bar in our village. The 'Da Nerone' coffee bar is attached to a very nice little restaurant/pizzeria that until quite recently we'd never tried - opting instead to try offers further afield knowing we could try the local at any time - a silly mistake that goes against our 'keep it local' mentality (not that we were going very far afield, but without this restaurant, the builders' merchant and Amanda's grocery store, Pietrabuona would be a very different place).
It was with this in mind that after a couple of cappucini we asked to book a table for dinner at the restaurant on Sunday - something of a momentous occasion for us as this will be the first time we've had dinner out together, just the two of us, since last May, well over a year ago!!
Sunday would also be the date of our 'original' anniversary when we first met in New Orleans, so a very appropriate time to choose to have dinner out, and if any extra reason were needed, Helen is off to Prague tomorrow morning for the annual Virus Bulletin conference, leaving me home alone (with the dog and cats) for almost a week - something I know she's more worried about than I am.
With coffee dispatched and a table booked we headed a little further down the hill towards Pescia to walk Reggie behind the San Lorenzo hotel.
With the walk done, we headed home to drop Reggie off so that we could go back out to do a little shopping - but not the usual sort that would grace our Saturday list of events. With Helen heading off to Prague tomorrow, I said I'd do the supermarket shopping on Monday after dropping her off at Florence airport, so instead of heading for the supermarkets, we were heading Montecatini-bound.
After our walk last Sunday with Carlo and his dog Riegel, we had decided to try and find 'Pet Mania' - another pet shop that we'd been told was cheaper than the other two we have been using. Not only did we need some basic supplies, but we wanted to upgrade Reggie from what is now a too-small crate in the boot of the car to some bars, giving him the whole boot to stretch out in.
We found the place without too much difficulty (for a change!) and parked in a less salubrious car park than we would have done at either Arcaplanet or Isola di Tesori, but that's not what we were there for, it was the products inside. We wandered around for a little while not finding the bars we were after, and ended up having to ask the guy working there who took us to a small spot on the shelves reserved for a small selection of bars. We were soon approaching the till laden with a set of universal bars for the car, a net muzzle (more for show than for actual use as apparently it's a requirement for walking along the river in Pescia), a couple of bones and some cat food, and after filling out a form for a loyalty card we loaded the car and headed homeward bound.
Once unloaded we sat outside on the patio to eat lunch. It was not the usual relaxed Saturday affair though as we knew we still needed to head up to our neighbour's house to meet him at 2.30pm, after which we had to head back into town - without a washing machine, we had clothes and a heap of bed linen and towels to clean!
Come 2:30pm, we pulled up outside our immediate neighbour's house and were soon joined by two other vehicles, containing Paolo and his daughter Martina. They opened the electric gates and in our three vehicles we climbed in convoy up their enormously long drive - it must be easily three times the length of ours!
On reaching the property, we all piled out of our respective vehicles and greeted each other properly, before Paolo and Martina showed us around their property. They don't live here, but instead rent it out as holiday accommodation and had been asking us for some help with marketing it to Brits - as well as wanting some help for Martina with polishing up her English, in exchange for her speaking Italian to us!
After a tour of the four separate apartments and a lot of very fast Italian speaking (by them, not us!), we left believing that we have agreed to help market the property and that we will also arrange to meet up with Martina once a week for an exchange of Italian and English languages/cultures!
After all that concentrating and trying to understand what was going on, we were in need of some light relief, so it was with eagerness that we headed into Pescia to do our laundry! Just like last weekend, we arrived in Piazza Mazzini while the rest of Pescia were waking up from their siesta, so were able to park right outside the laundry and head indoors with two enormous piles of washing.
After ramming full the only two working washing machines with laundry and coins we walked up to Franco's bar for a glass of wine while our laundry was done. Just like last time, our wine arrived along with a complimentary plate of snacks, and as we sat and relaxed, the locals began arriving one by one in their cars to open up their shops, use the ATM or come for a coffee.
Once we'd lazily finished the glass of wine and snacks we unloaded the washing and headed for the train station - our friends David and Sarah had used the very same launderette during the week to clean their duvets, but had been advised by a local that the dryers in this place were terrible and that they should use the ones by the train station instead. So it was with this sound advice in mind that we headed for the train station - except, on driving past, we could see no launderette! Having been through the one-way system that passes the station at slow speed twice, we gave up and headed home to load the washing onto the washing line in the sunshine and into the winter drying room, giving the dehumidifier a taste of things to come.
With all of our chores for the day done, we changed into working clothes and set about trying to reclaim our vegetable garden from the ravages of the surrounding greenery that had been given way too much time to go about its own business while we fixed soil pipes and adapted the fencing to version 3 to keep Reggie from escaping. It really seems it's one step forward, two steps back sometimes here, and you can't afford to stand still for a moment!
The weeding had some rather unexpected results by way of a nice little harvest of potatoes we had no idea were still down there amongst other things. With the exception of the tomatoes - which continue to proliferate - though that is the end of our summer veg for the year.
|Pumpkins, cucumbers, potatoes, courgette and sunflower seeds - the last of the summer crop bar the tomatoes.|
Sunday started with another coffee at the local bar before heading back up the Forfora valley (we learned this afternoon, while shopping for shampoo, that 'Forfora' translates into 'dandruff', meaning the valley is literally called the 'valley of dandruff', a legacy of the very old paper industry maybe??). We drove a little way beyond Sorana to walk Reggie along a route we hadn't done for many months.
After a lengthy section of quiet road, we finally got into woods where we could let Reggie off lead for a good run around - and run around he did, none more so than when he found puddle that was hanging on to dear life in the track of a tyre. Reggie took enormous delight in charging through this puddle, turning on his heels, then charging back through it, time after time after time.
With one very filthy dog loaded back into the car, we headed home for lunch before making small and unavoidable foray into Esselunga as tomorrow's traveller needed toothpaste and shampoo.
The day was warming up by the time we got home, and we decided we should yet again change into farming attire and hit the terraces with hedge trimmers and strimmer and complete the reclamation of our veg garden. We did this in good time - such good time, in fact, that we then ventured around and behind the house and up the terraces to extend the scope of works until 5pm sounded on the church bells in the village across the valley at which point we sat down in the last of the direct sunlight with a chilled glass of wine before retiring indoors for showers in readiness for dinner this evening.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY DARLING :-D xxxxxx