Sunday, 17 October 2021

Gardening part 2

After our successful front hedge clipping MrFF decided we should tidy up the triumphal arch as I call the two blocks of hedges in the lower garden that I decided some years ago should be united to form an archway.  I’m very pleased with the result, it deserved a good trim and here it is in all its glory

It would be rather nice to have something to look at through the arch other than just the big gates.  I’m thinking of a coy looking life size naked person maybe but that wouldn’t be ideal as he/she would be viewed from the road presenting a bare bottom to passing track.  I’ll keep thinking.

Thursday, 14 October 2021


We cut the front hedge on Tuesday.  It benefitted from the watering system we left for our balcony pots and grew like crazy the month we were away.  So half a days work had us looking smart again, combined with the new fence the neighbours would be impressed if any were here but they are all back in Rome.  Maybe the refuse collectors will notice, otherwise it’s just us.

We are still enjoying produce from the garden.  The tomatoes are not as tasty as they were in high summer but still good and it’s the best year we’ve ever had for dessert grapes. Every day I cut a bunch, strangely by the time I’ve walked back to the house half of them are eaten, they are delicious.

We are not the only ones appreciating the garden, I’ve never seen so many bees.  It’s not unusual for several to be feasting on the same flower, dahlias seem to be first choice.  I grew these from seed, they flowered the first year and did so well I split them last year.  If there is space I might move some divisions to the vegetable area, I feel I owe it to the bees to provide them with as much food as possible. 

Monday, 11 October 2021

A long overdue knitting review

It’s been ages since we had an update.  I’ve been busy knitting fingerless gloves and children’s socks, a sample above,  for the little craft shop in Ilkley, that takes some of my work.  Hopefully I will be able to deliver these before Christmas.

Then with the longer nights I thought it would be nice to return to socks and tackle a new pattern.  I decided November socks, a 12 row repeat so not too complicated would suit my red West Yorkshire Spinners yarn.  How wrong could I be.  I started twice and pulled it all out twice as both times I got the pattern completely wrong.  Nothing at all to do with the clear instructions, the problem was my brain and possibly the poor lighting in our cavernous Italian lounge.  The third time I tried again in the daytime sitting outside in the sun and by jove I think I’ve got it, all seems perfectly logical and straightforward now.  I should be able to knit in the dim evening light now I am familiar with the pattern.   

I’m glad I didn’t give up on this project though I was beginning to think it would be November before I knew what I was doing.  However I do know when I’m beaten and today I’ve stripped our bed of the single linen sheet we’ve been sleeping under and installed our winter duvet.  I’m not giving up on my flip flop days yet but definitely the evenings are turning a cooler, besides who doesn’t like cosy nights.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Don’t fence me in

Yesterday it rained continuously, the first real rain we’ve had in the three weeks we’ve been back.  It was great for the garden to have a thorough watering and for everything to have a good wash down, even if being incarcerated gave me flashbacks of our winter lockdown.  The sun has returned today, the air is clear and fresh, we are renewed.

MrFF keeps having different ideas about dealing with the leaky terrace, he had a lot of thinking time yesterday.  Possibly motivated by the constant drip of water coming into the downstairs room his latest plan is to deal with the area in sections, the worst first.  Don’t hold him to this, plans may change.

Meantime on the dry days he has been replacing the shabby wire and wood fence onto the roadside.  It was quite a ramshackle arrangement, contrasting nicely with all the neighbours smart metal railings.  Now we have 22 new green posts and later there will be green plastic coated wire like this already installed with the help of my brother and sister in law a few years ago in the lower garden.

I like it so far, providing much less of a visible barrier than expensive railings, it makes the garden feel less enclosed and therefore bigger.  I believe this method of incorporating the background scenery into your garden is called borrowed landscape.  Who on earth wouldn’t want to borrow our glorious views.

Saturday, 2 October 2021


I am pleased to report that we all seem to have our lives back in balance.  

The cats are very relaxed and enjoying a happy routine of eating and sleeping with the occasional trip round garden.  

MrFF is busy replacing some fencing and not mentioning quite so often how tired he is.  He is of course still trying to unlock his internet device, the providers after being reminded they are legally bound to facilitate this asked for information already submitted.  This may be long standing strategy, they are not the first organisation here that we’ve had to point out to already have what they now ask for.   He has also done a lot of investigation on the best way to waterproof the terrace and is having doubts that it can be completed before we leave for winter.  I’m fine with that, we can put down a waterproof cover, tackle the job in spring and take things  a little easier until we leave.

We are so back to normal.  We managed an al fresco lunch on Friday, with 3 Danish friends and 1 Danish dog, a well behaved and cat friendly dog though Grigio did feel the need to defend her food dish with a little hissing.

I am happy that I’ve got the house reasonably clean and the garden tidy.  I have spotted signs of the changing season, the wild cyclamen are in flower and little pots of chrysanthemum planted out from previous years and now large clumps are bursting into flower.  But I am an autumn denier, I don’t believe winter is coming.  We still have warm days, we still sleep under a single sheet and have the terrace doors open until we go to bed,  a few different flowers means nothing. You’ll be telling me next the leaves are going to fall off the trees.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

I didn’t expect that

As usual our lovely cat Grigio appeared within minutes of us pulling into the drive.  She ran up the road with plenty to say, in good condition and pleased to see us.  Giovanni our neighbour must have heard us arrive too as quickly there was a text to say Enrico was at his house, wrong Enrico was in his way down and despite spending a month at Giovanni’s he is now reinstalled here with Grigio.  They are a delight to have around.

Even after only a month the house was really dirty, very dusty, cobwebs and dead insects, the bathrooms had become fly cemeteries.  I’d left cleaner in the toilets but they were stained with limescale and horrible so there has been a lot of cleaning to do.  We left the penthouse for 13 months yet it only needed dusting after all that time.

However the biggest surprise was the terrace pots.  We’d moved everything to the front of the house under a timed sprinkler.  It was a scene of devastation when we returned,  big pots tipped over, lots plants pulled out by the roots, compost everywhere.  We have no idea what caused such destruction, maybe a gang of porcupines or wild boar.  There are big holes in the adjacent border and also in the lawn at the other side of the house.  I’ve never seen anything like it, I spent half a day replanting and sweeping.

So not the return we expected, however the weather is lovely, temperatures in the high 20s, lots of sunshine and most of garden looks lovely if a little overgrown.  We still have a few tomatoes, a few peppers, lots of grapes and figs.  MrFF has cut the lawns, we are presentable and enjoying al fresco breakfasts and outdoor showers once more.

We have made contact with friends and neighbours, a trip to the market yesterday, we are out to lunch tomorrow, Piero has delivered pecorino and ricotta.  I think after the weekend normal Italian life will be fully restored by which I mean the terrace work will be starting, all the tiles will come up to install a new damp proof course, cue more dust and exhaustion, as I said normal Italian life.  As you can see the terrace is clear of most pots ready for the work to begin although I’m sure it would be a safer place for my plants.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

In Italia

Our journey started well if very early on Sunday. All our paperwork at the ferry was in order, the ship was large, new and practically empty.

Sunday we had a comfy night in the Champagne region of France, in a very small Ibis bedroom where we took turns to stand up.  It was clean, cheap and conveniently on our route, no complaints.

We had a day of delays yesterday, roadworks and confusing detours in France, inexplicable long queues for the San Gotthard tunnel, but we made it to our B and B on Lake Como and our delayed dinner reservation.  Despite completing the locator form required to enter Italy including where and when we planned to cross the border there were no checks at all, none into Switzerland either, no customs checks anywhere.

This is the lovely early morning view from our bedroom window. Just one more day in the car, with no pressing deadline to arrive and another of our epic journeys done.  The church clock is striking 7 am, the sun is coming out.