Sunday 1 February 2015

Another day, another terrace

What a start to the day! The sky was clear, as had been promised by the weather people, so a day of yet more terrace clearing was in store - but not before a Sunday breakfast fit for a king (and queen).

I fitted the juicer onto the food processor and let it work its way through six or so of the enormous oranges Sue had kindly donated to us from the large tree that stands outside their house. It was the best OJ I'd tasted for a long time, and even Helen (who would usually opt for smooth OJ rather than with the bits), agreed that it was exceptional.

We followed our zingy orange juice with large bowls of warming porridge sweetened with Tuscan sunflower honey - a distinctively flavoured grainy honey that is often served with cheese in these parts - if you were at our wedding back in 2012 you'll know exactly how good this particular honey is (yes, Kath, we're talking to you!). To finish, it was a cup of strong freshly brewed coffee. A simple breakfast, but taken at such a leisurely pace and with such delicious ingredients, it felt luxurious - it really doesn't need to be complicated!

After coffee, and with the porridge warming us from the inside, we could procrastinate no longer so changed into our working attire and went outside to the chilly lower terraces.

While I started a fire to burn the heaps of bramble that were lying around all over the place, Helen went down onto what was as yet an untouched terrace - terrace number four - with her trusty Stihl hedge trimmers.

We whiled away the morning to the smell of burning bramble and the sound of a German-made two-stroke engine and made good progress on terrace number four. We're now into brambles that easily reach eight feet in height, and uncovering terraces that we know haven't seen the light of day for decades, so while it is gruelling work it's also very exciting. It's so overgrown that we have no idea how many terraces we actually have down in front of the house or how big they are - in fact, during the course of the day we uncovered another two olive trees that had been completely covered with bramble.

As noon approached, we called time for an early lunch and went up to the house to find the dog, who we had left playing with a milk carton in the garden. Er... he was nowhere to be seen. It didn't take me long to work out that he'd dug his way out beneath the gate at the back of the house, so off I went along the drive with my dog whistle and before long he came bounding towards me from the undergrowth. We have no idea how long he'd been in the woods on his own but it could easily have been a couple of hours.

While having lunch (indoors - we'd each worked up quite a sweat out in the sunny morning, but as soon as we stopped the physical work we realised it was still very chilly), Reggie had one of his barking episodes so we let him out into the garden to get it out of his system. A couple of minutes later, Helen went to let him back in again - only to find that he had gone AWOL yet again! This time it can't have been through the same escape route (which we'd blocked off with some heavy stones), so we have no idea how he cleared the fence - my best guess is that he vaulted off of a small waste bin on his side.

So it was off up the drive once again with the whistle and he soon came back. This time, though, he was put in his crate - we couldn't risk him escaping a third time, and as Lucca has only just built up the courage to venture outside again (today) after having been chased up a tree by an escaped Reggie five days ago, the last thing we needed was a repeat of that, I think poor Lucca would pack up and leave home.

After lunch, we went back out to resume terrace clearing, and I now switched from tending the fire to join the clearing with the backpack trimmers.

After a sunny afternoon's hard work, we had not only uncovered terrace number four but we had found the left-hand edge of the terraces themselves - exciting times! Not only that, but we think we can see at least another three terraces further down - while that means lots more hard graft, it also means more vegetable growing space!

We both ran out of steam at around 4pm, so Helen rounded up the cats while I got Reggie ready for a walk down by San Lorenzo which we did in the last of the day's sun before heading home to shower off the day's exertions and sit in front of the wood burner with a well earned glass of wine.

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