Sunday, 12 August 2007


On my last visit to London some friends asked us for lunch in Petworth. I asked what an old green dress of Lillis' was doing standing like a scarecrow in the middle of one of their flower beds!

After lunch David took us to see a new sculpture in green marble they had bought a week previously at a wonderful gallery not far from their house. They were just testing various positions where it might stand to the best effect

Of course, not to be outdone, I bought one of Paul Vanstone's fabulous sculptures for AC's birthday and Christmas presents!!! (That will be for the next ten years I suspect), and here it is standing in all its glory at the end of the swimming pool.

Paul came out to install it on his way to Carrera to collect a consignment of new marble and we had a hilarious two days with him. AC was away and it was all a surprise for him when he got back. Never will he know the labour of love the installation took.

Now the Boar in the orto will have someone to talk to. Maybe not!!!!

In a future blog I will tell the whole story of Paul's visit. Very funny in retrospect! Not at the time.


Isn't this a pretty flower?

I saw it growing in a pond in Antigua and on our return to Italy I stuffed one small plant into an empty tennis ball tube.

Now we have them growing on the lake and in these planters from the reclamation yard. If anybody would like some, just shout.

You may have to bring them in to over winter.

By the way, does anyone know its real name?


Glads aren't really my favourite flower but this year they have been wonderful.

This bunch came as a free gift from a bulb company when I placed an order last autumn. I stuck the bulbs in the ground not expecting to see a flower. This wonderful array of colour was the result.

Bring on the freebies!



Four years of rebuilding the farm and four months of drought and then a deluge of guests and rain arrive. Then some dreaded hail to damage the olive crop and flood the kitchen. “ It never rains but……

The friends have arrived to see for themselves why we have been absent from London for the past four years and seem mildly impressed but more so with the sunshine after the awful weather they have suffered in England this year.

Firstly, Terry and Felicity arrived. He a big AdMan who loves corn on the cob. I had been beating off any hungry looking locals who looked longingly at my crop in order to impress my American visitor who can devour at least thirty cobs at one sitting. (I think he is from the deep South)! He duly accepted the challenge for two days and I was congratulating myself on having got my timing to perfection. At breakfast on the morning we were leaving on our trip to Positano, I noticed his brand new bottom set of crowns looked decidedly tatty! I asked when his final trip to the dentist was planned and with a less than perfect grin, he said it was all finished!!!

I was unsure where to go next when trying to tell him that I would ask for my money back if I were he! He had spent thousands on his new set of gnashers and the bottom set in my opinion did not live up to the “ping” of the adverts.

I left him in the dark and waited for the yell of pain which I felt was inevitable during his morning ablutions. It came half an hour later followed by his wife’s laughter and various scatological jokes about the best way to recover his highly prized, shiny bottom (!) set of teeth.

The trip to Positano was uneventful except AC insisted on showing Toothless’ wife the whole of the Amalfi coast which added at least another three hours of driving to the end of at least five. Big Addy sat silently in the back pondering his molars with the odd “Goddammit” as I narrowly missed the ninety-third large bus on an impossible corner.

The Sirenuse Hotel was a welcome sight and the Range Rover was whisked away, not to be seen again, and certainly not missed for at least a week. Eight hours dicing with Italian drivers on the Amalfi coast must be up amongst the top most dangerous sports!!! And I mean sport to the locals. They spot a ‘stranieri’ and vie with each other as to who can turn the intruder’s hair white in the quickest possible time. This sport is not only undertaken by the men, the women are far worse and reminded me of “The Bicycle Man” in Nice who used to rush up to cars headon on the edge of the water, only to stop just short of their bumpers, jam on his brakes and rear up his bike while he viewed the collapsed driver behind his wheel suffering from a heart attack. I believe he only fell into the water doing this about ten times over a forty year career.

Felicity and I were desperate to hit the linen shops of Positano. Clothes that is, not bed. Everything we did to lose the men had no effect so we took out a boat for an evening cruise. We found a great Captain who during the winter months drives a tanker in the Caribbean!!! Wonderful, rugged rocks dropping beneath the waves from hundreds of feet in the air. Little windy roads with dinky toy cars dashing in one side of the hill and ant-like, reappearing the other side. When you are driving on them they feel quite substantial but viewed from a boat hundreds of feet below, they look suicidal clinging to the rocks. Man and his achievements is awesome when you see nothing daunts him when progress beckons.

We swam off the boat in crystal clear, warm turquoise water and counted our blessings.

I asked our Captain about the hill fires that were raging on certain stretches of the mountainside and he laughed when I suggested the odd cigarette might have started them. “That”, he said, “Is big business!” Everything in Italy is ‘business’.

If a fire starts then someone has to be paid to put it out! Then someone else has to be paid recompense by the authorities, and another someone has to replant with trees and bushes! Gives everyone something to do once the holiday makers have gone home. Makes sense really!

Nice day spent in Capri, a place none of us had been to before. Next year we decided we would spend our time there instead of Positano. Positano is good for the leg muscles but there are too many pairs of legs being exercised on the charming streets. Apparently, in Capri once the ferries have all left if you aren’t staying in a villa or a hotel, everyone has gone home and the island is peaceful so you can shop to your hearts content with people like Elton John and a few Royals!!!!

Hot day spent in Pompeii with a fascinating guide who brought the whole horror to life! Apparently there are still forty to fifty thousand people living on the mountainside beneath Vesuvius – and it’s SMOKING! I think I would re-locate!!!

Holiday over and just leaving the winding roads at Sorrento when some idiot stopped in front of me and on applying the brakes, nothing happened! Big heart-stopping moment saved only by a quick pumping. “Goddammits” flying everywhere and we still had five more hours of driving! Made it but would not do that drive again for all the good breaks in the world. The garage tells us the ABS had gone, whatever that might be, and that it will cost six thousand euros to replace. I liked the look of Victoria Beckham’s new drop-head Bentley in Hello Magazine last week!! Perhaps that would be more reliable. AC says I am as common as she. Especially as I admired her initials on the white head-rests and the hub caps!!!

Second lot of guests arrive and so does the cooking! Nobody seems to want to go out when they stay with us. Wonderful laughter though and because the drought was still holding, good tans all round.

Second disaster after a trip to Cortona where sit in the main square and laugh at all the stranieri, little realizing they are all laughing at us at the same time. I had taken the girls in the Range Rover and because we couldn’t all fit in, AC took Mike in my little black Fiat 500. Had a good laugh at WPP's newly appointed designer and Mike a 'Big Banker' struggling to get into the smallest car in the world not realizing that disaster lay ahead.

We had bought several different flavours of ice cream and Mike was in a hurry to get them into the deep freeze! They had beaten us down the hill and as we turned the last corner leading up to our gates the little car was a blazing inferno! The farmer who lives next door was directing a very small hose of water onto the blazing engine and no sign of AC and Mike!!!

Panic for a few seconds when AC reappeared from the farmhouse where he had been ringing the fire station but still no Mike. I dashed for the door of the Fiat to switch off the ignition and let out some smoke and then rescue what I imagined was an unconscious Mike. We had spent thousands of pounds having the interior spruced up with pale cream leather and I did not want it ruined!!!

Mike finally appeared having dashed to our farm to get a fire extinquisher only to find he couldn’t get into the house. He said he spent some time trying to find somewhere in the shade to hide the boxes of ice cream!!!!!

The final horror became apparent when we discovered that in Italy insurance does not mean the same thing. It means you insure the other guys car, not your own.