The first week in the month was a succession of surprises. Our first was when we met a tractor with a metal shelf on the back sitting on this, on a wooden bench, was an older woman clutching a stimmer. We followed this machine, with the lady hanging on to the strimmer and the scoop with grim determination until it turned off to the field they were going to work in. Why is it you never have a camera when you need one?

Our second was Luciano ( lives near English friends by Montipulciano and used to work on the olive grove we rented 7 years ago) with a friend who’d had a stroke arriving unannounced. He said they were just out for a drive and thought they’d visit having never seen the property before. They were complimentary about the house, ignoring the piles of clothes in the bathroom, cables all over to set up the drill outside as we were repairing a bench when they arrived. We’ve no idea why they visited, they mentioned the agritourismo and renting rooms but once they saw there’s just one room for guests the others being used as storage or hobby rooms, that was a non starter plus it was deregulated to a private dwelling. We asked if he was considering buying as a B&B but it seems although he wants to sell his place there’s a problem with a brother. Perhaps we’ll never know.

The third was we discovered a letter from the comune delivered between the 28th Sept and 4th Oct saying we owed 215 euros for our rubbish collection in 2013. We spent a day looking for the account and saw we paid a LOT that year but also that was the year we changed from the business to private and hoped it was a computer error. So the following Wednesday ( the offices are open alternate days) we went to find out what it was all about. It was like getting into Fort-knox. In the past we’ve just wandered in and found anyone who could direct us to whom we needed to see but now we had to leave our ID cards, get a plastic pass card for the lift and were met and escorted to the room we needed to visit. As we suspected there had been a glitch and the Comune hadn’t record the payment made by the bank, so in a matter of moments it was all sorted.

We finished cracking the walnuts we’d recovered before the squirrel got them and harvested, 2 large jars full, some were given to Annie who’d given us a basket of hazel nuts. Our pomegranate in the pot, produced 3 small fruit, there are 4 in the garden that didn’t get one between them. The pictures look impressive but the actual fruit fits in the palm of a child’s hand.

When we were pruning we were being watched by a red fox, a youngster we think, very bold and not at all worried by us. We saw it several times ambling down to the grotto or sitting in the lower car park. One of the dark chocolate squirrels sat under the pergola to take in the sun and keep an eye on Mach1 and then we were visited by a small gray striped cat with pale yellow eyes, which looked at us through our windows. It, like the fox, was seen for a few days then it possibly moved on to the stables or the house below. The laurel and the olianda in the back patio area had doubled in size this year so a hard cut was necessary. There was far too much to toss so we stacked wheel barrow loads of cuttings by several of the wallows to burn after the leaves have rotted off and the weather is cold but bright and a bonfire is a welcoming warm job.

The bench from the olive grove got new supports as the lower 3 inches of legs had rotted off . The windows on the south facing side of the house got selasticated as the older stuff had shrunk in the heat and was letting water through when the wind forced the rain against the windows. We had a preying mantis set up home on the chains in front of the main door for 10 days, we think it was recovering from being blown in one of the storms. Interestingly when we spotted it she was brown but when she decided to move on to the lavender hedge, she was bright green.

It wasn’t all work Mike did get to fly before the winds and cold weather arrived. He flew to Arezzo and discovered that there’s no flying over towns, or the prison at Tavernelle, other airports especially international ones like Perugia.

We got a letter on the 29th from a company collecting debts on behalf of Wind telecom. It was dated the 8th and referred to an outstanding account from Feb 10th which arrived with a letter dated 10th April and arrived with us in May. Not saying our post is dreadful but we can understand why companies wont send things to Italy. We again sent all the paperwork to them disavowing the debt as we’d completed the 2 year contract and the supplier hadn’t kept their side as we’d had little or no service for 6 months prior to us canceling not to mention the contract number quoted wasn’t ours although the account number was. We still maintain it’s a computer error as the amount requested has no bearing on the fixed costs we signed up to by over 90 euros. Watch this space for a protracted exchange of emails and post.

The weather turned unseasonably chilly, dropping to 9c at night and only making 18 to 25c during the day so the drop was very noticeable. We tried hot water bottles for 2 nights then put the electric blanket on the bed to take the initial chill off the sheets. To maintain the main room at 18c we started lighting the living room fire on alternate or wet days and cooking by stuffie in the kitchen. Soups, stews and jacket potatoes are back on the menu.

At Halloween we had friends around for supper to a themed meal, the table had a Gothic feel and the window had fabric pumpkins with a black cat and black bat and orange bat as a focal piece. The menu was vampire soup with (tomato) with cream cobweb served with cheesy witches fingers and hangman's noose bread (plaited bread ring). Followed by zombie (jerk) pork with slimed greens (mixed steamed greens) old thyme carrots and mummified (jacket) potatoes and rounded off with Snappy (ginger snap baskets) cauldrons with rhubarb jelly and cream centers. Served by candlelight.

One of our guests had made the point she didn’t want to dress up so we dressed the rooms instead. Bats on the windows, fabric pumpkins and black cats on the coffee tables, lots of candle light and things that glowed in the dark. The table was set with dark red chargers, napkins and glasses and cat napkin rings and pumpkin place tags. It was a lot of fun, which was appreciated by everyone

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