On the way down to Valtopina today I saw evidence that the cat-feeder had been there.
I’ve seen him in action sometimes, crouching, long grey hair in a ponytail down his back as he spreads a feast for the feral cats of the area.
Today it was pieces of meat – great strips and hunks at least three-quarters fat.
When I passed, there was one cat and the dog from the house opposite tucking in.
Feral cats are quite a phenomenon round here. In the nearby city of Foligno there’s a road up to a monastery frequented by a large population of cats of every colour and description, likewise fed by eccentrics.
The handsome cat in the photo doesn’t have the timid feral look to it at all as it basks against a garage door a bit further down in the valley. I took more than one shot and so was able to verify that it didn’t move a muscle even faced with Taylor straining on his lead to get to it.
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!
We went to Foligno this morning and found that our usual road was still closed as a result of the landslip which happened on 2nd April.
It seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to sort it out.
We ordered some proper exterior paint for the window surrounds, bought some fruit and veg, then headed back.
Neither of us remembered the diversion this time so we missed our short cut and were forced onto the ‘standard’ route.
It was a detour of more than half an hour which took us close to the face of towering mountains and down precipitous narrow roads between olive groves, before finally abandoning us to our own devices completely off the beaten track.
If it hadn’t been for Clive following SatNav, and me recognising the site of visits to a previous doctor and a previous vet, I reckon we’d be out there still.
The best idea would then have been to park the car, stretch out in the flowery grass of an olive grove, and eat our fruit.
You can’t get much yellower than this.
We were treated to this glorious sight when we went to Foligno this morning.
Our first port of call was the Old Hospital, where I had a physiatric appointment for my back.
I discovered they’ve instituted a new system whereby, for reasons of privacy, patients are summoned from the waiting room using a colour which designates the specialist they’re going to see, followed by the time of the appointment.
Thus in my case: Brown, 8.55.
The system was rendered somewhat pointless, however, because often the name of the specialism was called out as well as the colour.
I witnessed an amusing altercation between a nurse and a patient.
The nurse called out “Yellow,” and then various times, none of which elicited any response from among the waiting patients until a very elderly gentleman piped up and said he had an appointment at 9.40.
“I’ve already told you,” scolded the nurse, “you’re Black. I’m calling Yellow.”
The gentleman grumbled to his neighbour about how he was being spoken to.
Hands on hips, the nurse vociferated: “I’m being perfectly polite but I’ve told you 3 times. You have an oculist appointment; I’m calling for something else. You’ve got Black written on your appointment paperwork.”
“I can’t see to read it.”
“You don’t need to because I’ve told you 3 times.”
“But I can’t remember anything. I’ve got no memory!”
I was called by name in the end. So much for ‘Brown’.
It’s not a patch on the pink cherry blossom in Japan, but still quite impressive I would say.
This is one of our two Durone di Cesena cherry trees; we planted a third cherry tree of a different sort, but I don’t know what variety it is.
There’s a place in Foligno where, every Summer, a lady sells Durone di Cesena cherries out of the back of her car. They are absolutely delicious – the best sort of cherry you could imagine. Apparently her brother has a whole orchard of nothing but cherry trees.
Our trees, however, have never had a single cherry between them. Well, I tell a lie: last year they each had a couple of deformed ones that the birds ate.
So let’s hope this is their big year.
I have a funny suspicion that it won’t be. It always seems that the weather changes just when the cherry blossom comes out. Along with apple blossom, it’s the last to open.
When I took the photo there weren’t many bees around, which might have been just because it was evening, or it might have been because they weren’t venturing out at all due to the weather.
The blossom had the most glorious scent, though. I wonder if it was my imagination, or did it actually smell like cherries?
Yesterday I went into one of the major supermarkets in Foligno and bought, over the delicatessen counter, 2 ‘etti’ (one fifth of a kilogram) of their most economical cooked ham.
The girl who served me put the label that came out of the weighing machine to one side, and stuck another label on my packet. She made a slight flutter as if correcting a mistake, and I thought nothing of it.
Today, Clive noticed the rather bizarre price of €12.50 on the very small parcel of ham. The label had neither product name, nor purchase weight, nor weight per kilogram. The price had been ‘manually imposed’. My till receipt confirmed that I had indeed paid €12.50 for the item.
I phoned the supermarket and asked to speak to a manager.
“What’s it about?” asked the man who answered.
“A complaint. Well, a mistake,” I said, giving the benefit of the doubt and going on to explain.
“What’s the time of purchase on your label?”
“Come in tomorrow afternoon.”
“I may not be able to come in the afternoon. I have to take a dog to the vet …”
“Come in the morning, then.”
“It might not be the morning …”
“You have to come in! What do you expect me to do over the phone?!”
“I’ll definitely come in. But it’s your error, and I can’t give a precise time. I think it’s likely to be at lunchtime.”
“Come at lunchtime, then, and we’ll sort it out.”
“Will you be there?”
“What’s your name?”
He told me.
Clive, who listened in, will vouch for the fact that there was not one conciliatory word, let alone an apology however conditional, in the whole conversation.
We noticed subsequently that my till receipt records 14:40 as the time I went through checkout. There’s obviously a time warp in this supermarket.
When the snow was on the wane but the drive was still slippery, the Valtopina Police kindly brought us (at our request) a sack and a half of grit salt to use as necessary.
Shortly after, our cleaning lady was on her way home and her Ford Focus couldn’t make it up a tricky slope some way from the house. After watching her tail lights go quickly up and slowly down a few times, I phoned her on her mobile and said we were coming to the rescue.
Between us, Clive and I put the sacks of salt and a spade in the car. We’d just got the engine started when she phoned us back to tell us she’d finally managed to make it to the top.
As we’d both nearly ruptured ourselves lifting the sacks in, we decided to leave them there in case they were needed on another occasion.
Today, with the snow reduced to a few white ribbons on high ground, I lifted the tailgate to put the shopping in, and there was all the clobber. I’d forgotten all about it and we’d just given it a free ride to Foligno.