July 2011- Charity begins at home

July 2011- Charity begins at home

a small visitor

New table top

First published in La Dolce Vita Western Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by

As we’d promised the previous autumn we held a coffee morning on the 4th July to raise funds for the abandoned dogs who are kennels at Arezzo in aid of AISPA. These are generally the more difficult to home as they have been ex-racing greyhounds, hunting dogs, breeders or dogs who are left to guard properties and are visited a few times each week. The organising took longer than the event, which was just 10.30am until 12.30pm, getting 30 outside shades seats, plates, cutlery, cups jam, cakes et al together but we were fortunate that many friends offered help and did most of the cooking. I confess I cannot make a sponge cake to save my life. Jams, breads, cement I do but light and fluffy is not something I ever mastered. The ladies who cooked arrived at 9.30 prompt to calm us down and help with the setting out of things and at 10.30 the first of the cars arrived. Nickie who ran the raffle was amazing and everyone rallied around making sure t-pots were full and scones available. There were fewer people in attendance than the last do but for a first time effort by a new crew in a new venue we were pleased to raise 310 euros towards the new kennel gates, with promises of further donations to come.

We were astonished one afternoon to discover a small hedgehog following the walls of the back of the house as we lay digesting our lunch on day. The poor tiny thing was lost and looking for food and shade. So we put a saucer of mashed cat food under it’s nose and hoped it would eat some. PK was appalled that we were feeding something and not him but they quickly came to an accord to ignore each other after PK got his inquisitive nose prickled. The creature ate, curled up in the shade of our lavender hedge, for an hour or two, and then wandered off into the woods where we hope it rejoined its family and lives a long and slug filed life The table top that we’d created using an old door and some beautifully patterned tiles 5 years ago came apart. Not unexpectedly as the tiles were for internal walls and the door was hollow and the winters outside had caused the tiles to crack and peel and the door was showing signs of rot. Mushrooms growing from where the hinges once were is a reliable sign that all is not well. We went to the local marmolista and asked for a quote for an outside table top 6 feet by 80cm as the base had been designed for that size of top. She asked if it was for use inside or in the garden and when we said external, she advised travertine that is cut from the hills beyond our house. A choice of 3 colours, almost white with cream lines, a brown or red, which is very beautiful but getting rarer so the price is much higher. We opted for the brown, which is really buff with darker tones running through it and chose to have it gloss polished and rounded edges and corners. It was delivered 2 weeks later by a lass 4’.9” tall and less than 6 stone wet, we estimated. The table top weighed in at 120kg. No way were we going to move it along so we hopped down the drive and begged 2 strong lads from the building site to lend a hand. They came at once and the top was placed perfectly and off they went with just our words of thanks. Would you believe us if we said the whole job, delivery and 20% vat included was less than 300 euros?

We were just saying to a friend, who was complaining her poor was green, that in 5 years we’d only ever had an issue with algae turning the pool green and one dose of algaecide had cured the problem. Tempting fate, or pride before a fall as 2 days later our pool turned cloudy, we gave it and extra shock of chlorine, but the following morning it was fluorescent green. Not having any algaecide in stock we dashed off to the suppliers, they were shut. We did our shopping and returned to discover the owner loading up his van at the back of the shop. “We’re closed weekends as we service peoples pools under contract”. We waved our order list and explained our problem. “Come in”……350 euros lighter and 70kg of chemicals loaded in the back of the car with in depth instructions we headed home. The problem this year has been the rain dropping tiny, undetectable by eye, things into the water, sand and other impurities followed by intense UV, its been +42 for a week or more, that’s encouraged an algae bloom. We had to run the pump 24/7 (costing an additional 4 euros a day) brush the pool twice a day, shock the pool with free chorine every day until the levels held over night, and add algaecide every other day and PH corrector every other day until clear. Then back to normal chlorine every week but adding algaecide the day after to maintain while the sunshine continued. Pools are an expensive and intensive hobby. I still think draining it and growing banana palms in a sunken tropical garden is the best solution but Mike is not convinced as he loves to swim most evenings.

I've been blaming the lizards for upsetting the seedlings and disturbing the pots? Well it's not all their fault. While watering last night I saw a pot with up ended seedling and as I watered it two eyes popped up from the soil, a TOAD. She'd buried herself and was most upset at being watered. She looked at me with an expression that clearly stated that the brochure hadn’t mentioned this kind of disturbance and she was going to see the manager. The following morning she’d decamped, leaving a trailing of broken and withered seedlings behind her passage. Talking of wildlife. The deer have demolished 2 pear trees, snapping them off at the bases, a willow by stripping the bark and our veg patch this year. They’ve ignored the apples, Sharon, passion fruit, grapes and rhubarb but devoured everything else. Not a good year and we’re off to explore the possibilities of deer deterrent pellets, well you can get slug pellets….

Still on the subject of animals, but domestic this time, when we invited friends around for lunch, alfresco, PK tried to get into Jean & Nello's car while we ate lunch. He checked the boot and then each door, hanging off the handle, He then climbed on the bonnet and looked through the windscreen and eventually climbed on to the roof where he spend 15 mins reaching through the partially open sunroof in an attempt to break in. They asked if we were feeding him enough or did he just want a change of scenery? In the end he settled for resting in the shade beneath their estate car. They checked the vehicle thoroughly before leaving in case they had a furry stow-away. There's no doubt as to how he arrived is there?

The end of the month heralded the 4 night free “Rock for Life” concert at Ponticelli. Before attending this late night bash we went to see a friends exhibition of “art” jewellery held at the Panicale lace museum. The lace is mostly needle lace as apposed to the bobbin or crochet type. Some much work where a fine net is laid over a pattern and it is sewn onto the net. Very intricate and probably the cause of much eye strain too.

The last night was David Evan. Not an Italian name, so we thought we’d see him rather than the other 3 bands. http://www.davidevandesfroos.com/home. We’d only heard the bands this year warming up in the afternoons as we worked in the garden, no booming of base during the night this year. However the last night they predicted would get louder and go on until 2 or 3 am. Too late for us, we’ve pointing to do in the early morning before the sun heated up the bricks and stones, and a pool to clean, but we did enjoy a good hour of music, toured the stands and bought raffle tickets to win a mobile phone, a view pad or an Internet key.

That was July and August looks to be busy as well.

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Michael & Peggy Hunt moved from Pembrokeshire to Italy two years ago. They now live on the Tuscan / Umbrian border in Locanda Delle Rose among 300 olive trees, enquiring neighbours and over-familiar wildlife. "Oddly, it is not so different from Pembrokeshire at all, " they say. "We have felt at home from the very beginning. "

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