Wednesday 28 July 2021


13 months ago we were waiting for Boris to tell us it was ok to come to Italy. Now we are waiting for him to say it’s ok to return to the U.K. without the need to quarantine for 10 days and take 2 covid test once back in ilkley.  

I am desperate to return, especially now it’s so hot and mosquitoey.  I am short on energy and enthusiasm and if I’m being honest I’m slightly bored.  It’s hard to garden while sweat pours into your eyes and insects nibble at your flesh, not that there is much to do apart from water, dead head and pick vegetables.   We still go out only once a week for food, we haven’t been anywhere different since we went to Sorrento last September and while I have enjoyed this simple quiet life now I feel I need a change.

After more than a year here I’m Italied out, I need a little time in England to reconnect with people and places I miss.  Not that it’s not lovely here, I was going to add an image of a complicated maze which represents life at present but let’s be more positive, here are a couple of my beautiful terrace pots.  We don’t get displays  like this on our Yorkshire penthouse balcony, there are worse places to sit and wait for news, which might come later today or early next week. Keep everything crossed

Saturday 24 July 2021

Saturday strim

MrFF continues his early starts, he is now strimming the orchard and lightly pruning the olives which are setting fruit.

Even at 6 am the heat is building so it’s a daunting job but after the delights of all the wild flowers I’m now enjoying the tidy spaciousness and of course we are much safer if we are unfortunate enough to have wild fires so I’m grateful for his hard work.

By 10.30 he has to stop for a shower, brunchie breakfast and to retire to this lovely place to spend a shady afternoon.

Our lovely 88 year old neighbour Giovanni is also busy with his strimmer, he too starts early but doesn’t have quite the same routine as we hear him start again early evening when we are thinking about dinner.  Giovanni does have a lot more land than us, and it seems a lot more stamina.  

Sunday 18 July 2021

High summer

The flower garden seems almost at its peak, I can’t think of any summer blooms I’m waiting to open and some like the gladioli are almost over.  

The latest (eye)opener was my sunflowers.  I grow the tall giant ones and also the multi headed variety, they are the happiest of plants and I always wish I had more, there are just 3 in this well packed border.

We are inundated with cucumbers, we cut at least 4 a day and try to give most of them away.  Even the grapes are doing well this year, I really have no idea about training the vine but I must have done something right.

MrFF continues with his wall repairs, which during the recent hot weather has meant  getting up before 6 to work until around 10.30 when it gets far too hot for man or materials. 

He’s currently working very close to my wisteria, half of which he has already removed telling me it’s a hazard to structural safety.  I am not looking forward to seeing how he deals with the last stretch of wall.

Last week we cut the front hedge again, the one that faces into the road.  It’s looking tidy for everyone to admire, sadly that’s just me, MrFF, the cats and the refuse collectors.  Quiet floriferous times continue on the sunny mountainside.

Thursday 15 July 2021

Get me home


I read this morning about a new crafting venture in Ilkley.  Duttons for Buttons, a wonderful emporium of haberdashery in the town, closed down quite a while back and the little shop remained empty.  Now it is to become a crafting venue, Mrs Duttons Wondrous Workshops. 

That’s such good news, we are not getting another in every high street chain, a charity shop or a coffee shop.  There are a lot of workshops on the list for all abilities, knitting, embroidery, macrame, appliqué, rug making, and best of all crochet for beginners, maybe I can finally learn.  There are also crafternoon tea sessions with goodies supplied by a local bakery and deli, must be careful not to get my work sticky.  

Now I really need to get back to ilkley to check this out, I’m sure it’s a valid reason for travel.

Sunday 11 July 2021

You are on your own

My happy Passion flower brightening a ranty post

As a UK citizen I used to feel fairly confident that I was well looked after and supported by my country, that if push came to shove I’d be ok.  This last year living as a Brit in Italy I’ve realised how scarily vulnerable we are, basically the authorities paid to look after us don’t give a toss.

The occasions I’ve contacted the British Embassy in Rome for help they’ve been unable to assist or advise, basically said read the manual.  Oddly I’d already checked the websites they suggest, that didn’t answer my questions which is why I contacted the embassy. I got the impression they prefer holding receptions and handing out Ferraro Roche chocolates to helping their citizens.  God help us if we ever have a real crisis.

Now it seems our Italian covid passports won’t be recognised by England so we will need to quarantine for 10 days and take 2 tests if we return, unless of course we were italian football supporters attending the final of Euro 2020 in London,  apparently 1000 are allowed to travel without these restrictions.     We had Astra Zeneca vaccines, the same as most of the U.K, we have batch numbers and dates, why are they not valid, is anyone but us challenging this.  

It continues to be impossible to get a covid test before we leave to present at the channel in the required language, English, Spanish or French or within the 72 hour time scale.  We can travel throughout the EU with our Italian covid passports and in theory have a test in France.  However finding information with limited language is difficult, we’d have to wait up to 48 hours for results and allow for that in our channel crossing reservation, that’s a long time to hang about.  Information says we are responsible for ensuring our tests meet the required standards, that’s so annoying, how do we know the bloomin standards, why aren’t the testers regulated accordingly, shouldn’t all tests meet the standard.  And if one of us tested positive what would we do, drive back to italy without stopping?

I’ve said before if we don’t get the car back by the end of this month we won’t have tax or MOT. Our insurers are aware of this and our inability to travel. I know we are not alone in this dilemma, we have friends who’ve had 4 flights cancelled and wasted hundreds of pounds on tests that have expired in an effort to get the car they left on the continent back to the U.K. for the same reason.  They’ve contacted the vehicle registration authority, their MP, their insurance company and got no where.  

I acknowledge there are much bigger problems in the world, these are the rants of a person fortunate enough to have a second home, but the difficulties we encounter highlight problems endemic throughout government and public authorities. Those in charge make the right noises, tell you what you want to hear but test the system and it’s not working. 

So we wait, listen to the news and time ticks away.  We stay positive, why wouldn’t we with sunshine and plenty of lovely outside space.  We live well but it’s over a year since we arrived in Italy, we never imagined we’d stay so long.  I wish we knew what to do, I wish I’d brought more tea bags I’ll never travel again without at least 5 million.

Thursday 8 July 2021

Mediterranean garden

Summer and the garden is going overboard with flowers which in this heat, most days reach 30 degrees, don’t last very long.  My terrace borders are a riot of colour, usually I favour white but I decided anything goes and the clashes of vivid colours certainly suit the hot climate.  

I still have white of course, my lovely agapanthus

And the first flower opening on my hibiscus

This is new, grown from seed it has the challenging name cardiospermum halicacabum, aka balloon vine or my preference love in a puff

presumably from the pretty the pretty heart shaped seed heads that develop from the tiny white flowers. Speaking of seeds, I shall save some of these and I’ve just collected the seed heads from the wild orchids in the orchard.  We gardeners always want more, I’ve already promised some of the agapanthus seeds to a friend. 

Saturday 3 July 2021


MrFF was back at the doctors on Thursday morning taking his x ray results.  The doctor diagnosed bronchitis and gave him the name of a medication he should buy and take in the autumn, 10 doses per month for 3 months, meantime presumably he just tolerates the condition.

Because we were unexpectedly out and as most of Italy is now in the white zone with hardly any restrictions we walked down to our favourite bar for coffee and croissants.  The whole family was there, the schools are now finished for summer, there was even a new baby proudly being nursed by his grandfather.  We sat in the garden for a while enjoying our second breakfast and chatting to the family, then we sat on the bench outside the bar watching the world go by and finally took a walk through the square.  We chatted to one of the village priests we know, he’s originally from San Francisco and only gets to speak English when he sees us. He said his mother is coming over from California later this month but having problems with flights being changed.

We walked down to the nicest part of the lower village, the lavatoio, the communal washing area. I’ve never see anyone using this one for laundry although I have in other villages seen women washing their sheets at the outdoor lavatoio.  It’s the prettiest of places surrounded by lovely old flower decked houses, the sound of running water and blue skies, like something from a film.  I’m so glad it’s loved and preserved.