After we'd been through all of the usual animal, exercising and breakfast routine, and I'd done a short stint 'at the office', Reggie's barking heralded the arrival of Mum and Dad. We had a short conflab to decide on the order of the day before all piling into the car to head for the garden centre in search of fruit trees.
We went to the Pedicini garden centre opposite Obi, which had served us very well last summer. We wandered round, looking at fruit trees and all of the bright spring-flowering plants on sale, before wandering into the back part of the shop which was filled with the scent of lemon blossom from the citrus plants. After scouting out the whole of the shop, we returned to the fruit trees to decide what to take home with us. With four humans and one dog, we only had a limited amount of space in the car for fruit trees, but we decided that, with one back seat down, we could fit in four trees, so we stuck our flag in the following selection: 1 fig tree, 1 almond tree, 1 peach tree and 1 apricot tree.
No fewer than three of the ever friendly, ever helpful and seemingly never ending staff (there were certainly more staff in the shop than customers) helped to bag up the pots the trees were in then carried them to the car for us and helped squeeze them in beside a rather confused looking Reggie in his crate.
All sorted, we piled into the car to head back home. Mum and Dad were now on the end and middle seat in the back of the car (the other end seat having been flipped down to make room for the trees), but on attempting to put their seat belts on, Dad, in the middle seat, was unable to pull his out. This is another new problem with the car (the belt retractor has broken), but Stuart thought he could release it manually. Unfortunately, on this occasion, he failed. The solution? Mum and Dad shared a seatbelt. Yes, that's right, they huddled up close to each other and pulled the seatbelt from the far seat all the way across both of them, to click into the buckle in the middle of the car.
I turned around to see my poor long-suffering parents squished up in the back of the car alongside a selection of spring blossoms. Well, it was never going to be what you might call a luxury holiday for them, and they seemed to take it in good spirits...
|It's a good job that, after nearly 52 years of marriage, they still like each other enough to huddle up.|
After all the faffing around with loading plants and then working out how to tackle the seat belt issue, the car did at least start this time! We headed straight home so as to keep Mum and Dad's discomfort at a minimum.
Once home, we unloaded our goodies and put the kettle on for a cup of coffee which we drank while drinking in the warm sunshine of this lovely spring day before I headed back to the office while Dad and Stuart set about planting up the fig tree and Mum got busy with staining the cold frames.
|Meet our new fig, almond, peach and apricot.|
|Hole for the fig.|
|Lined with old roof tiles to help constrain the roots (for more fruit).|
While I did that, Mum continued with her wood staining, Stuart planted up the peach, apricot and almond trees, and Dad did some coppicing of trees along the drive. Yes, we like to keep our guests busy...
|Staining and naming!|
We kept at our respective jobs through the afternoon, and after a couple of hours, I had cleared a good section of the new area and found yet more terraces. There was no sign of the mythical 'flat area' that we were told (by the previous owners) existed up there, but the terraces were certainly less steep and this part of land had a very different feel to it - as well as LOTS and LOTS of olive trees. It was very exciting!
We even found an old umbrella still hanging from an olive tree, with an old piece of olive netting beneath the tree. Clearly someone had been up here at some point in the past and used the umbrella to try and shake olives off the tree. A little glimpse of the past!
|The umbrella technique had been used in the past.|
Stuart and I then shared a beer on the patio - marvelling at the fact that we were sitting outside at 6.30pm in the daylight and in the warmth! The air smelled deliciously of spring - warm earth, flowers and foliage - and we felt excited both at the prospect of more warm, sunny weather to come, as well as the prospect of having our own vegetables growing down on the terraces very soon indeed!
When the cold air finally penetrated the (five) layers I had put on to sit outside, we retired indoors to light a fire and prepare dinner. A lovely day all round from our point of view. (I just hope it wasn't too tiring or boring for our guests!)