Friday, September 23, 2011

Hot, hot, hot

It has been the hottest Summer here for many, many years. It has only just started to cool down, to a comfortable 28-29 C in the shade. We have had no rain for something like eight weeks. The grass is very light brown. The veggies have survived but only because we have been watering them often.
I have probably told you what we do with the big plants like toms, but I’ll just mention it again. We bury half litre plastic bottles with their bottom cut out, head first at an angle to the plants roots. The water that we give them are pretty much guaranteed to reach just the roots of the plant they have been buried next to. It takes very little water but the water is efficiently used. It seems to work very well by the harvest we have been having I must say.


We have had the dad-in-law staying with us for a couple of weeks. He went back on Wednesday looking nicely chilled – mentally, not physically, in fact he looked very tanned!
His trips over and back again were nice and easy-peasy so we hope he’ll book up again and we will see him again soon in 2012.
Because of the heat, he took it very sensibly and managed to completely read our library, twice! No, not really, but he had an excellent reading session. Just what he needed.
We went out for a couple of great meals with him. The first was a little traumatic as every where we tried to book wasn’t open, they were on “ferie”, holiday. I don’t blame them as they were taken advantage of the continuing good weather and having some holiday themselves. However we managed to get in to Pippo e Gabriella’s, which is one of his favourites anyway. As usual we were not disappointed. Tremendous.
Then last Sunday we went to a new place we hadn’t been before, L’antico Gusto. Wow. Sunday lunch – pranzo – was a seven course, yes, seven, set menu, with wine and both fizzy and still water, as much as you wanted. €25,00 a head. The food was fabulous. Fantastic value. It lasted about four and a half hours. Brilliant. Mind you we didn’t bother eating anything substantial until Tuesday!


All present and correct.
Freya, who we thought was growing up fairly well has reverted to early puppyhood. She is nicking knickers and chewing them to bits and no, I didn’t teach her to do it, she is self-taught. Digging holes where holes shouldn’t be dug. Attacking Bertie when he leasts expects it. Chewing plants and plant pots. We found we had three Avocado plants growing in the compost bin. We rescued them and La D lovingly planted them in pots and there were doing incredibly well through her nursing skills. We gave one to a friend who is real whizz with plants – won prizes for his garden’s output back in Wandsworth. Freya got one of those. In fact she is being a general nuisance. But is hard to be cross with a pup, especially when she wanders up to you and starts to lick you all over. Oh well, she will grow up quickly enough.

A bit of better news

My son’s friend has been having his first interventions with chemo and they have gone very well. He is now able to eat more or less as usual which is great news
One day at a time.

Ciao, mantenere la fede

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Weather Report

Stifling. Pushed pass 40°C in the shade on many days. No rain since 1st August.

The holiday season a la Casa Grotta,aka a change is as good as a rest

Because we are as poor as church mice. La D  and myself sat down at the beginning of the month and asked ourselves how we could have a summer holiday without spending any money. We thought and we thought, and then we had one of those “Eureka” moments. La D said, “I know it’s not much, but how do you fancy,” wait for it, “and it wouldn’t cost any extra”, keep waiting, “ we move into the spare bedroom?”
Wow, I thought, this is why I married this woman. Pure genius. It would be like being a different place altogether, and we have the luxury of having an en suite.

Holiday report

The spare bedroom is slightly cooler and it is more difficult to hear some blasted dogs barking in the early hours of the morning (presumably at cinghiale). Err .. that’s it really. We tried to behave as though we were on a holiday, but who were we kidding. Ourselves. Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained and it didn’t cost us a centesimo. But do we feel relaxed and refreshed? Do we buggery!
If I could meet the smartarse who coined the phrase “a change is as good as rest” I’d punch him on the nose
Next year we are contemplating a fortnight in the office!!!

Beach versus Pool

Because most of the Italian population are mainly on holiday during August, we tend not to venture down to the coast as it is so crowded. Fortunately, regular readers of the blog will know that we have a public swimming pool about half a mile from us. As the month has been the hottest here for many, many years, boy did the pool come in handy, almost a necessity some days. We took to going down about 12:30 – mad dogs and Englishmen, I know – just when those who had come for the morning were packing up. Often we were the only ones there till about 3. It was fab and the pool’s temperature was about perfect. It was really holiday like. It closed today, but the people running it told us that next year they would be opening for July as well. Good stuff.


We have had two cats living around us now for about 18 months producing kittens left, right and centre. Although here in Le Marche, there is a scheme wherby the authorities will pay for sterilisation of semi-feral cats if you agree to look after them, we made an application quite a while ago and nothing has happened. We reckon we have housed 14 kittens over the last couple of years and we couldn’t house any more. So, with a firm grip on our wallets we took them to the vet and had them done. At about the same time we had Freya spayed too. Poor Bertie, and Freya too, but at least there won’t be any “accidents” such as the patter of giant paws
Freya is still into “chicken tossing” but, thankfully, it is becoming less frequent. Mind you, she is ony 7 months old, today in fact. The trouble is she is now as tall as Bertie and it so hard to see her as a pup, or cucci in Italian.
The chicks are doing brilliantly still giving us 3 eggs a day. Occasionally they have to “play” with Freya – see above – but it doesn’t put them off laying!


We have been watering every other morning, very early before the sun comes up on us. The result has been well worthwhile with everything growing to abundance. Record onion crop. Tommies are prolific. Corn is beautiful, etc., etc.. The only problem this years has been with the spuds. They were very poor. I doubt we got more back in weight than when we planted. We may not do them next year.

A bit of bad news

My son Pip was going to come to Italy -  Porto Recanati on the coast, not far from us - , with a friend for a few days and they were going to stop with us a for a night and we were going up and see them. Just before they were coming my son’s friend was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and further tests now show it has spread to his stomach and liver. Devastating news. So the holiday was cancelled and Pip is using his holiday time to spend with his friend. It is too early to say how he is getting on but we think about him often here at Casa Grotta and are hoping that they will come out next year. All the very best to him.   

Ciao, mantenere la fede