Wednesday 22 August 2018

Lost in translation

Mr FF’s Italian isn’t great, in fact after 15 years of visits, latterly for up to 6 months at a time, it’s awful  Only last week a neighbour was berating him because she couldn’t speak with him.  He gets me into situations, like when he said a visitor wanted to know what I was feeding my rather large courgettes, I answered ‘just water from this’ holding up the hose pipe ‘and not every day’.  In fact the person wanted to know why we hadn’t put a jacuzzi in the corner of the garden instead of vegetables.
At the weekend he came back from a walk having met Giovanni who he said had invited us to go up for coffee at 11 today.  We were late setting off as Mr FF had been to the builders yard, en route we met the elderly gentleman who has a lot of olive trees around us, we chatted then he insisted on giving us a bag of peaches from one of his trees so it was turned up for 12 when we arrived at the house. 
As a gift I’d made an apple and blackberry crumble with fruit from the garden, I explained how to cook it and that it could be eaten with ice cream, yoghurt or whatever.  Milena turned the oven on immediately and put the crumble in, I didn’t say anything.  She also took the bag of peaches from me, I said they were a gift from the old gentleman, I’d envisaged there would be confusion and was happy to relinquish them.
We had a walk round their lovely garden then Giovanni asked Mr FF to look at some cracks inside the house that were worrying them, he asked me to go too to translate.  Our Italian classes didn’t concentrate so much on building terminology but between us we were able to reassure Giovanni that the cracks were cosmetic and the house wasn’t falling down.
When we came back Milena asked me if I liked porcini and onions and other things and said she was going to make a sugo.  I told Mr FF I thought they planned to feed us though I wasn’t quite sure if she wasn’t just interested in my diet whilst wanting to crack on with their own lunch.   The four bread buns they arrived at the table were a giveaway and yes they did provide a delicious lunch with lots of homemade and homegrown food.  The crumble, cooked for 20 minutes and cooled arrived with a large plate and a knife for me to serve it.  I had to ask for dishes and a spoon, there was no accompaniment, then we ate the peaches.  
Mr FF insists they didn’t invite us for lunch and that they only provided it because I took a pudding, who knows. The are such a sweet generous couple there was no awkwardness and mostly they speak to Mr FF as if he understands them.
He is currently next door helping other neighbours who’ve been having problems with their septic tank, he did manage to find them a company that can empty the tank and clear the pipes, they are working there now.  With Mr FF’s command of the language I won’t be surprised if the contents end up in our garden.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

It’s all rubbish

In our region of Lazio we have door step rubbish collection 6 days a week, it’s remarkable that when we are the only occupied property the bin lorry still trundles up our track to collect.  Recently we were issued with 3 smart new stackable bins for paper, plastic and unrecycleable items, the bin we already had to be used for glass and metal.  I thought that was fine until a neighbour called to tell me that I needed to go down to the square to collect my allocation of plastic bags to line the bins.  Giovanni offered to take me down but I declined thinking I’d manage without plastic.  However Mr FF disagreed so we went down on the second day the bags were being dished out.   It was devastating to see a sizeable transit van packed high with rolls of plastic bags to be distributed to our small village.  
I brought the bags home but didn’t use them.  I am obviously breaking some rule because the lady who empties our bins gets very cross every time she collects.  She even resorted to checking my rubbish, one time she took out yogurt cartons and a plastic egg box and left them in the bin, I have no idea why but for the next collection I did put them and other plastic in one of the standard issue bags and everything was taken.  I can hear the lady muttering away, particularly if Mr FF has put out anything building related, one time she had a good sort through, spoke to the driver who tooted his horn as they drove off leaving our rubbish behind.  As I said we have six collections a week but I actually miss out 2 as I am happy to compost all my peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds etc.  That and the fact we are only here half a year and pay for a full years collection has no bearing on what the bin lady will sanction.
We have a long list of items we cannot put in our bins that have to be taken to the depot down the mountain on Tuesday or Saturday morning.  We took a mattress down recently and the lady there was charming, she said she remembered us from a couple of years ago, let us take a perfectly good cat carrier from one of the skips. showed us the depot cat and it’s kittens and then asked us for identification.
Fly tipping is a huge and ugly problem in Italy, even quiet country roads are strewn with litter and it’s not unusual for us to collect paper and bottles as we walk down our track.  There is a nice picnic area above us with tables, seats and BBQ facilities.  Someone had collected together their rubbish, put it in a black bag and left it there.  Of course animals had torn the bag open and the contents, food waste and plastic plates were strewn around.  The idea of taking rubbish home is completely alien.
The use of plastic here is excessive.  In the nicest of Italian homes you can be served a meal on plastic plates, the supermarkets are stocked high with them.  I take out a plastic storage box for ricotta which our shepherd calls but he still insists on putting the cheese into a plastic bowl first.  I’ve solved that issue by taking the same plastic bowl out as well.
Yesterday in our little mini market Mr FF bought bread and sausages both admirable wrapped in brown paper bags. However at the checkout the shop owner started to put both paper bags into a plastic one.  Mr FF stopped him and tried to explain the Pass on Plastic policy, Gianni responded that it would never happen in Italy, he’s probably right, if they don’t see the litter under their noses they won’t be thinking about the wider environment.