Wednesday 28 April 2021

My normal

The lovely weather has certainly put me back where I want to be.

I had hardly been knitting, even sitting in front of the tv and the wood burner in the evening I wasn’t picking up the needles. I am now although it will soon we warm enough to eat dinner outside and linger on the terrace watching the lights in the valley so I may stop again.   These very spring like socks are I think West Yorkshire Spinners yarn, it’s so long since I started them I’ve lost the band.

We are back in the lowest yellow zone for covid restrictions, bars and restaurants can provide outdoor table service, shops are open, we can move about.  Infection and death rates are still high but the government had decided to take the risk of opening up our region and the economy.

We are also back on track with water leaks.  Mr FF  checked our meter up on the mountain and it was running slightly when everything was turned off at the house. Investigation confirmed a leak between the gulley and our house.  After much chopping of undergrowth he thought he’d found it but that one is Anna’s and loosing a lot of water.  He phoned her and has turned off her supply.  It’s likely our leak is under the road outside the house, we are hoping it will show during this dry spell otherwise we are stuck, we can hardly start random excavation of the tarmac.  Meantime we had notification the water board were sending a tecnico to read the meter, we were to be at home that day and available to assist.  We saw no one and were certainly not in the mood to accompany him up the mountain and into the snake pit that houses the meters.  No doubt we shall continue to receive estimated bills based on average consumption.  

I read recently that the Italian water board looses more than 50% of its supply through leaks and that doesn’t account for water lost between the meter and the consumer which is probably another 25%, what a huge waste.

Happily the solar shower is in use, veggies are being planted, factor 50 is being applied and Sunday we had a day of decadence that included a lunchtime bottle of prosecco and a new book begun.  Those Mitford girls have always fascinated me.

Saturday 24 April 2021

That’s more like it

We are back on track after some cool weather and dreary days. Today it was 18 degrees, wall to wall sunshine, we are all so happy, humans and cats have been outside all day.

Yesterday we bought our vegetable plants at the local agricultural shop.  Two types of tomatoes and yellow peppers, we are also growing from seed cherry tomatoes and red peppers.  We got cucumbers, aubergines, radishes, basil and more courgettes as the old seeds we used didn’t all germinate,  that’s a good start.  I also picked up a couple of replacement dipeldenia for my summer pots but when I went to plant them the ones I thought had died are showing signs of life.  In fact everything seems to have survived, both in the ground and in pots, what was considered quite a hard winter except maybe my bougainvillea.  I know we’re a bit too high to grow them,  I’ve lost plants before but I haven’t give up on this one yet I’ll just keep waiting.  Today I’ve been planting and arranging pots with the replacements and various geranium cuttings I took a few weeks ago, just my kind of day.

Mr FF has been working on the upgraded solar shower, he assures me it will be a new improved model, functionally if not aesthetically, and soon ready for use, the modesty screen will take a little longer.   And yes there was a rip in the shirt he was wearing, it’s out of sight but one sleeve is coming away from the body, I’ll bet it goes into the next wash for further use, a man who constructed a solar shower from old bits and pieces wont throw away a shirt like that.

Finally the wisteria has decided it’s time to bloom, not completely out yet but getting there.  The orchard wild flowers are coming too, mostly cow parsley, buttercups and sweet peas at present but lots to happen, Grigio and I sometimes walk round twice a day spotting new treasures.    The wild orchid is out, this isn’t a great photo but it’s the best I can do with the iPad.  

And best of all Giovanni and Milena our lovely neighbours are back from Rome, they called to say hello dressed in warm coats and were surprised to see me in a sleeveless t shirt,  cropped trousers and flip flops. It really feels like the long lonely winter is over, I’m washing our winter clothes to pack away, I’m looking forward to seeing our neighbours lights up above us in the evening instead of being surrounded by darkness and empty space, and to hearing them chatting in the day time.  I’m looking forward but no longer wishing the time away.

Positivity is back thank you sun.

Monday 19 April 2021

The promise of better weather


It’s been grim for about a week, cool and often wet.  We needed rain so that was good, we’ve had enough now but it doesn’t stop.  Other weather has included hail, thunder and lightning, today there’s snow on the top of the mountain.  

It’s often the same, we think it’s fine to sow seeds, buy a few tomato plants, now we are covering tender seedlings with fleece or playing musical pots putting everything into the cellar overnight, moving everything out during the day.  

We had a Skype call with friends in Yorkshire yesterday, they sitting in their lovely garden bathed in sunshine, us indoors wearing several jumpers.  The forecast is for temperatures to improve gradually, currently its 6 degrees,  there is talk of high 20s next week, I’m wishing my life away wanting the sun back, wanting the wisteria to flower, wanting to plant up the summer pots.    I thought we could put away our jumpers and socks, I am so sick of wearing the few winter clothes I have here and been looking through my summer wardrobe with longing, I’d like a heatwave please.

Saturday 10 April 2021

Wild flowers

So far this year touch wood my garden has been porcupine free. Two years ago I was furious when my white irises were eaten before they could bloom, this year I have a lovely display which may have something to do with all the new growth after the porcupine pruning. 

Really they are wild flowers, a few white ones are flowering on the bank opposite our house and I’ve seen dark purple ones when we’ve been walking. I’ve also seen a lot of tubers that have been grubbed up and half eaten so any that survived have done well.   I’ve moved a few non flowering clumps from my border into the orchard, hopefully they will live or at worst distract the porcupine from the cultivated beds.

This is my current favourite orchard flower, it’d a wild orchid that I’ve been watching for several weeks, there are two the another not yet showing it’s flower.  I’m sorry the photograph is not very good, I’ll try again when it’s in full bloom.

I’ve also found a large self seeded cyclamen that is doing well.  I resist the temptation to move these plants into the cultivated garden, they seem happy enough.  

I’ve thrown down in the orchard a couple of packets of assorted wild flower seeds with some marigold and nasturtium seeds saved from last year and it’s rained.  I’ll hope for the best.  The orchard has a lot of wild flowers already, all the usual weeds plus plants we don’t consider wild, pot marigolds, sweet peas, fennel, mint, hellebore, honesty.  I like them doing their own thing, it confirms what I learnt last year when we weren’t here for 8 months, the garden does fine without us.  Of course that isn’t going to stop me gardening.

Finally a totally unrelated picture of my French lavender, it’s keeping the bees fully occupied, Mr FF says to the detriment of his broad beans which are actually set.  Good old nature.

Sunday 4 April 2021

Solar benefits

Now the weather has really picked up things are happening outdoors. 

MrFF has reconnected our outdoor solar shower, he used it on Tuesday, the next day we both used it.  The water wasn’t exactly scalding for my first al fresco shower this year, in fact it went from moderately warm to decidedly cold.  I’ve been reading recently about the benefits of cold water swimming and cold showers, so I put on my grown up face and got on with it.  A brief spell under the chilly water, apparently 30 seconds is enough to make a difference to your mental and physical health, wasn’t a problem as once out I soon dried and warmed up in the sun.  This could become regular therapy round here.

You may know MrFF cobbled together engineered the shower years ago from bits and pieces we had.  Now the old table top that holds the coiled water pipe has seen better days.  We are having an upgrade, the wooden platform will be replaced by a redundant satellite dish and we are having a modesty screen made from garden trellis that came with the house.  I always have a frisson of concern that someone might come walking down the road, lean over the wall to admire my garden and see more then they expected.   Additionally the set up needs attention soon as Enrico has decided the rotting wooden platform is an ideal sleeping place, the dish will hold him much more securely though being metal it will perhaps be too hot for comfort. 

And speaking of reusing and recycling, last week I refused to wash one of MrFF’s work shirts as the front was only attached to the back by a few threads.  He found a worthy replacement as you can see below.   Next day he discovered a diamond shape patch of sunburn on his back in the exact shape of the rip.  Sometimes you can be just too Yorkshire for your own good.