Our neighbours gave us this beautiful poinsettia for Christmas.
The Italian name for it is ‘Stella di Natale’ or ‘Christmas Star’.
It nails the shape but I’m not so sure about the colour.
Not a real elephant – just the water storage tank we call the blue elephant.
I found Galileo barking down the narrow gap between the tank and the wall and shone a torch in there.
A cat looked back at me.
In the photo the neighbour, also Giovanni’s girlfriend, holds her cat after enticing it out.
Today I pruned a wayward and extremely prickly pomegranate bush while below me, on the path between the orchard and the olive grove, Taylor took a stance.
He’s nowhere near the fence with the neighbours, behind which are ranged a massive Maremmano and an equally massive German Shepherd, but he barks and growls and looks ferocious as if to protect everything around him.
In fact the neighbours, whose choice of dog shows their own preferences, have complimented him on how big he looks standing there. (Being white makes him appear bigger, too.)
But he’s a big softie, really.
He’s lying under my desk at the moment. Every now and again he gives a bloodcurdling snarl which is either the result of a dream, or because he thinks Galileo is about to try and recover the coveted position which is more normally his!
The olive harvest this year was very patchy. Some of our trees bore well, but they were in the minority.
I expected our neighbour (the one who mows the grass, picks the olives and takes them to the press) to bring us at least a sample of oil but he’s been very quiet on the subject.
I phoned him this evening.
After blinding me with science (quantities and weights and prices of olive oil and tractor diesel, in which the ghastly Italian unit ‘quintallo’ featured prominently), he came to a simple conclusion.
If we were to have ‘bruschetta’ (olive oil drizzled onto toasted bread), he would be unable to.
I didn’t say anything.
After a pause he said he would bring us a bottle of oil before Christmas.
It’s rather an ugly name for such a pretty flower, which otherwise is called wild cyclamen.
Apparently it used to grow in such abundance that farmers fed the tubers to their pigs.
They’ve appeared all over the ground where our neighbour has been cutting down trees to enable him to build a fence – pink dots wherever you look. I must have never noticed them here before.
We were sitting outside having a late breakfast.
The loudest noise was the not unpleasant one of green woodpeckers laughing and laughing, like kookaburras.
Suddenly there was the ripping noise of a motor and a great cloud of grey smoke from near the edge of our land.
I downed my Alpen in a few last gulps and went to investigate.
The neighbour and his wife greeted me and explained they were doing a clean-up of dead trees prior to erecting the next stretch of their fence.
A tall, thin tree, covered in ivy, had been felled and was being dragged from among its thickly-clustered fellows by a cable attached to a mini-digger.
From there it went onto the back of a trailer to be sliced up with a chainsaw.
The noise had stopped by lunchtime and we were left with the woodpeckers. They must be courting or something to make such a racket.