top level and you can see everything from up there. It is also a lot cooler up the top in the sun while the bus is moving, inside is stifling.
We went around Santa Maria Novella train station through the narrow streets, past a church we may attend this Sunday (in english). The bus took us along the wall of Florence past the jewish cemetery. The jewish cemetery was made outside the walls because they weren't allowed to bury the jewish inside Florence a long time ago. Now it is in a bad state and looks a bit disshevelled, they said that some of the stones were moved to the front gate for people to see them and the plaques were put back on back to front.
We go up the hills to the statue of Daniele Bahin ? in Gallilei square. Past this point we hear alot about Gallileo, what he did, where he lived and died and how alot of his instruments are in the Museo Archeologico (very interesting that the Catholic church made him denounce his beliefs in astronomy). We pass the tree of love and up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo where we find the most amazing views of the city below. Also a big statue of David and his friends. From here we took a short walk to the bathrooms (60cents a go) then to the 2 churches we saw from the bus Chiesa di San Miniato al Monte and the Franciscan Chiesa of San Salvatore al Monte alle Croci. We climbed many stairs to visit these 2 beautiful works of architecture (you can visit these for FREE and they are worth the trip), I find the cemetaries very interesting, wish I could go in and have a closer look.
We go through some more streets of Florence around the Cemetery island, past Piazzale Donatello and back to the LungArno towards Santa Croce.
Santa Croce cost 5euros each for adults and kids are free again, I also got a hospital gown to cover my exposed shoulders (woowoo). This is why all the markets sell shawls, I will have to purchase one and take it along with me to wear in the churches for respect. The hospital gown was hot to wear and I felt like an idiot (at least I wasnt the only one). We found the AUSSIE bar near here but it was closed, not sure if it is still open for business , I hope so.
Hop on the bus again to go down the other side of the river to Ponte Vecchio (jewellry bridge I call it now) through Palazzo Pitti and past the Giardino di Boboli (gotta visit here if you ever come to Florence).
Heading back to the starting point (there are 19 stops) we go through Tornabuoni to Antinori, this is where you find Tiffany & Co., Prada, Hermes, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Pucci, Max Mara, Dior, Burberry and those are the ones I can remember. Wish I could go shopping in this street :-)
We then disembark outside MacDonalds and get our 50c drinks with the voucher from the bus (good deal).
On our 2nd day of the hop on hop off we stayed in the centre until about 5pm, that is the latest we have stayed out so far, normally we head back to the apartment for lunch and stay out of the heat, but today it was only 29degrees and was a bit overcast.
When we got home we had pizza and salad for dinner, then went to bed quite early.
At 230am we heard a crash in the apartment and found one of the landlady's photos had fallen from the wall and smashed allover the floor. Iain and I had to clean it up before the kids got up in the morning.
I was still up at 630am I just can't seem to stay in bed past that time.
Today Saturday 24 July 2010 we are having a rest day.
Please find the photos under the Florence page.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A little stroll through the streets of Florence

Today we went for a little stroll through the streets of Florence looking for Vodafone to purchase some italian sim cards. It was a very nice day for a walk and we took it slowly because Iain had saw legs from the day before.
We walked through the streets the way we went into the centre yesterday, because we remembered seeing a Vodafone shop. We found it after a little while and found that it would be 30euros for a prepaid sim, this sounded too expensive to us, so we went next door to "wind" and purchased TIM sims for only 10euros each with 5euros credit on them.
So now we have italian phone numbers that our friends and family can contact us on.
We did a little shopping on our way back to the apartment and found Ciobar chocolate drink (like hot ciok from Toscanis). Yummo!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Giardino di Boboli-19 July 2010

The gardens are in Palazzo Pitti (Pitti palace). We spent a few hours in there walking up and down stairs and hills and looking at the wonderful gardens, statues and fountains. And the veiws from the gardens are absolutely fabulous.

The tickets are 7 euros each(under 6 is free) and the gardens are huge. We walked around for 2 1/2 hours and didn't see everything. We got a bit tired and decided to head back to the apartment.

It has been hot but not much different to Brisbane in Summer infact the buildings are much cooler because the walls are so thick.

I recommend the gardens to anyone coming to Florence for a visit.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Florence 18July 2010 day 4

Today we took it easy and went for a walk down the street for about 10minutes. We found a park at the end of the street that had an Area Giochi (playground) and a Farfalle(butterfly) exibit in a huge conservatory. We didn’t go in there though, it was a bit expensive (caro).
We stopped at a gelataria on the way back to the apartment and got 2 gelati and 2 canolo (canolo filled with icecream instead of ricotta). Very yummy.
When we got home the boys decided to play football (calcio) in the backyard and Levi kicked the ball over the neighbours fence. Phoenix was devastated. Iain and Levi went downstairs to the neighbour to ask them if they could help ask the other neighbours if they could get the ball back. They were not at home, so our lower neighbours gave Iain a ladder to climb over the fence, he made Levi do it seeings as he was the one to kick it over. Quite eventful.
Now we are relaxing and watching Titanic and drinking caffe.

17 July 2010 Florence

We got up early this morning about 6am and had breakfast (cereal and caffe). Did some washing and dishwashing and cleaned up the apartment a bit.
By 930 we were ready to go out the door and discover Firenze. We walked up the street to find the pond outside the Fortezza della Basso, through the park, across the road, past the Santa Maria Novella train station (the main one) and after 20 minutes found ourselves in front of the Duomo.
We looked around the piazza and saw so many tourists lined up to go in the front entrance of the Duomo chiesa (church) that we decided to come back another day. Instead we walked around the crowd and found another entrance to the dome climb. It was €8 each to enter, but the ticket man let the boys go under the gate for free, so €16 for a family of 4 is not too bad. We walked through to the first set of stairs that were quite wide and easy to climb, but after 5 minutes it started to hurt (if you know me, you know that I am allergic to exercise, so I am far from fit). So we climbed for about 15 minutes to the first balcony inside the dome. Very nice and a great place to rest a little, we tried to take photos here but there was a Perspex wall around and the reflection does not help with the camera. But you will see the photos and they turned out alright.
Up some more stairs 2 or 3 minutes to the next balcony, the paintings in here are amazing, and the kids were fascinated by the paintings of God and the devil and angels. I was more amazed at the painter who did the paintings either by hanging from the centre dome or by standing on the most amazing scaffold you can think of. Imagine poles tied together about 60metres high (I think). SCARY!!
Then came the climb in the dome area with sloping walls and tight corners. Lots of spiral staircases. And with people making the descent while you are making the ascent it is a tight squeeze in some areas. (Oh yeah! There are signs everywhere saying Please Do Not Write On The Walls, well these signs don’t stop people leaving there marks everywhere at all).
So on with the climbing, I am in a world of pain now huffing and puffing, my heart rate through the roof, but I must keep going to the cupola. There are stairs that are literally like climbing a ladder (did I not mention that I was wearing a knee length dress?) Oh well if the person behind saw anything I am sorry, just don’t tell me and I’ll be none the wiser ;-).
So after 15 minutes of climbing (felt like an hour, can you hear Iain laughing in the background?) we reached our destination, the cupola at the top of the dome. What a view and definitely worth the climb, we spent about 30 minutes up there looking around and taking many photos, we could even see our apartment from it (how amazing is that?).
The climb down was worse than the climb up, I had to walk slowly so I didn’t jar my knees, but we reached the bottom and I was glad we did it. It only took about 5 minutes for my legs to stop shaking, the kids kept saying ‘look at my legs mum they are shaking.’
We headed off down another street (decided it would be safe to follow the tour groups J)
And found ourselves infront of the Palazzo di Vecchio there were some statues in front David (not sure if it is the real one or not) and some others (sorry I will get some more info on them, one problem doing the tour on your own).
We went into the building and saw some very old paintings of Florence on the walls we have pics of these too. The columns are amazing.
We saw a wedding and left the building to head down some other street to the Arno River (lungarno). Listening to the church bells now as I am typing this.
Back to the river, it was about 12 and it was getting hot. We took some great photos of Ponte(bridge) Vecchio It has jewellery shops and houses on it, looks amazing and the houses look like they are hanging on for dear life. We have some photos of frog shaped rings and ladybird rings.
We decided to head back to the apartment at lunchtime to avoid the heat. We thought we would stop into Macdonalds for lunch and use the bathroom. We used the bathroom and left with some cold drinks, not burgers (tooooo expensive) The local restaurants are cheaper.
So we went back to our apartment and enjoyed some salami, cheese and salad sandwiches (with normal white bread, they call it glue here).
More adventures to come….

15 July 2010 London-Florence

Alrighty, well the flight was great and the 3 or 4 hours went by very quickly. I mentioned the mountains and views in my past post.
We arrived safely in Italy and went through customs very easily no questions asked.
We had a bit of trouble getting some money out of the atm it didn't work so we had no choice but to go to the exchange and pay to get money out. That was quite crap but what do you do?
We called Paola our landlord and asked her to tell the taxi driver the address of the apartment. That worked well and we arrived at the apartment 15 minutes later. The taxi cost 25 euros.
Paola showed us around the apartment and made us lunch. Then she showed us the way to the local Coop store. She is such a great landlady. Big Thanks to Paola.
Then of course we slept.

Friday, July 16, 2010

14 July 2010 London Day 2

Today we will head to the red bus and see Big Ben, Tower of London, London Bridge, London Eye and Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately we can’t go inside Buckingham because the Queen doesn’t open it until end of August through September, but she is opening this year at the end of July so we just miss out L.
Well we decided to get a taxi from the hotel to the train station today it cost only a pound and half more than the bus and much more comfortable.
(Oh by the way as I am writing this we are flying over the French Alps. I have never seen mountains that high before there is snow on the tops and we are literally flying just over the tops of them and my ears keep on popping. We have to keep gaining altitude to go over them. Totally Amazing!)
Back to London. We walked to Buckingham Palace just in time for the changing of the guard, but as they were getting started we saw black smoke in the distance and all these police on horses came out and evacuated 1000s of us out of the Palace grounds because there had been a car explosion (they are very fearful of terrorist attack).
After being very disappointed in not being able to see a very famous English past time we headed back to the Big Bus Co. Tour bus and found that we had wait a while because the buses could not pass past the Palace. We were told to move on down to the next bus stop and get on there. We got on the bus finally after about an hour of waiting and headed through the city to Piccadilly Circus and Mayfair. The Ritz is quite impressive and all of the pubs look so pretty. Did you know that there are baskets of flowers hanging up all over the city? They have so much green in this city it is so pretty.
The London Eye was the next attraction for us to see so we popped off the bus at the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. We spent about 10 minutes taking photographs of Big Ben for either side. It is very large and ornate. We walked over Westminster Bridge to Southbank and lined up for the London Eye, amazingly it only took about 30 mins to board onto the pod after having our bags checked and our bodies patted down. Also when everyone gets off the pods security personnel get on there with mirrors and check for bombs. We hopped on our moving pod and climbed very slowly over the city, you can see London Bridge (which is nothing special) and Big Ben, House of Parliament, the Gherkin and the top of Buckingham Palace. For me I really couldn’t wait to get off the London Eye it took way too long and I did not see anything that was not better on the ground.
We headed back to the bus stop and hopped on to find somewhere for lunch (2pm) We got off at Covent Garden and found a lovely pub called the Wellington Pub we went to check out the prices first and found that it was around 10p for all meals so we decided seeings as we ate MacDonalds the day before we would splurge on a pub meal. We had fish and chips and angus burgers and we treated the boys with coke. After our meals 39 p we headed back up the street to the bus again.
On the bus we went through many streets and lanes , heard stories about fires and when the city had to be rebuilt and saw some very narrow lanes with footpaths down the middle that covered up the old sewers.
We then went on to St Pauls Cathedral by this time is was raining and we had to use the plastic ponchos for the open top bus. At St Pauls we found that it closed before 4pm so we were unable to do another of the great English past times and climb the dome.

We decided to treat the boys to some lollies from the Sweet Shoppe and hopped back on the bus to go and see Tower Bridge (the one that has the towers and opens) this is NOT London Bridge like Fergie says in her song. It did open and let a boat through as we waited to cross over , this was quite a sight.

After seeing a lot in one day we stayed on the bus until it stopped in front of the train station and we headed back to Copthorne Effingham J Gatwick Hotel.

View photo's here:

13 July 2010 London

Ok so I was up at 350am and could not get back to sleep no matter how hard I tried. So I got up and had a muesli bar and looked outside (by the way we have the largest balcony) should I have been surprised that it was overcast and freezing!?! No of course not this is a wonderful summers day in London L 21degrees Celsius oh well lucky we packed jeans and jumpers for trips (or so I thought I packed Levi’s jeans) Grr!
Anyway the boys and Iain went to pass some time in the pool and I popped on the internet to check our the timetable for the trains into London.
At about 8am we got the shuttle back to Gatwick airport and found the line up for the train tickets. Online at home (Aust) I found return tickets on the train for £54 family ticket. So when we got the return ticket and all day use on the tube, bus, and overground for £22 we were very happy. We also were very happy to get 2 coffees, 2 sausage rolls, a croissant and apricot danish for £7.50 (we could not get it for $7.50 in Aust) I mention this because many people always think (inc me) that if something costs $2 in Aust it cost £2 in UK well it doesn’t if you look in the right place. For example we were walking past Harrods and we were handed a discount for MacDonalds (Big Mac and Medium drink £1.99) Well guess what we had for lunch….
Anyway back to the train ride, Gatwick to Victoria on the normal local train is only 3 stops and 35mins from Victoria station you can walk anywhere. So we started on our way to Buckingham Palace but on the way we found the double decker tour bus and decided to take that option £86 for 48 hours of hop on hop off with running commentary. These buses take you to all the tourist attractions and when you have done the tour you just hop on and off anywhere. We only got half way through the blue tour of the city when they said Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and I had to get off and go have a look. So not something Iain was interested in but I love Diana so I dragged him and the boys across Kensington Park to find the fountain. When we found it I saw that you are supposed to sit on the side an put your feet in the water and yes I did it (COLD!!!) Also the fountain is actually a ring of granite and not a great fan fair of a fountain, no water spraying just flowing in a circle, very pretty and child friendly (of course from Diana).
We left Diana and walked alongside the Serpentine lake back to the shops for lunch (maccas). We walked past all of the embassies and Belgrave Square. Iain took photos of , yes you guessed it all of the cars in the carparks were Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces and all those other fancy cars (Iain was in heaven). LOL.
On the bus tour so far we have seen the Ritz, the Anzac memorial, Victoria and Albert museum, Science Museum, Harrods, Burberry, Channel, Prada etc… amazing buildings, Hyde Park, Notting Hill, Kensington Palace.
After a very long day of walking we headed back to Victoria station and caught the train back to Gatwick where we purchased pasties for dinner and some fruit from Marks & Spencer (2 fruit salads for £5).
We ended up getting a taxi back to the hotel because we were so tired and the shuttle was late £16 (it ended up being someone elses taxi going to the same hotel …hehe).

12 July 2010 Kuala Lumpur -London

500 start to pack everything and be ready for breakfast at 600. We had the choice of a big american breakfast or continental breakfast, well who would pick toast and cereal over sausage, eggs, hash browns, toast and tomatoes???
We took our taxi to the airport and dragged our luggage through to the scanners. We went through the wrong scanners and into the wrong area for check in… LOL. Not a huge mistake because we just walked out and asked the security where we were supposed to go (nice guys ). However what I did notice was that when you travel in Asia they let you put your own luggage on the scanner belt and they don’t worry about your carry on bags. Where as anywhere else they scan everything. We found where our check in desk was did all the usual and went through more scanners (this time my liquids were in a ziplock) and they let us drink our bottled water before throwing it out.
We had free wifi in KL airport so I took advantage and popped onto face book to update my status and let ppl know that we were safe.
We had arrived at the airport to checkin at 700 and were boarded at 900, we took off at 930 and have been in the air for 3 hours now. We have 11 more to go to reach London. So all up 14 hours in the air with not much to do but sleep and watch tv (if you pay for it). And the batteries only last 8 hours. Hopefully we do get some sleep and don’t have very bad jetlag.
Currently Iain is sitting next to the window by me reading Twilight, I am on the computer and the kids are chatting away and playing on the DS.
There is much else to say now about the flight except for the turbulence we have every now and then.
Most of the airport ladies in Malaysia airport are muslim and wear head scarves they look so pretty and they are so nice and helpful. In fact I think I would have felt more comfortable in the restaurant the night before if I were wearing a head scarf too, they look at me like I look at them in Australia (something different, not wrong but you just want to look if you know what I mean) We have not seen any with full burqa.
Iain thinks I am writing a novel here, when really I am only recounting our experiences in the last 48 hours.
So anyway it is now 3 hours after I last wrote something down and my battery is going flat. We are flying over Saudi Arabia and wow what a sight. Complete desert. We left a very green place and flew over a desolate country. I must look up the flight path to find out exactly where we flew over that is desert. We went over Yemen too. Still have about 8 hours left on the plane.

And what a long 8 hours they were, I could not get any sleep at all over the entire 14 hour flight, it was awful when we arrived in Stansted (London) and all I wanted to do was close my eyes. We got through customs easily and retrieved our luggage and moved on outside to find the trains and buses, we decided to take the 3 hours bus to Gatwick Airport (wrong decision) Should have booked that town car for £102 and been driven to the hotel in an hour and a half L oh well we live and we learn so this will be something to take into account on my other blog (the money one).
Well the bus (coach) ride was long but comfortable enough, I just could not keep my eyes open.
We made it to the South Terminal of Gatwick airport with 20 mins to spare before the shuttle came to take us to our hotel £9 family ticket (not bad).
When we arrived at Copthorne Effingham Gatwick Hotel (don’t you just love the name) we checked in and went to our room. Our room was huge with a Queen size bed and 2 single beds, a sitting area, bathroom (with bath/shower, toilet, bidet and 2 sinks) Wardrobe, steam thingo for your clothes and a balcony. Well it was all good until the toilet didn’t flush. So we were moved to another room and we thought the room we had first was good, well the new room was fantastic it had 2 bathrooms, a living area with sofa bed for the boys and a separate bedroom for Iain and I that we could fit our bedroom at home into 3 times and our ensuite could fit into the bathroom 3 times as well. The bed was huge (see pics). Anyway I fell asleep finally at 930 pm London time. (430am Bris).

July 11 2010 Gold Coast - Kuala Lumpur

We left the house at 430 and drove to Coolangatta Airport to arrive there at 530. We checked in and went through the scanners, Iain got drug tested. Glad it wasn’t me this time.
We ate Hungry Jacks for breakfast at the airport and waited until about 730 to go through Customs to the departure lounge. This is where they make you put all liquid items in a ziplock bag (inc. lip gloss, hand sanitiser etc…). And this is where I got patted down for drugs etc.. (every time I am in an airport this happens). By the way as I type this we are going through some turbulence on the way from KL to London (not liking it one bit, but God is with us).
Anyway back to it, we boarded the plane half hour late at 900 and took off at 930. The kids got there meals (prepaid) at about 950 to keep them occupied, it came with a mini chicken burger, popper and some sweet snacks and games. We got our meals (prepaid) about an hour into the flight at 1030 it was chicken, potatoes and green beans, quite tasty, but very small.
The boys played with their Nintendo Ds until they went flat then Levi sat by me and wrote his travel diary and did some times tables for homework (we are keeping up with the maths and English work for school). Phoenix slept for a few hours next to Iain, this was pleasant, when he woke he became a little annoying and wanted to pester Levi all of the time.
We landed in KL at 1530 as scheduled, zoomed through customs and found our ride outside of the baggage area holding a sign with Iain Hardy written on it. We drove away from the LCCT airport along the roads that were not busy and the scooters and motorbikes ride on the shoulder of the road (this was quite funny to see) and no one, not anybody uses the indicators they all just sort of move over the road wherever and whenever they like.
We saw a huge mosque on the way to our accommodations in Sepang not sure if it was Islam or Muslim. We arrived at our accommodation at 1630 and met Walter and Janet the owners of Jawadene Bed and Breakfast. As we drove into this gated community full (and I mean full) of brand new mansions I thought maybe we should move to Malaysia and have accommodation for people too (we could even afford a maid in Malaysia). After that short detour in the story, Walter gave us a tour of the house, pool, and our room (this was twice the size of our lounge room) there was a queen size bed and a double futon on the floor for the boys and a large wardrobe, some chairs and a great big ensuite with bath/shower.
We went out for dinner (a 15 min walk from the house) to a Malay/Indian restaurant that served us with Tandoori chicken and garlic naan bread (roti). This restaurant is one of those places that I know most of my friends and family would not look at twice because it stank of sewerage outside and there were lots of cats in the restaurant. But surprisingly after some very strong prayers we ate the food and it tasted fantastic especially the roti and no one got sick (hear that everyone I did not get sick, thank God).
If you don’t know me very well, I can eat just one thing that might have something new on it or mix my foods and get sick, it is all in my head and I know it (this is what annoys me the most). But I tell you what my faith in God is growing even stronger as we travel and have a safe and smooth trip.
After walking back to the house (I forgot to tell you it was 32 degrees) I was sweaty as and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. So I did and Iain took the boys for a swim in the pool. I think it was about 20:00 (2200 Bris).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I have another blog...

I have just started another blog.
The money side of this trip... I will not contaminate this lovely blog with the awfulness of a budget, so you will need to pop over there to see if my budget works or if it turns terribly awful and unravels into a heap. (i hope not).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Can you believe that We will be in Kuala Lumpur in 1 week?!?

I can't believe we only have 1 more week before we jet off into the sunset for our 3 month adventure.  I have been contacting all the places we will be staying to make sure we still have accomodation there.  Now I have to organise the chauffer driven car in London from Stansted to the hotel, it costs only a little more than the bus for all 4 of and we get picked up and delivered to the hotel.
At this time next week we should have landed in KL and having dinner or sleeping.  We won't be leaving the hotel because we have to get some sleep and be up again at about 5am to go to the airport to go on to London.  Who thought it was a good idea to be at the airport 3 hours before the flight????
This week we will pay for our travel insurance (need that) and wash all of our clothes that we are taking with us and packing it.  We hope to only take enough clothing to fit into 2 suitcases but spread it out into 4 suitcases so that they are nice and light.  I mustn't forget the wonderful dress I bought today at the markets, it is so cute, I have promised the maker that I will post a photo of me wearing it in front of the Eiffel Tower.
My wonderful cousin Deb has posted some maps of a few cities for me to look at before we get there ( I am a little OCD when it comes to knowing exactly where I am going beforehand, but then once I am there it all goes out the window and I relax) :-)
Oh we also have get some British pounds before we leave for our 3 nights there.  Must remember this. 
I also got a gorgeous travel diary from my wonderful friend Sharon (thanks lovely) I will use it alot.

The winner of the fabric bird giveaway

The winner of the fabric bird giveaway was Fiona Black.... I will make some for you new house when I return from Italy.  Maybe with some of the fabrics I bring home.
Hopefully you have your new home when we get back.