Found another source of pale gravel but by the heck the stuffs gone up in 10 years , its tripled in price! Believe it or not each of the people we've approached have sent us on to a competitor as they can't supply the colour we want and this one is no different and we've been given directions to a quarry between us and Fabro up a hill somewhere, so we asked Valentino if he knows them and get him to get a quote and ensure its a pale brown stone not mud coloured. We wanted sand / golden but it comes from out the other side of Perugia or near Trevi and the cost of transport is 2x the cost of the stone . Went on to have a pizza just down the road and the table along side had a group of ex-pats who used to live in Pitshanger lane Ealing just around the corner from Maggie and grandma, astonishing! Then we were emailed in the 2nd week, from "House in the Sun" who said their recent Manchester expo had a lot more visitors this year than ever, so no-one is being put off by the Britex situation. And the list of exhibitors for London show was included. Checking we saw a agents from Ealing (a sign?) that sell property here in Italy. We emailed them and Chris called us back to say although they concentrate on the South of the country to show clients around they would take us and our friends houses on at 2% as they can’t do their usual show and tell and it would be up to us. The appointment to talk to the bank to find out how much they charge to sell houses on their new website came out at the same 2% but they also want a 360 charge to compile a booklet on the property for mortgage purposes, which could be very useful.

The fruit trees filled with blossom, the may, irises, every thing took the 1st as a signal to erupt, including blue bottles that invaded the house as the change over from winter to spring. We shut down the wood burners and cleared the boiler room and took the bath mats and dressing gowns to the launderette.

The weather was incredible, on the 2nd it hit 38c and we retreated inside on the 4th it reached 32c. It was like the 1st year we were here no spring to speak of we went straight into summer. We have heard the cuckoo, pheasants and there are swifts swooping all over and the sunsets….

We emailed Ikea because I picked up a floor lamp and the base disintegrated dropping large lumps of cement and plastic over the floor, it missed my feet thankfully. As its 10 years old we did not expect the response to be, after a couple of emails asking for photos and where we bought it, "can we collect it and replace it?" Gob Smacked ! Before the end of the following week a courier phoned to say he had our order and he wanted to pick up a package as well. The exchange made and box opened and not only was there a replacement lamp, a new bulb but also a pack of 2 6 way extension leads with IKEA'’ compliments - speechless!!

This was the first of our pleasant surprises this month. We went into town expecting to join the mostra to show off local saffron, lentils, beans & wine producers with samples at the end. Despite receiving an email giving the participants names and time, no venue was included, we asked the tourist office who had no idea of the event at all. So as we were in town we went to the old palace and met a friend who said something was happening on the 3rd floor. It was a discussion on antique armor, as used by Joan of Arc, but along side was the new museum, which we decided to tour instead. A snap shot of the fauna and flora, petrified shells and trees, stuffed animals and frescoed ceilings, compact and quickly toured but worth a look around. What ever happened to the event we went to see no one can tell us.

We then went on to Corciano for Mike to fly and to look for alternative venues to eat lunch when collecting friends and family from Perugia. We looked at several commercial trading estates off the superstrada from he airport. Some were helpful , although most were bars with just rolls and the like on offer, many just catered for the workers so at the weekend it was slim pickings. We dined at our favorite venue ( a mama & papa’s place opposite a supermarket) having pasta with ragu and 1 ltr of wine and water for 16 euros. After the flight we went back to San Sisto and discovered a Diner that offered a set meal of small antipasta (choice of 3), pasta of the day or Pizza, small soft drink and coffee for 8 euros. We asked their times of opening and variations, which were “if you want a large bottle of drink add 1 euro but you can take things away or add, what ever you like”. As we were hot and it was getting close to teatime we opted to have a drink, 1 Procesco and a Crocandino. When we came we to pay the owner said it “was her pleasure and they hoped to see us again soon”: Surprise doesn’t cover it and we will certainly dine there when Mike flies next and on our way home from the airport.

In the meanwhile we became increasingly concerned about 2 enormous trees in the garden by the house. One 30 foot acacia had died off totally and was dropping limbs and we realized if it fell it would take out the entire terrace supporting the house, the second was along side the property where half had died off and the rest was bashing the tiles on the house. Fortunately Annie came to the rescue recommending her gardening friend who cut a very large fir in her garden and so he was sent to view our 2 problems. The one by the house he said was simple and he’d clean it up. This we thought would be the more difficult as the garage and wood store lay beneath but he said the dead one was the dangerous one and we must move a fence, as he was certain the tree would demolish it when he cut it. So there we were removing a fence when all the other weeks we were fixing and replacing them after the animals have been through them, ironic or what.

Before they arrived on the bank holiday Monday (25th) we were able to venture over to L’Argentario for Mike’s 60th birthday, where a lot of the Roman playboys have their motor boats and yachts. Taking in a detour to Saturnia thermal springs The trip started off with us missing a turning and ending up on top of a mountain above the clouds having passed a thermal power station on switch back roads that made a bob sleigh run look easy. We did get back on track and found ourselves in very picturesque countryside and the natural thermal baths. There people were soaking up the heat in the cascades and the river flowing away from the pools. Walking back to the car we past an interesting rock formation where the lava flow could clearly be seen. On to lunch at Magliano di Toscana, where we met a very interesting Polish group who had organised an evening of poetry and music recital, we were invited but had to press on to Orbetello. The walls are amazing and the old town tiny with lots of places to eat and an interesting one way system.

The hotel in Orbetello was clean comfortable, just 200m from the town center and served a massive buffet breakfast that kept us going all day. The drive around L’argentario was a disaster, despite all maps and pictures showing the road circumnavigated the isle it ran out on top of a mountain side into a deeply rutted mud and rock strewn tracks. Fortunately a 4x4 with German tourists arrived having tried and failed to make the crossing and advised us to retrace our path around the isle just 10km short of our destination. The hair raising drive back along single crumbling tarmac switch back roads, that would have been more appropriate in a trill seekers amusement park, with mad Italian drivers trying to either force you off the unprotected edge into the sea far below or rock face is something we’ll not forget in a hurry. The drive home was simple and we found the town known as the place of tufo which we will return to visit in a few months and we saw 2 golden oriole birds, which we had to look up when we got home and a hoopoe.

Later that evening we went for pizza but ate pasta with friends to celebrate Mikes big 60, although he says he still feels like its 40.

The last few days of the month brought high winds that knocked over the kiwi support and rain that encouraged the grass to gallop upwards and the acacias to bloom filling the air with their honeyed scent but it dry the night we went with Annie to meet up with Francesca at the asparagus sagra at Pietrafitta which was well organized, tasty if a bit on the blustery side.

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