As forecast, the rain started coming down on Saturday morning, but we managed to get out with Reggie before it really came down in earnest. This morning, in a change to our normal weekend routine, we stopped for our pre-walk cappuccino at the Bistro in Vellano, before heading on up to the cava track above the village. As usual, Reggie charged around in the woods, terrorised the water babbling in the stream and splashed happily through the mud, and by the time we got back to the car he seemed thoroughly exercised.
On getting home, the first task of the day was to move the washing machine from the office into its new home in the utility room. During the week the plumber had changed all the pipework around, cutting and capping off the old pipe that fed into the office (which was once the kitchen), which meant that the washing machine would no longer work in its original place in the office anyway, so now - with 3 loads of washing waiting to be done - seemed as good a time as any to move it into its new home. After moving the machine, we filled it with washing, plugged it in, switched it on and held our breath. Thankfully we soon heard the reassuring whooshing sound of water entering the drum and before long it was well into its wash cycle.
The next job was to get the dishwasher up and running - but with our standard 3kW electricity supply, we knew we would have to wait until the washing machine had finished until we could get the dishwasher on. Thankfully the washing machine's 40C cycle is only 60 minutes long, so we didn't have too long to wait until we could plug the dishwasher in, fill it with the required salt and rinse aid and give it its very first run-through. As per the manufacturer's recommendation, we ran it through with nothing in initially - and while it was somewhat frustrating to know that nothing was actually being washed, the gentle purr of the machine in action was music to our ears, and no sooner had it completed its first ever wash than we had crammed it full of breakfast bowls, lunch plates, coffee cups and a few pans and set it going again. I think it's going to be a while before the novelty of having a dishwasher wears off - it's a luxury that we really appreciate.
After our lunch, with the rain really hammering down by now, Stuart was all geared up to spend the afternoon doing his favourite thing: organising. I reluctantly agreed and we spent the afternoon clearing out cupboards, staining the spice storage cupboard that Stuart had started making yesterday, putting up a new shelf and a range of other such tasks which seemed to create far more mess, noise and puzzles (where to re-house items) than they were designed to solve. I have to admit that by the end of the day, once all the DIY-related mess had been cleared away and the room put back together again, I did feel pleased with the work we'd done, and I could see definite improvements, although it was a step too far to say that I had actually enjoyed the afternoon's activities.
Saturday evening was an altogether more enjoyable affair: we headed up the hill in the rain to Vellano where we met David, Sarah and Donatella at the Circolo (the village club) for dinner. Despite all of us having heard great things about the food served at the circolo, none of us had ever tried eating there, and since the Bistrot was full, tonight was the night to give it a try. We weren't quite sure what to expect when we walked in - it seems rather like a working men's club at first, but once through the second door we found ourselves in a busy little bar area packed full of people of all ages all busily enjoying their Saturday evening with food, drink, family and friends and the TV blaring in the corner. The others were just sitting down as we arrived, and it wasn't long before the cheery waiter-come-barman was at our table and we were being asked what we wanted to eat.
Clearly pizza was the thing to have here, but without a menu, we were left to 'freestyle' with our choices of what sort of pizza to have. Sarah impressively reeled off her selection of toppings for her pizza, leaving Stuart and me feeling rather panic stricken. In the end, Donatella had one of the circolo's house specialities, Stuart and I both opted for a safe Napolitana, and David free-styled his own pizza. The next time we go for pizza at the circolo I will definitely be giving pizza toppings some thought beforehand!
We ate an incredible spread of antipasti including cured meats, crostini with three different toppings, pickled onions, grilled vegetables, beans with red onions, and of course plenty of bread and oil. After that came the pizzas, which really were as good as we'd been told they were. We washed it all down with wine and followed it with tiramisu, coffee and limoncello - a real blowout meal (we could barely move at the end of it all) for the princely sum of €15 per head.
The atmosphere in the circolo was busy, noisy, bustling and very friendly. The TV blaring in the corner was a bit of a distraction, particularly when there was a change in the programme and all of a sudden we found ourselves in front of Top Gear dubbed into Italian. I have to admit to having been rather transfixed by the idea of Jeremy Clarkson being dubbed into Italian. Bizarre doesn't even begin to describe it.
TV-watching aside, we had a great evening catching up with our friends and all agreed that we would be making a point to come back to the circolo again in the future for more of the same.
We left Vellano feeling extremely full and tired, rolled down the hill to the house and headed straight for bed.
There was more rain during the night, and of course it was still wet in the morning. Undeterred by the rain (the great advantage of going out when it's raining is that we're far less likely to meet other people/dogs/joggers/cyclists when we're out), we put Reggie in the car and headed first to Cafe Delice for a much needed coffee and a breakfast croissant before continuing on to the 'chicken run' walk.With the exception of a pair of joggers who we met almost as soon as we got up onto the river bank, the walk was quiet and uneventful. It was a little on the damp side, but we had an umbrella and Reggie clearly didn't mind at all.
As usual for a Sunday, we came back from our walk via Amanda's shop in order to buy something for lunch and to collect our homework from Samantha - and Samantha took the opportunity to go to the car with a nice hunk of bread for Reggie, which he seemed very pleased with.
We had an early lunch: seafood salad for me, and a spinach and cuttlefish stew for Stuart, both accompanied by roast potatoes, and after a post-lunch shot of caffeine, it was back down to work for us both.
With the rain still putting paid to any outdoor work, it was back to more organising indoors today (this must count among Stuart's all-time favourite weekends...). While Stuart put the finishing touches to the spice cupboard, I decided to tackle the grout in the bathroom tiles. Having tried to clean it up a bit a while ago, I decided that today would be a good time to try a different tactic and apply some grout whitener, and so I did. The result was pleasing, and although I was disappointed to find that it didn't magically transform the entire bathroom into a luxurious haven, the tiles definitely look better.
Grout whitened, I went back downstairs to join Stuart in organising the spice cupboard (emptying one of the cupboards above the sink) so that we could move the saucepans into the cupboard, find new homes for various items, be ruthless and throw a few things out, and inch a little bit closer to having a clutter-free (clutter-free? who am I kidding? less cluttered...) home.
|These (which have been on top of our kitchen cupboards for 18 months) are NOT made from frosted glass...
|The reality of living in a wood-fire-heated farmhouse.
I was relieved that this afternoon's tidying and organising only went on until about 4.30pm, at which point we decided it really was time to light the fire and settle down to a relaxing afternoon/evening with a glass of wine and a bowl of hot spiced nuts - my personal proudest accomplishment of the weekend has been the invention of a new range of home-made snacks in the form of hot spiced nuts. So far I've tried mixing the hot toasted nuts with garlic & salt, with chilli & salt and with a cumin and coriander mix - we're finding it hard to pick a favourite.
|Hot toasted nuts with salt & garlic.
|Hot toasted nuts with salt & chilli (L); hot toasted nuts with salt, cumin & coriander (R).
A productive weekend all in all, if a little damper than we would have liked.