Saturday, 21 November 2009
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
As you'll see from the top photo the packing is now entering its final stage.By tonight all that will be left is our bed and the bags we'll be taking with us. We are enjoying ourselves although with one cereal bowl,one spoon, one plate and one knife, breakfast has to be taken in shifts. I guess you'd call it hot bowling. After 34 years of collecting things it's as if overnight we've gone back to the simplicity of being students again.
Today will be spent packing the car. Two things are apparent. 1) The huge SUV despite its impressive external dimensions has less usable storage space than the dog car and 2) three quarters of what will be packed is bedding, kibbles ,toys and treats for the boyz.We are restricted to two tote bags on the back seat- just like travelling with toddlers. The lack of space in the car is the perfect excuse for me to be gallant and claim that I've sent on my own carefully stored wardrobe to make extra space for the 'fonts' clothes - in one fell swoop I can turn my sartorial problem into a chivalric gesture!
The computer gets packed later this morning so this may be the last post for a few days. We'll take the laptop with us and try to post en route to the new home. Our first stop on Thursday and Friday night is at a remote hotel deep in a Tuscan valley and a mobile phone signal , let alone a WiFi link, are not to be expected, but we'll try. By Saturday night we should be across the frontier and into France so posting should be possible again. After Saturday,new posts will be on the replacement blog www.wilfanddigby.blogspot.com as Life in Italy will be well and truly behind us. Thank you all for your comments over the last few days - it's truly heartening to get support from people you've never met but who you read about on their blogs every day. Strange how regular blogging has that effect.
The two boyz are sitting in the drawing room barking at all the boxes - even they are now aware that something is up. Tickles and treats are being handed out in abundance. Yesterday afternoon they had the time of their lives. Every time a carpet was taken outside to be rolled up and wrapped, Wilf and Digby would arrive and settle down in the middle of it,luxuriating in the late autumn sunshine.Digby still dislikes one of the workmen.
For now 'au revoir' - we'll post pictures of the boyz adventures when we can.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Winter has arrived. Yesterday afternoon a sudden squall blew in bringing with it a downpour of rattling hail and a bracing wave of frigid air from Siberia - the temperature fell from 28 to 14 degrees in half an hour. While we are complaining, the two boyz are in seventh heaven. This morning it is barely eight degrees and their Polish cold weather DNA has reasserted itself - they have rediscovered that boundless energy of puppyhood and are flying across the fields enjoying the arctic conditions. The removal men are doing a great job. A quarter of the house is now echoingly bare, a half in a state of chaos, and the final quarter still bearing some resemblance to a home.
We have a bit of a problem with the packers. For some reason Digby has taken a violent dislike to one of them. We simply can't work it out. He ignores all the others, but with this one guy he becomes a fifteen inch tall growling, snarling ,horrible aggressive beast. Naturally,Wilf is happy to play with them all. We wonder if the packer doesn't remind him of one of the robbers.
I was able to save the 'fonts' clothing yesterday but the bulk of mine had disappeared into those strange hanging wardrobes that packers use. This morning I am therefore combating the cold by wearing the top from a pair of British Airways pyjamas under my shirt. In addition I have come across a marvellous pair of 'combat pants' that belong to a younger Angus. In future I shall only ever wear combat pants - I can carry a monkey wrench, a can of WD40, the car keys, twine, a pair of pliers ,and still have pockets left over. The 'font' has so far not commented on my attire - the imminent arrival of the packers being a helpful distraction. Let's just hope that I'm not expected to go to any fancy restaurants on the journey to France - I fear that I shall have to rely on liberated 'younger Angus' clothing which may raise eyebrows when adorning the older Angus figure.
Monday, 12 October 2009
For the rest of the day I think that Messrs.Wilf and Digby together with yours truly will need to find some quiet corner where we are well away from the organized chaos that has settled on our little piece of paradise.
Thank you for all your kind comments over the weekend. The traumas of moving have clearly struck a chord. The new blog address when we move to France will be http://www.wilfanddigby.blogspot.com/ . I tried 'Life and other musings' and all sorts of philosophical twists thereon but the names were all taken.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
Tonight we have a farewell dinner at the slow food restaurant in the village with our lovely American/South African neighbours. It's one of the joys of life that you can unexpectedly meet and make new friends .These people were so caring and kind after the 'late unpleasantness' that we want to work at keeping them in the close family circle. It is all too easy to let friends become acquaintances.Parting will be a little sad but France is only twelve hours down the autostrada.
Our other duty today is harder, the funeral of a young Carabinieri sergeant. He was gunned down and killed and two of his colleagues wounded in a shoot out with a car thief. They had all been to the house three our four times after the burglary and had been most concerned and solicitous about our welfare. We never came across violence until recently and now it seems to have become a background to life in Italy. The 'font' has written a letter of condolence to the wife and family which we will deliver to the cathedral. Funerals generally take place within 24 hours here and I am steeling myself for an event of great emotion. Isn't it strange how Europeans view America as a land of violence yet our American friends don't need state of the art security systems.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Dawn arrived bright and clear but it soon clouded over and dense,heavy,Mull type rain has arrived - much needed by the olives after a month of scorching weather. Digby can sense the thunder rolling on the hills in the distance and has become clinically attached to my right ankle, all the while doing his best impression of a Dickensian waif dog. Wherever I go - he goes. Wilf by contrast is quite happy dozing in the kitchen dreaming that the cookie jar has fallen off the shelf and deposited its contents right in front of him. In terms of character these two are just so different - Wilf the strong silent type and Digby the exact opposite.
Even though I say so myself the depleted packing team did a wonderful job yesterday throwing out old paint cans and disposing of a collection of garden chemicals. Whatever looked as though it might be useful in the garden or fields has been redistributed down to the pool house for the benefit of the new owner. The cupboards are now 100% empty! Digby sat in the hallway watching me clear out - in the process reassuring himself that nothing edible was jettisoned . Faced with a decision on whether an item should stay or go I would ask Digby his opinion - one bark yes, silence no. It worked a treat. I'd like to think that talking to a dog is different from talking to yourself
All being well the 'font' returns today to the delight of all concerned - not least to have someone with a vocabulary to talk to. The boyz will be particularly happy that their diet of plain kibbles will now be augmented by all sorts of healthy goodies.
Friday, 9 October 2009
With the packing team reduced to just me (aided by the inefficient but extremely enthusiastic input of the two boyz) progress on crating up has fallen a little behind schedule. Nothing daunted we are up bright and early this morning armed with wrapping tape, rubbish sacks and a Stanley knife. It is now the turn of the paint and tool cupboard to face the weeding out process and after that if time allows the broom cupboard.
Yesterday evening I stripped the sheets and duvets off all the guest beds, a tedious process that Digby being Digby thoroughly enjoyed . Every time a crumpled sheet or duvet hit the floor he was there, gleefully leaping onto the pile, his little face beaming with delight,rump wagging away, mind and body fully engaged in some mysterious canine nest building routine. Finally, as the laundry pile turned into a laundry mountain he could be found perched, serenely, on top of it. Pure,unadulterated,mischevious dog and such marvellous company!.
I didn't notice it last night but this morning the whole place has quite a different feeling.Not only do the guest rooms look strangely barren without bed linens but somehow the sight of uncovered matresses brings home the fact that bit by bit the family home is turning into just another house. Looking back at the blog I see that it was on April 9th, six months ago exactly that our love affair with Italy came to a grinding,random halt - a natural time in the greater scheme of things to move onto new adventures. But goodness me with hindsight what a hectic six months, deciding to move, advertising the house, selling to the first person who came to see it, chosing a new home, and now the fun of packing.Still to come the fun of unpacking!
We shall have to decide on a new blog name as 'Life in Italy' will be redundant within a week. Wilf has spent much of the morning so far contentedly finding and depositing balls at the front door so maybe it should be entitled ' The ball games continue?'.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Beyond, the view widens - the lake in front, fields of golden autumn wheat on either side, ahead and above a glimpse of the purple mountains of Tuscany - a tranquil scene of sweet,gentle,timeless grace. And then the shock. On the slopes below, invisible at first,five hundred,maybe more, identical purbeck tombstones in parade formation. The hidden,almost forgotten,resting place of Dominion boys fallen along the isobars of their advance.
Whoever chose this untroubled spot must have grieved like a father for each of these young South Africans,New Zealanders,Australians,Canadians and Scots. No human hand alone could have set these stones here with an intimacy as real as wandering into a gathering of close friends. A place so secret that the sheltering forest seems to wrap its arms around its ever sleeping charges denying access to winter storms and summer squalls. Ranks of eighteen and nineteen year olds, the brief carved outlines of their lives: - birthdate,nationality,regiment,date of death, age - sometimes a couplet from a non-conformist hymn or a line that honors the name with thin substance 'loving father,dutiful son'. Flesh condensed to stone, unquantifiable mothers grief expressed in no more than sixteen words.
Few now find their way to this scented place, their generation gone and the road beckoning to brighter,happier destinations. A Quebecois, clearly moved,had written in the visitors book the simple comforting line " et Dieu essuiera toutes larmes de leurs yeux". I'd like to think so, and the rest too - "neither sorrow,nor crying,neither shall there be any more pain". Italy should be a destination of happiness and joy so I won't go back to this place; but I'll remember it as hallowed ground, an achingly majestic spot where the veil between the worlds is worn yieldingly thin. As I left to climb the hill the acacias rustled lightly in an absent breeze as if berating me for my lack of manners. I closed the gate,turned and said out loud, where no one but these resting sons could possibly have heard my voice, 'thank you'.
Wilf and Digby played half heartedly when I got home and then sat by the gate looking up the hill waiting patiently for the 'font'.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Of course, the very second we got him in the car he perked up and by the time we got to the vets the colour was back in his gums and he was raring to meet the vets attractive young female Briard . After twenty minutes of tests the diagnosis? Tiredness. Usually the boyz sleep for a couple of hours in the morning and again for three hours in the afternoon. Recently, with so many visitors coming to the house Wilf has been sleeping less and playing ball more ... much more. Last night he retired with as much dignity as he could muster at seven and slumbered for eleven hours solid. This morning he is back to his usual form and ferreting around in the courtyard while his little brother dozes under a pine tree in the sun.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Wilf and Digby remain in fine fettle. I don't think they have woken up to the fact that all the activity is related to another move. A constant stream of visitors to the front door has kept them happily engaged while surreptitious packing goes on all around. What they will make of it when a team of packers complete with large pantechnicon arrives on Monday remains to be seen. Let's hope the team are keen on ball games!
An interesting/worrying column by Thomas Friedman in the NY Times in which he raises a subject that is exercising many of our American friends. " I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from right or left - but something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here as existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination". One of the satellite channels we can get here in the Italian mountains is Fox News and there does seem to be a tendency towards rage in their analyses. Was it there before or is it a new phenomenon ?
Digby is outside on the grass keeping a watchful eye on the central heating boiler repair man (he doesn't throw the ball and is therefore held to be suspicious) while Wilf is as usual, unconcernedly asleep at the front door. Digby may be the smaller of the two boyz but he has the heart of a lion.
Sunday, 4 October 2009
Now that we're in the final two weeks before the move the local tradesmen have started to come to the house to bid a formal goodbye. Yesterday morning the builder brought his son and 6 month old grandson along to thank us for always being so grateful for the work he'd done. In the afternoon it was the joiner and his son who arrived on the doorstep to thank us in exactly the same terms. How heart warming. There is something charming about Italy and ( most of ) the Italians that sets them apart - old style courtesy and pride in their craftsmanship remains the norm. I fear an emotional departure is on the cards by the time the neighbouring farmers come to say farewell.
Wilf and Digby have of course thrived on the stream of people coming through the door. For them it is an excuse to find innocents who are willing to throw the ball, and throw the ball, and .... . In the process of clearing out the house, old toys that had been carefully hidden have come to light. For Wilf there is nothing like being reunited with an old heavily chewed friend.
It was shoe clearing out time this morning. Left unsupervised the 'font' would have retained a world class collection of footware but the two year rule was applied and four large garbage sacks of boots, sandals,babouches and espadrilles have gone to the skip.
Friday, 2 October 2009
The two boyz were at their most boisterous this morning , not so much walking beside me as dancing along the farm track. Their obvious happiness may well be something to do with the cooler weather - a huge relief if you go around in a double layer fur coat every day. You'll see from this mornings pictures that play mode has been firmly engaged. After a week of glorious sunshine this morning brings with it the first hard hint of winter with dew on the ground and the metal farm gate cold to the touch . Yes, it is also the first day since mid-April that I've had to put on a sweater.
Why is throwing out clothes so difficult? The 'font' has issued an edict that anything I haven't worn in the last two years is not going to the new house The original edict was to throw out anything I'd not worn in the last twelve months but it was graciously agreed that this was too draconian. Yesterday evening was therefore spent with me defending the retention of a variety of clothes that I'm quite sure I'll fit into again one day. The font rather cruelly pointed out that I'd either have to contract a rare wasting disease or give up chocolate and wine (together!) if waist band and waist were ever to exist in harmony. Faced with that choice out went a rather dashing Prince of Wales check from Edinburgh ( fine when bought but really more suitable for a younger figure I was told ), a dinner jacket, and a variety of comfortable ( in 'font' terms shabby ) office suits together with a surprisingly large pile of jumpers and sweaters ( what's the difference?) that have skulked at the back of the wardrobe since we arrived here four years ago.
My task for today is to clear out the pool house and cellar. To that end I've been issued with a roll of twenty large heavy duty rubbish sacks.The boyz and I have a fun filled morning ahead of us. Who knows what might lurk in the cellar after lying undisturbed for four years? The more malodorous it is the more Wilf and Digby will enjoy it.
Thursday, 1 October 2009
It was decidedly chilly this morning - the thermometer was registering 14 degrees - the coldest it's been in six months. Sometime next week the sweaters are going to have to come out.
The 'font' returned from London last night. We were so busy talking and laughing that the boyz decided to take themselves off to bed. As they went up the steps Digby ,who was decidedly miffed at the lack of attention, turned and gave us his best 'see if I care' look. Sometimes it's like living with two grumpy old colonels.
Two weeks today and we'll be on our way. The 'font' has drawn up a schedule of what needs to be done. I feel the cold hand of panic wrenching at my stomach. Surely there must be at least another six weeks in which to get everything packed, labelled and moved?
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
The 'font' is away in London so it was left to Digby to make sure that I didn't sleep in. True to form there he was at 5.28 am sitting at the side of the bed, eyes focused on me, willing me to get up.The first few minutes of the day are when Digby and I share a secret ritual. Every morning he comes to sit by me, claws delicately tiptoeing across the stone floor, so that the second I stir he's ready to flip on his back , sprawled out, ready for a private tickle . He wraps his two front paws around my arm, throws his head back, closes his eyes and exhales a protracted rush of pure undiluted canine happiness - you can literally see all his cares evaporate away. No matter how much of a hurry I'm in this routine is set in stone - the mornings first commandment . Wilf of course sleeps contentedly through, prefering to catch as many zzz's as possible and quite unconcerned that his little brother is the centre of attention.
Looking at the two of them I'm more and more of the opinion that Digby knows that Wilf is a dog but hasn't made that connection to himself. Wilf would play ball and chase lizards all day whereas Digby would prefer to sit down and have a wee chat.
It's political party convention time in the UK. Why is it that politicians treat the electorate in such a cavalier manner? The governments tax take has fallen by 30%, the country's GDP has contracted by 5%, unemployment is soaring, and yet the Prime Minister made his keynote speech without so much as alluding to the enormity of the problems the nation faces. We got more of the 'promise paradise and hope for the best' view of politics rather than down to earth realism.Tax hikes, spending cuts - best to talk about them after the election ( let's see if the opposition Conservatives do any better at their conference) . The word venal springs to mind. Of course it's entirely possible that the public finances are so bad that he doesn't want to alarm us unduly.
Headline in the Financial Times this morning saying that British intelligence believe that Iran started working on a nuclear warhead in 2005 and is now getting close to deploying it . After the fiasco of the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction who is going to believe them now?
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
The Italian Prime Minister has done it again. Returning from the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh he told a rally of his supporters that he was bringing greetings from someone in the United States. "What's his name? Some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama. You won't believe it but he and his wife sunbathe together because the wife is also tanned". Is there no one in his entourage who can explain the term bad taste?
Monday, 28 September 2009
The British Polish Lowland Sheepdog magazine , the Nizziny, arrived in the Saturday evening post. From the latest edition I discovered that :
PON's (Polski Owczarek Nizziny) are now called PLS's ( Polish Lowland Sheepdogs). That makes life much simpler.
Wilf and Digby's father has died at the age of 13. He is described as having passed onto 'his progeny a superb gentle nature and love of games'. That would be Wilf 100%. As for Digby he must take after his mother. The 'font' wondered over a late evening glass of wine whether the boyz would know their brothers and sisters if they were to meet them again after 8 years or whether they would just think they were just any other dog? Scent would be a big factor.
The magazines health officer has written an article with the follwing line " We fear the breed will become short coated and owners will start to cut the hair over the eyes therefore risking injury to the eyes". We trim the boyz coats to help them cope with the summer heat and to make it easier for them to work with me in the fields without constantly getting caught up in seeds and branches- the coat grows long again with any apparent problems or deterioration . As for trimming the hair over their eyes we've always done this as it seems to make them more relaxed if they can easily see what is going on around them. When we left it long Digby, in particular, would sometimes be startled and would be overly defensive. Is the danger of eye damage real?
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Saturday, 26 September 2009
Paris was at its most beautiful. Sunny, warm, and the gentlest of breezes which made walking an absolute delight. This time I stayed,as I do when I'm not on business, at the Pavillon de la Reine on place des Vosges - without a doubt one of the most beautiful townscapes in Europe. When I got back home on Friday night the 'font' and I had a long discussion about which city we prefer - Paris or Rome. Paris is beautiful, stylish, chic and in the Haussmann planned arrondissements very,very formal. By contrast Rome is chaotic, unplanned, and its cultural jewels are scattered around with a casual disregard. The 'font' opted for Paris (could the shopping be something to do with it?) while I opted for Rome. The discussion as to whether French or Italian cuisine is the better is ongoing and unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
Wilf and Digby are in fine fettle. Their welcome on Friday evening when I walked through the door was nothing short of ecstatic. A combined 45 kilo mass of fur, cold noses and pink tongues hurtled through the air at me as soon as they registered my presence.When the boyz get really excited their entire rear ends start to move independently of their front ends . The front legs move forwards but the back legs follow a strange trajectory that sweeps from side to side and up and down at one and the same time.After eight and a half years the 'font' and I still end up laughing out loud at their antics.
The move is now less than three weeks away. At breakfast this morning the 'font' handed me a sheet of paper and informed me that household effects can't be lumped together but need to be listed item by item for the removal company. What in heavens name are household effects? Who came up with that name? Anyway, there goes my Saturday morning.
Friday, 25 September 2009
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Off to Paris later today so a lot to do before seven thirty. The two boyz were out with me early checking on the progress of the olives. The world is at its most peaceful in those salving moments when the sun is just dusting the hilltops. It looks as thought it will be a bumper harvest although the way our moving schedule is shaping up it will be up to the new owners to harvest them.
Wilf's old pancreatitis flared up again yesterday - it seems to return , regular as clockwork, every ten days . We have to be very strict on what he eats so the recurrence seems to be mechanical rather than dietary or stress related. Experience has taught us that the best thing to do is take him for a long walk to tire him out and then let him sleep the pain off. After four hours he's back to his usual self.
The 'font' has helpfully noted that we are supposed to provide the removal firm with an itemised list of every item in the house (together with valuations) which they will then wrap and pack for us. Not as easy as I'd thought it was going to be. Hopefully, by the time I get back the list will have been compiled!
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Tomorrow I'm off to Paris to see lawyers and accountants about a move back to France. All horribly grown up and tedious but at the same time necessary.The new house, which is in a part of France we've never been to before, has a small farm attached and this means registering as a farmer and paying all sorts of social security taxes. The new house is the oddest piece of architecture I've ever seen - the 'font' says it's a bit like a cajun house, whatever that might be.