Woman of the Month
Woman Of The Month - Penelope Susan Phillips
Penelope Susan Phillips is a Londoner and having been 'born within the sound of Bow Bells' it makes her a true Cockney too. Penelope used to live right near the river in what is now known as Docklands but when she was a child the area was still a functioning dock. Before she came to Italy Penelope worked for many years as an IT consultant setting up accountancy systems for large multi-nationals. It was a job that took her all over the world from Australia to Dubai; from Hawaii to Hong Kong and most countries in between. Penelope had a spell during the heady dot.com days working for a couple of American firms that meant she spent a lot of time in New York right opposite the Twin Towers - in fact it was her subway stop when she was in New York and the firm she worked for had two guys in Tower 2 when the plane hit and she'd been there the week before. Penelope had no news of her New York colleagues for 3 days so it felt quite close to home for her.
Penelope eventually ended up being self-employed and during what seemed like a property boom in the UK, in 2002, (it has obviously boomed somewhat further since then!) together with her ex-husband they decided that they would cash in theri equity and make a new life in Le Marche in Central Italy. The plan was to open a boarding kennels and renovate a farm but it took a while to sort out the UK end of things and they finally moved in 2004. As all the best plans go awry, they split up (quite amicably) and her husband returned to the UK. Penelope stayed in Italy and met her now husband Paul who ran a MTB rental and day-trip business in the Monte Sibillini National Park and they got married in Le Marche and had their daughter Ruby there. Penelope believes that having children makes you look at the world differently and they realised that where they lived just didn't really offer enough opportunities for young people as they grow up so they decided to relocate. At no point were they even vaguely tempted to go back to the UK. Italy was and is their home and the UK feels less and less so as each year passes. Penelope and Paul made a flying visit to Liguria a few years previously during a holiday in Lucca and loved it so they looked around online and it was Paul that spotted an olive farm in Apricale who came to visit it while Penelope stayed at home with my feet up... (She was pregnant at this point). The couple loved it and a few months later decided to buy it making them officially farmers. The family moved to Liguria in 2012 and have enjoyed 2 successful olive harvests and one terrible one like everyone else last year. They will be certified as organic from next year onwards and are looking forward to a bumper crop this year! They have presented a project to the Comune and we're awaiting the OK to start the renovation of the house but the long-term plan for them is to open an agriturismo offering accommodation in yurts and renovated farm buildings. Piano Piano (Slowly Slowly) as they say here - it'll take them about 10 years to complete. Penelope has just recently started an Associazione di Promozione Sociale in Apricale called Spirale Armonica with 3 other women and they are planning events and courses for local people. Life is busy!
We asked Penelope our 5 famous questions and this is how she replied:
1) What makes you smile?
My husband who can always make me laugh even when I am thoroughly grumpy and my gorgeous daughter who has inherited her father's sense of humour and is currently at a very charming age.
2) What or who inspires you?
I am the kind of person who can never not have a plan and I am always working on the next phase of life. It is something I have inherited from my paternal Grandmother who was a fun, interesting person right up until she died at the age of 99. She inspires me to never think old.
3) Do you believe in gut instincts?
I 100% do believe in gut instincts. That is how I ended up in Italy, then met my husband, and bought an olive farm!
4) What would your three essential be if you were stuck on a desert island?
My 3 essential things on a desert island would be my Kindle full of books with a solar charger; mascara - as despite being a brunette I have blonde eyelashes; and toothbrush and toothpaste.
5) If you are planning a day/night out, what do you enjoy doing most?
A good night out for me would be a couple of cocktails with friends followed by a nice meal out with my husband - oh and a babysitter ;-)