Thursday, February 19, 2009

Another Major Event

Preparations are in full swing for la Duchessa’s 26th birthday – if she reads this and sees I have put her real age, I might be going swimming wearing concrete wellies.

She is actually not very excited. She says she doesn’t believe in birthday celebrations. They are for children, is what she says. Foolishly I took her at her word a couple of years ago. The nightmares have almost gone now, but the doctor said that I would probably have the limp for several years if not for life.

I have booked the over 95s choir from our local Home for the Bewildered to serenade us at our birthday meal. There are nine choir members at the moment, although Massimo, the leader of the choir, couldn’t guarantee that there would be nine there on the night! Haven’t told La Duchessa yet, it is going to be a surprise. I do hope she likes it.

We are going off to Florence for a couple of days next week. I had some Airmiles that I had never used so we booked a hotel with them and only had to find our travel. We are going to go by train because parking in Florence is extortionate. We have gone to Florence before by train and it is really great fun. Very relaxing and a good way to see a bit of the country.

Big Bert is off to stay with his sister Jess again. Apparently Jess has taken up stealing. Her people had some holidaymakers staying last week and Jess “stole” one of the little girl’s shoes. Oops. Ahh, dogs. What a joy.


We are having quite a bit of snow this year. This time last year I had my youngest over for half term and we were finishing off the Olive pruning in our t-shirts. You’d probably be dead in minutes if you were to go out in just a t-shirt this year.

So my plans to have the pruning completed by end of February has had to be revised. The biggies are done; it is just the rest that need doing. Hopefully from now on the weather will become more clement and allow us to get on with our outdoor chores. We have to get the veggie patches, tilled and turned over ready for planting. We have spuds chitting in the potting shed and have bought some runner bean seeds for planting soon – we hope.

The snow is lovely. It really isn’t a problem for travel as the authorities are geared up to deal with snow falls. All the local roads are open and we even had a snow plough come down our lane.

So we have had some lovely winter walks with Bertie. He loves the snow and goes barrelling along, slipping and rolling in it looking extremely happy. He stays out more and more now and we often look out and see him just lying in the snow chewing some of the firewood that I have just cut or, better still, one of my old outdoor shoes.

I had to saw up some more firewood this morning as we are getting through it at a rate of knots in this weather. The wood store I was using is in the lower garden which is now fenced off for Bertie’s, or rather our, sakes. For a while he was very interested in what I was doing outside his area but then gave up and chased a snowflake which much more interesting. (He does have an attention span of a gnat at the moment, but then he is very young. He’ll only be 5 months on 27th.)

I finished up and heaved a full wheel barrow up the small hill to the gate in the fence. All of a sudden there was a white blur racing towards the gate from the other side. Bertie jammed on his brakes just in time before he bowled into the fence and sent flurries of snow up in the air. He then barked at me and set off round the top garden at a breakneck speed, legs going off at all angles, scooping up mouthfuls of snow and raced back to me, only to set off on another lap. He’s mad. Completely bonkers.

A few more photos of the weather and what it brings plus one of you-know-who!

Ciao. Mantenere la fede

Thursday, February 12, 2009

APB ( All Points Bulletin) in Police speak

This is La Duchessa speaking....
L'uoma Chi Fa has gone missing! This is the last photo I have of him.
Be Scared. Be Very Scared.
My delightful other half is terrorising half the residents of Le Marche. He maintains he is walking the dog. But I'm not so sure... I must admit this problem existed before we moved to our Good Life, and any suggestions from fellow sufferers would be welcome. And if you see this man, please approach with caution!!
A most notable event

A most notable event has happened since my last entry.
It’s been my birthday on 31st January.

A modest little affair. Still awaiting birthday cards (presents perhaps?) from three of my sons – pathetic really. They only have 364 days to purchase and send in good time, a birthday card. I can imagine the moans if I miss any of theirs.

I quite like to spin out the birthday effect as I call it.
First there is Birthday Eve. This helps one unwind in readiness for the big day. Then of course there is the birthday itself, when to lift a finger is to be frowned upon. After that comes Boxing Birthday. A little like Birthday Eve or a Sunday really. At the end of the evening, just getting round to think of the next day.
I did try to stretch the birthday time a little, by suggesting to La Duchessa that I might consider a Boxing-Boxing Birthday. I would like to write down her response but I am afraid the Internet Censors might have apoplexy. Needless to say this was a non-starter, never, ever to be raised, let alone discussed, again.

I had a lovely day. My lovely La Duchessa bought me an electronic weather station. It’s a great bit of gadgetry, and I am particularly partial to gadgets. It provides up to the minute information on temperatures inside and out and takes barometric readings to show what is likely to happen in terms of pressure. Thank you darling.

She took me and Bertie out to a lake in the mountains called Lago Fiastra. We have been there once before with DIL and MIL. Great place. Incredibly peaceful and serene. The day was quite calm and La Duchessa took some lovely reflective scenes as below. I asked if I could take a picture, but I was told that I might get it dirty or drop it and break it so of course I couldn’t have it to take a photo. She asked me what I wanted photographed and said she would take it. I was about to say that it was my birthday and I could take a photo if I wanted, but the old saying about discretion being the better part blah, blah came quickly to mind.
Bertie loved it and was running all over the banks of the lake.
As we were walking along we noticed a man down by the water’s edge. I think he was sort of beachcombing if you get the picture. Looking for something anyway. Just as we got close to Bert to put him on a lead, he noticed the man and shot off towards him, with us shouting at him to come back and have lovely doggy treats. Would he come back to our responsible calling? Would he hell.

Now Bertie is as soft as butter and is frightened of his own shadow. However, this poor bloke down by the water didn’t know Bertie. All he did know was that when he looked up from his beachcombing, there was a rather large white dog racing towards him barking his head off. I am sure you can picture it.

Eventually Bert came back and got a treat, not the sort I wanted to give him. We smiled, waved and said scusi several times at the man. He just looked perplexed and returned to his examination of the lakeside. Perhaps he was English an didn’t want to admit it.
La Duchessa cooked a fantastic chicken coconut curry – not vey Italian I hear you say. Correct. It was an Indian meal. Any problems?

We had a lovely ’59 Dom Perignon followed by a couple of bottles of ’53 Chateau Lafitte. Quite superb. No actually it was a rather good vino Frizzante and a luscious Peppoli – a Chianti from the Antinori vineyards in Tuscany. We can recommend Antinori wines, they are really lovely. We try and have a bottle on our birthdays as a bit of a treat.

It’s Olive Pruning time again

We had thought we had been quite savage in our olive pruning last year but as we picked them at the end of the year, we realised we are going to have to be more severe so we can actually harvest all of them. So out comes the trusty secateurs, limb chomper, bush saw and chain saw. Yes. It’s that serious.
We have really decimated our two biggest trees. One of them provided no olives last year because we couldn’t reach them at all as it is in a very strange location on the estate. The other is a producer of huge black olives, but not very many and those were halfway to the sky. Any way we will have to see. The good thing is that all we have removed either did not produce any fruit or we were not able to pick, so there has, potentially, been no loss to harvesting based on last year's pick.

Bertie is such a help. Not. There I am up near the top of a huge olive tree, hanging by an ankle, a chain saw in my teeth as I am trying to thread a length of rope through a bough. This is to allow La Duchessa to pull the bough so that when it is cut through, it won’t fall on the fence we have just put up to keep the hound in.
Bert gets hold of the rope in his teeth that I have managed to loop round the offending branch and is now pulling, rather hard. The result is that I am swaying alarmingly, my tenuous grip is becoming less (or is that more?) tenuous with his every tug. La Duchessa, bless her, is speaking softly to the dog in an apparent attempt to get him to relinquish the rope so that his master (don’t laugh) a. doesn’t get thrown out of the tree and, more importantly b. he can get on and saw the branch off so he can get on with the others. I do have quotas you know, although I never seem able to find out how they are set.
Bertie finally relents as La Duchessa bribes him with a large treat.
The bough is sawn, la Duchessa pulls, there is massive whooshing noise from the leaves as the branch rushes through the air to the earth. Then the whole thing settles for a few seconds and then all of sudden it seems to erupt with life. Yes, Bertie has decided it is a toy and as such needs to be attacked, bitten, pulled, everything. Leaves and old olives are flying off all over the place as he shakes and shakes this great bunch of olive foliage. You can hardly see him as he has managed to get right in amongst the thickest part.
The whole operation could have been done, the branch stripped of its leaves and twigs, firewood cut up and the spoils burned in half the term with out Bert. But, there you go. Wouldn’t have been half as much fun.

A couple of photos of the "boy". One waiting for his food and one taken after eating his food. It's a hard life.

Ciao. Mantenere la fede