Thursday 28 June 2018

As July approaches

It was a busy weekend for us, with the last of the strimming to finish, the veg beds to tend to, the apartment to clean ahead of new visitors arriving on Monday, and the house to clean ahead of Kerys arriving with her boyfriend, Nick, on Sunday!

We duly knuckled down and were most satisfied with our work, managing to tick the strimming of the terraces off the list - at least for a couple of weeks when that job will once again roll back to the top of the to-do list!

We were also pleased to see some progress in the veg beds - the orto has been sadly somewhat neglected this year mainly due to other jobs taking priority, and me having spent much of the first part of the year working over at Mara and Franco's, but we've also been left feeling slightly scarred by the "year of the vole" last year and somewhat reluctant to invest large amounts of effort (time and money) in case all we ended up doing was feeding the vole population of Pietrabuona once again. For that reason, the veg beds have really only had the bare minimum of attention, and therefore it was nice to see that some progress is being made. It's interesting to note how (relatively)slow everything is though, a clear sign of lack of TLC (well, that and compost).

Courgettes coming along.

Cucumber almost ready.

A small pepper.

A very happy self-seeded lettuce.

Beautiful artichoke flowers.

Not exactly the orto, but we had one plum this year! (and 4 cherries)

The olives are starting to swell.

With all the tasks completed around the house and land, it was time to collect Kerys and Nick from Pisa airport. It was lovely to see Kerys - for the first time in 11 months - and great to finally meet Nick who we've heard so much about over the last 4 years. To welcome them to Italy for their all-too-brief visit, we made a quick pitstop at Da Nerone in the village on the way home to get some take-out pizza, which we duly devoured all together around the kitchen table, Reggie not being sure whether he was terrified by the new arrivals or thrilled at the prospect of 4 pizza boxes to lick and tear to pieces.

On Monday, after a late start (well, it was the first day of their holiday), I dropped Kerys and Nick into Pescia, it being Nick's first visit to not only Pescia, but also to Italy. While they were busy in town I entertained myself with a clear-out and tidying of shed number two. Having closed shed number one off to all but the very smallest of intruders last week, and hung the doors on new hinges to make space for guttering above, it was time to sort out the middle shed - first job, empty the shed entirely and build a new set of shelves.

It was no small task, and up until around 2pm it's a real sun trap around the back of the house, so it was sweaty work and any tools left in the sun for any length of time were almost too hot to pick up again and use when I needed them - a bit like a steering wheel in the car on a mid-summers' day (in England, that is, or almost any day from the end of May through to mid September here!).

Everything out!

...and put back in again, tidily.

For those who are paying attention and are that way inclined, this particular Monday was the day of England's second World Cup game of the group stages (that's football if you're not that way inclined). Nick, a big follower of football, had politely asked if there was anywhere he would be able to watch said match, and after a message to our friend Emanuele, an evening's football viewing at the local circolo (on the big screen by way of projector) was arranged.

We decided to BBQ early for dinner before heading down to the circolo - this gave us the advantage of being outside to manage Reggie when our American guests arrived to check into the apartment at around 18:00. All went like clockwork - well, perhaps the clock was running a little late as the amount of veggies I had bought to cook took quite some time, but Nick, Kerys and I (Helen staying at home to try to keep Reggie quiet for our visitor's first evening here) headed down to the Circolo for the game, arriving just a few minutes after kick-off but already having missed the first goal.

I had planned to drop the kids there, go home and then go back and collect them at the end of the match, but seeing as the only other spectator was Emanuele (8pm is a little early for Italians to be out), I decided to watch the first half with them. Half-time arrived around 9pm, which coincided with the arrival of a few locals, including Luca our friend from the local school. Luca was keen to watch the second half of the match with us, so I ended up staying at the circolo until the final whistle.

On Tuesday morning, with an earlier start, I took Kerys and Nick to the train station so that they could go into Florence for the day.

As there seems to be no ticket booth at the local station any more, having been replaced by two touchscreen machines (which, after all, don't need paid days off sick, holidays or a pension etc.), we made a beeline for the machine that had no queue - assuming that was because this one only took card payments, while the other took cash.

It was soon clear to see why this machine had been avoided by other ticket buyers - with each press of a virtual button it creaked along with an egg timer whirring around for what seemed like an eternity each time - so long, in fact, that when we finally got towards the end of the process it gave us a time-out error and we had to start over again.

It was at that moment that the train to Florence arrived, the machine next to us had just become free so we quickly switched to that one, but just as we paid, the train shut its doors and pulled out of the station and, to top it all off, in the fluster as we hastily grabbed the tickets we left €6 of change in the machine (the change had disappeared by the time we realised our mistake and went back to check).

It was all a bit of a disaster, but the bar opposite the station was open so we went in there for a coffee and some breakfast, then I left them with just a 15-minute wait until the next train and headed to Mara and Franco's to work in their apartment for the rest of the day.

Thankfully, Kerys and Nick's day had improved since the wobbly start, and they spent an enjoyable day together in Florence - pounding the streets in the beating hot sunshine and disappearing into the welcome cool of bars and ice cream shops for a bit of relief between seeing the sights. I collected the weary pair from the station in the early evening and brought them back to the relative tranquillity of our hillside for a relaxed dinner on the outside sofas made up from BBQ left overs in a tasty pasta sauce. With a trip to Lucca planned for the next day, and a determination to be at the station with enough time to avoid a repeat of the morning's ticket debacle, it was a fairly early night for us all.

After the practice run the previous morning, the process of acquiring tickets for the train to Lucca was as smooth as an Italian ice cream, and Kerys and Nick were soon off to Lucca for the day.

Back at home I busied myself with fitting a new chicken water bowl to the rain barrel. Until now, we have filled a washing up bowl full of water and left it in the chicken house for them to drink. The problem with this is that the water very quickly becomes dirty (what with the chickens perching on the edge of the bowl to drink, or just as somewhere to sit), and changing the water involves throwing away a large volume, so we were seeking another solution. The water in the barrel that collects rainwater from the roof of the chicken house had become somewhat cloudy, so the first job was to drain the barrel and clean it before the new drinking bowl could be fitted.

The bowl is a simple device that uses a small float to fill it - a little like a toilet cistern only more rudimentary. We hope this will cut down on water usage - time will tell, but within an hour of fitting it and filling the barrel, one of the chickens started to use it and the rest soon copied.

The chickens enjoy the run-off from emptying the barrel.

The new water bowl even matches the barrel!

They love a bag of veg peelings!
Egg production is going well.

After lunch I liberated Helen from the office and we headed into Pescia to source three new terracotta pots in order to pot on our three citrus trees. It's three years since we potted up the citrus trees, and with three years being the magic potting-on number, it was time to repeat it.

Having seen an advert for half-price pots at one of our regular garden shop haunts we went and found three suitable pots... which, of course, were from the new range and therefore not discounted, although having assumed they were, the lady who runs the shop knocked off €35 anyway as we are 'regular customers'!

Once home, we sorted some of our homemade compost and re-potted, fed and watered them, feeling optimistic of a harvest from the lemon this year as we now seem to have almost won the battle with the scale bugs we believe we inherited with that tree. The lime and orange trees we are just happy to have alive after the winter. Having been convinced just a couple of months ago that they had perished in the cold, at the point at which they suddenly re-sprouted they were probably not long for the chipper!

Reggie approves the new pots.

That evening, after meeting Kerys and Nick at the station after their day in Lucca, we took them for a quick spritz at our favourite cafe/bar, but advised them not to fill up on the range of snacks on offer for aperitivi as we had a restaurant meal out to come!

Spritz o' clock.

We decided to take them to Manero's in Vellano - when offered a choice of pizzeria or restaurant with antipasti and pasta, they opted for the latter, having eaten plenty of pizza on their days out. As usual we ate very well there indeed - luckily for us, David came to join us otherwise we may not have finished all the grilled meat we got served, amongst which was rabbit, a first for Nick, as was the sheep's cheese earlier on, and the marinated garlic cloves and chicken liver pate, typical of this part of the country. It was a great evening, and a lovely way to spend the last night of Kerys and Nick's visit.

The view from Manero's is always spectacular.

You get a good view of the stabilisation/drainage improvement works that are in progress beneath the village. 

And so it was that on Thursday morning I headed back to Pisa to deliver Kerys and Nick to the airport. It was a visit that felt all too brief, but with work commitments and university that was all they could squeeze in, so we hope they will be able to find time to come again soon.

Helen and I spent what was left of the week in the office and Mara and Franco's, respectively, as well as having the methane tanks of the car MOT'd - something that needs doing every four years and needed doing before the car's own MOT which was also shortly due to expire.

On Saturday morning after our regular stop for coffee, we headed to the Pescia flower market as the enterprise of flower and plant cultivation and sales was celebrating 90 years of activity today. The current market structure (the third in a line of three in Pescia over the years) is now the second largest in Europe.

We were clearly a little too early and there was a mixture of activity between clearing up after the morning's market and setting up for the day's activities.

Regardless, we spent 20 minutes or so talking to a local producer who told us all about the historical asparagus trade that ran in tandem with the flower business pre and post war but which now is all but gone from Pescia, surviving only in pockets around Chiesina Uzzanese.

There was also a small display of posters depicting the activity of the market over the years - it was interesting to see the market in its various guises over the years.

After seeing all there was to see we headed back up the valley for lunch and an afternoon of firewood cutting in a hope of finishing the stack ready for the winter, it will only be three and a half months until we need to start using the wood burner again so must not get complacent!

Sadly, we didn't finish the firewood but we know that with another afternoon of work like that, maybe next weekend, we'll be secure in the knowledge we'll be warm and toasty all winter and with a good supply of logs under cover should a hard winter sneak up on us.

Sunday we did very little after the frenetic activity of the day before, and it felt good to have such a laid back day - a bit of a rarity for us but did us good.

First thing on Monday morning I headed to the local Esso petrol station, having booked the car in for an MOT with them. I left the car there, having been told it should be ready by midday, and walked the 2km back to Pietrabuona to grab a coffee and pastry before deciding what to do next.

I had a check-out to do that morning at 10am at a holiday house we have recently started to manage on the road towards Medicina, as well as our own apartment to clean for guests that would be arriving that evening, and then of course there would be car to collect later, again on foot.

I decided to walk up to the house on the Medicina road to do the check-out. The shortest, which obviously also means steepest route was to head from bar Da Nerone up into the old part of the village and then drop out onto the Medicina road. It was 3km, but a fairly pleasant 3km, unlike the main road between Pietrabuona and Pescia which carries traffic all the way up to articulated lorries heading to and from the paper mills.

I arrived a little early to find the guests running late, had a pleasant chat with the guest, Tomas, while the rest of the family loaded the car ready for their return trip to Sweden. Once I'd completed my check-out checklist, I walked the 3.5km back home for a late lunch, arriving back just as the heavens opened with a blast of thunder and torrential rain.

After lunch, I mopped the apartment floors, Helen having finished the rest of the cleaning that morning while I was out strolling around the valley, then set off to pick up the car. I set off despite not having heard from the garage, but hoping all was OK and arrived shortly after they opened for the afternoon (and only a couple of minutes after having received a call from Flavio, the lad from the petrol station, to say that the car was, in fact, ready at midday but he hadn't been able to get through to me on my phone - I guess the wind had been blowing in the wrong direction again at home and taking the signal with it!).

As I entered the car park I was almost flatten by our friend and Italian teacher Johnny who had turned back in his car having just passed me on the road - he stopped to offer me a lift, not knowing that I had just arrived at my destination. After a brief chat and introducing myself to Johnny's friend and fellow rock hunter Mattia, they headed off in search of treasure while my treasure was awaiting me outside the garage - oh how I appreciated that little Panda after 14km on foot that day!

On Tuesday morning I headed up to the village of Marliana, up and over the top of the hill from Vellano, with David to cut grass all morning, and then spent the afternoon at Mara and Franco's finally fitting their new worktop so that the plumber could get on with finishing his second fix.

On Wednesday morning Helen and I had Johnny round for our weekly Italian lesson and he immersed us in the dubious world of past conditional i.e. 'I would have done it ...', feeling like after today we've kind of cracked conditional now and need to simply try and apply it in normal life - another big step.

After lunch, while Helen toiled away in front of her computer, I started the process of sieving compost and mulching the few veg beds we have with plants in this year (finally a bit of TLC for them!). It was no small task though, especially since the first compost bays are a 200m walk away up the drive, which clearly then necessitates a 200m walk back down the drive to the car park with the lovely 'black gold', followed by a descent with loaded buckets into the veg garden (and then back up again). It was 33 degrees and with my calves aching somewhat from Monday's walking I threw the towel in at half six that evening - a little earlier than planned but pleased to have done a few hours of solid graft.

And that almost brings us up to date. I'll leave you with a few wildlife updates.

For the first time since moving here, we have seen hoopoes in our area. We've seen them further south in Tuscany before, but never as far north as our area. They make a spectacular sight!
Our bedroom windowsill seems to have become a favourite dining spot for one of the local families of swifts - almost every day at around lunchtime, they land on the windowsill and parents bring the youngster food.

Not quite wild, but it's been a while since we posted a picture of our little tiger.

(This blog post covers the period 16-27 June 2018)

Monday 18 June 2018

Sprung over Spring

The unsettled weather continues unabated here in Tuscany, but despite the regular downpours the temperatures are still steadily rising - so much so that the trousers are now only getting an outing from the wardrobe when strimming is required, and otherwise it's a case of shorts all day every day.

The regular downpours and warmer weather means that the surrounding greenery is growing at breakneck speed and our 'monthly' grass cut is needing to happen every three weeks - no small consideration when it takes 16-18 hours of strimming to cut everything each time.

It was just before our next guests arrived that we finished the recent cutting so all was looking as good as it could for when they arrived, although, it being their third visit to us we didn't feel the pressure that we might with first-timers descending upon us - another benefit of having repeat guests. It was great to see Colin and Lisa again and over the course of their stay we spent some enjoyable time sharing a couple of drinks with them of an evening, catching up on life since their last visit.

The weather suddenly switched into a rare settled and hot spell the day Colin and Lisa arrived, which was timely not only for them but also for the many events that were planned in the local area for the coming weekend to coincide with the Festa della Repubblica - the national holiday that commemorates the institutional referendum held in 1946, in which the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government, following the end of the Second World War and the fall of Fascism - with 12,717,923 votes for a republic and 10,719,284 for the monarchy, the male descendants of the House of Savoy were sent into exile and the Republic was born (thanks Wikipedia).

June 1st  heralded the start of the 'Sgranar per i Colli' festival, a relatively new annual event on the local calendar, but one that we were keen to see as it is held at the amazing Villa Bella Vista near Borgo a Buggiano, just a few kilometres away from us.

Ever since we first stumbled across this Villa during the first few months of arriving here (when we took a wrong turn, trying to find Obi for the first time), we have been keen to learn of its history - it's an incredibly ornate and elegant building, not to mention imposing, but no matter who of our local friends we have asked, nobody has seemed to be able to tell us anything of the place - which only serves to deepen the intrigue.

With a busy weekend ahead we decided to head over to have a look around on Friday, opening evening of the event,  after doing our supermarket shopping.

Sadly, we learned very little new to add to our existing knowledge of the place - which is that currently it serves as a national centre for the fire service (possible for training?), and that during the earlier part of the Second World War it was used as a hospital for the Germans, later serving the same purpose for the Allied Forces as the final push north was underway.

Villa Bella Vista.
There were various items on display regarding the history of the villa, but most were obscured by the artisan stalls set up throughout the extremely ornate rooms of the ground floor - although we did spy something high up on the wall that seemed to reference the famous Medici family, so maybe it was one of the family's many Tuscan villas?

Not a bad view from the Villa.

Flower stalls in the entrance hall.

Incredibly ornate decoration.

Painted ceilings all over.

Fire brigade helicopter.

Fire brigade amphibious vehicle.

View from the "back door".

After leaving the inside of the Villa and having made a lap of the grounds we sat and enjoyed an artisan ale from one of the stalls operated by a brewery from nearby Vinci while listening to the end of the sound checking for various events that were scheduled to take place over the course of the weekend including a cooking demo, before heading home to enjoy the last part of the evening's sunshine on our newly acquired garden armchairs.

Double IPA

Italian Fresh Hop.

On Saturday we had arranged to meet our group of friends in Pescia as the annual street food festival (another relatively new event in the local calendar) was taking place in the main Piazza all weekend. We didn't meet until 4pm that afternoon so it gave us time for breakfast in Pescia followed by some work on the terraces, before cleaning up and heading out to sample the delights of this year's offerings.

Arriving mid afternoon meant that we had the square almost to ourselves while the rest of the town were obviously still busy with their post lunch slumbers. This meant we could commandeer a large table right in the centre of the Piazza and take it in turns to make forays to various stalls to taste whatever took out fancy.

We tried all sorts, from South American sandwiches with the 'bread' made from corn, through to fish and chips, and pastrami with sweet mustard sandwiches, washed down with a good selection of craft ales.

A different type of grill!

Street food.

Pastrami sandwich.

After a couple of hours of enjoying the food, with no room for a single morsel more, Helen and I headed into the smaller of the town's two Piazzas, where the Pescia comics and games festival was happening - an event organised and run by our friend Emanuele from the local Circolo in Pietrabuona.

As well as wanting to say hello and show our support to Emanuele, we had arranged to meet Samantha and Mario there, as Mario's son was performing that evening with his newly formed post-punk band. It wasn't really our sort of music, but we were glad to have been there to show our support and to have a chat and catch up with Samantha and Mario (as well as the rest of the family who were also there to lend support).

Sunday was an earlier start than we're used to at the weekend as Helen had arranged a day out with our friend Cristina (who we've met through our English evenings) and her son Alessandro in Florence, and I had offered to taxi them to and from the train station.

By all accounts Helen had a lovely, if somewhat exhausting, day in Florence. Having spent the entire day from 08:30am until 6:30pm conversing in Italian, she came home feeling frazzled not only from the heat (it was a 30C+ day) and from the overworking of the brain, but it was well worth it and she'd really enjoyed herself.

The Arno from Ponte Vecchio.

Views from Forte Belvedere high above the city
Cypress trees, olives, and gentle hills.

Hills around Florence.

You can't beat that skyline!

Forte Belvedere.

While they were in Florence, baking under the hot Tuscan sun, I started on the task of 'sorting out' the first part of the shed behind the house. With so much stuff rammed into it and doors on inadequate hinges I'd been putting off this fairly low-ranking job for many months, but over winter it had jumped up the priority list due to it now housing at least one rodent, which was (or were) beginning to make a bit of a mess.

It wasn't pretty in there once I'd emptied the entire shed compartment, but by that evening I had cleaned it all out, disposed of three dead rodents, put in new shelving, and most importantly closed up all rodent-sized gaps to the outside world and the adjoining shed. One compartment down, two to go.

One tidy section of shed.

After Helen had got home, showered and changed, we relaxed with a well earned glass of wine on our garden sofas, and were shortly joined by Colin and Lisa on what was sadly their last night here at 182 - at least for this visit (we hope they will be back)!

Monday morning had in store a trip to the car mechanic as I had finally booked the car in to have its squeaky suspension sorted out, having learned that it was simply a case of new 'boccole' rubber bushings. Colin had very kindly insisted that he follow me into Pescia to give me a lift home again while he left Lisa packing their bags back at the apartment, I accepted and took him for coffee on the way home as small recompense.

That evening was another late night for us with our English evening at the Circolo, once again with a good number of us, including David & Sarah, Paul & Kathy - it's always great to have extra English speakers! This time, though, Helen and I had started our evening at the circolo at the earlier time of 18:00 in order to fit in two hours with three 10/11-year-olds: the daughter of Daniele, the son of Marcello, and one of their friends. Daniele and Marcello have both spoken about how poorly English is taught in schools here, and had expressed an interest in us trying to help their children - so this evening was something of a test to try to understand what level the children are at. Once we'd encouraged them to find their voices they were pretty good, and we had a fun, if somewhat tiring, couple of hours with them before moving onto the adult part of the evening at 8pm.

English evening in full swing.

We finally left the Circolo sometime after midnight - possibly not the best foot to get off on at the beginning of a new week, but it was a good evening, and we are benefiting in all sorts of ways from the new friendships and contacts we are making through this venture.

Tuesday brought with it our friend Dave's birthday and we were invited up to Vellano for drinks and nibbles on their patio in the evening. The weather was perfect for it, and we enjoyed a lengthy evening eating a substantial number of nibbles that really equated to dinner. It was nice to have the gang together without the need for tools for a change, all except for Donatella who sadly was otherwise engaged.

The following day we were still on the 'Russian mountain' as they call them here (commonly known in the English language as a roller coaster), of social activities: it was our sixth wedding anniversary, so in a rare fit of extravagance we booked a table for dinner, just the two of us. It's possible that the last time we ate out alone together was exactly 12 months prior, or at least so long ago that I cannot remember, and so it was that after digging out some suitable attire we headed over to Montecatini and to the restaurant called 'Fishing Lab' for the second time, having gone there recently as guests of my mum and Yvonne.

Anniversary dinner!
After our fill of fish and a nice bottle of wine, we headed back home to spend a couple of hours with Reggie, a bottle of Prosecco and 400 of the 850 wedding photos we have from our memorable day before retiring - late yet again - to bed.

On Thursday I had arranged to collect some more olive trees from the agricultural school in Pescia. Paul and Kathy wanted a handful of new trees, and we still had space for more after planting the 21 we bought back in April, so having arranged with Luca during the English evening to go and find him at the school, Paul and I headed over to see him. We found Luca working on the irrigation tanks beneath an 80-year-old lime (Tilia, not citrus) tree that was in full flower. The smell was out of this world!
Lime tree in flower, heavenly scent.

Paul and I loaded up 14 olive trees and then headed across the school to find Andrea, the teacher at the school that Luca had suggested we visit to see if he could help us identify a worrying problem David and Sarah have with their olive trees this spring.

Poorly olive tree.

More poorly olive.

The big worry was that the olive trees might have succumbed to a deadly bacterial disease known as Xylella fastidiosa, that which is currently tearing through and destroying ancient olive groves in the south of Italy as well as parts of Spain and Southern France.

There is currently no treatment for this enormous problem, although many seems to working on it. The last thing I read on the matter was a very controversial plan to eliminate a band of trees from coast to coast north of Puglia to act as a kind of 'fire break' to stop the spread, but this was not well accepted (to say the least) as to do so would involve destroying a huge number of acres of currently healthy and ancient trees.

Anyway, fearing the worst, Paul and I headed across the school grounds to find said "Prof", as the kids called him, who had his class under the shade of a large tree discussing something.

He soon abandoned his class in favour us, clearly happy to have someone interested listen to him. After looking through the photos on my phone, he decided we needed to head to his lab - which we did, with the entire class in tow.

We then spent about 45 minutes with him and his laptop in his lab while the kids all amused themselves with their smartphones. Paul and I felt guilty for having seemingly disrupted an entire lesson for the students, but Prof didn't care - he said he'd bought them all focaccia a little while ago and therefore they didn't want to do anything on the account of their full stomachs!

We were shown some branches that had recently been pruned by the students at the school, which had suffered the same rate as the trees up in Vellano. This finally secured us a diagnosis of too much water and cold, together causing a fungal fancier type infection to open the tree bark and allow in a bacterial infection of another sort that was killing the branches.

The simple solution, we were told, is to spray the trees with copper spray to stop any further bacteria entering - but to do so only once the fruit has set, otherwise the copper will kill the flowers and with it any chance of fruit.

We finally walked away with a few website addresses where we could monitor agricultural diseases and their spread in Italy, as well as sign up for SMS alerts should we find the correct link on the site and a link to a PDF created by the University of Venice on the topic of 'fitoalimurgia' - in short, the foraging of edible plants, not to mention the personal mobile number of the Prof for any future agriculture-related questions!

And so the week ended with the prospect of a good weekend of weather ahead, and the opportunity to get some work done around the place.

As mentioned at the top of this post the grass had been rampant, meaning that the first set of terraces to have been cut last time around (a week ahead of the rest) were now at their third week post-cutting and needed cutting again... so together we spent an afternoon doing just that.

Otherwise the weekend was taken up with various tidying jobs, Helen down in the veg garden getting on top of the weeds while I tidied in the immediate vicinity of the house, determined to get on top of the two grapevines growing against the wall of the lawn which had already grown to the length of almost four metres since spring started and were now looking quite messy.

On Saturday afternoon we had a mini road trip with David and Sarah: after putting a post on the local sell/swap/exchange Facebook page I had managed to procure, for free, five large plastic barrels to use as water butts for both us and David and Sarah, so a road trip was called for to go and collect them (in convoy, of course, as two barrels was the most we could expect to squeeze into a Panda!).

After some skilful navigating form my co-pilot, we found Luigi at his home in Montopoli in Val d'Arno (about 35km south of us) and after a brief chat we loaded up the swag and headed back home with enough time for a quick drink to celebrate on the way home.

On Saturday evening we headed down into Pescia for dinner with Samantha and Mario at their house. It was a lovely relaxed evening, and despite Samantha saying she was only going to put out a table of cold food so that we could relax, she had cooked huge fillets of salmon and roasted potatoes too! We left a little after midnight feeling stuffed but happy to have found such lovely and patient friends to pass the occasional evening with.

The new garden furniture is a hit with Reggie.

The mushroom log watering system seems to work.

Giant mushroom on the drive: day 1... 2 3
(This post covers 1-10 June 2018.)