An interesting start to the month was an earthquake. It registered 4.2 on the Richter scale but for us it sounded like supersonic boom or a tractor hitting the house causing the bed to shift left the right. Naturally we jumped out of the bed to check for damage but found nothing but a skewed picture. The epicenter was about 20km away which is why we felt it so much despite being registered as a small episode. There were no after shocks that we noticed either. There was a second on the 9th of the month north of Volterra which was just 3.2 and we didn’t notice that at all. So parents arrived and left with a bang.

The month was dismal rain every week causing the grass and weeds to shoot up over night we seemed to be mowing or strimming every second there was some sun. Despite this we did manage two trips with visiting parents one to Orvieto, when we got damp but it didn’t spoil the day at all and the second trip was to Saturnia, we paddled in the warm to hot waters in the thermal cascades and then went on to Pitigliano to see the old Jewish ghetto, synagogue and cemetery. For that it stayed nice and on the way home we had a call from our neighbour asking if he could call round for ten minutes. We said OK but the few minuets turned into two hours as he wanted us to translate his reply to an English lady who was asking about buying a property he wonted and he wanted it to be correct and emotional as people buy with the heart. He did bring what we think is a very expensive bottle of 1999 wine and apologized profusely for interrupting the family get together. He also said he hoped to resume work on the apartments next-door soon as he was much better having stopped working long hours and relaxing more. He looked better than we had seen him for over a year ago.

We all picked beautiful cherries at a friends house and took a picnic only to get home with a thunderstorm in full swing and Mach1 in distress. We had noticed he was fussing with the base of his tail and removed what we thought was a tick, it may have been but what we didn’t know was he had been in a cat fight and had an abscess brewing there too and he cried every time he tried to sit or stand. The following morning was a dash to the vest where it was burst and cleaned followed by an injection of antibiotics. We were given a prescription to dose him twice daily and told to clean the drainage to keep it from healing over. The result was one very peeved cat who ran every time he saw us as we hurt him or shoved banana flavoured liquid down his throat. We were offered a prescription for injections but both of us turned pale and sweaty so the vet opted for the liquid which is given to small children instead. All seemed well then just over a week after the wound had healed the ginger tom bit him again and within 3 days his tail was up in a lump again. This time it was worse, if you can imagine that, so we had to leave him for 2 hours so the vet could deal with it and gave a long lasting injection of antibiotics. We are not in his good books and that's the least of it. So bathing the site, when allowed and giving lots of treats to encourage his appetite. The ginger menace came into the house to steal his food, and once walked right through to the kitchen.

Pa and Mike sorted out a problem of a blocked gutter in a most ingenious way. They took our pool cleaning extendible rood, fixed a smaller extendible pole used to attach window cleaning heads on for upper story windows, then fixed the arm of a radiator cat bed to that. The cat bed fixing was S shaped and fitted into the gutter perfectly. Mike lifted the whole contraption up into the gully of the gutter and simply walked back and forth moving the twigs and rubbish over the end. He did get wet but there was a hug gulp and suddenly there was water passing down the end pipe not cascading over the sides.

We asked the opinion of our parents about the kitchen layout. We didn’t want a fitted one but the way we have it looks untidy and a new pair of eyes will see what we over look daily. The result is we are going to resort the larder and move the huge dresser in there and have a work-top fitted along one wall with units under for storage in the kitchen. Sounds simple but its going to be a logistical nightmare. Several days of negotiations between us to include an itinerary to empty, move, stack and refill units was agreed. What we had not panned on was taking the tiles of the wall as we do not have the 80 tiles needed to fill in the area that was behind the dresser. We will make inquires over the next few months as to costs and the best way to attempt it while running down stock, less to move, then think in the new year is the time to attempt it as they will be no grass to tackle on a daily basis.

I defrosted the freezer it didn't take long with de-icer and the heat as it was wheeled outside and said it seemed silly to put it back in the kitchen when its going to be moved anyway. That resulted in 2hrs of shifting things, finding new homes for them, discovering even more jam, and moving the fridge. Later that night we both said, they're on the wrong wall ! So when we get to dismantling both kitchen and larder they'll be moved again. We're on plan Z for layouts about now.

The tiles are still an issue, remove or leave? If we take the ones off on the long wall should we take the others that go around the corner off or not? I am concerned they add .25" and will knock the top and units out of alignment then having moved the F&F we find there is a small kick out at the base of the wall anyway so the units will have to be set just off the wall in any case. Plus much to our astonishment they don't fit sockets into the tops we'll have to extend a lead up the wall and place sockets above the unit top. Its a good job we haven't jumped in with this as its taking a lot longer to think about than we thought.

Mike made new handles from bits we bought yesterday, and would you believe that in a box of 16 nuts and bolts 4 nuts are the wrong size? Anyway we had enough and they're nice and strong, see piccy attached. The toaster is still in bits the new part arrived, its the wrong one! Another on the way and should arrive in about 10 days if we're lucky.

Friends asked us to help promote their property on the Internet but were skeptical about its impact or relevance as they use traditional agents. We think both are valid options but both need correct promotion. The gooseberries were not so abundant but we are down to just five bushes one was only bought this year and did not have any fruit another is only just fruiting after 2 years so grateful for the 4kgs we got. Which made 10 jars of jam The apricots started to rot on the tree before they were ripe so picked and gave them away as we have enough jam for the next 2 years.

but the locals say its going to be a terrible year again for the olives as the blossom has been washed away with all the unseasonable rain. This will make 3 bad years in a row, poor farmers, and oil prices will rocket and diluted products, with vegetable oils or older oils, will increase in the market place.

The cuckoo left our area early in the month to be replaced by a golden oriole and goldfinches. The fireflies appeared, a little late due to the weather. Then on the 20th Summer arrived it was supposed to be 27-30 but the thermometer on the window hit 40c so back to late night mowing. The mozzies are out in force and now biting seriously, even Mike got bitten which is unusual. Some of the lavender has started to turn over so cut some off the bottom and its drying out on the table.

Put the project to one side as I had an idea form for a novelette, which is still in the early stages of typing. It is something different to do when rain stops play, or strimming in our instance. However more urgent matters constantly interrupted thoughts. E.G the Prudential tried to defend their ineptitude and lack of caring attitude towards their clients when releasing bond funds by sending a transcript to the ombudsman by excluding telephone communications for half of the month. They only addressed emails and omitted o explain how 2 different personnel acknowledged receipt of documents on 2 different days and they managed to contradict themselves 3 times on the same day they paid out saying they couldn’t. Makes us glad we left their clutches but we’ll fight on as others will be involved in their ineptitude when it comes to transfers. This was a major headache and needed several reading s and then collating to gather the information together in tabulated form so we could follow the events in chronological order. It made the Prudential look like total idiots but an ombudsman can only advise to take our complaint seriously but the Pru seem arrogant enough to bully their way on thinking we’ll back down – mistake no 3.

In the middle of the month, fortunately after visitors had left, the control unit on the water reservoir water pump began acting up before failing. It was then we discovered, by using the water supply directly connected to the house instead of the reservoir route, the water company must have changed a pump somewhere below as we suddenly had 6bar pressure, causing the over flows to send water pouring out all over the place. We had to get a new pump so we could top up the pool before it could be opened. Found one on ebay, a look-a-like for the original only 25 euros delivered and its better than the 150 model. Took a little while to fit but then it worked 1st time. The snag, part of the roof of the pump house fell in so had to pit prop it up so it didn’t collapse in the future. One step forwards one back.

Started to cut and dry the lavender that seemed to bloom and go over very fast this year but the bees and butterflies had a wonderful time. The budlia is vast and will need a 6 foot all over to take it back to where we were in March when we cut it last.

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