The start of the month was heralded by two of our downstairs loos exploding. We’d noticed that when flushed the sinks made a gargling noise but thought nothing of it, we should have taken the hint. Mike was asked to go with our builder to a friends place so he could measure up for and estimate, he’d not been gone ten minutes when there was a deep gulping noise followed by a huge boom from the hallway, water lapped gently over my toes when I rushed from the kitchen to discover what had happened. Fortunately it was clean water that had erupted from both toilet bowls, it was astonishing how much had back-flowed over the floors, but when Mike returned he discovered me in a damp and distraught state and water seeping all over.
Several days later the dishwater blew the trip. Having tested the plug, socket and the main circuit board and finding no reason or short we tried it again and halfway through the cycle it explodes, large bang and a blue flash and all the lights went out.
We waited for the third shoe to drop…… When we were heading for a weeks shop we passed a man walking his geese with a sheep dog keeping them clustered as he crossed the road from one meadow to another. A friend said she’d seen a man with a pig on a length of rope holding an umbrella over the animal so it didn’t get too much sun. The roadsides are full to bursting with wild flowers red clovers, huge pale yellow dandelions, blue birds eye, scarlet pimpernel, convolvulus, wild sweet-peas. The poppies also fill the cornfields, roses at the end of the vine rows but its not all roses, the weather has been fickle, warm and humid with storms, showers and down pours for the first 10 days of the month. Naturally it was during one of these our pool engineers arrived and opened it. The water level was much higher than the previous years, showing what a damp and chilly winter we’d had and then it continued to fill as the rain came down.
The fireflies are particularly abundant this year. The garden is filled with twinkling beads of fast moving lights. The cats exhaust themselves trying to catch these flickering beetles but they are swifter than paws. Unfortunately our neighbours, both sides, dogs, they come in pairs, had discovered how to escape the garden and spend every afternoon and evening causing havoc, digging, chasing the cats and fouling our garden.
A friend offered to have the first charity lunch where you don’t bring the hosts gifts but 10 per person for the charity. The first lunch raised 90 euros and was an incredible eating experience. Those who attended all agreed it was a terrific idea as almost everyone has friends over at sometime and few would object to supporting a worthy cause. This is to raise funds for AISPA who need 780 euros for new rescue kennel gates near Arezzo, next year they need funds in aid of a neutering program for feral cats in our area. To top it all off Sue then offered enormous amounts of cherries from their organic trees for us to make jam and other products to raise funds with for the coming events. We’re holding a coffee morning, on the 4th July, with 4 able helpers making cakes and their spouses directing traffic and seating the guests. We’ve made jam and hopefully a liquor but that takes over 6 months before we’ll know if the recipe has worked, so it should be ready for Christmas.
Family arrived just in time to catch the Sagra del Gnocchi held at Santa Maria, just down the road. An orderly queue was all ready forming when we arrived at seen, when it was due top start, and a huge cloud of smoke indicated the BBQ was hot and ready. Someone popped their head around the corner and said it would be another 10 minuets. “0 minutes later after they had taken all the orders for take-aways we had our table and a menu with 9 different sauces to choose from for our potato dumplings We all ordered different sauces so we could try as many as that appealed, a tomato sauce, a lamb ragu, a goose ragu and a 4 cheese sauce. 2 bottles of local plonk, the white better than the red so we made pink. The tomato and the cheese were the best and we think next year we’ll mix them together. We agreed that we’d only have the gnocchi and not go on to the huge pork steaks, wild boar squewers or the tripe which were the days second plate offerings, so we went and looked around the stalls that had opened while we were eating, mostly jewellery, imported, a craft stall, a junk stall, coffee and deserts and a pub. We left just as the nights entertainment was warming up at full volume and an accordion playing disco at 80 decibels is an acquired taste.
Then the other shoe dropped.
While mowing the handle of the machine suddenly snapped off just above the height adjustment connections. Mike took it apart and we swiftly jumped into the car to arrive in a grass stained mess at our local wrought iron gate manufacturers in the village. They dropped what they were doing, making railings for a balcony, and arc welded the two pieces together for us. “How much do we owe?” proffering a 20 euro note, “2 Euros but we’ve no change, drop it in when you pass by next.” We duly dropped in the money and half a litre of our olive oil in thanks, the following day.
The following weekend we went to the “Horse fever” show at Sarteano. An international group with seven grey horses displayed their bare-back riding skills, standing up using reins only or no reins at all. The horses seemed to be in charge although they obeyed the requests, never commands, of the “master” in their time, very showy. They also had a beautiful black Dutch stallion who paraded wonderfully. Local “amateurs” displayed their skills too. The “Marimera” cowboys with huge white cows with enormous horns, no bulls, showed off their rounding up and herding skills. A club showed their dressage and “English” riding capabilities too. Outside the ring there were tiny Shetland ponies (they looked straight out of a Therwell cartoon), one with a miniature goat as a friend, giving rides to children. A pony and trap, a wigwam with a full Indian Chief and then there were lots of stalls selling horse related items. We bought some lather restorative from one and the owner turned out to be English who’d married a mounted Italian policeman back in 1996. He was due the following day with colleagues to give a demonstration, like the red arrows on horse-back. She advised eating at the local pizzeria instead of at the show-ground as the food was unusually medioca this year.
We attended the "Bici Sagra"”at Piazze on the Saturday night with family and friends, although it is more “Torta da Testo” than a bico, which looks like a bap instead of a triangle of stuffed bread which is what we received. We plumped just for the stuffed bread, cheese and veggies, soft cheese and rocket, sliced butchers sausages and perscuttio and cheese with wine. Our friends also went for the main course and ordered kebabs and a steak. Unfortunately they were not well the following day having ingested far too much salt which had been used to tenderise the meat before grilling.
Sunday was the “Infiorata" at Citta della Pieve. This year the street was decorated with flower petaled pictures of knights and horses from medieval tapestries and stories. We wandered up the road as they were finishing off the incredible works having been there most of the night before. What a shame the blessing in the evening would undo all their hard work.
The temperatures had crept up to 34 degrees c and we were watering nightly and tanning well.