We hear them a lot here, with their very distinctive calling “hoo, hoo, hoo” but rarely see them. Well we saw three of them the other day, just outside on a grassy bit. They are exquisite looking birds, beautiful plumage (to coin a Monty Pythonism) The picture, I have to admit again, is not one I took. By the time I found the camera, remembered how to work the thing and finally got it ready, the birds would probably be nearing Tuscany! I guess I’ll never become a photographer, but I do try. Funnily enough my wife says that about me quite a lot. I am very trying. That’s nice, isn’t it? Actually, do you know how she spells “in my opinion?” “Iamright” I’m sure that’s not right, but, of course , that is only my opinion! I digress.
The better weather has returned. In fact I’m setting out the draft of this blog in the shade of our gazebo (that’s what it was sold as, don’t laugh), a glass of chilled Prosecco close by. It’s 4.00pm and the little thermometer on the table is showing 32°C. The birds are singing up a storm and a gentle Italian pop ballad is playing in the far background. Ooh, it’s terrible here, it really is!
Margot and Jerry
Continuing on the bird theme, my wife has decided to call the Golden Orioles down the bottom of the estate (ahem) Margot and Jerry, honorary members of La Buona Vita! They are still pretty elusive but not by their calling. They start early! Like most of the farmers near us too in this weather. The tractors are out around 6 to 6:30 until late morning and then they might be out again about 6 at night for an hour or two, some finishing off with their headlights on.
We have decided to give our activity of watching and then copying our octogenarian neighbour in her vegetable growing labours, a name. I know some people think it’s silly personalising things that are, well, not people. I’ll let my wife respond to that – please see above under Hoopoo! We call it “Enning” where N is in place of the person’s name – this is getting complicated. We have been advised that when undertaking a blog such as this, you should really anonymise it. Now, our neighbour probably doesn’t speak standard Italian – standard Italian only came in 1948 and we reckon she was born about 20 years earlier in which case she would have learnt the local Italian – let alone English! I doubt she has a computer and therefore seriously doubt she is a silver surfer, but I could be wrong. She could be a whizzy techno and into phishing for the Mafia in a big way. Judging by her woolly tights, I’m not too sure though. I really don’t think she would ever read this, but we will let her remain anonymous. Anyway, we have been Enning away like good uns and the results look like speaking for themselves. Some areas in the veg patches are like green explosions. However we do have a problem with the parsnips to which I will revert at a later date.
Well, we passed. Just by the skin of our teeth we think. But what a larf! We had a great time and managed to go through the “Gola del’Infernaccio” or the gorge of hell to the uninitiated, which was great fun.
Sadly they are on their way home now via a few days in France. The trouble is that they are the world’s best washer-uppers and now we’ve got this pile of dirty dishes!!! They have said they will be back in the Autumn, but I don’t think we have enough crockery to last till then!
These birds have fantastic colouring and we are fortunate to have some at the bottom of the garden – I wanted to use the word estate, but I have been expressly forbidden to in case it creates a false impression of our 2 acres!! I have put a picture up, not one we have taken because they are ornery things when it comes to showing themselves. We took the inspectors to the top of the local village, where is a very long sheer drop - not for any skulduggery you understand, merely to show them the fabulous panoramic views of the Sibillini. Well, we looked down on some trees and there must be about 5 or 6 of the Orioles flitting about. It was a wonderful sight.
Neighbourhood watch – Italian style.
I know I have mentioned our elderly lady neighbour before, but she is truly an amazing person in the garden. She gives us salad vegetables, eggs from her chickens and now early cherries that look as though they have been individually polished instead of coming straight off the tree where we saw her pick them. But her gardening knowledge is what really interests us. It’s a question of look and learn. If she puts her tomato canes in, in a particular way, we just follow suit on the basis that what she has been doing for we don’t know how many decades, is probably going to be right for us too! As we are able to converse more and more with her, so we can pick up tips and knowledge from her. An example of that is that she said to put some Lumachacide (slug pellets) down around some small seedlings we have just planted out. We haven’t seen any slugs at all since we have been here, but we did what she suggested. I have never seen a slug as big the one that the pellets knocked off that night. It was huge! See what I mean?
Well I finally went and got a strimmer (with thanks for a contribution from one of our rellies) , and not a moment too soon! I was using one of the scythes that were left here by the previous owner’s husband when the handle split! This handle was fashioned from a branch and must be very old. It had done very well and if you could get a good rhythm going, did the job, for a little bit any way. It’s a shame but I think I’ll keep it for a bit. But anyway, we are now mechanised. It’s brilliant! Once you get something like this, you wonder why you didn’t get one sooner. Well, you know how it is. Everything is competing for the few Euros in your pocket. My wife is seriously thinking of investing in a loudhailer so she can let me know when I have missed a bit! The grass is taller than me so I think it is highly unlikely that I will be “missing bits”. It’s a control thing!
Continuing on from eating our first broad beans (fave), our octogenarian neighbour told us that the best way to eat these beans is with pecorino cheese. Pecorino is a sheep’s cheese and the nearest village to where we live, is famous for its Pecorino. They make the Pecorino amongst Pecorinos – work that one out.
I’ll tell you, she’s dead right. Just cut the cheese into small cubes and eat with freshly podded (is that English? It’s certainly not Italian, but, hey) beans. Just gorgeous!
Just going on a bit about age. Apparently this region of Italy has something like the third longest-lived people, in the world. I expect that only relates to those who have been born and bred here. Don’t think you can pop over for a few weeks a year and add a couple of years to your own longevity each time you come. Of course, this applies to us. I reckon we might get about 11 days extra! Who wants to live to 100 anyway, well apart from those who might have a 100th birthday tomorrow or next week, maybe.
The Inspectors Call
This week-end marks the arrival of the Wiltshire Winkers – these are the extremely good friends (yes, they still are) who helped us make the move at the end of last year. They (well the male of the two) took a certain, how shall I put it, Stalinist approach to helping us get the house organised. In other words if you didn’t like the way he organised, for instance, the pantry, then you would be summarily shot! Working for a while with the British Public Services, I do have some sympathy with and a sneaking regard for that approach, .. sometimes. Needless to say since they were last here some improvements, sorry, changes, have been made more out of necessity that purely for aesthetics. Gulp!
They are insisting that an inspection of what we have done will be carried out with dire consequences if it less than 3 stars. After that we’ll all get bladdered!!
We have rather an agricultural sewage system here at the moment. I am not actually sure I want to say more except, that it’s working again now with a little help from yours truly and some ingenuity.
We have had some rellies staying and managed to get some trips in to Macerata, local markets, golf driving range and a wonderfully peaceful stretch of water at San Ruffino. (Picture below, hopefully)
Bit of bad news. The little boy who “looks after” her announced yesterday that a “wolf” had come and killed all the gattini!! I’m not particularly surprised because that is the way of things where we are. We do feel sorry for Sisi who has been coming in and out of the house looking for them all over the place. I expect the “wolf” will be coming again soon when the others have their litters.
Latte da capra.
The family next door have started to give us some milk from their goat. So far we have accepted as we don’t wish to upset them by refusing. Unfortunately we now find ourselves in the position that they must believe all we eat and drink is wretched “latte da capra”!! A solution will have to be found.
With the warmer weather arriving, taking our meals outside is now on the cards. The sun is very hot when it is out so we do need some shade. As we cannot afford an veranda yet, we have forgone food for a week and bought a “gazebo”. So now we have shade but nothing to eat under it. Perverse, isn’t it? Hopefully next week we will have both shade and grub!
Talking of food …….
Have a look at this! Our first fave (broad beans) which were absolutely delicious. Ignore the glasses of wine and the one-handled colander - it's the beans that count!
We have started our 4th year here, living in beautiful rural, central Italy. Where has the time gone? It's still a little bit scary but exciting too. This blog will continue to provide a record of a good life in the slow lane. My sister painted our house and as it was so good we thought we would use it here. Thanks Liz.