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.