Monday, 28 May 2007



AC had insisted I hadn't told him that I had invited four of our best friends to visit the farm, so he had arranged several meetings in London and departed thence!

The four days before the great arrival were the culmination of FOUR YEARS of preparation. Buying, renovating, planting, pruning, fertilizing, building, falling out, etc., and there I was with no husband to help!

I am sort of used to this as he has to travel a lot but this was a bridge too far. My wonderful gardener, his wife, Hessie, the dog, the only cat left after the poisoning, and myself were flat out not knowing how our new home was going to be received.

AC's last words were, "Don't worry about cooking". "Just take them out".

The first couple arrived from St. Tropez were they live, and had a dreadful drive through all those awful tunnels down from Liguria, which had taken eight and a half hours, arrived at drinks time. Which is just what we did. Have a drink. Sadly nobody wanted my one bottle of elderberry champagne!!!

The second couple had flown from Gloucestershire to Pisa and had driven for about three hours in the dark. We were quite jolly when they arrived and sailed past our front gate and disappeared into the woods with the pigs, but when asked to back for about half a mile in the dark, were fairly colourful in their language!

Dinner was finished at about two o'clock in the morning with the St. Tropez husband, who happened to be Italian, saying my pasta was too dry. Normally I am in bed by eight in the evening so getting up to lay for breakfast and finding one of my guests already at the table at six thirty was a shock.

Christopher I knew was a famous screenwriter and producer (Don't Look Now, The Young Catherine, etc), but was not aware he had also been a stand-up comic. The next five days were to prove some of the funniest any of us can remember. We didn't "Go Out" much but we certainly laughed. I can now cook wet pasta sauce, whilst laying the table, crying with laughter and feeding the dog at the same time.

Sunday, 13 May 2007


I have been meaning to begin this blog for months now but could not find anything to really blow my mind after four years of major events during redevelopment of an old farmhouse and twenty acres of olive terraces!!!

Today it happened. The water had gone off all over the olive groves and the casa. Of course it was a Sunday and lunch time!

As I made my way to the telephone I was felled by a blunderbuss from the car port, a loud hissing and a strong fruity smell. The dog barked, the cat hissed and I ran for the back door.

I had completely forgotten that two days earlier Hessy and I had bottled twenty-four old S. Pellegrino bottles with the first fermentation of Elderflower Champagne. Mother's old recipe in my much fingered Personal Recipe Book said in capitals, "Tie the Corks Down". Something to be remembered if anyone wants to try this.

We didn't have any corks or wine bottles and the S. Pellegrino bottles whose screw tops when used are not that secure the second time around are obviously not up to the job.

Hessy, my friend/sec/gardener/vegan/had insisted on making hers with brown sugar and these bottles were blowing through the roof every hour and on the hour.

I find this whole day not only funny but a lesson on not underestimating the power of nature. No yeast was added and within two days some sugar, a few sultanas and a few flower heads had turned into something DANGEROUS. The second bottle I tried to rescue went off in my hand and blew off my, not false nail, and bruised my hand. The remains of the contents was licked up by dog and cat!