Monday, 24 October 2016

At the post office

Friday we were in the little spa town of Fiuggi where I bought a postcard to send to Amelia my great niece as I'd missed her seventh birthday.  We had time to kill so wandered around and slightly out of the town where I came upon the post office and decided to get stamps.  I intend to send Esme a card later for her birthday.
I fathomed out which counter I needed, no 4 for stamps and general posting, the others for banking, bill paying etc and took a number for no 4.  There were a couple of people before me so I decided to start writing the card, post boxes being few and far between in these parts.
When it was my turn I asked in my best Italian for two stamps for postcards to England, tap tap on the computer for a while till she told me it was a euro each.  Give me the card said the lady and I handed it over, half written and with no address.  She looked at it and I said I hadn't finished, finish it she said rather abruptly tossing it back with a pen.  So I stood at the counter hastily penning a few words and finding the addresss from my diary, not daring to look round at the queue building behind me.  I handed the card over, much more tapping of the computer, then the lady said give me the other card.  I explained I hadn't bought it yet. I wanted the stamp to take away.  I realised at this stage that she intended to frank my completed card rather than give me two stamps.  She looked at me then shouted down the line of counters, she wants a stamp to take away as if I was some kind of freak Eventually an assistant from another till went into the back room and came out with the requested stamp, with a lengthy code written on it in pencil that had to be tapped into the computer. At this stage I was reminded of the days when you took your building society pass book to pay in a couple of pounds and all the tapping that involved.
Finally I got my single stamp, my completed card was thrown on top of the printer and the lady looked down her nose at it, maybe she was pretending to read it.  I never saw it franked,  I have no idea if it will ever arrive, I wish they had stamp vending machines in Italy.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Close encounters

My turn to get up first this morning, open the shutters to the sunshine, feed the cats and make a pot of tea.  I could hear dog activity in the olives below our house, the hunting dogs wear bells so they owners know where they are as do we and the cats.  The noise got nearer, the cats came indoors and I wandered onto the terrace still wearing my dressing gown to see a man with a gun coming up the steps into our garden.  I shouted good morning, I think he was as surprised as me, returned my greeting, apologised and turned back into our orchard.  I asked if there was some animal in the orchard but he didn't answer.  The dog activity, barking and howling, continued in the orchard for a while, then receded down the slope until there were three shots.  I have no idea what the man was hunting but after that he seemed to disappear and silence returned.
We are in a region designated for hunting wild boar and last Sunday there was much shooting on the mountain above us.  We took a late afternoon walk to the village and were passed by two pick up trucks, one of which had a dead boar in the back, a massive creature with large tusks.  The hunters drove through the village blowing their horns as they do at a wedding, obviously wanting everyone to see their success.  My neighbour told me later the creature had been killed just above us.
I hope this mornings hunter wasn't on the trail of a boar, we have had evidence in the past of them rooting in the orchard and on our lawn, I don't want to meet one face to face.  Rumour has it they are becoming more confident around property in the way of urban foxes and more aggressive too.  Life in Italy, it certainly has its wild side.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

About time

It was confirmed that I am the worlds worst blogger when I had an email from Canada asking if I was OK as I hadn't posted since the earthquake.  I haven't posted as I'm not sure you want to hear more about the lovely weather, delicious food and local wines straight from the vineyard, one of which has been crossed off the list since their large German shepherd dog attacked our car and scratched it down to the metal.  A pity as their wine is good.
In fact we've had many car problems and at one stage I didn't leave the property or see anyone except Mr FF for two weeks.  At first I enjoyed the solitude, all our neighbours had moved back to Rome but after a week I started to go a bit stir crazy.  Two days after our car was repaired in a nearby village taking several days and costing us 250 euros the exhaust pipe came loose fortunately in our own village so we limped to the little garage here with Mr FF driving slowly which I crawled alongside holding up the dragging pipe with a golf umbrella.  The mechanic confirmed the problem was caused by the previous work and fixed it temporarily, ordered a new clamp, installed that and charge us 20 euros.  We would have used the village garage in the first place but he was busy and recommended the other place. Big mistake.
We've done all the usual things, enjoyed many festas in various little squares, made new friends, visited and been visited by old friends, been for a weekend at the sea and loved having our little kitties around, two are asleep beside me on a chair the other tightly curled up in the waste paper basket.
Today we are off to the airport as friends are coming out from Yorkshire for a few days, unfortunately the forecast isn't great and it's been raining, it will be such a pity if for the first time in three months we can't have breakfast outside.
We are eating much of our own fruit and veg and watching the olives start to turn black.  Another year where everyone is complaining of a poor harvest, fingers crossed we have enough for a mill run but I rather doubt it which means we shall need to find someone with an equally small crop we can
double up with.
So there you are, things are much as they always are in Italy which suits me just fine but doesn't lead to much interesting blogging but I will try harder to keep you up to date in future.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


We knew nothing of the quake in central Italy until we saw the news this morning,  as the crow flies we are not so far away.  A few years ago the L'Acquila quake about the same distance away shook some pots off the kitchen shelf though the people in the house at the time managed to save my precious teapot.
We have the Italian news on the tv it's dreadful to see the devastation and we feel so sad though deeply touched by the texts and messages we are receiving from friends and family at home, thank you for caring it means a lot.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

From sheep we know

I've always enjoyed hearing the sheep, their bells tinkling, as they are brought early evening to graze amongst the olives and happy, if a little wary, to see the large white sheepdogs that accompany them.  This year the shepherd has been bringing his large flock to the olive groves immediately above us, I spoke to him briefly one evening telling him his animals were beautifully, to which he agreed.  Then one night two of the six dogs were on our drive, I like to think guarding my geraniums and other pots of flowers at the back door because the sheep were down on our road with the shepherd.  We asked him where he lived, not far away, and if he kept the sheep for milk which he did.  He said he made ricotta and sold it on Saturdays to our neighbour Anna, I said I would speak to her about it as I was interested.
On Saturday morning I saw a vehicle down at Anna's and then a car horn outside our house with shouts of ricotta.  We went out and I bought a beautiful mound of soft snowy white  ricotta, which I'm usually not that keen on.  Then the man asked if we'd like some cheese and showed us huge wheels of pecorino and smaller ones of a soft salty cheese.  I ended up with about 1.5 kilo of pecorino a staginato, a firm salty and slightly open textured cheese.  Both our purchased are completely delicious, the ricotta really needs to be eaten straight away, it was wonderful that evening after dinner with peaches but is became a little tasteless and was finished off on bread with jam for breakfast.   We have give away slabs of the pecorino and eaten lots ourselves, it is so delicious, and everything was exceptional value, delivery included.
The shepherd is coming back this Saturday and we shall buy more, fresh local produce, about one food mile involved and we know the sheep personally, what could be better. I plan to give the man some of the cheddar we brought from home, most of our Italian friends love it and we've given lots away, mass produced mousetrap,  I wonder what he will make of it.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The gigolo is back

nine days later I was just giving my pots at the back door an early evening water and putting the rubbish out when Marzio walked down the road, tail in the air.  He's skinny and far too interested in food for much cuddling, let's hope he isn't just hear to refuel.  Everyone who said he'd return was right, I obviously have a lot to learn about the Italian male.

Marzio is missing

Late Sunday evening over a week ago Mr FF sat out on the terrace under the stars with Marzio on his knee, I would say cooling down after another hot day but you probably don't cool much with an adult cat sat on top of you.  He said Marzio was very relaxed, purring and happy,  eventually around midnight he had to carry him to the bed under the garden table where all six cats sleep and Marzio hardly woke.
We didn't see Marzio next morning but didn't think much of it, we haven't seen him for nine days now.  We no longer get up expecting he will be at the door waiting for food with the other five. We've called him and searched as much as is possible on the side of a mountain with heavy undergrowth, we've checked with neighbours and driven round.  Everyone says he will have gone off looking for a girl friend but I can't imagine any male missing out on two square meals a day for love.  He can't  be locked in anywhere as the two sets of families in our road over the weekend had left long before we last saw Marzio.
It's heart breaking that the funny little kitten that arrived a year ago survived all the perils of predators and falling off high walls, that managed six months without us, albeit fed by Mario and the automatic food dispenser, should just disappear.  He was strong and capable from the start, hated being fastened in the cellar overnight snd was happy to sleep out tucked between his mother Lisa and Theo our very timid black cat.  He was definitely an outdoor creature,  he was friendly with us but wary of strangers, he was gorgeous and and we loved him, this not knowing is dreadful.