Saturday 30 October 2021

Trouble at mill

The olive harvest has started but this year it is complete chaos because of lack of capacity at the mills.    We heard from our friends that they delivered their crop with a reservation just before midnight and returned home with their oil at 3 in the morning. Another friend has an appointment to deliver at 2.20 am.  When we tried to get a booking at that mill the first available appointment was 10 December.

Our nearest mill, not in our village as both those mills are closed, isn’t taking bookings. It was the same last year, we queued 3 hours to deliver the olives and didn’t get our oil for another 3 days.  When I contacted them this year they again said no bookings, I expected they will only allow as many people as they can process to queue and turn the rest away.  We spoke to someone recently who said it’s the same everywhere and it’s so sad. Producing your own pure oil locally is totally sustainable.  One of the mills in our village was a co operative run for the members, and the oil was processed in the traditional cold press way.  They closed several years ago.  The other was a modern centrifugal system, we were processed in a few hours.  Its short sighted to close these places, particularly the co operative. They say people just want to buy their oil at the supermarket, the waiting lists and queues contradict that and everyone knows the stuff on the shelves is rubbish no matter what it says on the label.

It’s a desperate situation, our area is covered in olive groves, every family has land with trees yet it’s impossible to process the harvest.  We didn’t  know what to do, though MrFF insisted we keep picking, after three days of hard work we could do no more.

This morning MrFF was up before 6 to go to queue at the mill, not knowing what time they would open as the refused to respond to our enquiries.  He arrived before 6.30, the gates locked and no queue, however a notice said they would open at 8.30, by which time one other person had joined him to wait.  He delivered 159 kilos of olives, beautifully cleaned by me, the oil should be ready tonight or tomorrow.

We could hardly believe it was that simple, how can one mill have a 6 week wait yet MrFF only waited two hours.  Admittedly he wasn’t able to watch the process, we shall have to chance getting our own oil back, but he was home in time for breakfast.  

Thursday 21 October 2021

Better boundaries

We finally finished the hedge cutting, we’d saved the hardest till last.  The large laurel hedge between us and the neighbours is always difficult, involving ladders, precarious balancing and a lot of clippings to collect for the bonfire.  We get access to cut the neighbours’ side too, it’s a couple of days work but it’s all done now.

Our side
Their side

We had an easy day yesterday the sun was hot so we sat out in the afternoon and lit the stove in the evening, it cools down quickly once the sun sets which makes for cosy nights.

Today was back to work for MrFF, he has been applying a coat of repairing screed to the wall capping before he installs the wire mesh to the new fence posts. It’s making a huge difference, Grigio and I were out admiring his work earlier, I’m not sure if Grigio isn’t planning to have a stroll over it later to add her prints, she did seem very interested.

Sunday 17 October 2021

Gardening part 2

After our successful front hedge clipping MrFF decided we should tidy up the triumphal arch as I call the two blocks of hedges in the lower garden that I decided some years ago should be united to form an archway.  I’m very pleased with the result, it deserved a good trim and here it is in all its glory

It would be rather nice to have something to look at through the arch other than just the big gates.  I’m thinking of a coy looking life size naked person maybe but that wouldn’t be ideal as he/she would be viewed from the road presenting a bare bottom to passing track.  I’ll keep thinking.

Thursday 14 October 2021


We cut the front hedge on Tuesday.  It benefitted from the watering system we left for our balcony pots and grew like crazy the month we were away.  So half a days work had us looking smart again, combined with the new fence the neighbours would be impressed if any were here but they are all back in Rome.  Maybe the refuse collectors will notice, otherwise it’s just us.

We are still enjoying produce from the garden.  The tomatoes are not as tasty as they were in high summer but still good and it’s the best year we’ve ever had for dessert grapes. Every day I cut a bunch, strangely by the time I’ve walked back to the house half of them are eaten, they are delicious.

We are not the only ones appreciating the garden, I’ve never seen so many bees.  It’s not unusual for several to be feasting on the same flower, dahlias seem to be first choice.  I grew these from seed, they flowered the first year and did so well I split them last year.  If there is space I might move some divisions to the vegetable area, I feel I owe it to the bees to provide them with as much food as possible. 

Monday 11 October 2021

A long overdue knitting review

It’s been ages since we had an update.  I’ve been busy knitting fingerless gloves and children’s socks, a sample above,  for the little craft shop in Ilkley, that takes some of my work.  Hopefully I will be able to deliver these before Christmas.

Then with the longer nights I thought it would be nice to return to socks and tackle a new pattern.  I decided November socks, a 12 row repeat so not too complicated would suit my red West Yorkshire Spinners yarn.  How wrong could I be.  I started twice and pulled it all out twice as both times I got the pattern completely wrong.  Nothing at all to do with the clear instructions, the problem was my brain and possibly the poor lighting in our cavernous Italian lounge.  The third time I tried again in the daytime sitting outside in the sun and by jove I think I’ve got it, all seems perfectly logical and straightforward now.  I should be able to knit in the dim evening light now I am familiar with the pattern.   

I’m glad I didn’t give up on this project though I was beginning to think it would be November before I knew what I was doing.  However I do know when I’m beaten and today I’ve stripped our bed of the single linen sheet we’ve been sleeping under and installed our winter duvet.  I’m not giving up on my flip flop days yet but definitely the evenings are turning a cooler, besides who doesn’t like cosy nights.

Thursday 7 October 2021

Don’t fence me in

Yesterday it rained continuously, the first real rain we’ve had in the three weeks we’ve been back.  It was great for the garden to have a thorough watering and for everything to have a good wash down, even if being incarcerated gave me flashbacks of our winter lockdown.  The sun has returned today, the air is clear and fresh, we are renewed.

MrFF keeps having different ideas about dealing with the leaky terrace, he had a lot of thinking time yesterday.  Possibly motivated by the constant drip of water coming into the downstairs room his latest plan is to deal with the area in sections, the worst first.  Don’t hold him to this, plans may change.

Meantime on the dry days he has been replacing the shabby wire and wood fence onto the roadside.  It was quite a ramshackle arrangement, contrasting nicely with all the neighbours smart metal railings.  Now we have 22 new green posts and later there will be green plastic coated wire like this already installed with the help of my brother and sister in law a few years ago in the lower garden.

I like it so far, providing much less of a visible barrier than expensive railings, it makes the garden feel less enclosed and therefore bigger.  I believe this method of incorporating the background scenery into your garden is called borrowed landscape.  Who on earth wouldn’t want to borrow our glorious views.

Saturday 2 October 2021


I am pleased to report that we all seem to have our lives back in balance.  

The cats are very relaxed and enjoying a happy routine of eating and sleeping with the occasional trip round garden.  

MrFF is busy replacing some fencing and not mentioning quite so often how tired he is.  He is of course still trying to unlock his internet device, the providers after being reminded they are legally bound to facilitate this asked for information already submitted.  This may be long standing strategy, they are not the first organisation here that we’ve had to point out to already have what they now ask for.   He has also done a lot of investigation on the best way to waterproof the terrace and is having doubts that it can be completed before we leave for winter.  I’m fine with that, we can put down a waterproof cover, tackle the job in spring and take things  a little easier until we leave.

We are so back to normal.  We managed an al fresco lunch on Friday, with 3 Danish friends and 1 Danish dog, a well behaved and cat friendly dog though Grigio did feel the need to defend her food dish with a little hissing.

I am happy that I’ve got the house reasonably clean and the garden tidy.  I have spotted signs of the changing season, the wild cyclamen are in flower and little pots of chrysanthemum planted out from previous years and now large clumps are bursting into flower.  But I am an autumn denier, I don’t believe winter is coming.  We still have warm days, we still sleep under a single sheet and have the terrace doors open until we go to bed,  a few different flowers means nothing. You’ll be telling me next the leaves are going to fall off the trees.