There were 2 notable April fools jokes that we particularly liked. The first was by the Western telegraph newspaper from Haverfordwest saying the town council were proposing to solve the local traffic issues by investing in a 6 carriage monorail that would cost an astonishing amount necessitating in a huge rise in rates for the next 100 years. The second was by an on line chef site saying that with the advent of Britexit imperial weights and measures would be reinstated.

Watering the flowers on alternate days as we still had received little rain, the beasties and birdies we grateful for the buckets we left them on the edge of the woodland . Another tree died but we will wait for this to fall before calling in help to cut it up as it’s not in a place that will cause undue damage. Twilight brought clouds of bats swooping and spiraling through the darkening sky, so swift and fascinating to watch.

Mike's radio license expired in January so he emailed to ask how he renewed, 1 month later they're asking for receipt, what receipts we asked? Got a reply saying he should have paid 5 euros a year to keep it 10 years + small fine he's now legit again, astonishing.

Valentine recovered the wood from his felling and returned it cut into useable sizes for our bio-mass burner in an afternoon. I5t took two afternoons to stack it and we gained about 2m2 at just a bit more than we’d usually pay so very pleased. Stacked the larger and longer bits for the central heating burner, medium sized bits into crates for the caminetti in the living room to one side. It was then that we decided to re-roof the small stuffie wood storage as the tarpaulin wasn’t doing the wood any good, the lower layers molding and growing fungus as there was no air circulating. The cut wood was hauled out of the stores on to a waterproof sheet and a second on top while we constructed a high roof and covered that in the old tarpaulin but well secured so it wouldn’t take off in the wind. Then placed the small wood into crates, so it is easier to pick up for the kitchen when needed, has air circulating around each lot and looks much neater. Unfortunately 3 more trees, not as large, have not leafed up so planning to chop them in late autumn.

Post has become diabolical. Checking our bank account we noticed we were short 26 euros but the water bill was due and its about that usually but no sign of the bill as we’ve only had 2 deliveries since Xmas. Went to town and called in at the sorting office asked where was our water bill and other post as nothing received for 10 weeks and the lass shrugs and says why? Hoping utility bills will catch up to balance books eventually but not holding breath but did get some post from Uk, 6 weeks after it had been posted, 2 Easter cards and some cards for Mike’s impending birthday.

While on the retouching of the paintwork we also started on the wooden windows. We discovered you can use tinted boot polish to buff them up and seal them from the rain. Finding a wax polish is like finding hens teeth as people use creams and sprays these days but eventually found some in a Chinese shop in Chuisi. Mike spent 2 weeks between mowing getting the windows back into shape and gleaming once more.

The library newsletter included this and we love it so passing it along: That essential ingredient – Italian wine by Paul Turina Here you are in Italy, surrounded by magnificent architecture, astounding art, vivid history, and satiated by fantastic food - a sensory overload like an ocean in which it's difficult to stay afloat. You might have gone in for nothing more than a refreshing dip, but suddenly you are struggling for the shore. Then someone hands you a glass of wine. It's a life ring... Instantly your heartbeat slows, your mind calms, and you pull yourself to safety. Don't overlook the importance of that glass of wine. I believe it is as essential to digestion of the day's cultural intake as it is to taking in calories. Wine blends the spices, the sights and sounds, the flavours and colours of Italian life, which will linger on the palate and which you'll remember all your days.

I know there are some out there who don't like or for some reason can't take wine, but I'm sorry, I believe you cannot truly experience Italy without it. Just as it is essential to have some understanding of Roman history, Christianity, the Renaissance or the world wars, you cannot truly know Italy without knowing its wines. We recognize Italy’s justified prominence in human history and culture, but I don’t believe it’s appropriate to have that discussion without considering its equal prominence in the world of wine. Italy truly stands apart, above really, any other wine producing country. Certainly there are great wines made in other parts of the world, but Italy makes so many great wines they often disappear in the crowd.

There are at least at least five indigenous Italian grape varieties that can produce truly world class wines: Nebbiolo for Barolo Sangiovese for Brunello Sagrantino, Umbria’s gift to the world Aglianico for Taurasi, and Cannonau for the Cannonau di Sardegna (my personal favorite) These indigenous grapes can produce wines that unequivocally stand beside the best wines in the world. Have you tried them all? If not, get started. If you have, good for you. Now get busy because there are 372 more to try.

Mind you, that’s not 372 more wines, that’s 372 more grape varieties. You can be certain that somewhere in Italy someone is making a single variety wine from every one of them. When you consider how many different wines can be made from the same grape - Sangiovese alone can produce Brunello, Vino Nobile, the myriad Chiantis, super Tuscans and countless other blends - the number of different wines produced in Italy is in the thousands. No-one really knows with certainty. For that reason, I believe it’s best to focus not on the wines but on the grapes. It’s impossible to learn or taste all of the different wines produced in this country. It’s a noble quest to even try to taste all of the grapes. I have made it my passion for the past 10 years and I believe I may have finally tasted 100 different grape varieties. Based on the most authoritative work I can find, that leaves me well below 25% of the way to my goal.

Do you know that 80% all the wine produced in France comes from just 12 varieties, and that there are only a bit more than 50 varieties officially in cultivation in France. For comparison, there are likely 50 varieties in cultivation in the Veneto alone.

So much wine, so little time!

Just after Easter the weather turned dramatically to wet, icy and windy, so seedlings had to be fleeced and the geraniums brought to the house walls in hopes of saving them.

Mikes birthday was celebrated at the air show in Castiglione del Lago with aperitifs with lots of food afterwards. We had been invited out for pizza by friends but he really wanted to go to the show. There was an air display of American jets that looped, flew around in spirals, very close and fast to the field and other stunts, small very fast helicopter, the Guarda di financia helicopter (customs and excise), a bi-plane, ornithopter a giroscope and all sorts of things that flew. A local reenactment lot with WW2 jeeps, gattling gun, motor bikes and side cars. Stands selling everything from planes, parts of planes, badges and toys to a jet flight simulator virtual reality capsule (which had very long queues to try). There were lots of people attending and we had to park 5 mins away from the airfield. It was good to see so many families out in the sunshine enjoying the display.

Then it was a race between us and the greenery to get ready for our house sitters so we could go on our weeks holiday to Malta while they cared for Mach1 and watered in our absence. Acacia trees burst into bloom with so many flowers they looked like white fountains. The yellow rose also was a wonderful cascade.


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