The first was herald by the sudden arrival of parents who'd we thought wouldn't make it this year. For the 1st time they arrived via Stanstead, a long drive but family to visit in Ealing overnight. Perugia airport was a revelation to us all. Brand new chrome and glass, clean and compact. The last time we'd been there 5+ years ago it was a glorified cowshed accessed by a semi solid road across fields, a tiny cafe in one corner and the “lounge” opposite with a table and chair acting as check in. Now sophistication and a sound system. The drive there takes just an hour, not going mad, and the road has been improved dramatically with new underpass and easy on/off the superstrada.

The weather report for the 2 weeks was 3 days of thunderstorms followed by 2 50/50 days then 7 days of probable sunshine. In the end it was 10 days of gradually increasing sun and heat, peaking at over 100f / 38c. Lugging of watering cans went from alternating days to every day to keep the poor flowers from flagging although the tress began to shrivel, change colour and lose leaves by the 12th, but the fireflies and roses were out in abundance.

Their arrival usually denotes a water problem of some sort and this year was no exception, we had 2 minor issues to contend with. The first happened one evening when the water failed thorough the house. Mike concluded that it was something to do with the reservoir supply and being dark it would have to wait till morning and everyone would have to brush their teeth in wine. The morning brought the truth to light, the pump capacitor had reduced from its normal power to half and so wasn't enough to start the pump. Having had one explode a few years ago we always have one in stock and so the matter was quickly resolved. The second was another burst water main, after our property nearer our neighbours. What we thought was the run off of a sorgente got suddenly worse and eroding the road, not having had rain we concluded all was not right. Despite it being a Sunday we called the free number for the water lot and got a nice lady in Grosetto who didn't understand our accent but battled on to understand our worries. She got an engineer to phone us and having spoken to Mike previously worked out what we were trying to tell him. Tuesday a digger, 4 man team and 2 vans arrived, just as we were going out, and when we returned there was a new manhole with fancy cover and no running water in the road.

We didn't venture too far, eating out, shopping and chatting, catching up on family doings and our future plans. Lots of photos taken of the flowers and views, reading, scrabble playing and eating.

We did go to see Bagno Vignoni near Pienza, which we also called in and saw the most amazing collection of Ferraris on tour with their Chinese owners. The hot bath is in the centre of the town and just beyond the encompassing houses is an archaeological site where the hot run of water was used from ancient to recent times as a water milling system. The water spills down over the rocks to a lower pool where people freely soak in the milky coloured water, due to the fine silt. Further down the road there is an ultra modern spa centre but this was so tranquil and unspoilt.

The time passed very quickly and it seemed we were back on the road to the airport before we realised. We just beat the storm home having driven to the accountants to be told no rates this year but at the end of the month the rubbish tax will arrive and its gone up ( naturally) come back in October to see about the comune tax and if we do sell withing the 5 years (Jan 2018) expect to pay capitol gains at 21% on the difference of the Catastle (town hall valuation) and the selling price OUCH! So lots of calculations to do....

The storm was spectacular, purple sheet lightening, pink vertical strikes, lots of loud bangs and crashes and rain. The drains we'd had Max put in did their job, no flooding or land falls. The wind toppled two smaller trees, knocked flower pots and blossoms all over but considering how bad it was elsewhere we got off lightly. This was the start of a series of thunderstorms that went on for almost 7 days, between bouts of sunshine and rain. when we gathered the gooseberries, rescued rhubarb and collected the fallen apricots hoping to ripen them on the window sills and were thankful we'd decided not to open the pool till next month. As outside work wasn't an option I got started on making cork wreathes, notice boards using champagne corks, and a wellie stand from the plastic ones, until I ran out of hot glue sticks.

By the time the weather settled back into summer mode the herbage was knee high and mowing was a strenuous for both man and machine. We picked 147 apricots, made 9 jars jam, 3 bags of pulp to freeze, 1 large sponge pudding and had lots to eat fresh. Something ate a pear tree from the inside, termites. Blight? We don't know but it snapped off half way up, despite looking healthy with green leaves , and we've decided as this is the 3rd one to be killed off in the same area we ought not both to replace it. The other pear and 3 apple trees are doing well and there's fruit on 2 nectarines, plumps and fejoya so we have enough.

On the 21st Mike took his first flight in an ultra-light a Storch CL582. Looks like a tadpole but is named “the stork” and is made in Italy. I was surprised, so was he, that the instructor said he could tale it up, do a circuit or two and land it as he seemed to know what to do and he was alongside anyway. The only problem encountered was Mikes' vox headset didn't work so they swapped and off he went. He said its bumpy in the air as well as on the grass runway and it handled a lot different than his computer simulator in respect of the strength he needed to hold the controls, the difference between power steering and non, in a way. The instructor was disappointed he wouldn't be learning to take a professional pilots license but understood that he'd like to fly as and when finances allowed. This way he doesn't have the worry of insurance, maintenance, storage and health checks just rent a plane at 120 per hour when the weather conditions are right. It seems this hobby is like boating 90% of the time the machine is parked up due to weather, time constraints and in our case grass cutting duties, so owning one isn't that beneficial. While at the airfield another chap arrived polished his very fast plane, took off and landed 25 mins later, re-polished and put it away....seems a lot of bother for the time aloft to me.

Dashed into town as our Tarsu (rubbish) bill had not arrived and payment was due by the end of the month. The office was closed but they opened up when we knocked to announce they were behind and to expect the bill in late August! Ir may be they are holding back until the new combined IUC tax comes into play?