Saturday, 29 August 2020
Thursday, 27 August 2020
Mr FF quite often likes to spend his birthday at the seaside, for his 60th we spent two nights at a beautiful hotel in Sabaudia, this year his 72nd was a little more subdued but very enjoyable. We went to San Filice Circeo, a new to us little town in the province of Lattina, an hour and a half away by car much less as the crow flies, blame those mountains.
We needn’t have been concerned about social distancing, there were stewards taking our names and phone number before directing us to marked out spaces on the beach. We usually hire beds and umbrella at one of the stabilimenti where there are toilets, showers, changing and a restaurant or snack bar but this year decided to use the free unserviced public beach, taking our own shade and folding chairs. We took our drinks and lunch too, no mingling for us as the public beach was much quieter than the other spots.
The beach experience was much as it always is, plenty of beautiful bronze bodies, large families talking non stop, kids with a vast assortment of inflatables and lots of fun and sun.
We were right at the end of town and it was very pretty, lovely white houses rising up above us, craggy rocks and when I did my obligatory long passeggiata along the wet sand the views round the corner to the next large bay were stunning. Mr FF had his usual long swim, he’s gone so long that I always think he’s perished in the water, he reported he’d tried to get round into the harbour but failed.
Late in the afternoon we packed our belongings and took a walk round the town, admiring the boats in the harbour and some smart hotels, it really is a nice little resort, this photo is from the town Facebook page we didn’t get to the still active lighthouse.
We stopped on the way home for ice cream, the best we’ve ever had with new flavours to try. Delizia al limone for me, which was fantastic and included little squares of lemon sponge plus bacio, the Perugina chocolates with fondant and nuts. Mr FF had paradiso which was full of all sorts, orange, lemon, nuts, yoghurt, and was pronounced delicious plus amarena crocante, sour cherry with crunch bits. Last stop was our favourite farm shop for bufala mozzarella.
We also brought home quite a lot of sand, on our clothes and on our bodies. I like that and the gritty feeling of being coated in salt with hair stiff from seawater. We always feel we’ve had a good bashing after a day at the sea, the water was warm and pleasingly choppy, I’m sure it does us good. And that is what birthdays are about.
Monday, 24 August 2020
People nowadays talk about cooking from scratch, it used to be called just cooking, as opposed to peeling back the film on a ready meal. It means cooking without assistance or any prepared ingredients, although someone once told me she was cooking me a meal from scratch whilst heating up what I could see was a prepared dish from Marks and Spencer.
Anyway I like gardening from scratch by which I mean I like raising my own plants from seed or cuttings. I’m not one for buying ready planted tubs or big mature specimens, I don’t need instant results. I’m also quite partial to a failing plant from the bargain bucket confident I can give it new life and buy it cheap. All my spider plants, and I have about 18 in pots and in the borders, are from one baby a friend gave me and I have lots of purple tradescantia from a cutting I stole from a hotel garden.
The seeds section in our agricultural store is a delight, I spend happy hours browsing while Mr FF is sourcing irrigation parts. One of my biggest successes last year was dahlias from seed. I didn’t expect them to flower the first year but most did, this year they are amazing and will be ready for division next year. The bees love them which makes dead heading tricky as they particularly relish the faded flowers which must be higher in pollen.
I was also lucky to find 10 days ago two yucca tops that had been pruned and thrown out. I checked on line and they root easily, mine seem to be doing ok, time will tell.
Generally we don’t grow our veggies from seed as we can buy a tray of 6 plug plants for just over a euro and this year since we were late arriving we wanted the plants as advanced as possible. They are cropping nicely and I think Mr FF is already sick of me cooking pasta and vegetables from scratch.
Thursday, 20 August 2020
We didn’t enjoy our first market experience so we decided to try the Sunday one on the altipiani above us. It’s a windy climb up the mountain that Mr FF always enjoys driving, I find it rather worrying as a lot of motor bikes enjoy the road too and it’s a bit of a race track.
Again we found the market too busy for our liking and instead took a walk round the quiet streets of the town. A little after 12 we tried again, by this time most people had left. Generally the stall holders start packing up around midday for a one o clock finish, this time they hung on presumably needing a bit more trade.
I braved a rummage on the everything 5 euro table, in fact I found a very nice Marks and Spencers swimming costume in my size. The supermarket one I’ve been wearing in our pool is suffering from the chlorine and I didn’t want to waste my better costume so I bought it. Mr FF got a nice cotton shirt, we were very happy.
However when I was pulling out items to examine twice I came across clothing with UK charity shop labels still attached. In fact one top had a Red Cross ticket reducing it to £1. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen this. I did a bit of research and it seems charity shops bundle up unsold items, generally cheap fast fashion, to be shipped abroad for rags, to be sold on markets or simply put into landfill. Shocking, it just demonstrates how unsustainable cheap fashion chain clothing is, not just from the disposal point of view but also the awful production conditions for workers, though I’m not totally convinced that some of our better quality chains treat their producers much better.
Tuesday, 11 August 2020
We picked our first courgette yesterday, 5 weeks after we bought the little plug plants they are producing faster then we can cope with them. The aubergines are about half full size already, it will be a summer of ratatouille.
So we also had our first much needed rain. Since we arrived we've seen maybe 10 drops total. This was a heavy but fortunately not damaging storm that damped things down nicely but nowhere enough to wet more then the top couple of inches of ground.
It felt good not to be so hot for a while, Mr FF took time out for a siesta and I read on the sofa with doors and windows open to let in the cool. Now it feels fresh and clean, and the sun is back this evening. We shall be eating courgettes outside as the terrace has dried and we are back to a manageable 23 degrees.