It was so mild we stopped running the heating through the night and only relit it at about 3pm for the last week in Jan through to the second week in February. Crocus, roses, snapdragons, winter jasmine, violets. Periwinkle all bloomed and the passigatta caterpillars had huge football sized nests hanging from the pine trees going into town. The blistering rash I got after collecting fallen bits of trees and logs might have been due to a caterpillar but we hadn’t seen any on our land.

The government came up with the solution to those who refused to pay their TV licence by adding it to the electric bills mid year for those with a 3Kw supply and at a reduced amount of 100 euros, reducing annually as income increased to around just 36 euros per annum in about 2018 or so. .Over that Kw rate bills would be sent as they assume the location is commercial and TV licenses vary hugely depending on the size of hotel or sports bar as the fee includes public entertainment fees too.

A strong wind blew the kiwi down and we’d only been saying we must construct a better support for it so as push had come to shove we got to it and re strung the support for the vine at the same time. Looking over the bank we saw 2 very large branches had fallen out of an old acacia into the young saplings on the bank and pulled those down to the lower terrace. Totally exhausted we left recover and sawing up to other days, so much for 10 minute jobs. Ten days later we were back at it all over again as another south easterly turned westerly battered the house causing broken bottles and fence tops to disintegrate, fortunately the vine, pergolas and wood store were unaffected and the rain bedded in the roses, oliander and buddlia’s planted the day before the onslaught. A tree fell onto the road between Mr Sofia’s and the church which had them in a panic to chain saw it up so they could get to feed the dogs.

We decided to see the carnival at Foiano nr Bettole outlet village for valentines day which fell on the Sunday but heavy rain arrived just as the shuttle bus from the village to the town arrived and we were advised that the organizers decided to cancel the event. So as not to waste the day we went shopping and find lunch. Lunch we ate in Penny market where there’s the most wonderful bakery and the cost of pizza and snacks a fraction of the charges made in the village. We tried to get a baking tray for the stuffie and a long handled wooden spoon but when we got to the check out the prices shot up. We queried it but were told the computer was right and we made the mistake. We asked the man to see the prices on the shelves but he said he knew we were wrong so we left without buying anything. Its only the 3rd time anyone has been rude to us in 10 years of living here.

We thought we may go the following weekend but then discovered that the theme was Disney this year so decided to go next year and the Francesca asked if we’d come to a cat fund raising event in town. The event was held under the old palace, now library, in part of the cellars and we won the 1st prize in the raffle, a new cat carrier, and 3rd in the cake competition, an Italian cookery book. It was well attended and they’re planning another event to raise funds for dogs later in the year.

Despite the storms the temperatures remained mild enough for butterflies, lizards and bees to emerge along with the saffron crocuses, marigolds, cherry blossom, daffodils ( we had just 1 last year) and mimosa, all at least a month early and a drought was declared. The photo shows a dam north of Lucca, Tuscany, that was so dry the old drowned village has been exposed. We started the strimming & mowing around the 23rd , dodging the odd showery days and bought pansies for the flower pots and the geraniums for the window boxes to be potted on next month. We also enjoyed some lunches out in the sunshine however the 29th was a wet and wild day with 4 inches of rain in the night, roll on March.

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