Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Big Smell

We are very glad we do not live in Naples. They have been having no refuse collection for some months now. The official rubbish dumps have become full so there is nowhere to put their waste. The fact that the waste disposal industry is run by the Mafia is seen as purely circumstantial – oh yeah? Last year, in one region alone, Calabria, it is estimated that the Mafia’s turnover was in the region of €20bn!! This is more than some East European countries annual GDP. It is now getting very warm, particularly in the south, so you can imagine the pong from the tons and tons of uncollected rubbish.

It’s great here because the rubbish is collected every day except Sunday. Every few homes have a communal bin by the side of the road and you just walk your own rubbish up and pop it in the bin. We pay less than our neighbours who are nearer the bin, but more than the neighbours who are farther away than we are. Seems very fair to us.

Enough of this rubbish!


We use bamboo cut down from our estate (stop sniggering) to use as vegetable stakes. When we were cutting them down, we wondered about whether there would be any new growth, or rather how does new bamboo grow – we do show our thickness sometimes. Well this picture shows a few new bamboo shoots that are a few days old. Yes, that’s right, just a few days old. Honestly, you could almost get a chair and sit and actually watch these things grow. We’ve never seen anything like it. So we needn’t worry about a disappearing resource, far from it. We might even be able to sell some excess next year. However, “She who must be obeyed”, does have an expansion plan which may need some very careful countering by myself if I am not to have actually live outside next year to make it easier to carry out all my land chores in the programme! (This reminds me of an incident when I was working for a major Agrochemicals company. I was involved in a very large system development for manufacturing and production tied into sales forecasting. One of the IT staff had bought a new, back then, software package that allowed you to have a computerised project plan to help with activities and timeliness. One of the benefits of this was that people involved in the project would have the times of their activities input and you could then see who was doing what, when and how long it was projected to take. The project manager thought this was marvellous. The project became more and more intensive and at one point, one of the project team was down to do five 25 hour days! When this was pointed out to the by now very harassed (and over worked) project manager, he said, “but it’s only for a week!” The stunned faces told him that he had said something odd, but it still took him a few seconds before it dawned on him. That is a true story).


We have seen fireflies before. When we were staying near Castiglione – a small walled town by Lago Trasimeno - in Umbria some years ago, we went to a lovely restaurant in the town. After we had finished we went out through an arch in the walls and there were thousands of fireflies. We looked at each other thinking we haven’t had that much to drink have we? No, we hadn’t. Well one of us hadn’t at least as they had to drive back to where we were staying. It was a wonderful sight.
Well, the other night we looked out of the window and there were some fireflies. They were like some small sparks that were darting to and fro over the garden. They are so much better than glow-worms which just sit there and, well, glow. They don’t move. But fireflies are brilliant to see and watch. We will be keeping our eyes open to try and see them again.

Paying a fine (“multa”)

Last week we got a parking ticket. Not the sort of thing you go to Sarnano market for on a Thursday. It’s our own fault. We should have used a designated parking area, but there were loads of Italian cars where we stopped and parked up. We had parked there before, but never mind.
The ticket said that the fine - €36,00 – had to be paid within 10 days to the Municipale Polizia. There are lots of levels of police here and these, as their name would imply, are responsible for town matters.
Well I duly went along to the Municipale office to find it shut! I went andinquired at the Turistico Informatzione place next door who told me that the policeman – yes, there is only one on duty at any one time – was on one of his “gira” or lap of the town and he would probably be back within the hour. Well 3 hours later and with large lightening streaks in the sky accompanied almost immediately by ear slitting thunder claps and very large drops of rain (I was in shorts and t-shirt because it was lovely and sunny at the beginning of the day) I decided to leave, rather hacked off. Sarnano is not a big town by any stretch of the imagination, so I really had no idea why his gira was taking so long. Perhaps there was some sort of love interest on the way round!
I had a couple of letters to send so I stopped at the post office to get some stamps. Whilst I was waiting, there was a sign in the PO about paying bills through the PO. The Italian PO does handle a lot of bill paying, utilities and stuff, so I thought I would ask if I could pay my multa through the PO. Sure enough I could. What a palaver for having 2 wheels over a white line. Still, I won’t ever park in an area that I am not 100% convinced won’t be crawling with Municipale Polizie waiting to slap a €36,00 multa under the wiper!

Little Grapes!

Just thought I’d include a pic of the grapes at the moment. There are lots of these on the vines which, hopefully, bodes well!


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