Mugshot: Venezia


          Another mug from my cupboard.  A new addition this time.  I made the choice long ago of “do I use it or not”  balancing up carefully the number of smiles I would have by just looking at my mug on a shelf, against the number of smiles I would have each time I used my mug to drink out of … before it got broken. Needless to say, I use my mugs, and eventually I guess they’ll leave me, as do the memories, hence my “Mugshot” series here on the blog.

          The pictures on the outside of this mug are starting to bubble and peel off so I could put it on a shelf now and preserve it, but I like drinking out of the mug as much as I like looking at it so it’s going to stay in the cupboard and get used just as much as it has since we came back from our Florence and Venice holiday.

          Funnily enough, this mug is the same shape as my “Isle of Wight” one and I enjoyed the shape of that one too.  I must bear that in mind when I choose another.  The Isle of Wight mug has long since gone but the mugshot, and the holiday snaps and stories are all posted here, and visited often to jog the memory along too.

          I drink lots of coffee, OK, so it’s de-caf coffee and if I was drinking it for the caffeine, de-caf would be a waste of time, but I actually prefer the taste, I find it mellow and relaxing.  As for the mug, I guess that’s all part of the whole experience for me too.  I do like a big mug, my hands are by no stretch of the imagination dainty.  My Mum has long, piano player fingers, and my Dad has very square sturdy palms.  Put the two together and you have my hands, square sturdy palms, with long, piano player fingers.  Hey, they’re great for reaching into the cookie jar for a handful of cookies… So long as the top of the jar isn’t too narrow. 

          Anyway, try to forget whatever size your hands are and imagine you have my hands for a moment or two …  Help yourself to a large mug of warm coffee, hot chocolate, malt milk, or whatever your fancy is.  Wrap both hands around the mug and hold it close…  Can you see how the right mug will hug you back ?

          Sorry to risk spoiling the moment for you, but, still imagining your hands as the same size as mine, now try to pick up your mug of comfort with the tiny little handle on the side, being able to fit just two fingers into it, and that’s if you’re lucky.   It sort of takes the hug away doesn’t it.

          Ahh, but look at the size of the handle on my Venice mug… That’s so much better.

          There now, you can have your hands back, boil the kettle, steam some milk, or make a brew, whatever makes you happiest, and share a cuppa with me while I drink mine. 

          More from before : “Mugshot” memories from the cupboard in my kitchen. 


          Back in June in 2014, we had a holiday in Barcelona.  One of the memories I brought back with me was of a father and daughter team of puppeteers playing the crowd with just two puppets.  They were wonderful, the father and daughter, and the puppets.  For a closer look at the intricate carving and details of the house these two puppets lived in you’ll have to follow the links to “Puppet Strings”  and “Puppet House“, but to share my love of puppets, and bits of wood, and strings, and making things… you just have to stick around here.

2014-06. Puppet strings.

          While wandering the streets in Florence on our recent holiday we discovered a shop where magic was worked with wood… “Bartolucci“.  Its a little family run shop and all the wood inside is “a result of patient manual labour, made of pine-wood, thought up and produced in small series by Francesco, Matteo, Chiara, and Anna Bartolucci”.  If you’re heading to Florence you should definitely stop by and take a look… a quick peep onto their website says they also have shops in Urbino and Rome.

Pinocchio picture.

          I could have bought the whole shop, but instead I settled for just wandering around for a while and taking a few pictures.  My Dad is probably the biggest influence to my making my “Creations“, out of pretty much anything I can get my hands on.  I’ve mentioned before some of the things he made for us when we were small, but since Grandchildren came along, and he’s had more time, he’s made so many more, his “thing” at the moment is miniatures, a few dolls houses, mostly made from scratch, and his latest is a country pub, complete with rustic beams and an old oak bar.  My Mum sits for hours knitting tiny little dolls clothes out of cotton with hat pins.  One of the things my Dad first made when the grandchildren started to arrive was a wooden rocking horse, big enough for an adult to ride.   I wonder if the Grandsons has arrived before the Granddaughters, if he might have made a rocking motorbike like the one in the Bartolucci doorway instead of a horse.

Motor bike.

          At the back of the shop in one of the corners there were a number of shelves cluttered with woodworking tools, its quite possible that these are all old tools used by the original Bartolucci wookworkers, the family business first started up in 1936, I would also like to guess that the pictures are of the people who used the tools in those years gone by.

Woodwork tools.

          To the right of the shelves is this little room, just imagine how much fun I could have in there.  It looks like they’ve been busy and there’s a delivery of smiles ready to be picked up.


          Hubby, of course, knows me well and when planning our recent trip, he found a mention of a puppet shop in Venice.   Emporio Pettenello.  Very much off the beaten track, but we found it on the map and set off one morning to visit it.  We found the square, Campo Santa Margherita, but no sign of the puppet shop, I managed to find an English speaking local customer at the small newspaper stand and found out that the shop had closed down a couple of years ago.

          We had the rest of the day and wandered back towards the more tourist tracks, heading for the Rialto market, just before the bridge, and I spotted a woodwork stall in amongst all of the t-shirts and trinkets.  Little Pinocchio puppets are available on pretty much all of the touristy stalls, but they are just the basic puppets, with only four strings on a cross of wood at the top.  I’ve been spoiled by the intricacy of the one I had as a child so I was looking for more.  This one at the little wood stall had many more strings and what’s more, the seller let me play with it.  It was really wonderful, Hubby said my face lit up while I made it walk around the shop and then wave at Hubby across the crowds.

          Unfortunately, the price reflected the amount of work which had been put into the puppet.  The seller said he only made about one a month, and sold them with a certificate of authenticity.  I left without it, planning to go back at the end of the holiday if I had enough money left.  Needless to say, once I’d had more time to think about it, no matter how beautiful it was, and how big a smile it had made, I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend the amount of money needed when I knew I could go home and make one for myself.

           One day ….


          P.s. Here’s a picture from my dad of his rocking horse…. 


          Isn’t it wonderful?


DSC_1179. Moonshine gondolas.

         It’s almost impossible to think of Venice without a picture of a Gondola springing to mind.   I’ve been lucky enough to visit this beautiful city three times now and although I’ve had plenty of opportunity, I still haven’t ridden in a Gondola.  Looking back at the number of my photos they feature in, and the number of smiles they raise with the mere thought of seeing one, then I guess I should ask myself why I’ve not taken the plunge (figuratively speaking of course).

DSC_1204. Gondola Rialto.

          I’m the frugal one out of Hubby and myself, so is it the high price placed on such a short length of enjoyment which is standing in my way? No, I think not, I’ve demonstrated to myself on many occasions that I am more than willing to pay way over the expected price for something which to me would be worth more when counted in smiles as opposed to pennies, if I really wanted to ride in a Gondola then I would be quite happy to pay for it.

          I’m not at all romantic, so maybe the thought of sitting in a Gondola next to Hubby (my knight in shining armour) isn’t quite as exciting as it might be for the more romantic souls.  Within hours of our arrival this time we shared in the joy of one young couple as a proposal of marriage was offered and accepted in a Gondola and the wedding photos we saw being taken of more than one bride and groom set in such a romantic location will record their beautiful day for eternity. 

Watching gondolas.

          I have a vivid imagination.  I can imagine sitting back and relaxing on the luxurious seats, a large floppy hat keeps the glare away from above as the sunshine twinkles on the still waters.  The Gondola glides silently through the water which laps gently against the old stone walls and hidden doorways with no sound of a motor, is that opera music I can hear in the distance ? 

         Alas, the opera music is in the gondola along side me, it’s very seldom you see just one gondola at a time and even in the quiet smaller canals you’ll probably be watched or photographed by someone trying to catch a memory of their own of one of the main tourist attractions of Venice.  

          Maybe that’s it, maybe that’s why I haven’t been on a gondola yet, maybe my imagination is too good, and maybe I don’t want to risk spoiling the magical gondola ride in my imagination with a dose of reality.

60. Poinsettia.

          More from before : visits to “Venice” in Aug 2006, Jul 2013 and Jun 2018.