Monday, 29 October 2007


My blogging has been hampered for months now and I have really missed putting down my thoughts about our lives on our farm it Italy.

After the flooding we had so many wonderful friends coming from England to visit us that I really did not have the time to myself to gather my thoughts and then put them in my blog. Robyn, my Australian artist friend, has said I should just write two lines and add a few photographs and leave it at that. That is probably the route I should take but even that takes time and so for the time being I am going to have to be verbose!!

I have learned a lot this year about what to grow in the kitchen garden, when, and how many! Firstly we had a glut of zuccini and I made hundreds of bags of pulp which now fill up my deep freeze. If you buy six zucini plants and plant them at the same time, you deserve to have a glut!

Same with corn on the cob, fava beans, etc. etc. So next year everything is going to be different.

I have discovered that what one grows in the Shires, does not grow here! I wanted a herbaceous border just like my friends in England but that does not work here with our clay soil and long periods of drought. I am going semi-tropical and this should make for less work as well. Not so much weeding and clearing in the autumn. I haven't seen enough gardens in this part of the world to see how it is done, so next year I must get in the car and travel around all the famous gardens in our area.

From our large dining room windows we look up at the village of Cortona and a wonderful, ancient cemetery! While Aziz' sister Diana was here we went up to look around. I was so impressed that I am about to book myself a niche!! Well, it has a view over our property and I can keep an eye on the new owners and what they are doing to my little farm!!!

I will descend from the hills and haunt them if they do anything I disapprove of!!

I was thrilled with my first hive of bees and thought they had been doing wonderfully, coming and going full of pollen and buzzing around the kitchen garden with great energy. We finally opened them up only to find that half of them were dead. Killed by overheating. I kicked myself as I knew they fanned themselves and the honey when hot. When the guy who sold me the bees installed the hive he insisted it go where it is now and not where I had prepared a place in the shade. I knew would be cooler for them.

He won the battle and now we are without honey this year.

Hessi and I went off to a local horse show in Citta de Castello in the summer and saw a little pony being treated rather badly. I knew AC would be furious but I told this horrible, sleazy horse-coper that I wanted to buy the pony!

He is a little stallion called Socks and he has a wife called Knickers!

Luckily AC wasn't here so I quickly made the roll-over into a stable and the ponies, after several break-outs were installed, and we quickly post-and-railed the orchard.

They are delightful and answer in high pitched voices when I call and dash up for their piece of sugar. They are about the size of Lamu but she is terrified of them.

The local horse show with a competition for the best hat took place in Arezzo! I think Ascot could teach the locals a thing or two!!!

AC, Mimi and David McFarlane built the coffee table for our new Drawing Room beneath the wisteria.

AC has been travelling a lot this autumn and was away when I went to the local Foianno Show. It was a delight with all the streets of the village full of people doing what they have been doing for centuries.

Making pasta, tending cattle and sheep

producing wine, digging for truffles, picking porcini, etc.

Jani, her daughter Kara, and Louis gave me lunch and we wandered for a blissfully interesting afternoon. Stupidly I had taken Lamu with me and she wanted to eat everything on four legs that crossed her path. I gave up and took her home after she had attacked a black, pot bellied pig that I am sure would have come out on top if he had just honked at her!!!

All teeth and temptation but no backbone.

AC has gone off to New York to talk to his new company bosses, WPP and a few of their clients, and as usual seems very laid back. I don't know how he gets so much self-confidence, but he has, so that stops me worrying about him. Hopefully he will tell me if he needs me to go with him!!!! Oh, Ha Ha.

It is the most beautiful autumn I have ever seen anywhere. I would really rather live in the Shires in England but to keep the Old Man happy I agreed to live here. Gradually I am beginn ing to realise that our climate here in Italy is so much warmer and dryer than England that I should stop worrying about leaving my home country and enjoy my new life. Every day starts with sunshine or by lunchtime the sun has fought its way through the fog.

Autumn is the time for bulb planting and that is what I have been doing. In fact I had ordered double the amount of daffodils I needed and have had to borrow a small digging machine in order to plant them!!! The ground was so hard we could not get our spades in. Clay is worse than concrete when the water is extracted.

It hasn't been a great year for fruit but I did manage to make some quince jelly between feeding the guests!

Two of my quince trees have been killed by the wild boars who dig up the roots. They must have a better taste than the trees in the woods. Also the drought has not helped. We did have some apples and pears but they were all so small they were hardly worth bottling. The walnuts and almonds however, have been wonderful and there will be lots to munch over Christmas!