Tuesday, 28 April 2009


I knew life was too perfect.

The winter was nearly over. Spring flowers were bursting into bloom and the weather was just perfect for a good dose of gardening!

The spring cattle show in Camucia had been and gone! So had the poor gentle cows!

The local Co-op seem to have bought most of the poor things. It's enough to make me a vegetarian.

Strawberries were appearing in the shops.

The chickens were sitting on their eggs, watched by Lamu!!! Who, by the way found one nest in the bushes and ate all 14 eggs at one sitting. She did look a bit yellow for a while.

Salty's friends had come up to the olive groves for some spring grass.

The ducks joined them!


Dear Salty had been in the stable for five days after a muscle strain and our vet had asked me not to lunge him before riding because of the chance of him going mad and pulling the bad muscle again!!!!

Instead, I mounted a strung up, ball of muscle and rode him directly up to the outside school.

I don't remember much after that except being covered with sand and in agony lying on the ground. I could feel my feet and my hands moved which was a relief but I could not be seen from the stables.

Lamu was no help and lay as close as possible, whimpering. The horse came and stood over me clearly upset with himself and that left me looking for my mobile which was in my jacket in the Range Rover!!!

Luckily a young family were riding their ponies around the yard and one of them heard my cries.

Ambulance, bumps, hospital, X-rays, jabs, documents to release myself, promises to stay in bed for two weeks, more bumps, bed!!!

That was three weeks ago and I still feel rotten and the pain is only mildly better. I am bad tempered, depressed and getting fatter on a diet of bread, eggs, pasta, wine and no exercise.

My wonderful sister-in-law Diana, flew all the way from Canada to look after me and I can't thank her enough.

More moaning later.....


Monday, 27 April 2009


We spent three weeks in London over Xmas, 2008 and did all the usual THINGS. The Fair in Hyde Park is always fun but I don't understand why a German company has to ship so much equipment so far to amuse Londoners when we surely could provide our own entertainment!

So many people falling and ruining their Christmas's!! I saw two bad accidents in ten minutes and most people just hung on to the walls, scared to leave their safety zone.

Have you noticed how all of these 'amusements' are guaranteed to frighten!?

My feet stayed on terra firma!!

Aziz and I went to Cornwall to see how "Aunty Freda's Cottage", had survived the last five years of weekly lettings.

It looked just the same. A bit tired with a drain-pipe hanging off and a few window frames in need of a bit of paint but otherwise much loved and lived in!!

The garden was a mangle of rhodedendruns and weeds that only Cornwall and its rainfall can boast, but nothing too drastic.

We stayed at The Green Bank Hotel, in Falmouth looking over to the little village of Flushing. It brought back so many happy memories of sailing, riding and just growing up. The weather lived up to its name though and everything looked grey and windblown as it should mid-winter.

Back to Tuscany and the animals. Lamu was well and happy.

The cats fat and happy.

Salteno, now housed down the road at our local stables with Paulo and Hatti had returned home.

But my garden looked glum.

Just a few overwintering chard plants and a lot of weeds!

The snow soon came along to kill these off as well.

The ducks who when I left for London were little balls of yellow fluff had become fully grown, Hissing Sid and his four wives. They all nearly died of duck flu but luckily are still around and one is now sitting on fourteen eggs!! I wish someone had taken them away from her. Now I don't want to disappoint her.

Mimosa is always the first to brighten our dull pre spring days and this year the wind didn't destroy it.

Our crocus, daffodils and tulips have been better than ever. NOTE: Wild black iris.

Thankfully this winter we have had wet rather than cold weather and the wells and streams are full. If we are to have five months of hot dry weather all summer, we really need this break.

Sally and Briggie Freeman came out together for Easter and we all climbed on the train for Roma.

Nice hotel, The Gregorian,

next to The Hassler. Half the price and useful for The Hassler bar for pre-dinner drinks!! In fact one evening we didn't make it to dinner!! It was Sal's 70th and on hearing this news Luigi the barman for thirty years gave us such wonderful martinis and bits of lobster tails that we didn't feel like ploughing through three courses.

Briggie hadn't been to Rome and I think we packed five days sightseeing into three! Well, that's what my feet told me. Bit of shopping of course and some pleasant meals.

Sunday, 26 April 2009



We were friends for over six years but only at arms length. However, we relied on each other over six years in different ways.

From the first day of our meeting she annually brought her offspring for our approval. They were always a credit to her except one, who turned out to be a little daft. Skippy. So named because she jumped up and down on the spot for no apparent reason until she fell over!! We were never introduced to the fathers! We chucked bricks at them if they came yowling around the house late at night, or as my husband called the wood he hurled at them, Catalogs!!

She came to visit us when I was camping in a small cottage during building works on the main house. This temporary camp site lasted for nearly two years and daily she and any youngsters in her care at the time were duly at the cottage door for whatever we had to give them.

Skippy became a bore because as the builders left every evening, she tried to embalm herself within the house and once was missing for at least five days during one of Italy’s many festas. She was spotted one evening jumping up and down behind a window and was finally released only to jump around for five minutes, then fall over. She had left her mark inside the house, needless to say.

Our friend can only have been two or three years old when we first met but the incessant courting by the local Nasties, the Toms of the neighbourhood, would have taken years off anyone’s life. She looked downtrodden and weary of life!

One day I saw her running scared across the field in front of our kitchen windows and was horrified to see no less than fifteen males of varying colours and size following her. She always ended up a rag at the end of the mating season and finally we caught her and put paid to the lotharios fun.

She seemed to appreciate our kindness but would never enter the house or allow us more than one stroke every morning as her bowl was filled with breakfast. We never saw her after breakfast and once fed she disappeared into the countryside.

We have other cats but she was my friend and we shared memories of difficult times. If it is possible to love a cat, I loved this one.

I have been in London over Christmas and only been feeding her in the mornings for about a week on my return to the farm, and everything seemed okay in her little world.

Except. Last evening I heard a loud crying outside the back door which continued until I opened it. I invited her in. Again she refused but allowed me to collect her in my arms and stroke her. Something, that for the past six years she always declined. Her fur looked ill kempt and she cried from time to time.

I took her to the pig sty where there is warm hay, gave her food and water, locked the door against any other animal intent on aggression and waited to check on her later in the evening.

Before I went to bed I heard her crying at the back door once again and I will never know how she had escaped from that locked pigsty.

She let me pick her up again, cried once or twice, and then started to purr loudly as if happy!!! I wrapped her in one of my old jackets and did not lock her up this time but put her under cover in sight of the back door and went to bed.

This morning she was dead but had thanked me in the only way she could by coming to say goodbye!!!

How did she know she was going to die that night and why did she want to say thank you for the small kindness we had shown to her?

China Cat was special and she will be a bright light forever in my mind.