This month started with a wonderful surprise that sums up much of why we love it here. We were shopping in Lids and as we were at the check out the assistant handed Mike 2,50 saying she’d realized the last time we were there, 2 weeks past, she’d over charged us for the cauliflower and had tried to give us the refund but we’d all ready driven away so she kept the change safe until she saw us again. To say we were astonished is understating the situation.

The pansies were potted on and into the garden so that along with the daffodils and marigolds splashes of colour brightened the garden. On the terraces the peaches, apricots, May and golden plum bloomed riotously but the old cherry didn’t flower so suspect it may have succumbed. Mowing commenced as did fence repairing in earnest, the deer know hunting season is over and they’re munching their way through the place, the Medlar is a stick, the roses nipped, willow nibbled and the parsley is making headway.

The weather changed to sunshine, coldish nights and blustery winds alternating with damp days so keeping up with outside jobs was dependent of each day as it came. Despite the damp days we still had to water occasionally and one of the lemon trees hadn’t received enough and dropped all its leaves, hopefully it will recover with some tlc.

During the wet days, not many, and evenings Mike decided to try some on line courses and exams with the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association in America. First he achieved certificates of competence in various fields and levels. He also did an Aviation101 course and was pleased to find it relatively easy with all the other course work he’d done. Cheered by his success he applied to the American FAA and completed more certificated courses before he went for his “Wings”.

The basic pilot course when completed gave him a Bronze award and the Silver covered the advanced level. The Gold Master pilot course and exam wasn’t quite a plain sailing but he did pass and to his utter delight he received in the post actual tie pin metal awards as well as certificates to print out and add to the 60 others achieved over the winter months.

Disaster struck early in the 2nd week, although Mike was remarkably lucky not have been cut up extremely badly when the metal bladed head on the strimmer flew off across our yard as he was stopping the machine to refill. Can you imagine what would of happened if it had been going at full speed? We managed to find the washer, bolt and cone but failed to recover the locking washer despite scouring the ground repeatedly, even trying magnets and the metal detector to find pipes in walls.

As grass was now off the list temporarily we stripped the up stairs office / linen stores, it took a good day. How we manage to get all that stuff in there as it was now spread across the landing, 2 bedrooms and the kitchen up there. Mike treated the walls with the fungicide to kill the mold and got into in full paint mode, so we had tools, paint pots, brushes, paper and plastic adorning floors, hallways and much of downstairs too. So we are just not in a fit state to entertain at the moment. Also we start early, finish late, eat bath and collapse into bed, although we didn’t go mad, Mike had time to fly most evenings and I amalgamated 2 short stories into a short novel for a Daily mail competition, so not all work and no play.

Good news was the following Friday we took the strimmer and surviving bits to the man we bought it off and he fixed it there and then, supplied a new cone, washer and new string head as that was on its last legs too, all for under 15 euros. The place is an astonishing Aladdin's cave of bits for every machine ever made, if he doesn't have it it done' exist! We'll go back for a replacement petrol switch for the generator that bust and we've had to run it dry as petrol was dripping out of the air filter on the floor of the boiler room, not a good scenario.

Spoke with Jean, she was released from the plaster cast on her leg but couldn’t put any weight on her leg at all and the other is aching trying to compensate. Mum said the same happened to her too during recover and its taken the year to get her walking normally so Jean may have a way to go yet.

Annie invited us to join her and Robert along with Mike and Sheila and Ann, the usual suspects to Easter lunch. Robert had carried the leg of lamb from the Uk on a plane, it was so much nicer than the Italian lamb which is too young, strangely tough and gamy. A stupendous meal with a cheese course and vin santo and cantucci to end. Staggering from the table at 4pm we then went to see the Easter faire in Citta della Pieve where we bout a Lovage plant and a pepper one. Not sure what type of pepper we’ll have to wait and see.

Back to the gardening after Easter week and Mike being careful not to assassinate the poppies that were growing on the banks in the long grass. Having been put on hold again we replaced the rotted cane on the wood store roof with a twiggy roll that is normally used as a wind break but it looks very rustic and perfect on the roof. The outside wooden floors in the gazebo and back garden were treated with wood preservative and the wood around the base of the gazebo replaced. The many fences the deer were crashing through were repaired again and we noted we were running out of cut trees to keep up with the repairs.

Easter was the turning point in the weather. Easter Monday was dull with occasional drizzle then it started to pick up to 8 to10c at night and 18 to 22c in the day. We washed all the plastic linen bags for the grand sort out, rearranged the office stores, planted out the window box geraniums and Bertha, our wood fired central heating system, was put to bed until November and there was a rush to cut the grass, that didn’t have poppies in, as the last day of the month heralded a gale arriving from the south.

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