Saturday 16 November 2013

The lights are going out..

..if not all over Europe, at least at the western end of the house. Davide, plus sidekick, turned up on Thursday to get started on a whole raft of jobs which had been briefed in before the summer, but then he fell off his motorbike and broke something, and then he had flu, and now we're in the middle of November, and it seems like a good time to get on with it.

They make a lot of noise, cheerfully shouting to each other as they work in different rooms...or on opposite sides of the same room....or, indeed, working right next to each other. The four-footed, a cautious animal at the best of times, stuck close while they were around, and occasionally shot me a quizzical look as if to say that he thought perhaps they weren't entirely a good thing.

And, as it started to get dark, around 4.30, they headed off, leaving behind little piles of debris...not unlike cat litter... which had been carefully collected wherever they'd had a task to do. It is an improvement - when Davide first started doing stuff for us, many years ago, he would happily just scatter rubbish in his wake as he went along. The neat little piles represent progress. Although, actually removing the debris to a rubbish bin is probably too much to ask, either now or at any time in the future...

And, half an hour after they'd gone, I discovered that there was no light in either the pantry or the laundry room. In and of itself, not a disaster, except that I then checked and found that fridges and freezers in those rooms weren't functioning, either

Since their last words as they headed out had been a cheery "Back on Tuesday", and since we were heading off to London for the weekend, this seemed like not a good idea.

I switched things on and off....checked the main fuse box....Technical Dept went and checked the uber-main fuse box, out in the change. Except, that he then also discovered that the light in the upstairs bathroom didn't work either.
I unplugged the light from the new socket that had just been installed in the kitchen. Nope - nothing changed. And then, apparently for no reason, we noticed that we had light again and power in general in both the pantry and the laundry room. Working out what the hell they'd done was like a deeply infuriating parlour game. And, in carefully retracing my steps concerning anything which had been switched on or off since they'd left, we got there! The entire electrical system in pantry and laundry room was now controlled from the light switch in the Pranzo (three rooms away) which has just been installed to work the lights in the display cabinets in that room. Go figure...

So, as long as the cabinets are happily blazing away, then we also have fully-functioning freezers.

And, by much the same token, we subsequently worked out that the upstairs bathroom light is now wired into the system for illuminating the south facade of the church. Which means that if anybody wants to have the light on when they go to have a pee, then about a quarter of an acre of thirteenth century brickwork also has to be lit up like Oxford Street at the same time, to entertain the entire neighbourhood.
If only they knew!

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Garden Update

Glorious weather. Back to planting, again, after a two week hiatus, firstly from being poleaxed with a lousy cold - which Paola seems confident was actually flu...but then isn't every sore throat categorised as 'flu', these days? - and then because of the visit to Venice.
Still much to do, following the great plant raid from Pistoia, several weeks ago. The arborescens are all planted in the old orchard, as are all the new roses, a solanum has been positioned to grow over the roof of the well-house, a new magnolia stellata beside the romitorio, and a vanille-fraise paniculata, to replace the quercifolias which I rather ruthlessly transplanted about a month ago, to a sunnier spot beyond the pine trees. The latter spent some time considering their options, but have now decided that they are happy after all in their new position, and have settled down perfectly well. Yesterday, I moved a philadelphus, which was too close to where I have to extend the south-east pergola bed, in order to plant a cistus florentinus, and after that, the south-west pergola bed also has to be extended, for a serrata santiago, as well as a couple of other things I want to move there from beside the entrance walkway. If I get my act together, I hope to plant another 100 narcissus bulbs, this afternoon, as well as a couple of petiolaris, to go on the back of the church, and possibly also make a start on the 36 dwarf bamboo (of various kinds) which we're putting in as underplanting in the wooded parts of the garden. 
The first camellia bloom has appeared: "Destiny". It was the first to flower last winter, too, and then continued in flower right through until April. The other camellias are all heavy with buds, and promise well, but with most of them unlikely to bloom this side of Christmas. Other than that, there are a few roses flowering in a desultory fashion around the place - Parole; Anna Livia; Iceberg; Anna Pavlova; Westerland - but I can already feel my fingers itching to reach for the seccateurs, to give the roses their annual heavy pruning.
And the strawberry trees, which have had a major growth spurt over the summer, are covered in white blossom - I hope, as a precursor to a decent display of 'fruit'.
The four-footed is delighted that gardening is back on the agenda - he was very understanding and sympathetic when I was suffering, but has been noticeably suffering himself from cabin-fever, more recently, especially when we came back from Venice, and then had two days of solid rain.

In fact, I can sense he thinks it's time to get on with it, right now!

Tonight's Dinner:

Salmon Soufflé

Moussaka (leftover roast lamb, rather than beef)

Lemon Verbena Crème Brulée