Saturday 28 November 2015

My garden

We may not have made much progress inside our Italian house this year but we made great strides in the garden.  My new border was planted up with plumbago, two bougainvillea, oleander, nasturtium and malva.   Amazing how quickly things grew in the lovely weather with the help of our irrigation system and it soon filled out.
I took various packets of seeds from the UK.  Some were not so happy, the sweet peas for example really didn't like the heat, they started to recover just before we left and might even be flowering now.  The morning glory were in their element and happily romped up the new trellis in front of the gas tank.
A 99p packet of snail vine seeds produced two plants that were greatly admired by friends and neighbours.  Having climbed several metres up to the fence on the wall behind the border, they produced these pretty flower buds

that opened up like this, so exotic.

All my pots did really well, it was a pity to leave them but I moved everything together at the back door in the hope Mario might water them if needed.  

I harvested the walnuts, invented a pasta recipe to use some of them and brought a big bag home 
A picture of the olive harvest in progress above us, our water burst was some distance above the green netting so you can imagine how difficult it all was.

Finally an autumnal view from the orchard and in case you are worried, we heard a day ago from Mario that the cats are still in residence and their food dispenser has been replenished.  

Sunday 22 November 2015

Back in Ilkley

Well that was some trip home.  We anticipated delays at border crossings though really it was only France that had taken any serious action with auto routes reduced to one lane for checks and lorries being stopped and searched. There didn't seem to be any extra security, or really apart from a look in the car boot any security at all at Zebrugge.  
We made the ferry with little time to spare, parked the car, found our cabin, complained as the bedding wasn't clean and were move a bigger 4 berth one that was much more comfortable.  We were due to depart at 7.30 pm but were told that high winds had caused a large container ship to come adrift, it was bobbing round the harbour and all available tugs had gone out to rescue it.  This wasn't a bad thing as we were able to enjoy our dinner on board before we set sail.  Mr FF went off to watch the football though spent most of his time watching the boating activity and I settled into bed with my book.  We cast off at around 12.30, into force 10 gales and waves up to 4 metres high.  I've never done an overnight on a boat before, two hours across the Channel was my previous limit, and I wasn't too sure if the ferry was supposed to bang and creak and clatter for hours on end.  We rolled around on the North Sea unable to sleep until about 4 am when things calmed down a bit and we dozed until around 8. Unfortunately we were then told that instead of docking at 8.30 am it would be more like 1.30 pm when we got to Hull. So be it, P&O Ferries looked after us well, coffee and cake for everyone mid morning and a reasonable lunch all provided free of charge. Fortunately the boat wasn't full at all, 200 passengers with a capacity of 1,000, and I met some nice ladies from Sheffield who were busy with their knitting. Sadly my wrist still prevented me taking up my needles though I have now started doing about quarter of an hour each day.
So a couple of hours driving and we were home safe and sound, a bit wobbly and dizzy after the travel.  We have been exhausted ever since, sleeping well and long but it just doesn't seem to be enough.  We may be getting a bit old for all this travel, we both turned 67 this year, and we do seem to be feeling the cold which doesn't usually bother us.  Still nothing for us to do but recover.
So let me leave you with some photos of the kitties, a week since we left them, we hope they are coping.    
Not so long after Marzia arrived in August

Just before we left, almost as big as Mum now

This is the cat apartment, we left the door locked almost closed for safety

Saturday 14 November 2015

So many goodbyes

We leave Lazio tomorrow morning and all being well should be home in Ilkley around noon on Wednesday.
We seem to have been saying goodbye for weeks, our Danish friends left the same day as our last visitors and seeing them all go was hard.  Our neighbours have gradually moved back to the city for winter, we had our last lunch with our friend Monica this week and tomorrow we leave Mario and his family for another year.
The final and hardest goodbye will be when we leave our little kitties.  Mr FF has totally refurbished the outside gas cupboard, yesterday insulating the walls and moving in the cat bed.  We bought a food dispenser that should keep them happy for about a week, plus many big bags of crunchies and later today Mario is coming for a lesson in topping up the food.   Marzia was happy to go into the little house, the door is fastened open at cat width with a catch that a dog couldn't nudge open, but Lisa was very resistant.  However we went out with a torch late last night and mother and baby were tucked in and Theo was on patrol outside, excellent.  We spoke to a local vet and he said at 3 months Marzia is far too young to be spayed and suggested 8 months which would fit in with our return next year if she is still around.
So it's a sad time and I shall be glad when we get back to the penthouse but in light of events in Paris it's nothing.  I'm proud that Mr FF and I care so much for our friends and our animals, I am appalled by the human race's inability to accept differences and live in harmony.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

One handed

Things weren't going too badly, our neighbour's grandson found our water leak when he was out playing and Mr FF has fixed it.  We had already been to the water board and after queueing an hour filled in a form for a Tecnico to come out and locate the leak.  We asked if he would have a listening device, yes he would.  Next day we received a message that he wouldn't be coming, the leak was our responsibility but they were sending someone to consider moving our meter out of the pit, which it transpired the inspector was too large to climb into, onto the roadside.  Long story short, they wanted 110 euros to move our meter 10 metres onto the roadside, we declined the offer and hope eventually they will move all the metres at their own cost.
Saturday I had a fall in the garden and seem to have badly sprained my wrist.   Luckily it is the left one but it is very disabling, swollen and still slightly painful so activities are limited and definitely no knitting.  The nights are long watching old repeats of Pointless on Challenge TV but I still have a good stock of books.  The weather is so good, up to 20 degrees, deep blue skies and autumn colours on the mountain above us, things could be worse.
Good job we got the olives picked before my accident, 182 kilos of fruit turned into 20 litres of oil.
So just a few more jobs for Mr FF, we are waiting for the weather to break, which isn't forecast for a while, trying to find out if we can have Marzia doctored before we leave, hoping the cats might start using the new shelter Mt FF has re roofed and re floored for them, at present they still prefer to be put on the terrace snuggled together as the nights get colder.
Forgive the quality of my typing, this 60 wpm touch typist is reduced to stabbing with one finger, but that's just one of the many challenges facing me at present.