Italy has been our home for 9 years now, and this house for more than half of that time. This daily blog is intended to document the joys, difficulties and irritations of our existence.
We have our own intrinsic difficulties. My husband, Clive, is disabled and I am partly so through a scoliosis.
We have no family but are great dog-lovers, although things aren’t easy in that department either. Our eldest dog (a young eight years old) has been treated for cancer. Our six-year-old dog plays ’chicken’ with the post van and has been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis. Our youngest dog (only a puppy) nearly died from the complications of a coccidia infestation.
I love living here. Clive is more circumspect. The earlier entries in this blog are by him and reveal a different attitude.
Maybe, by keeping abreast of our daily life, you will be able to tell whose view is the more accurate. Does the pain outweigh the pleasure? Will my writing betray a less rose-tinted reality?
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It sounds like the name of a Pub, but it actually describes the encounter which happened yesterday evening.
Galileo, the only one of our dogs to be allowed out last thing at night because he doesn’t go far, was yipping excitedly in the courtyard.
I found him jumping around in a circle with some kind of object at its centre.
He can derive hours of amusement from millipedes or acorns or pieces of gravel, so I couldn’t even be sure that it was animate.
When I got closer I could see the object was moving slightly – extending an appendage and edging forward – and I realised it was a large toad.
Galileo was getting bolder and actually touching the toad by this time so I scooped him indoors and went to grab my camera.
When I got back I thought I’d lost it, but then there it was, still out in the open. I took a few portrait shots of it.
THAT doesn’t translate well into Italian, any more than fox-and-cubs, love-in-a-mist, snapdragon or traveller’s joy!
I wonder if Chokri thinks I invent these outlandish names.
Johnny-go-to-bed-at-noon has appeared in a number of guises around the place – last year I found only the purple type.
Today I found an orangey one and a lemon yellow one growing side by side.
It was just starting to rain and they were open. By lunchtime the yellow one had drooped, and the orange one and a purple one elsewhere were still open. I guess they got confused.
The purple one was full of water and looked like an amethyst brooch.
‘Foxgloves’ translated into Italian doesn’t sound very convincing.
Also the gloves apparently aren’t for the fox but for the ’folks’ – that is, fairies.
We’ve managed to get a few foxgloves going from the seeds we brought over from Britain – not as many as I’d like, though.
I hope this will be a little patch where they keep coming.
This morning in the fruit and vegetable wholesalers in Foligno I heard voices speaking English.
English English, not even American English (no offence).
The voices were coming from a couple about my age, I suppose.
I was choosing carrots when the wife came quite near me. ”Are you English?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“Me, too,” I said, beaming at her.
That was the end of the conversation.
I think she might have smiled vaguely in an embarrassed sort of way, but she didn’t say anything beyond that first monosyllable.
So much for ex-pats!
The weather has wings, in other words it’s windy, and the flowers are swaying and fluttering.
The butterflies are hiding somewhere, afraid to take to the air.
There are normally several swallowtail butterflies around, alighting on the rosemary or doing a mating ‘pas à deux’ over the pond.
But today the only butterflies to be found are the ones I’m wearing round my neck and in my hair.
Gabions are an Italian invention – the word means large cages – but when we asked for these to be erected, none of our Italian workforce recognised the name.
These gabions are holding back a very tall bank which we cut into in order to make a turning place in what was otherwise a 300 metre blind single-track drive.
The mesh cages were filled ‘in situ’ with rocks, some of which we bought, and others of which we ‘lifted’ from the environs.
The structure wasn’t the most beautiful thing to start with, but we planned to get climbing plants growing up it straight away.
The main problem with the site is that the water table is very high at certain times of year: dig and your hole instantly floods.
Lavender doesn’t flourish there, probably for that reason. Sweet peas are quite happy, though.
We had a very small wisteria which we nicknamed ‘the stick’; it grew a little bit and then died.
The red rose chugs along.
The white rose is a different story. When we bought it, we were told to ‘stand back’ after planting it or it would knock us over, it grows so fast.
After 5 years it ‘owns’ the gabions, reaching right to the top. It doesn’t need pruning, and it attaches to the mesh all by itself.
It blooms only once a year, but its foliage is always fresh and green.
It sounds quite nice; you can have oak leaf wine after all. But it’s not so nice to swim in.
The mammoth oak by the house sheds its catkins, and the wind plonks them straight in the pool.
Yesterday it was like bathing in noodle soup and in no time at all I had a mass of the things in my fishing net.
Today the wind had veered and took a lot of them into the skimmer basket.
I’m glad we have the pool closed when the oak sheds its leaves!