Tuesday 28 February 2017

Busier than our bees!

Monday was the start of what promised to be a packed and interesting week, so full in fact we had to write everything down on the calendar in the kitchen so as not to forget - something we almost never have the need to do, such is the way of life here.

For starters, we had invited the long-suffering Samantha one of our Italian teachers, to dinner along with her partner Mario whom we’ve met a handful of times in the family shop but with whom we've never exchanged more than a few words before now.

But before that we had other things to attend to and after lunch and having walked Reggie twice around the woods we loaded him into the car to head back to the vets in Pescia for his follow-up vaccination jab.

The usual whining was the sound track to the trip until we got to the vets, at which point he knew what was happening.

After a short wait we attempted to walk him into the surgery but couldn’t get very close at all so I had to resort to picking him up and carrying him in as I did last time. I can’t imagine what people must think of us, it’s common to see people walking around carrying small handbag-type dogs but as yet I’ve never seen anyone walking around carrying a 30kg lump of fear like we have to on occasion.

Anyway, we got the jab done without too much wrestling and he even licked (but didn't eat) a treat offered by the vet, a small step for us, a giant leap for Reggie.

On the way home just as we approached Pietrabuona my phone rang. It was Valerio, our nearest neighbour. I didn't quite understand what he said on the phone but suspected it was something to do with the woodman wanting to cut our precarious roadside trees and wanting some help. It was exactly that, and as we approached Valerio's house, sure enough we spotted him, the three woodmen, and their tractor on the road, chainsaws revving. Valerio had called to ask for help stopping traffic at this busy little junction so that the lovely but huge silver birch could be dropped onto the road. So I leaped out of the car while Helen jumped into the driver's seat to pull over in a layby just off the junction and wait.

And the tree certainly did drop! The upper branches exploded into a cloud of wood and splinters and newly forming buds as traffic sat and watched the carnage. I’m not sure whether this kind of work officially requires council permission, and it was too late to ask, but within ten minutes traffic was passing again and most of the wood had been swiftly cut up and dragged away into Valerio’s garden where the woodman's truck was waiting to take it away.

Beautiful Silver Birch tree but MUCH too close to the road.
None shall pass!
Ok...maybe in a few minutes.

At this point I went to join Helen and Reggie in the car and we headed home to await the arrival of the same guys at our house after they had finished cutting another three (smaller) trees down in the same spot.

About an hour later the buzzer rang and I could see a large tractor filling the video screen so I opened the gates for them to chug their way down to the house.

Having seen the trees a few days before, Giorgio, the boss, parked the tractor with rear winch facing the three tricky Robinia (false acacia) trees that were now right in the middle of our lower terracing and veg plot before he and his men set to work felling them. This involved our 6 metre ladders, which were used by the slightest of the three men to climb up and attach the winch cable as high as he could, above the height of the telephone cable right next to it. The next guy then went up with the chainsaw and made the birdsmouth cut in the side of the tree, and Giorgio then yanked the tops off the trees with the tractor winch before then felling the trunks at ground level.

It is about a year ago now that we had Romeo come with his tractor and winch and cut about a dozen Robinia trees from the same clump, dragging them all up to the drive so that we could cut and split them - and we are burning the wood from those trees this winter.

Romeo had declined to cut these three remaining trees as they were so perilously placed between the electric supply cable to the house and the telephone cable. We had since hoped that sending a recorded delivery letter to the electric company ENEL to request ‘pruning’ (which is what ENEL advised us to do when Donatella kindly called them on our behalf before Christmas) would bring about their arrival to take care of the trees - in fact Giorgio told us that it is the electricity company's responsibility to deal with trees within 6 metres of either side of their lines. However, with no response from ENEL (which didn't seem to be a surprise to either Valerio or Giorgio), we decided to get the job done at our cost and while we had the chance.

Ladders weren't quite long enough it seems
With the guys trundling back off up the driveway, one driving and one each standing on a rear wheel arch, I went back indoors to turn my attention to dinner as it was now around 5pm and Samantha and Mario were due at 7:30pm.

Despite the fact we were having to use the oven downstairs in the apartment (our oven once again having gone on strike), we were in good shape by 7pm and with a roaring wood burner we awaited their arrival.

Thankfully the meal was well received (thanks in no small part to Delia Smith for the starter - pear, gorgonzola and walnut salad - and main course - individual cottage pies with cheesy leek topping - and Waitrose magazine for the pudding - Tunisian lemon cake). Indeed, Mario commented at the end of the evening that proof of how much he enjoyed everything was how little water he'd had to drink, as if he has to eat something he doesn’t like he does so with the aid of a lot of water to wash it down! 

As Mario doesn’t speak a word of English, Helen and I were a little nervous before the meal but we needn’t have been, we had a lovely evening, almost exclusively in Italian, waving our guests off shortly before midnight.

Tuesday was ‘community day’, this time at Paul and Kathy’s property in Castelvecchio, just up the valley. As they have a largely fenced in garden, and as they enjoy his company, they kindly allowed us to bring Reggie along to join in too.

We all busied ourselves down in Paul and Kathy’s woods below their house. While Helen and Sarah started a fire and tidied and burned, Paul and David got to work on a few acacia trees that had come down in a storm, Donatella made use of Paul's motorised barrow to take the wood we were cutting up to the house, helped by Kathy (in between cooking our lunch), and I moved wood from the stream where it was being cut up to where Donatella was loading it.

Job made much easier with the 'power barrow'
Reggie liked to think he was helping too.

It was a busy and physical morning of work, but more so for Reggie who couldn’t contain his excitement for a single second having not only new woods to play in but all his favourite friends in one place! By the time we stopped for lunch around half one he was pooped and Helen took him to the car for a sleep while we all headed indoors for a lovely lunch cooked by Kathy and her Mum… So lovely, in fact, we dragged the whole affair out over three hours before finally all leaving for our respective homes to light fires.

Wednesday started as usual with our group Italian lesson with Johnny, David and Sarah up in Vellano, and after waving Reggie goodbye we were soon ensconced in their kitchen with a large pot of coffee to kick start proceedings.

After the lesson we headed home and made an early lunch so that we could enjoy the lovely spring weather and get some work done outside.

First jobs were to take the newly acquired oscillating stirrup hoe to the veg garden and hoe over all the newly made beds to deal with any new weed growth, followed by turning over the two compost heaps and tidying more of the ground control fabric to finish off the area that will be this year's growing space.

The amazing oscillating stirrup hoe!

2 cubic metres of compost turned again... looking better each time.

With that done, it was late enough after lunch to head out to run some errands, so we went on a quick tour of the area getting fuel, stopping for a quick coffee, and then ordering a new shower waste/drain/siphon for the apartment at CLLAT in Pescia (I had found the brand name for the shower waste and emailed the manufacturer last week with photos to ask why we were getting odours from the shower and why on earth I could feel a breeze from it - they recommended a new updated insert which had to be ordered from a local reseller). Then we headed home to get back out into the sunshine.

Don't look too closely... no idea whose hair is in there! (You couldn't resist could you... you clicked it!)

Once home, Helen adorned the strimmer and went to make a start on the terraces behind the house while I burnt the huge heap of olive prunings that had been cluttering up the car park area for several weeks. As Helen ran out of fuel and darkness faded there was just embers left in the fire so we headed indoors to light the wood burner before starting on a much-needed dinner.

First of many strimming sessions this year.

First of many bonfires to burn prunings.

Thursday was another prompt start - it always is for Helen but less so for me these days but today I had arranged to go and collect a bail of straw with Mara.

When I say bail, I don’t mean the rectangular things you might imagine farmers throwing around (the sort we have bought a few of ourselves since being here), I mean one of the enormous rolls of straw that in summer look like giant toilet rolls that have been dropped in the yellow parched fields of rural England.

I met Mara down the hill and hopped into Franco’s pick-up that she had commandeered for the day.

For those that remember, we had a ‘permaculture’ evening at Franco and Mara’s some months back where a lovely guy called Andrea had come along to show us photos of his veg garden and talk about how he had turned it from what his dad had made, which was a very traditional veg plot using mechanical means to plough and till, into a no-dig type garden following the guidelines of Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer who flew in the face of traditional Japanese practice to develop a less intensive and more natural system of farming.

In this system a lot of straw is used as mulch, which in turn rots down and conditions the soil over a number of years. As such, Andrea has a rather healthy appetite for the stuff and buys in rolls from a local farmer. Last year, Mara and her neighbour Silvia bought a roll with Andrea’s help and this year now we were benefiting from Andrea’s connection too - as well as from Franco’s pickup!

Mara and I met Andrea for coffee and pastry then headed to the farm to collect the straw. Within minutes the farmer arrived and then his son in a tractor, who proceeded to load the straw into the pickup while the father quizzed Andrea as to why and how he uses so much straw - clearly as puzzled as he was intrigued. We were soon on our way back to Andrea’s house for ‘5 minutes’, as he was keen to show me his garden.

Needless to say, five minutes turned into 45, but it was well worth the time spent just to see the difference his method had made in the soil he had been growing in compared with that just two steps away that he has yet to convert.

We left with a crate full of red lettuce and cime di rapa (turnip tops) and headed back to unload, which we did with Helen’s help to avoid the roll of straw flattening us and then destroying the fence and veg garden below before ending up in Pietrabuona.

With the straw and other goodies unloaded, and some golden grappa and home-made mirto passed over to Mara’s hands, she left us to prepare lunch.

Look bigger up close, don't they!

After lunch it was our weekly visit from Samantha to see if we couldn’t make a few more words of Italian stick in our ageing grey matter. I think all three of us were pretty exhausted by the end of the two-hour session!

On Friday morning I headed up the hill to pick David up so that we could buy some chestnut fence posts from a place Donatella had told us about, three villages beyond Vellano.

As we left Vellano the fog that we'd woken up to got thicker and thicker. When we arrived in the little hamlet of Femminamorta (which literally means "dead woman") we found the closed restaurant behind which we'd been told was the wood yard. Pulling in, we saw no signs of wood but persisted and parked the car and went further down the track on foot, eventually coming to a large house around which, through the fog, emerged heaps of chestnut poles - we had found the right place!

Our feeling of achievement was short-lived though, as realised there was nobody around to sell us the wood! We saw some people through a window of the house, but they clearly had no interest in a couple of strange men circling their house, which seemed odd. I decided to wave at them and ask about buying some of their posts.

An old lady came to the window and we chatted for a few minutes, the short story being that the wood yard people would unlikely be at work today as it was raining... so we left empty handed.

After lunch it was back to routine to finish off the working week and we headed into Pescia for the weekly supermarket shop before heading home to light the fire and open some much needed wine while looking forward to a weekend of sunny and hopefully productive weather.

Saturday I as usual stayed in bed while Helen rose around 7:30am to head to the 'gym' for an hour, taking Florence out with her as she did, the usual routine.

Once we were both up and showered and my phone switched on, a couple of messages arrived from Antonio - the guy from whom we had ordered a new chainsaw many weeks ago - asking if he could deliver the new saw and spares we'd ordered at 10:30.

It already being around 10am, Helen decided to dash out with Reggie for his morning walk while I awaited Antonio's arrival.

Just after half ten he arrived and gave me the usual briefing on operation and safety and after insisting I try the new saw in front of him he left with a loose arrangement for us to meet soon to collect the warranty and to pay him for what he'd delivered.

This put a sudden new spin on the weekend and instead of the planned olive pruning, we both knew that chainsaws would be involved and most likely the trees that had been felled and left strewn on the terraces on Monday would be the victims.

First thing was first, however, and Helen and I headed out towards Montecatini, first stopping for cappucini then next onto Maury's homestore for various random bits for the apartment.

From there it was a quick trip to Decathlon for a horse whip for Reggie... that sounds wrong so let me elaborate a little: Helen has found some new training ideas online, one of which involves encouraging the chasing of an item on the end of the whip and encouraging when they stop chasing - a form of impulse control - I'm oversimplifying it somewhat but suffice to say that this is supposed to help with impulsive dogs, of which Reggie is a firm and long standing club member.

It was then home via Amanda's shop to collect bread and take away a squid salad for lunch, all in the interests of speeding us through until we could start work.

After a pleasant lunch on the patio in the sunshine, we headed down the terraces looking a little like a Stihl advert, although not a very well dressed one - Helen was wearing my chainsaw trousers, which were too large for me, never mind her, and I was sporting my usual beaten up work clothes.

After a bit of instruction and guidance, Helen slowly worked her way through the dissecting of the felled Robinia trees while I used a bill hook to clean up the limbs she was passing me, which enabled me to keep an eye on what she was doing as she went along.

Once the majority was done and just the tricky and large bits were left, we swapped jobs and I took the bigger saw to finish off the dissecting work before we finally downed tools around five with a day of splitting and stacking to look forward to Sunday.

Steady does it.

Sunday greeted us with another glorious clear blue sky and after breakfast and a dog walk we left Reggie in the garden and went back down the terraces.

After building a makeshift storage space in situ using the last of our spare pallets, Helen set to work splitting while I cut any odd bits we missed yesterday, and stacked as we went along.

It was a long and physical day that finished just before dark, punctuated by another lunch al fresco and by a second walk in the woods for Reggie.

When we finally retired for the evening we had a lot to feel happy about in the form of around a tonne of the best firewood available, starting its seasoning process ready for next winter. From what we've estimated, this pile will be around a quarter of  the amount we will have used by the end of this winter, so the splitting won't finish here, but we already have the rest of the wood we need to accompany this stored in the quarry along the driveway on pallets in metre lengths. That will need to have moved before Alain, the bee man, arrives with 36 hives for the Robinia flowering season in April though, so the clock as always is ticking.

With her old friend the axe (that's not a euphemism for me)

Someone said 'good wood warms you twice, once to cut it the second when burning it'

Friday 24 February 2017

More spring sunshine

Monday was a glorious day to wake up to! 

Sadly, Helen was ensconced in the office for the morning and I busied myself down in the apartment to start the list of jobs to make it ready for the holiday season - this year we're determined not to have a drama that involves us working hard up until the moment the first guests check in!

So while I made a mess, Helen earned the money I was about to spend up until lunch time when I closed the doors downstairs and headed up to make lunch... which we had the joy of eating out on the patio... (if you find yourself turning a shade of green at those last few words then I suggest skipping the rest of this blog, it's sun and al fresco dining all week).

After lunch, Helen and I jumped into the car to meet David and Sarah down at Frateschi's the builders merchant so that we could load some pallets into our car for them and follow them back up the valley to their house.

With a boot full of the aforementioned pallets, we headed up to Vellano and unloaded them before carrying them a few terraces below their house.

At their new home, David and Sarah have inherited two 1,000 litre water tanks similar to the ones we have used to harvest rainwater. However, those at David and Sarah's house have clearly been there for much longer and have not had the benefit of sitting on concrete pads (as ours do), meaning that the wooden pallets they were attached to were not only buried but also mostly rotten, making the taps at the bottom of the tanks virtually inaccessible. The plan was to put the tanks onto nice new pallets so that David and Sarah can use water from them for their soon-to-be-created veg garden.

After a sunny hour or so's work we retired to their sunny new patio with amazing views of Medicina and Fibbiala to enjoy a cold beer before the sun dropped behind the hills.

After another enjoyable hour of chatting indoors, we headed down the hill back home to feed the animals and then ourselves, capping off a very enjoyable start to the week... Monday blues? Not here!!

On Tuesday morning I headed back up to Vellano to help David with some land clearing and burning while once again Helen toiled away for the ever valuable money that pays to keep the very old roof over our heads.

After lunch, however, we both headed across the valley to the hill opposite us to our friends Mara and Franco's house as they had asked to borrow our wildlife camera. 

Franco had recently found a few suspiciously large paw prints around the outside of the fencing that currently keeps their nano sheep, Cesar and Penelope, safe from predators. Mara and Franco have seen a wolf on their property once before some time ago, and suspected that's who the paw prints might belong to, but they wanted to try and catch their elusive guest on camera to see what evasive/protective action might be necessary for the sheep.

We were happy to loan them our camera and followed them down to the sheep enclosure to set the camera up for them.

After the camera was set we went back up to their house where Franco offered us a 'grappino' (a small grappa) to keep out the chill that had descended while we were out in the field on their shady side of the valley.

Knowing Franco had a special bottle of gold grappa hidden away we took him up on the offer and headed indoors to warm up and chat about various things relating to life in the valley.

Needless to say, one grappa turned into a second, and we left quite late having declined more grappa and a risotto in favour of.heading home to light the fire.

Wednesday was Italian with Johnny at ours and after the usual games with Reggie we all settled down to try and ram in the imperativo. At the end of the lesson, David offered to help me lift the old cast iron wood burner into the space Helen and I had made for it in the garden wall at the weekend. Not having to dash off anywhere today, as his next students, Paul & Kathy were away this week, Johnny offered to roll up his sleeves and pitch in too. So the three of us heaved the lump of cast iron into place in the wall - although it took a couple of attempts and a bit more clearing of earth from behind it before we managed to get it to sit properly in place.

Later on Wednesday I turned my attention to pointing between the stones surrounding the stove - in the fullness of time we will point the whole of the wall, but for now I concentrated on the stones around the stove, sealing it nicely in place.

Thursday saw more work in the apartment, this time plastering the bathroom ceiling and part of the bedroom wall, while Helen continued to work at her desk in the morning. The afternoon saw our usual weekly lesson with Samantha, this week covering more of the gerundio - the '-ing' in English!
After a morning doing odd jobs while Helen got some work done, the afternoon saw us running a list of errands. First, we did the usual weekly supermarket shopping, split between the two local supermarkets Lidl and Esselunga. Having headed to the supermarket to coincide with the lunchtime sweet (quiet) spot, it was still too early by the time we'd finished our shopping for any of the other, smaller shops to be open after their lunch break. To kill some time, therefore, we headed out towards Chiesina and stopped for a post-lunch caffe corretto (literally, a corrected coffee - an espresso with a shot of sambuca). Feeling suitably invigorated and warmed from the inside, we paid up for the coffees (€1.50 each) and made for the nearby garden centre. Here, we bought a couple of bags of compost for our planned planting of seeds at the weekend, as well as a few packets of some of the seed types we knew were still missing from our collection.

We then stopped off at the vet surgery to call in and make an appointment for Reggie to have a booster jab next week, before calling in a the wine shop to stock up on some boxes of wine, and finally heading back up the hill to unpack everything and start the weekend.

Saturday morning started with a phone call from our neighbour Valerio. I wasn't quite sure what he was asking/telling me, but I thought he was inviting us to call in and possibly take some plants... or wood.. or something. We had seen over the last couple of days that they had had a lot of work done in their garden and around their house. There had been the sound of chainsaws going all day, we'd seen a bonfire burning all day and we'd spotted a large tractor in the garden - it seemed they were having a lot of trees cut and tidied. Anyway, I told Valerio we would call in later in the morning on our way back from town.

So, after having given Reggie a run around in the woods, we headed out for a cappuccino and a breakfast pastry at the Delice cafe on the other side of Pescia. From there, we went to the large pet shop on the road towards Montecatini in order to buy a large tub of dried chicken - expensive, but Reggie loves it and, with no additives, it's a treat we feel happy giving to him. 

We then called in at Amanda's shop to collect bread, something for lunch, and our weekly homework from Samantha, before heading up the hill and pulling in at Valerio and Rossana's house. Valerio greeted us outside, where the woodmen were still working away with their chainsaws and while Rossana dragged Helen inside for a chat and a coffee, I chatted to Valerio and the main guy doing the work. Turns out that what Valerio was getting at earlier on the phone was that he was suggesting I might like to ask the same guys to come and look at the couple of trees that we need taking down - which I was very happy to do! The woodman (boscaiolo) took a quick look at a couple of trees that are way down on the bottom of our land and very close to the road (their position is such that, should we have another big storm, and should they fall, they could come down on the road, so it seemed prudent - as well as being our responsibility - to do something about them). He seemed confident about being able to easily take those down, and said he would come up to the house later in the afternoon to have a look at the others we need cutting.

Happy to have that under our belt, after a chat and a coffee with Valerio and Rossana we headed back home where we heated through the food we'd bought from Amanda's (farinata di cavolo nero and a breaded fish with fresh tomato and olives) and sat in the gorgeous sunshine under the pergola to enjoy our lunch.

We spent the afternoon in the polytunnel. To be accurate, we spent the afternoon melting in the polytunnel, such was the intense heat in there with a bit of spring sunshine. We planted a whole range of seeds including onions, artichokes, beetroot, leeks, spring cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, aubergine, celeriac, coriander and chives. A satisfying afternoon's work!

The boscaiolo duly returned mid afternoon to have a look at the trees that stand awkwardly right between the power cable and the telephone cable. He was a bit flummoxed, but thought he would be able to work a way around it and promised to come back on Monday to do the work!

After showering and changing, we headed up the road on Saturday evening to David and Sarah's house - our first soiree there since they moved in. We had a lovely evening with a delicious spread of Polish themed food and whiled away the hours talking and laughing (and of course eating and drinking).

After a late start on Sunday morning, we whiled away the morning taking Reggie out for a walk and pottering around before having an early lunch and then turning our attention to work. On today's agenda was olive tree pruning. It was the perfect weather for pruning - blue sky, brilliant sunshine, a lovely temperature, and we happily stumbled our way through the pruning of in the region of 12-15 trees between us. Sounds like a fair number but it hardly even scratches the surface of what we have left to do!

When the light started to fade we came indoors and began an evening of cooking - we'd invited Samantha and her partner Mario to dinner on Monday and decided it would be a good idea to make a head start on the cooking and preparations on Sunday night, so we ended the weekend in the kitchen cooking up a Tunisian lemon cake and individual leek-topped cottage pies, leaving just a bit of assembly to do and a pear and gorgonzola salad to make on Monday.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Good day(s) sunshine

From the filth that was last week's weather, this week couldn't have been more different: blue skies, sunshine, and by the end of the week we were eating lunch outside and enjoying temperatures that veered towards (if didn't quite reach) 20C. Spring seems to be set on ushering winter out the door. While we enjoy the gentle warmth of the spring sun on our faces and drink in the delicious scents of plant life and soil re-awakening, in the back of our minds is the nagging knowledge that spring will soon come like an unstoppable steam train and before we know it the grass will need cutting (and thanks to our clearing efforts there will be even more of that to keep on top of this year), trees will need pruning, seeds will need planting and daily watering, weeds will need ... weeding, and everywhere we turn there will be additional jobs that need taking care of.

In terms of productivity this week, we have dug three more veg beds, put in some tidying work in our bathroom (we now have a lid on our toilet cistern for the first time in over 18 months - how posh! - and the beginnings of a new bath panel, as well as a freshly painted bathroom wall and refreshed silicone around the bath and sink), dug and laid a new drainage channel across the end of the drive (in an attempt to stop rain water cascading across the car parking area, where it builds momentum and washes gravel and dirt from the car park down the path towards the apartment), and done some tidying in our own garden.

On Wednesday night we were invited once again to our neighbours' house for dinner. This time it was to be a fish dinner, which suited us just fine - fish is something that we don't eat much of here, as it is both expensive in the supermarket and rare to find it on the menu in the local restaurants. So we were promised fish, and we certainly got fish! We started with gnocchi with hot smoked salmon and courgette, which was almost an entire meal in itself, but there was (much) more to come! Next, we moved on to pan fried sea bream with potatoes, then squid in a white wine and rosemary sauce, then pan fried king prawns with garlic and a side salad, then cheese, then fruit, then tiramisu, then castagnole (small, sweet doughnut-like balls made at carnival time of year, with a light fluffy interior and icing sugar sprinkled on the outside), then coffee, vin santo, and finally chocolates! It was all delicious, of course, but I think we need to remember our elasticated waistbands for the next time we are invited for a bite to eat! 

Once again, we struggled somewhat with the speed of conversation, combined with the fact that the dining area in our neighbours' house is quite echoey - not optimal acoustics for trying to decipher and keep up with another language. Nevertheless, on this occasion Stuart seemed to take it all in his stride and chattered away with Valerio and Rossana while I fell by the wayside somewhat. It's strange how it seems to go like that sometimes: some days we feel as if we are making huge progress and could almost call ourselves conversant, while other days we feel as if we will never make sense of it all and never be able to communicate - and it's quite common for one of us to be having a "good" day while the other is having a bad one, and then for it to flip the other way around. We just hope that one day we will get there with the language!

A short (and late) post this week, but here are some photos to compensate for the lack of wordage:

What a turnaround from last week.

With the weather warming up, the chickens are ramping up their productivity.

The start of a new bath panel - using the remaining leftover pieces of wood from the utility room floor.

Some of what we plan to sow this year!

We are now up to 11 veg beds. Roughly twice the growing space we had last year.

"Love you Dad."

Eight concrete channels and 16 bags of concrete delivered courtesy of Frateschi.

The site for the new drainage channel.

Drainage channel completed!

Good day sunshine.