Thursday, 30 April 2009
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
It was already 12 degrees at six this morning so we loaded the boyz in the back of the car and drove off to the mountains. Wilf and Digby view the mountain walk as a great treat - lots of new and unfamiliar smells. We were back for seven with the sun already high in the sky and pumping out heat - the scorching temperatures can't be too far away. Sometime in the next week or two I shall have to get the clippers out and shear the boyz ahead of the 35 degree heat - being boisterous males they naturally make life as difficult as possible during the trimming process and squirm and squeak as if their lives are being threatened.
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
There have been no cases of Swine Flu in Italy so far but from the news headlines today you would think that vast swathes of the local population are being laid low. It must be a nightmare being the CEO of an airline at the moment - first your business plan is decimated by the recession and then,just as things seem to be stabilizing, along comes Swine flu.
Monday, 27 April 2009
The Italian morning news covered the Swine flu epidemic in great detail on its six o'clock bulletin. It can be said that faced with the choice between a cold factual appraisal of the outbreak or a burst of hypocondriacal hyperbole the media here has chosen the latter approach.I would expect the lines at the doctors surgeries here to be stretching round the block this morning amid stories of civilisation in the America's coming to a grinding halt.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Morning newspapers from the UK as gloom and doom laden as I've ever seen. The governments budget which was announced on Wednesday of last week is torn to shreds - the commentaries are caustic even in the papers that are generally supportive of the Prime Minister ! The basic premise seems to be that there will need to be stinging budget cuts across the board but they will not be implemented until after the next election by which time the remedies will need to be even more severe. To make matters worse in a week in which taxes were raised , MP's were debating awarding themselves a $225 per day allowance for just showing up to work. You couldn't make it up. We had dinner with American friends last night who were complaining about the state of the US economy - I suggested they should try coming to the UK for a while to get a feel for just how fortunate they are.
Italy provides a perfect palliative for the woes of life north of the Alps.The day has dawned bright and fair, the boyz are out at the fence barking at the last of the foxes scurrying back to their dens after a nights foraging,and we are about to sit down to pancakes and bacon.Worries about the world can wait until Monday morning.
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Not as well known as its neighbour Assisi, Spello is a lovely little Roman town that sports one of the best restaurants in Umbria. It is quite a haul up from the Roman gate to the restaurant at the very top but on a clear, sunny day like today the view across the plain makes it well worthwhile (as does the food and the wine). Today is the Liberation Day national holiday in Italy, so everywhere is packed with local families enjoying themselves. We are fortunate in having a marvellous ironmonger here. After the burglary, while we were in the hospital, he and his family worked until one in the morning to weld together new security gates to replace those that were torn off the wall. Where else in the world does the well of human kindness flow as deep as in Italy?
Digby's reflection of the day : " It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes".
Friday, 24 April 2009
Here the morning news revolves around the Italian governments decision to switch the G8 heads of government meeting from the luxury of Sardinia to L'Aquila in Abruzzo, where the earthquake recently took place. Cynics claim that the change in venue is because the conference center in Sardinia won't be finished in time. Others, taking a less political view say the presence of the G8 leaders will bring a flood of investment into the striken region.
Thursday, 23 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
enthusiastic but fruitless romp in the grass they emerged covered in grass,leaves and twigs and have had to be thoroughly groomed from head to toe. The two of them are now sitting in the courtyard waiting for the gardeners and builders to arrive. Their pristine state will last all of ten minutes before they find some mud to roll in. How in heavens name do championship breeders ever find the time to keep their dogs groomed?
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
The boyz started their day as they mean to carry on - carefree,happy and boisterous. Dog owners will have a better sense than most that animals can actually teach us things that can enliven and improve our outlook on life.
Walking through the olive groves I detected signs of a preadtor at work. I think we may have a wildcat which has come down from the mountains for food.
The local farmers have taught me two things this morning that I didn't know. The Barn Owls that live in the drainage pipes in the courtyard have evolved feathers with a velvety coating so that when they fly at night they make no noise whatsoever. This stealthiness enables them to catch their prey unawares.They must be succesful if the growing piles of shrew and vole bones beneath their nests is any indication. The second thing I've learnt is that the dandelions that have suddenly sprung up in the fields are known here in Umbria as hawkweed. I wonder if hawkweed is the formal name for dandelion?
Monday, 20 April 2009
The boyz were off happily sniffing the porcupine scents this morning which meant we had the time to look at what's going on in the fields rather than constantly playing ball with them. We planted wild lupins under the olives last year and they are now growing quickly and just starting to come into flower. If it works as planned the view from the house down to the river at the bottom of the hill should be spectacular in a months time with a huge blanket of scarlet coloured flowers running under the olives. Lupins are wonderful for putting natural nutrients back into the soil and also make wonderful animal fodder. By trying to be as organic as possible we've also had the joy of seeing the wild flowers re-establishing themselves in droves - on this mornings walk I saw wild orchids, grape hyacinths, several varieties of poppy and some stunning white flowers the name of which I shall have to look up.
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Wilf has recovered his sense of adventure and went on a long walk on his own through the fields this morning. Last week he studiously made sure he was always within sight of us, but this morning he charged after the sparrows and blackbirds as contentedly and as carefree as if he was a puppy. He has a sore back leg so we think one of the burglars had probably given him a hefty kick. We've put him on glucosamine and he's definitely improving.Digby, the little one, has discovered the sand pit in the courtyard and is lying basking in the sun as I write.