Prato, on a lovely day perfect to stroll around and see the sights, although not a lot of those and the tourist info place was shut as we arrived at lunch time and couldn't wait for 2 hours for them to open so off we wen to get lostt. We saw the old walls, the castle (exterior only) the cathedral, 2 other churches and met some very nice people. The 1st was in a bar where we ordered a tea and coffee, I asked how much for the tea and he replied how much you want to pay? We were very surprised but he thought (accent probably) that he'd over charge and wanted to assure us it was the same price for all, then his daughter under charged us, so it was another pantomime. He explained he'd been to Rome recently and had been charged 2 euros of a small bottle of water and he sells the same for 50c, the seller said it was because the rates in Rome and especially in the piazza of miracles were so high, he replied the robbers were on the streets instead of burgling houses! If you don't speak with a Roman accent you get screwed! So that was our introduction to the city. Later we wanted to fined the Chinese section to get rice wine, light soya sauce and see what else there was, so having wandered about we asked a shop keeper who asked us why as that area was outside the walls and not noted for its architectural buildings, shopping, so he told us and wished us luck. Actually although few of the elders speak Italian, never mind English, we were encouraged and helped on our explorations and found just what we wanted, saw a lot we liked and could either lug or afford and didn't purchase a single dragon of any kind, not for the want of drooling. On the way back we took a detour past lots of shops (got lost) and ended up at the market field ( the expo opened in the evening so were saved the problem of trying to carry any more) not knowing which way to go we asked a passing elderly man, eating an ice cream, where the rail station was. He said it wasn't far but not easy to describe so if we walked he would take us and set off at a pace we could hardly match. He chatted non stop, the walk would do him good as his doctor said he needed exercise, where did we come from, why had we visited Prato, 80 years ago it was still confusing but less strangers now 33,000 Chinese, lots of Turks, Arabs and who knows what and it was more confusing - and us tourists we said - you aren't staying he replied. Anyway he took us back to the point where all we had to do was walk straight and at the end was the station, and there was the cafe we'd started from, so we invited him for a coffee. He declined saying he ought to go home before the police came looking for him and we parted. Back at the cafe we watched the world pass on bikes (both on road and pavement), mopeds, buses (loads of buses) on foot,  skateboard and wheeled sneakers.

The train was 45 minuets late by the time we got back to Chiusi, 15 mins late at Prato and it just got slower and slower, by this time I was going to stuff the girl next to me into her handbag, heaven help the poor lad who was going all the way to Napoli with them, bags of ferrets would have been calmer. She had her phone to chat on, then her i-thing to play games on, then her friend shared her head phones to listen to music (the space between their ears must have been vacant and the whole carriage shared the experience), she walked, stretched, scratched, fidgeted, got her water, put it away and so on and we'd endured just 2 hours. We trundled back to the car, well light all the way to our amazement and arrived home to 2 delighted moggies who swore they'd not eaten the food left as the porcupines had had it.

Finished pickling shallots and cracking walnuts, putting planters to bed and thinking about tasks that ought to be done before and during the winter months and making long lists.

The weather then deteriorated to daily mist and fog in the morning, briefly nice at lunch time then becoming overcast developing into storm by mid afternoon, some more fierce than others. Despite the damage to the driveway it didn't deter the hunters very much though they didn't linger too long in the rain. As there was nothing much, except draining the pool cover and emptying plant pots, the kitchen got rearranged so stock items could be seen or at least found without having to crawl on hands and knees to empty half a cupboard out all over the floor. It took 3 days as we cleaned as we went. All the cookery books ended up on the dinning-room table, goodness it looked like the New York sky-line, so I began sorting out clippings, folders into categories for copying out into hardback books, dumping or passing on piles. So as not to get fed up with the whole process it was interspersed with looking at Xmas projects and watching Dvd's and reading books that have been on loan and not glanced at all summer. This I suspect is going to take months.

We bought a tree seat from a German company advertising on ebay as our anniversary present. Not the greatest quality but strong enough pine with a thin varnished layer. It went together in about an hour and looks great under the tree by the pool. As soon as the sun came out for two days consecutively a second coat of protection was painted on in a light oak colour turning it a sort of teak finish so it looks a lot more expensive than before.

The weather couldn't decide one day would be in the mid 20's with wonderful skies followed by deep mists so we made a start on the olive and apple tree trimming, one at a time as the sun held out, still at least we could take our time and make a good job without straining anything. The spider population went mad and Mike was catching the things daily and putting them out, thud. Max contacted us about the outstanding jobs, trees, drains and the front of the grotto that will collapse shortly but when and how much?