Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy New Year to you all

We have had some snow here. Not very much, but the mountains have got lots of snow. It’s a lovely sight driving around when you can see the snowline with snow on the tops and sides of the mountains and then suddenly further down it’s all green and brown. Very picturesque.

Bertie loved the snow. He loved running in it, slipping and sliding and generally falling over. He ate loads of it so he never got thirsty when we were out. He also seemed to really enjoy lying in it. Strange dog.

The highlight of the start to the New Year is having had one of Bertie’s sisters, Jess, and her friend Rusty to stay while their people went away to enjoy themselves.

Jess is nothing like Bertie. I have subsequently found out that an entire litter of pups can actually each have a different father depending on how their mum put herself about at the right time, if you get my drift. I reckon that three of them are pretty much pure Maremma and the other three are a cross.

Those of you who know our casa will appreciate that its living area is on the small side at the moment. With 2 giant breed dogs roaring around, coupled with an elderly grumpy runt, who only has three workable legs and who clearly cannot understand a single syllable of a command in English, you can probably imagine the funfair that was Casa Grotta for 10 days. Most of the time it was wet walks but we did manage to get to the beach once with the two big dogs. They loved running on the sand. They didn’t venture into the sea much, but then again they are not water dogs. They were very good with the people apart from the time that Bertie decided he wanted to say hello to a little girl who turned out to be petrified of dogs and to see this huge white shaggy apparition bowling towards her was just too much. Anyway we dragged Bertie away whilst a distraught mother was wafting smelling salts under the little girl’s nose.

We’ve got them again at the week-end for another seven days.

Pigs again

La Duchessa spotted a deer roaming about at the bottom of the estate which was rather lovely.

What hasn’t been so lovely have been the pigs. They have really had a go on our land, particularly under the olives. They have made such a mess. As soon as it is dark, when we go outside to let Bertie to have a wee or something larger, you can hear this grunting and rutting of the earth. There must be loads of them. We have seen damage all over the place around here. Anyway, Bertie hears the noises first and fires off a series of barks and then shoots back inside. Great help. We think the pigs have wised up over the dog, but let’s wait till next year when he is fully grown. He won’t be just barking at them, hopefully.

We did see our first wild pigs a few days ago. We were walking on one of the sort of green roads by the casa when Bertie cocked his ears and looked inquisitively at a load of brambles. Suddenly there was a lot of rustling and this group of pigs game out quite briskly and went off over the road and up into a field. They weren’t very big, but they could move fairly fast.

We did ask our Italian teacher about the apparent increased numbers of pigs compared to last year and she said that apparently there is some rare bird that has come to these parts and the authorities have suspended hunting in case it damages the habitat or something.

I did mention to La Duchessa about getting a gun a few months ago. She was dead against it then but now she is gradually coming round I think. I was only thinking of a an airgun to fire off onto the pig noise to give then a bit of a fright so they stay clear of our bit and go and munch on somebody else’s. Yes I know it just shifts the problem, but, but, so what it gets them out of our hair, well La Duchessa’s, I don’t have any. Just imagine, I could pretend to be John Rambo and seeking vengeance, albeit with an air gun, stalking the baddies in the deepest forest at the end of the estate. Stop laughing.

Talking about laughing, La Duchessa has this great habit of getting her sayings a bit skewed. The other day as I was waiting on her at breakfast, I forget a couple of things and had to get up a few times from the table to fetch them. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, do sit down. You’re up and down like a fiddler’s yo-yo!” she exploded. Brilliant, we were both in fits.

We are going to go wireless now we have finally got broadband, only 0.8mbps, but so much faster and better than before. We have bought a router from Amazon and had it sent to the DIL who has posted it on to us. Apparently Amazon, being an American company are not allowed to send anything slightly electronic or associated with electronics outside of the UK in case they might be used to manufacture a nuclear bomb or something equally ridiculous. Paranoid or what? Do you know what I hope Barack Obama does in his first seconds as POTUS? End the ludicrous trade and other embargoes that the US has with Cuba. What a load of old nonsense.

Hang on, how did I get here? Frightening.

So, it is on its way. We will be able to share files between the laptop and the PC and also the internet connection which, in theory, should make us more efficient. We have made contact with an English IT person not far away and she is coming over to help set everything up.

I have made a new desk using some shelving planks and a couple of trestles, so we have a much better work space, all ready for the change.

However, La Duchessa thought that the laptop looked a little thirsty the other day and decided to give it drink of wine. Now, I’m not too sure how she could tell that it was thirsty. I personally believe laptops need liquid like fish need bicycles (to lean heavily on a feminist simile). This actually turned out to be the case. We think we have, hopefully, a still workable machine – I’m typing this on it so that’s a good sign. So we are still on track, IT wise.

I have explained to La Duchessa that liquid and electrical things don’t mix. I think she is on board with this, although there was a bit of a hiccup over whether running on batteries counts. I assured her it did. There was a hint of a raised eyebrow, but nothing more. Phew.

The future of Bob’s Corner or Angolo de Roberto is at serious risk

Some of you readers will know about Bob’s Corner from previous entries. It is an area of outstanding beauty around one of the bigger olive trees on the estate. The DIL spent many hours lovingly clearing the unwanted flora all around the trunk and uncovering a delightful stone wall that partly surrounds the tree.

Bertie has discovered the delights of this quiet, soulful place too. Unfortunately he does not go to search for inner peace or reflect on life at the ripe old age of 14 weeks or even to just sit and take in the ambiance of the place. No, he goes to have a, yes, you’ve guessed it. Now, allied to this, for some unknown reason, when he was staying with friends when we were in the UK just before New Year, he apparently pooped on command. The command, bizarrely, was “Go on Bertie, do bobs!” And he did, and he still does.

So you can see the dilemma. He has actually starting to do his bobs, round Bob’s corner.

Oh dear. What shall we do? And how are we going to explain it to the DIL?

Ciao, mantenere de fede

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