Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Family problems cont’d ….

Poor La D’s mum has not improved much, if at all, since she went into hospital a month ago. The family is, as you would expect, rallying round as best they can to support her and their dad.
La D has been trying to get the hospital to “speak with one voice" as there have been numerous times when one nurse says one thing and the next nurse completely contradicts the first one. It is so frustrating for La D and the rest of the family.
However, La D is doing her famous Freya, Queen of The Valkyries, impression and leading the family into battle. Heads will roll, and not all the way to Valhalla either. She’s guiding the charge from 1200 miles away against obfuscation and lack of progress on her mum’s behalf. She can’t do any more. We’re rooting for you ma.

A disgusting sight

We popped over for coffee yesterday to our friends who took two of the kittens back in September. They also have a pup like Bertie-dog called Lola, and of course this was the real reason we went (no, not really).
You have to drive up a pretty old dirt road before you reach their drive. Just as were about 50 metres from the drive entrance, at the side of the road there was a fully grown Bertie-dog eating a full size sheep. Honestly. The sheep had most of its ribs showing and the dog was pulling bits out of the sheep’s stomach. The dog’s front was covered in blood. It really was disgusting.
We told our friends what we had seen, and they told us that apparently the farmers give the dogs a sheep that has died as food for them. It really is totally weird. Here is a breed of dog whose sole purpose in life is to guard sheep with their life, which is what they do. Then if one of their charges dies, they eat it. It’s almost seems like a form of cannibalism.
Anyway. Lola. What a cutie she is. Not shy at all. Very playful. Very good at sitting and lying down (Bertie doesn’t do lying down!) but not brilliant at coming back yet. She had had all her jabs and stuff so we are going to introduce her to Bertie soon.
Both La D and myself were taken with her coat. It’s still fluffy and she has, what you could say of a human first thing in the morning, “bed hair”.
This morning I unearthed a picture of Bertie taken when he was four months and it’s quite extraordinary. He looked so much like Lola looks now. I probably put this on the blog at the beginning of last year, but here it is again.

Gardening matters

It certainly does. No, what I mean is things to do with the garden. We are getting it ready for the Winter now and putting to bed most of the orti. We have planted some peas, broad beans and last week-end, onions. But we are doing lots of tidying up. Hopefully there will be a bonfire or two with the old vegetation.
The olives are looking good. Most of them are nice and plump and we should be picking around mid-November all being well.


Up and down. We have been having our coffee breaks and lunch outside apart form the last two days. When the clouds aren’t there, it’s gloriously warm in an Autumnal way if you get my drift. But at nights the heating is needed, as well as the fire in the kitchen. Very pleasant indeed.

Ciao, mantenere la fede

Friday, October 22, 2010

“Cats! What are they good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again”
(With a nod to Edwin Starr for his song, “War! What is it good for ……….”)

La D was preparing a salad for us the other day and she went to get the salad spinner that we have. You know the sort of thing. It has a plastic basket into which you put lettuce, wash it and put into a slightly larger container. You then put on a special lid, spin the basket and it throws off the water and dirt from the lettuce.
She brought it from the pantry and into the kitchen and lifted the lid. There was then a piercing shriek from La D as a small furry rodent jumped out of the spinner and scurried across the top towards the sink.
“Oh my God. Oh my God. It’s a mouse!” she exclaimed. Now, I hadn’t actually seen the event but when La D uses her vocal chords at this pitch and intensity, it is a foolish person who doesn’t respond within a nano second to her cries.
“Where did it go?” I asked.
“I don’t bloody know and I don’t care. Just get rid of it. NOW!” I was ordered as La D went into the living room and shut the door hastily.
At this time we had the two kittens we were looking after for their new owners. As they had been kept inside, we thought we should do the same for the two weeks we were having them. They were in the kitchen with me so I had strength on side to capture the little sod who had had the effrontery to extract me from my reverie of whatever I was doing at the time I received La D’s summons.
I finally saw it under the cooker. On my hands and knees I used a long pasta rolling pin to try and push it out. It worked. The mouse shot out and tried to get under the back door. At this point one of the cats saw and jumped at it. He managed to grab it but too loosely and the mouse scrabbled away. However, it seemed to me, it dawned on the kitten that this was the sort of thing it was put on this earth to do. Get rid of mice. He dashed after it and this time got a good hold. The mouse had been captured.
“It’s OK La D. Marlon has caught it.” I shouted through the door. Perhaps I should explain about Marlon’s owners naming convention. They have a dog called Brando. They wanted a cat, a male cat, so they could call it Marlon. With me so far?
When they saw the kittens they fell in love with another one so took two of them. The little female they took was to be called Sophia. After a little while, they knew we had had some more kittens and asked if they could have a third one. Mad, I know.
Guess what they were going to call it? Yep, Loren. You just don’t mess with other peoples’ naming conventions, especially if they relieve you of unwanted kittens, no matter how bizarre you may think them.
Anyway, back to the story. Marlon had this mouse firmly in his mouth with the mouse’s tail hanging down. The mouse was no longer. It had passed, as they say. I managed to put my foot on the tail and gradually moved my foot neared Marlon’s mouth so in the end he had to relinquish his catch. I was able to put a container over the mouse, and no, it wasn’t the salad spinner, put some card underneath and take the wretched little rodent and chuck it over the hedge. A little undignified I appreciate but I didn’t see anybody clamouring for a proper funeral.
La D came out of the sitting room, fairly cautiously I should add. We both gave Marlon a lot of attention as he definitely deserved it.

Now the point about the title of this tale is that we regularly feed 5 to 6 cats and not one of them had prevented our house from being invaded by vermin! So what is the use of having the blighters?

Ciao, mantenere la fede

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Family problems

Unfortunately La D’s mum had a fall a little while ago and broke her hip. She has had a new ball and socket fitted, so that is good. The problem is really with her pre-existing medical condition, it is making it hard for her to have a quick recovery, physio and stuff.
La D went over a couple of days ago to give her dad some support and to try and help move her mum’s rehab on a bit.
I just hope she doesn’t make the national news for threatening and then machine-gunning some very sweet but totally hopeless clinicians. Some of the stuff that they been saying is quite unbelievable. They are supposed to be trained to “nurse” people and get them up and running, not just commiserating, albeit very nicely, with relatives. Life can be pretty s*** sometimes.

Then there were none

The last kitten went to his new home yesterday. We called the little fellah Gizmo, after one of the gremlins in the film of the same name. All the other kittens had very erect ears on the side of the top of their heads. Little Giz’s ears were lower down and tended to stick out more than up. But what a character he is. Although he does have very poor table manners. He “talks” as he eats. Really strange but amusing. Here are a couple of photos taken at the week-end. I am sure he will enjoy his new home, with two more of our ex kittens and also a Maremma like Bert. More of the same for him really.


Pretty grooby actually. Gorillas in the Mist job at the moment. Hopefully picking up the week-end. Dogs don’t like it either as I’m not going out in this. They have a big enough garden to run around in if they really want.

Birthday Boy                      

Had our first video call (Skype) with number 4 son, Ed, on his 20th birthday last Saturday. It was brilliant. He is looking very well. He was able to show us round his room in the halls of residence at Leeds. It was about 2 in the afternoon and I asked what the weather was like. He reached over his laptop and pulled open the curtains!!!!!
“Not too bad,” he announced.
“Just got up.”
Ahhhhh, the youth of today.
He then proceeded to get dressed in his costume for partaking in the Otley Road Run. It was a giant babygro that he had bought from Primark for £7.50! He looked absolutely daft in it. He was obviously determined to have a good laugh. The Otley Road Run is in fact just an old fashioned pub crawl, down a road called Otley Road. Apparently there are 20 pubs along it and the object is, … need I explain more. I do hope his Sunday morning headache and biliousness wasn’t too bad!! I will have to look at Facebook to get some photographic evidence of the night’s proceedings.

Ciao, mantenere la fede

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Casa Grotta New Year!

Yes, it’s that time again. La D and I embark on our fourth year at Casa Grotta. A little wiser, a little poorer, a little older but …… we’re still here and I am still in my shorts. La D refuses to got out with me at the moment because people keep staring at this strange Inglese in his shorts whilst they are dressed in coats, hat, scarves and boots.
The weather is actually glorious. We are still eating out in the morning and lunch times. Wonderful.

I will try and be a bit better at regular reporting from this idyllic corner of central Italy.

Relly Season officially closed

Last month we had my big sis and her husband over. Had a most enjoyable time. A great walk in the Sibillinis, some market days and general chill out time. Much needed by my sister as her son and his family are emigrating to New Zealand and she is going to find it difficult whilst she gets used to their absence. Of course they are planning to visit as soon as possible, but it’s not particularly cheap and she hates flying. She has problems with her balance. In fact she confided to me that she has difficulty walking across Norwich market, which is on a slope, with out feeling a little woozey. I tried to suppress a smirk when thinking of a few seconds crossing an English market compared to a 12000 mile journey to the other side of the world.

Cats are gone ….. hopefully

We think we have found homes for the latest batch of gattini. It’s been a bit like a menagerie here over the last couple of weeks. We have had our friend’s dogs to stay whilst they went back to the UK. Also we have had to look after a couple of the kittens we re-homed because their owners had to go to the UK too. Then we have the three new ones. Agghhhhhh.
I only signed up for a dog, Bertie. He has been brilliant. He seems to love all the animals. Let’s just hope he doesn’t want to develop a meaningful relationship with the cinghiale.


Whilst all this animal looking after was going on, we had a major problem with the house electrics ……. we suddenly didn’t have any.
I managed to rig up wires and adaptors all over the house, as a temporary measure until we were able to get an electrician out. What a great bloke. He and his assistant managed to locate the problem and partial rewire the house in three hours. I suppose it is one of the benefits of having wiring not channelled into the walls. The old wiring was desperate. We were without “proper” electricity for 5 days. It was a testing time, but La D and myself came through it stronger than before. I have a few bruises to prove it!!!!!!!


We still have three chickens, which is a positive, but eggs are slow to appear. We are having one a day and an occasionally another one, but we are nowhere near to having three a day. All a bit worrying.


Ahhhh. I can almost smell the smoke, but La D has hidden the lighters. Bugger.
Still, lots to do in the garden without expiring before 10:00!

Ciao, mantenere la fede