Winter in Zurich and Lugano

I arrived in Zurich having bought a practical winter coat to prepare myself for the possibility of snow and maybe even some skiing. Who knows! The mother of the family I was to work for met me in Zollikon, which I later found out is the home of Astrolabe, one of the world’s foremost astrology software companies.

The family had three children. My job was to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner and keep the kids’ rooms cleaned. My Geminian angular Moon on the Ascendant was more than familiar with nanny work, having done it for several years in Ireland during the recession. Indeed, my first ever ‘proper’ job was as a seventeen-year-old au pair to no less than four children in Goettingen, Germany, in 1978.

Zurich ended up being my best ever nanny/cook job as, in true Swiss fashion, I was never expected to work extra hours and was extremely well paid. We spent the two weeks over Christmas and the New Year in Lugano, where the family had a beautiful house overlooking Lake Lugano.

Irish weather

I returned to Ireland in mid-January to finally attend Showcase in the RDS, the top Irish craft fair where, high as a kite from how well my freewheeling Italian/Swiss life seemed to be turning out, I sold lots of photos.

Despite howling rain and the usual horrendous Irish winter weather, I also had a grand old time catching up with many people before the next leg of my adventure. I had turned down several highly tempting offers of well-paid nanny work in Switzerland in order to be able to achieve what I had set out to do – namely, move to Italy full time.

The following weeks were a difficult time of attending job interviews and having some trial job offers in Milan, until I landed a nanny job in Foligno minding two children. The family were lovely, but the job became more and more chaotic as the weeks passed. So, after seven weeks we parted company and I slowly made my way to the city that had so captured my heart less than a year earlier – Lucca. There was a family moving from Sicily who were looking for a nanny. And so I went back to my stunning hostel and waited for them to contact me.

And waited.

And waited.

We kept missing each other by phone.

Astrology study online

So to pass the time, I reverted to studying astrology which I had started learning formally while in Zurich with Blue Rose School of Astrology in Dublin. And then I decided to get volunteer work to keep me going.

Two days later, I was en route to the Garfagna Valley where I planted and watered vegetables, painted walls and cleaned self-catering accommodation and the swimming pool for a month. By then I had already lost a ton of weight due to the superb Mediterranean Italian diet and as my diet in the Garfagna Valley was largely vegetarian, I lost even more.

However, story of my life, there was no internet where I was staying so myself and my fellow volunteer travelled back to Lucca for two days. There, I obtained a summer job minding four boys by the beach at Lido di Camaiore, starting the following week.

A promise of a long term job at the end of the summer.

Yeah, right.

Neptune trine Neptune again.

The summer of 2015 was the craziest, yet in so many ways, also the simplest summer of my life. The boys were utterly wild yet adorable. My emerald green swimsuit replete with Mediterranean tan and my new svelte body made me feel like a glamourous Italian. My favourite time of the day was cycling along the promenade at 9pm to hang out in a local café with a late-night espresso and ice cream while I wrote in my diary and read my astrology notes.

Just me, my borrowed bicycle, 10 euros, a notebook, pen and reading book. Simplicity itself.

The family went away for three weeks and I found myself back and forth between their beach apartment and town house where I had a quirky apartment in a semi-basement area. I had by then started meeting some Americans and Australians and had mentioned that I was studying astrology. Requests to have charts read started coming in.


And again.

And yet again.

Astrology chart readings

I fobbed them off, saying I need to study more. Then one day I found myself having an hour-long session with my business coach where I moaned plaintively about how little money I was still earning as a nanny. I had come to Italy to be a photographer, not to swap a low paid Irish nanny job for an even lower paid Italian nanny job!

She mentioned a women’s Facebook group she was a member of; suggested I joined it and offer some free mini astrology sessions to see how they went. Well I had nothing to lose then, did I?

So I joined the group, posted my offer of 10 free astrology sessions and was booked up within the hour. That night was the most sleepless of my life, as I tossed and turned. Did I know enough? Would I be seen as a fraud? My business coach’s words returned to me time and time again: “Martha, you know enough, you are enough. What you know is more than enough for now.” And best of all, she remined me that my prospective clients had no real idea of how much astrology I did or did not know!!

The following day, dripping in sweat in temperatures of over 100 degrees, dressed only in a long T-shirt, I did five free readings and five the next day. They went well. Six people then booked full sessions.

My oh my, overnight I had become an astrologer!

And what of my mysterious Italian man, I hear you ask? Had he disappeared totally? Now you can find out in the final part of my blog series detailing how astrocartography changed my life!

Main image – Sorrento, Lido di Camaiore, Tuscany © Martha Clarke
Espresso image © Arisa Chattasa/Unsplash

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