Started the month by having a day off to lunch with friends, which extended to tea and almost supper. It was a beautiful day, sunny warm with a gently breeze and clear skies and eating in their manicured garden was bliss and summed up al the reasons for being here. The following day, almost as nice, we finished pruning the large acacia by the pool a job that took 3x as long as anticipated and bonfiring all the prunings to date that had dried out as rain was due in for the next week, drizzle to full blown storms. We lit the stuffy and filled the house with smoke. The stainless lined copper flue had 2 inches of sodden soot in the base, cleaned that helped the draw but we had to take the top plate apart and hoover out the ash between the top and fire box/oven to clear the blockage. A chore now listed for annual attention.

The 1st Friday and the third ended with me at the dentist but the work was almost painless and done with no fuss or bother.

There were lots of small earthquakes that continued to plague the far south east of the province, 200 a day between 1.5-3 or 4 on the Richter scale but too distant for us to feel. What they must be going through! Here's the link to the map where people report in so you can see we are some distance from all this really : http://www.emsccsem.org/Earthquake/earthquake.php?id=540796#intensmap On the road to a friend we were startled by huge bird of prey, buzzard or eagle we are not certain, landing in the road to pick up something but our arrival disturbed the bird who took off again, As we approached the fallen creature we saw it was a massive toad, making good its escape into the verge away from the exposure of the road. We hope it escaped being lunch.

Second week the temperatures dropped to 0 at bight and 9-12 in the day, bright but chilly, lit stuffie and sitting-room caminette to keep house warm between outside jobs. Borrowed a pressure washer to clean the pool tiles that had turned gray and black with algae and the cracks due to movement were more serious than we thought. So lifted and cleaned the tiles that had broken, scrubbed bleach and algaecide treatment into the tiles and then scrubbed with the pressure washer. Did we get wet! That took 5 days and then we spent another week resetting the tiles using coloured cement to disguise the breaks and white grout between. We also discovered we can import a pool robot from the USA like the 2 we have, for less than a similar type here. Mike spent 2 of the wet days locating the problem with the “new” robot and thinks from tests and what people have said hat the cable is faulty. He stripped down our old unit and replaced the cable. We won’t know if the fix has worked until we open he pool in July next year. In a cold but sunny break we foam glued the lose tiles on the pool and re-grouted and coloured the gaps in the broken tiles that we could get at. It looked better than the gaps but it is a bit orangy looking and we hope the colour will tone down over the winter and once the cover comes off we’ll have a go at the other bits hidden underneath.

Donald Trump won the USA elections despite Hilary Clinton being posted as the favorite. The world held its breath for 12 hours then Canada’s website for emigration crashed, riots, protest etc but like Britex the people voted for the one who listened. This was the same day our 1st Christmas card arrived – that’s organized for you.

Made a pomegranate syrup cake with 2 we had grown ourselves, although small they were tasty and very juicy ,( very similar to a lemon drizzle cake).

Kitchen tiles were extended although we couldn’t get the exact match they looked fine once they had set. When we first fitted them they had a blue tinge to them and looked very odd. We hope the over cupboards will disguise the fact the ones below are not the same creamy green tinge but to the beige.

Decided next year we would have a couple of days at Elba and to our astonishment they are booked almost a year in advance and we had great difficulty in booking at a reasonable price, 400 euros a double with breakfast for 2 nights was about average. The problem is people booking 3 or 4 hotels on a free cancellation deal and then a month before releasing the ones they don’t want. Also package holiday groups book hotels up at the earliest they can and if they don’t get enough for the tour they then canceled which is why ‘lastmiunet.com’ works. After 2 days of solid searching we found a place on the island and another in Monticatini between Lucca and Prato that between them work out OK This time we’ll also email the hotels to ensure they have our booking before we go off.

This prompted us to book our stay at Malta and were just in time as 90% of places had been block booked but we got a week at the St George hotel on Dragon road! It’s a short walk to the night life center, not where we planned to be but it sounds like fun and we hope for good double glazing. Fortunately our house sitters are happy to do the few extra days and they’re house sitting close by so we’ll meet up in early December to get aquatinted over lunch somewhere.

Friends emailed to say a family tour of Europe may include a visit to us with 14 people in the autumn!

Ann suggested we look at Poppi which has a very interesting square castle and a fabulous restaurant in the tiny town north of Arezzo. Its about 2 hrs 45mins away so a good day out exploring for next year perhaps. It’s going to be an interesting year!

Our Fejoya (pineapple guava) had a bumper crop throwing huge fruit off in the high winds. Not sure what to do with them, they taste a bit like aftershave although its supposed to taste like a cross between a pineapple, apple, mint and banana so looked up the internet that suggested we add it to Greek yogurt, make fruit muffins or add to salads. It has many health benefits apparently from fighting infections to helping with cholesterol issues.

The last 10 days were mild, peaking at 18c in the day and dropping to just 8c at night. We didn’t turn off the central heating as we’d be warned there was an arctic blast due so we wanted to keep the house warm, almost stifling. The locals moaned about the unseasonal heat but as they tend to wear furs, many layers and scarves after 1st October we were not that surprised. The last weekend made up for it by plunging to zero at night and just 7c during the day.

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