So that's what 7 hours of strimming feels like! (I can only imagine it will feel worse in the morning!) It was good to flex my muscles today though, and find out exactly how much strimming is possible - but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
We retired to bed early last night, having had a very late night on Saturday - we both expected to sleep like the dead, and I think we probably did until about 11:30pm when we were both rudely awakened by an enormous crash outside the bedroom window, or was it above the roof? It sounded as if two mountains had collided into each other - they hadn't, of course, it was simply thunder of epic proportions - never has our position perched on a hillside been so obvious as when the thunder was clapping directly above us - and echoing back from across the other side of the valley. I'm so glad we have a lighting rod now!!
The thunder crashed and rumbled on for about an hour, along with a rain storm of almost biblical proportions. I almost got up to go and join Florence on the sofa in our bedroom to watch through the window, but was sure Lucca would be sleeping on one of the rugs and didn't want to tread on him - we didn't hear a peep from either of them during the whole stormy night.
When dawn broke and the alarms went off, the sound of rain had stopped, so Helen went out to do a quick session on the turbo trainer and I slowly dragged myself out of bed, opting not to get on my bike today as I had a day's strimming ahead of me and wasn't convinced I was up to both.
On venturing outside the front door there was a definite feeling of the-morning-after-the-night-before, as mist and fog hung heavily in the air and much of the vegetation looked as if it had been through the spin cycle in a washing machine. Our sage and thyme plants were virtually flattened, and even one of the olive trees in the garden looked decidedly battered.
|The morning after the storm.|
|Note the somewhat windswept/battered looking olive tree at the bottom centre of the picture!|
As I padded around inside making my breakfast and preparing for my day, Helen waved at me through the front door, beckoning me outside. She had been joined in the garden by what as far as we could tell was either a red squirrel or a pine marten. It scampered along the grass, ran up an olive tree, then scampered back down and again and shot up the walnut tree.
We managed to get some photographs, but without a telephoto lens they aren't brilliant. However, we think we have decided to agree on it having been a pine marten.
|This photograph actually makes it look rather like a tiny brown koala bear, but we KNOW it wasn't one of those...|
At 8:15am, I headed out, feeling a bit like it was my first day at school - sandwiches packed, three litres of water, sun cream, insect repellent and a bag full of strimming paraphernalia.
I felt sad to be leaving Helen behind for the first time since we arrived - which wasn't made any easier by the fact that we have no phone at the moment, but I felt consoled by the fact that I had been told that mobile signal was to be expected up in Lanciole, where I was heading. I have no idea how Lanciole has mobile signal when it is so much further up the valley than us, but I did indeed have signal. I had arranged to call Gary (the guy I was working for) when I arrived in the village, who would meet me and take me to the house as he warned me that I would never find it from directions (as often seems to be the way in these mountains).
As I entered the village, I noticed a Citroen Berlingo parked in a layby with a guy sitting inside it. Coincidence? I stopped the car shortly after passing him, deciding he didn't look particularly Italian - and, sure enough, my instincts had been right as I could see in my rear view mirror that he was waving at me: it was Gary.
I followed Gary out of the village and down a track for about a kilometre, where we turned into the parking area of the house. The house is owned by a British couple who live and work out in the Middle East and use it about once a year for a few weeks' holiday. There is a whole back story to the sale of this house, with illegal building work having happened prior to the sale, and ongoing court wranglings, but I won't go into the details - suffice to say the situation is complicated! The owners are due out here in a couple of weeks, so the whole place needs strimming, some walls painting and some fences staining. First on the agenda: strimming!
The weather wasn't too hot, thankfully, and so off I set with our strimmer. It had all been done a couple of months ago, but by now it had grown to about twelve inches! While the grass was long, it was easy work compared to what I've become used to at our house! Before I knew it, lunchtime rolled around, and then it was back to strimming. A nice steady pace worked wonders, and it was already around five o'clock by the time I started to clock watch. By this stage, though, my wrist we're really stiff, and a good set of calluses were developing across the palms of my hands, with bright pink skin. I'd definitely had enough for one day, and it didn't take me long to be in the car and on my way home as soon as Gary gave me the 'call it a day' signal. He seemed happy enough to want me back again tomorrow, and probably a couple of days next week (when there is a delivery of 1,000 plants expected - and they all need planting!).
Helen had a fairly standard day in the office, albeit a lonely one, not even the cats bothered to keep her company (I think their disturbed night's sleep had caught up with them and they must have been flat out in our bedroom all day).
We received a couple of emails of note today - one from the geometra who (i think) was asking us to go to his office in order to sort out the phone bills.
The second was from our first paying guest of the season, asking for information about the area, travel and bike rental. (Lorenzo, if you're reading this, we'll reply to your email tomorrow!) He also gave us some very useful feedback on our website, and overall his email made us really look forward to welcoming him and his family to our house. We feel even more determined to make sure everything is spick and span for their arrival, and we really hope they will have a good time here - from his emails, he seems like a really decent guy and someone we've really warmed to. Let's hope the feeling is mutual when our guests arrive!
So somehow it's got to 9pm. Dinner is being cooked, but I haven't yet washed all the grass off my forearms or out of my hair, so I will draw this blog post to a close so that I can shower, eat and get as much rest and recuperation as possible before another 7-hour day of strimming...
P.S. no photos from my efforts today - my phone has taken to misbehaving and not saving any of the photos I take. Helen might let me take the camera out with me tomorrow.