Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bertie wrote this one

I know Maremmas are supposed to be super smart, but, this takes the biscuit. Bertie, as you can see, is now adept at the keyboard and with a little prompting from me has been very helpful. I merely dictate and he does the inputting. Smart, eh? And, I only have to pay him with a couple of doggy treats.

Talking about smart, we met up with one of his brothers, Alfie, this week. His people have got a little boy, about 4 or 5, who is blind. Alfie is going to be trained as a guide dog. Apparently according to an expert over here Maremmas make excellent guide dogs, like Retrievers/Labs in the UK. He’s lovely but quite different from Bertie. Smaller, same colour but different coat, quieter (probably a good thing if he is going to be trained as a guide dog). Bertie’s sister Jess was there too. Alfie was quite to content to hang around the humans whilst the other two tried to destroy the garden we were in. They were playing hide and seek around the bushes in the pouring rain. Bertie almost changed colour. He was filthy in about 20 minutes.

Stalag Casa Grotta – The Great Escape

We think we may have a problem.

The Bert has taken to try and dig to Australia. These large holes keep appearing all over the fenced in part of the estate. At first we thought that the pigs had come in somehow, but then we spied the beast and his works. Also, he tries to act all nonchalant and innocent as he comes in for a drink or a treat. But it’s really hard not to notice a kilo of earth piled up on the end of his nose, or the earth-encrusted front paws.

We think he is getting ready for the big under-the-fence dig soon. Let’s hope not, or if he does escape he barks in an English accent so he will be recognised as an escapee by the Italians and be returned to us. We haven’t got a cooler so I don’t know where we can put him in solitary for a while.

No, seriously, what is really nagging us is that we must start planting some vegetables soon (once the wet weather desists and we can get out there to do some digging and preparation). Is he going to “help” us with the preparation? Or is he going to wait until we have planted and then come along and dig the stuff all up? We need to come up with some plan or something to keep him off the veggie patches when he shouldn’t be on them. I’m sure La Duchessa and I between us can think of something that will work.

Olive Pruning

Happy to report that all Olive trees are now in pruned. We have had a few more bonfires and have quite a bit of firewood ready for next winter which is a good start although I think we may to buy in some as well which is a bit of shame, but if we need some wood to keep warm, I can’t really go around nicking it can I?

Our Olive oil is lasting incredibly well. We do try and use it at every opportunity but putting on the Italian equivalent of Cornflakes or making yoghurts with it is a bit drastic. Hopefully some visitors this year can take some home with them.


Last week, as mentioned in the previous blog, we went for a couple of days to Florence (that is why there was no blog last week). This was our birthday present to each other. Excellent.

The weather was so kind to us. Blue, blue sky for all the time we were there.

We went round the Science Museum but unfortunately some of it, the most interesting bit, was closed due to some alterations ahead of a renaming of the museum to the Galileo Museum in honour of the great man. They have all Galileo’s instruments and books and what have you. Really very good. So next time we go (we do want to try and go once every two years) we will do the museum again.

There was also an interactive exhibition on with replicas of the machines of Leonardo da Vinci at another museum. The opening times just suited us to go and see it on the morning of our departure as we were on a midday train from Florence. Brilliant. So off we trotted to arrive there just after 09:30 when the leaflet/brochure said it opened for the morning. Guess what? The museum at 09:40 looked like a mausoleum. I went up to the main doors and there was a small typed notice stuck to the other side of the glass. “Opening times are from 11:00 to blah, blah, blah” Bugger! But the official leaflets were printed with the opening time of 09:30! What can you do? There was no-one to complain to as the bloody place was devoid of humans.

One of the things we do love to do is go to a small cafĂ© in a little park overlooking the River Arno. It is just outside the centre of Florence and it is a great place to get a very fresh Piadini (like a tortilla filled with ham and cheese) and a couple of glasses of wine and a nice hot cappuccino whilst sitting outside in the sun and watching the rowers on the Arno, or the cyclists and walkers in the park, or the people just reading or talking and contemplating the world. Yes, all in all, we again had a lovely time and can’t wait to get back there for another Florence recharge. It is a lovely city.

A few pictures:

Three Monthly Appraisal

My three monthly appraisal came up recently with La Duchessa – I still don’t understand why it is only me that has to have this appraisal, I don’t give La Duchessa an appraisal. When I bring this up with her she just looks at me and says “Oh, don’t be so stupid.” What can I do?

Anyway, I brought up my role as chief (chief meaning “only”, the word was supposed to give me some sense of importance) turd-picker-upper or TPU in local parlance. La Duchessa looked me straight in the eye and said “Do you love Bertie” I said yes of course I did. “Do you love me?” she said. “Of course I do, but …” I stammered. “No buts, just get on with it. I’ll, sorry, we’ll, review the situation in five years time” she said. I knew in my heart of hearts that I shouldn’t have said any more, but it just came out “But ……” “I said, NO BUTS!” La Duchessa had spoken. I went off to get my gloves.

I leave you with some interesting language

I have occasionally alluded to the misuse of English as she should be spoke, and the mixing up of words by La Duchessa (she does know and has given her approval).

There was a cracker recently.

We do, well try and do, general knowledge crosswords at the weekends to help us, well me mainly, stop the grey cells from disappearing altogether. There was a clue the other day about what name is given to a Hindu priest. I hadn’t got a clue but La Duchessa said, ”It’s not a Buddhist is it?”

Ciao. Mantenere la fede

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