Spring 2019 – long awaited update

Translation in to Italian in progress…. Sto lavorando alla traduzione di questo post sul blog. La vostra pazienza è apprezzata!

I’ve definitely been neglecting our website and blog (In general, my on-line presence has been diminishing since we got here but maybe that’s just a good thing). During this time, a few issues were itching me to write about, though as times before, a long string of excuses delayed everything until one reaches a point where he feels it’s all too late and irrelevant. I constantly need to remind myself that the whole point of our online space is to keep us reflecting and appreciating our own progress as well as to reach out for those interested to join our project, in some way or the other. It helps outsiders not only to see what we are currently up to, but also how we actually got here.

What I hope will follow is a brief description of the main things we have been working on during the winter months and early spring as well as important events that shaped our current direction. This time round I am forcing myself to pick up on the next level of my Italian and thus I’ll be trying to translate this post to Italian (with the help of google of course! and the proper Italian speakers around me). I have promised myself that I will follow up shortly on individual topics mentioned below. Let’s hope I’m disciplined enough to deliver these promises.

  • As I wrote in the Christmas post, we dedicated much more time to music and music education. We had thoughts, in the past, of creating our own family folk band and time has ripened. After taking an experimental practice challenge and spending cold evenings close to the stove with our fiddles, whistle and guitar, we gathered enough confidence, courage and repertoire to keep a relatively engaging and energizing 15-30 min act.  Our famous incident in November with playing in the market has transformed little by little and accumulated to the formation of our family band named by our eldest as: ‘Naughty notes, family band’.
Founders of ‘Naughty Notes, Family band’ (including the cat). * Kids are not shown for respect of their privacy. However, all  absent three are the heart and soul, obviously!

We had our first official band performance during the Irish Festival (Irlanda in Festa) in Nonantola for St. Patrick weekend. It’s a start of something exciting and has inspired me to think about parallels between our English teaching activities and the music education adventures we are going through as a family. For my part, I started finally, to take violin lessons after years of picking up things on my own as well as very bad habits that I realised that could not serve any good example to my young classically trained children. The whole topic definitely deserves more attention on the blog. Yes, I promise!

  • Elena has finished writing her book about un-schooling, submitted her script to the editors and we are eager to see it getting shaped for publication. At the time of Elena’s research and writing we engaged in much talk about what we are doing as an un-schooling family the conflicts and accordance it has with the music lessons the kids are taking and the approach we adopt when it comes to teaching English at The Old Stable. This goes back to the previous point but it stands on its own right. The book is fruit of Elena’s hard work at the end of the day!
  • We had time to realize what works, refine and experiment with our teaching styles. Though the year started very slowly with few enrollments to the adult courses (if you recall we had lots of hops between fears and hopes, also economically speaking), we later on took on a few private students that kept us afloat and helped us realize our teaching strengths. Although we initially wanted to avoid private tuition, we find a lot of satisfaction and opportunities to know our students better. We have formed a large and happy group of primary school children and two nursery groups. Both prove successful and highly enjoyable.  With the year coming to a close (another two-three months), it’s time to re-assess and pitch our plans for the next year.
  • Wanting, since we got here, to participate in concrete activities that promote environmental issues and cultural understanding, this winter, we got to the point where we just had to make a move.  Since there are so many issues to fight for and so many ways to do so we had to choose our wars and weapons! Here is the list:

    • Using the bicycle so often has resulted, naturally, in joining the campaign for accessibility for bicycles.
    Elena and the cat with our cargo bike fleet: The Urban Arrow and the Xtracycle

    Elena has definitely taken the active role here and has joined numerous meetings with the local administration together with FIAB Modena and Legambiente. To see the fruits of these meetings you can check out the blog she started which serves for collecting and spreading all news about the Nonantola-Modena bicycle path. On my part, I mainly do the cycling and have explored the percorso natura to Modena and St. Anna. I’m collecting evidences for points of improvement where we pedal to Castelfranco-Emilia. I told Elena that I’d be willing to make more youtube videos (like the one I prepared on the Urban Arrow in Bath) but this time, in Italian! These will be about our bicycles and cycling experiences, short clips to get people inspired and aware of what is feasible.

  • Elena has joined a candidate list (Una Mano per Nonantola) for the Nonantola municipality elections. It is formed by a number of members of local associations. They meticulously worked on a working program and Elena was involved in the environmental section, promoting again cyclability and other issues. For my part, I give the ‘moral’ support (Elena will disagree!) and as a result of her late night meetings, scything and feeding the chickens and rabbit fall on me. But really, if I had to choose I wouldn’t change for anything.
  • Winter months are always slow when it comes to embarking on big building projects. As a result instead of building and fixing things I feel that we have just piled up on furniture and bric a brac that we thought might be of use in the future for our activities. Our ‘Old Stable’ looked like (up until two days ago! and not really over yet) a messy junk yard and during the winter months we just kept on dreaming on how it will look like when we’ve finished putting everything in place. (We are still dreaming on how it will look like). However, with that in mind. Last but not least is updates on beer.

    Cascade shoots reappearing from the ground after a long winter break.
    • Beer has been on the make on a relatively regular basis. Winter temperatures allowed me to experiment with my first batches of Lager yeast. It sure makes a difference in taste.
    • First year’s harvest of cascade hops was, as expected, relatively poor. But it allowed around two batches of 50 L of beer to be completely free of commercially grown hops. It definitely gave me a taste for more!
    • Earlier this month the cascade hops re-emerged from the ground with healthy looking vines thick and green… ready for their seasonal climb. I’ve ordered more variety of hops and enlarged the hop yard.

    So with this Spring update, I’ll leave and start picking up on our ideas. I hope writing more in detail about some of these topics fairly soon.

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