Finally. A bit of peace.
Sorry for the hideous gap between posts. It really was my intention, deluded though it may have been, to post every week. Fat chance. I have tried a couple times, but take last Thursday, for example. I asked V and Kim to look after dinner on their own so that I could babysit and get some writing done at the same time. Made the fatal error of 'popping' into the office to just check email one last time, and found 16 emails I needed to reply to. So as Kim and V were sitting down to a hard-earned glass of Vin Santo (a small one in V's case) near 11 o'clock, I was still furiously tapping away putting the last of the enquires to bed.
You see, 11pm here is early afternoon is the US, so while I'm about to collapse in a sweaty heap, they're just getting going. So I reply to an enquiry feeling all sleepy and floppy, hoping that'll keep them quiet for a few hours, but before I get a chance to log off and sneak out of the office I get a perky and enthusiastic reply back with twice as many questions as they asked the first time! Have a heart!
I guess I shouldn't grumble, and in fact I'm pretty sure I'm not. (Or am I?) We're already picking up some great bookings for next year, and those are the kind of things that mean I'll be able to put my new biomass heating system in this winter and still afford to feed the dogs (rather than eat them).
But it does mean that writing this blog slips down the priority list. And I do know there are some lovely people out there reading this (and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for not making this entire exercise completely futile), but this blogging thing is so one-way that right now, as I type these words, it feels more like I'm talking to myself than talking to you. What I'd really like is a way to write this and have people take the piss, correct my spellings, and generally interact with me while I'm telling my nonsense story in real time. Now that would be a fun way to blog! [Please note that this idea is copyright Simon Zimbler ©2009].
Anyway…tonight V and Kim and Lucy are cooking up a storm, so I'll try and get some stuff published and add the photos tomorrow. Onwards. [Though need a beer first.]
And now, the weather
Fcuk, it's hot. Really really hot. It's dark outside (9pm here), and I swear it must still be in the 30's outside (that's nearly 90 to any Shermans out there in Blogville). Yes, the guests are loving it. Yes, the kids are loving it too when they can get in the pool (which by the way, is like warm tea). I don't mind it at 6.30 when I get to take Sam to the pool for a swim, but frankly, the rest of the time it's a major pain. My office is like a really dirty, untidy oven in need to some serious filing (there, sadly, the analogy is a little thin). And unfortunately (see non-grumble above) I am spending rather a lot of time in my steamy cell at the mo, so it's hard to get outside. And even if I could get out, the land is bone dry and harder than Harvey's Italian homework, so completely unworkable. We need some rain out there pretty badly, but the forecast is for sun, sun, and more sun, though hopefully the temps shouldn't be quite so punishing.
[Now that's what I'm talking about – just been brought a plate of V's broccoli orecchiette by Harv – starvin'!]
Of course, all this heat is even harder on V, who is at least 2 or 3 degrees C hotter then everyone else; a normal side-effect of being consumed from the inside out by our as yet un-named parasitic offspring. It also means it's a little bit like having a quite sizeable (though I hasten to add her bum is still in great shape) hot-water bottle in bed with me, at a time when a hot water bottle (especially one that has to shift and change position every few minutes…again, struggling with my analogies this evening…more beer) is somewhere near bottom of the list of things I'd like in bed with me on a hot, sultry mid-summers night. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.
The dogs are a bit poorly today. They rather stupidly followed a guest on a run that took them onto the Poggi-Castellina road (!!) before they decided they'd bitten off more than they could chew and decided to head back. They've both lost large chunks of skin from their paws and are hobbling around feeling very sorry for themselves. No chasing cars for a while. Poor stupid mutts.
But at least they are alive. Anyone following my equally infrequent Twitter/Facebook entries recently will know that these dogs have been skating on thin ice recently. They have always barked at night. Those cheeky pesky night-time critters know the doggies are well and truly locked up, and do tend to tease them somewhat. One night when the dogs were going more nuts than usual and I was on my way out to terminate their all-too-short lives I found a porcupine digging up stuff right outside their kennel! I mean! Fair's fair! That's just plain cruel! No wonder they were going ape!
Anyway, a couple of weeks back we had four nights in a row when the dogs woke us up every half hour. No amount of beating with a heavy steel rod would shut them up. I was seriously considering the shallow-grave option, but we decided to risk letting them loose all night instead. See if they would go and bark elsewhere, like deep in the woods maybe?
First night: OK, so they weren't barking outside our window, but we could definitely hear them barking outside someone's window. So we slept even less because we were worrying about how many of our guests were going to bawl us out the next morning and demand a full refund or Lola's head on a silver platter. As it happens, I tentatively asked each and every guest, and not one of them complained of losing sleep. The cheerful bastards! So second night V and I did hear them, but we weren't nearly so worried so we slept better. And the third night, we heard them even less. Great! Carla's theory was that the dogs would scare all the critters away and that these night-time beasties would then learn to keep their distance from the house. This in turn would lead to less barking. Everyone wins.
Except that on the forth night a poor young couple who had to be up at 4am to drive to Rome were in fact woken at 1am by an excitable Charlie who'd found a hedgehog in the Tinaia garden, and said hedgehog being somewhat spikey and impregnable, so exasperated Charlie that she insisted on barking at the f'ing hedgehog for the next 2 hours (and possibly beyond). The guests were lovely about it, and said it was OK, and they didn't mind too much (likely story), but we can't risk pissing off guests (not too much anyway), so the dogs are once again locked up.
And actually, they've been pretty good since then. I mean, they wake us up at least once a night, but nothing like the all-night barkathons we'd had before. Maybe they got all that chasing-things-in-the-dark business out of their system and are happy to just snooze? We'll see.
I know I'm not supposed to mention current or recent guests, but someone I used to work with back in my advertising days has just spent the week here with her acquired-by-marriage Irish family. It was lovely to catch up with Jo after several years, and to meet her beautiful kids and wonderful outlaws. They left this morning and we were very sad to see them go. However, I've hunted high and low for any remnants of that bottle of Irish whiskey but the gits must have polished it off! How dare they! Come back! Bring more whiskey!
Harv has been in the UK for 3½ very long weeks, but he got back yesterday, and we're all over-the-moon about having him back. None more so than Sam who spent all afternoon climbing all over him and repeatedly hugging him and giving him kisses. Very cute. Welcome back Harv!
They came, they bred, they had four fat chicks, and now they're gone. We still see them all catching bugs all around the house, but when I looked this evening their nest was empty for the first time. Very sad, though frankly how all six of them managed to fit on one tiny nest I'll never know. But it's been lovely to watch them do their thang from so close up…a new experience for me. Let's hope they make the massive migration to Africa and back without a hitch and all come back to make new babies (and fresh piles of swallow poo) next year. Bye birdies!
No more oil!Hard to believe, but the last of this year's oil is all boxed up and ready to make it's journey across to Canada. I have around 50 litres of liquid gold left, and that should just about last us the season (as long as no one gets greedy and snaffles more than their fair share). Let's hope November's oil proves just as popular! I have3 or 4 5-litre tins left if anyone wants them...? Going...going...