Friday 30 October 2020

We’ve started

We spent two days picking the olives kindly offered by our Danish friends who are now back on Copenhagen. We got about 140 kilos.  We enjoyed being in someone else’s garden apart from an over excited large yellow dog that turned up and rampaged round us alarmingly and a stray cat that helped itself to one of our panini, Mr FF had left the rucksack open.  We shared the remaining one and it was enough.

We worked in our own orchard, today and picked about 80 kilos, we will hopefully do the same again tomorrow although we are feeling very tired.  The trees that Mr FF cut back last year, about half our stock, have no olives but the others are very productive.  We should have plenty of oil, enough to give a decent amount to the Danes and lots for us too.  It’s nice to be back in the oil business and we are sleeping well.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Will we won’t we

Around us the olive picking started last week, yesterday everyone was rained off but the sun is back today.  Mr FF was occupied re-pointing the large wall in our orchard, he’s really making that area look beautiful and it’s becoming a destination on my garden inspection walks. The weather last week was perfect for picking, or re-pointing, warm and sunny, I’m not sure it will be so good this week but we intend to start soon.

Meantime with the end of the year and full Brexit looming, we again applied for temporary residence in Italy.  You may recall that last year we completed an application before we left the UK, told the Comune we would be in residence within the week and expected the necessary police visit after that date.  No they sent the police round immediately, we were not there as we’d told them,  they refused and cancelled our application.  When we asked why they did that we were told not to submit false information which we assumed meant the date on the form should have agreed with our arrival. It would have been simpler to tell us this rather than waste police time and ours.

So late September this year we reapplied,  we heard nothing. We sent 2 reminders to the general Comune address where we’d submitted the form and then one to the chief.  Still nothing after four weeks.  We didn’t want to go down to the office, we have hardly been into the village which has 1 case of Covid with 10 more cases in the lower part of the village, all fairly mild, but last week we did.  The hand sanitiser was empty, people were taking their masks off to talk and stepping over the one metre line to lean on the counter.  I hung around near the open door.

It seems that the temporary residence form, a resubmit of last year’s, is no longer valid, and we need to apply for full residence.  They had received our form but all chosen to do nothing and ignore us for a month.

So now we have to decide what to do.  Residency seems to be for people who live in Italy,  not for folk like us who spend the summer here.  Its hard to find information but it seems we would give up a lot, our UK healthcare, driving licence, some savings accounts could not remain in the UK,  we’d have to register our car with Italian plates at great expense, much more than its worth, or buy an Italian car.   What about our beloved bus passes.  If we don’t take residence we can only be here or in any other Schengen area for 3 months in every six and there doesn’t seem to be any way to extend this.

We ask nothing of Italy.  We have our UK pensions and savings, we would hopefully be in or able to return to the UK if we needed medical care, we pay our Italian  taxes and complete a return every year, which amuses most of our friends.  We care for our property, which would otherwise be yet another abandoned house in a village with full streets of empty decrepit property.  You can buy a two bedroom place in the medieval centre for 25,000 euros,  no one wants them.  We use local shops and restaurants, pay a full years community and refuse change, which as a resident we wouldn’t have to do. We even got our cats neutered to reduce the feral population, this year the Comune solution was to ban people from feeding feral dogs and cats.  

Yes I’m cross again, we had thought of sitting out the winter here, now we might be forced to travel home either driving or flying instead of living quietly away from people as we have for the last few months, I’d better not say how many.

Saturday 17 October 2020

Fruit and nut

Giovanni phoned on Friday afternoon to tell us that next morning he and Milena were returning to Rome for a week and we should go up for more grapes.  We didn’t need telling twice, we were soon there to see the couple of them already picking from their two abundant vines.

They kept insisting we didn’t have enough and we came home with over 2 kilos, and I’d eaten a lot during picking, plus a basket of their kiwi which are not ready but I was told to put a few apples with them and they’d mature very quickly.

I have had an allegedly self fertile kiwi in my garden for a lot of years and though it’s grown massively it has never cropped.  I plan to buy another plant, or maybe two a male and a female, we could be overrun with kiwi fruit.  

Our walnut tree has done really well this year.  I’m not a huge fan of walnuts but these are good, as Mr FF said at lunch I am having a cracking time.  I seem to be sharing the nuts with some creature as there are always plenty of empty shells on the ground and once when I was out on the terrace early morning, letting Grigio out, I could hear snuffling and trampling of leaves under the tree.  It was too dark to see what it might be and I wasn’t brave enough to go down.

We are still enjoying sun with some rain.  The forecast for the coming week is slightly warmer dry weather which is good news for us and the olives, Giovanni said we can start picking in 7 to 10 days.  He is I think 86 years old, his face lit up when he told me he is so looking forward to the harvest and how much he enjoys it.  He has about 200 trees and will be picking for maybe 2 weeks, we have about 30 trees and as I told him I find it quite hard work.  However I’m not complaining, our land continues to be deliciously productive and the garden gets better and better, we reap what we sow.

Tuesday 13 October 2020


We never run out of things to do here. Monday Mr FF got the chainsaw out, we thought it was never going to start and he certainly wasn’t taking it for repair as last time it cost 40 euro.  After much effort and tinkering it fired and Mr FF took down some dead branches from a tree in the front garden and a lot of dead wood from the olives. 

Giovanni told us last year to allow new shoots to come up from the base and this year select the strongest that will make the best shape and then remove all the old wood and unwanted shoots.  

Some pretty big trunks were cut down but the trees look fine and we got plenty of timber for the log burner.  Olive wood is very dense, it burns long and well with a nice aroma.  Because out wood burner is closed we don’t get any smell but I am so pleased to have a nice supply.

As you can see I am not a good log stacker, the lower half in the picture is my effort but this is not a permanent location.  The wood above the new stuff was stacked by Mr FF last year, he’s always been a bit obsessive about his log pile and I have been in trouble for spoiling the effect by randomly taking wood for the fire.

This year the pruned olive trees have no fruit, let’s hope they are back to production next year, meantime the trees not cut back are full of olives, we are crossing our fingers for a decent yield but not too worried as our Danish friends have now returned to Copenhagen for winter and given us permission to pick their crop.  We shall still be in the oil business.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Still occupied

This week has been glorious. Sunny warm days and not too cool at night though of course we cannot resist lighting the wood burner for a few hours before bed.  

My borders look great, the balcony pots are flowering as well as they did in high summer but despite a reluctance to take the garden apart while it looks so good, I have started to move and divided plants and cut back some shrubs. 

I have so many canna lilies I don’t know what to do with them, they became invasive in my raised border and whilst I love their tropical appearance I have taken most of them out.  A lot went into the orchard and I was tempted to do a bit of guerrilla gardening and plant some on the roadside beside the olives, but since that it someone else’s land I decided not to.

The pool is down now although Mr FF is still using the outdoor shower after his days work making orchard paths. It’s nice for a while to have all that space on the terrace but I’d never be without the pool in summer.

We are waiting now, for the mill to open, for the olives harvest to begin, for our journey home, if that happens.  We had thoughts of travelling back through Germany to avoid any stops in France and thus quarantine in the UK, but Covid cases in Germany are rising and there could be more restrictions in the UK.  As I say we are waiting and if it’s best to stay here we will, there’s always plenty to do and our cats and lovely neighbours Giovanni and Milena who have decided to spend the winter here rather then return to their Rome apartment will all be very happy.

Friday 2 October 2020

The Isle of Capri

Yes this week we spent a couple of nights on the Amalfi coast staying in a small B and B above the town of Sorrento.  We wouldn’t normally stay in such a touristy area but expected things to be quiet and wanted to take the opportunity to visit Capri.

We hadn’t stayed in Sorrento for almost 40 years, that was our first visit to Italy and included 4 nights in Rome.  That was in November, still good weather and we did a lot but now we know much more of Italy we didn’t find Sorrento so pleasant even out of season.  However our accommodation was beautiful with only 6 letting rooms and apart from heavy rain the day we arrived the weather was lovely.

The ferry to Capri was very expensive, as Mr FF said we could have taken our car to Sardinia and back for less but there were no queues and plenty of space on board.  The trip over was a little rough and I was concerned there were no safety announcements as the boat lurched through the waves,  we arrived with me feeling a little queasy.

We wanted to visit the Villa San Michele up at Anacapri and Mr FF thought it would be nice to walk.  I imagined a stroll through sunny lemon groves admiring beautiful white villas, I experienced a lung bursting climb up steep and wet steps through open countryside and woodland. However the villa which belonged to a Swedish doctor Axel Munthe who loved nature and animals was gorgeous, stunning views and beautiful rooms.

We strolled round Anacapri, ate our picnic lunch and eventually got the bus down to Capri town.  We spent about half an hour in the bus queue, numbers were being limited and temperatures taken but onboard it was still pretty crowded with plenty of people standing.  I sat and Mr FF stood beside an open window our Covid concerns distracted by the hair raising descent back down the mountain.

We wandered round Capri town admiring the smart hotels and even smarter designer shops and had a very expensive drink in the square before walking back down to the harbour for our return. There was just about the right number of visitors, I cannot imagine what it’s like on the island during a normal busy summer.  It’s such a beautiful place, the views are incredible and we were fortunate to see Capri so quiet and calm, I’m glad we went.

Here are a few photos, villa, villa, villa, Anacapri, Capri town, as you know I struggle with blogger on the iPad so I am sticking them at the end and going outside for my breakfast.