Monday, 28 May 2007

It's Raining.....

Did I speak too soon! It's throwing it down again. It seems that May wants to finish as it started, wet!

Yesterday we had one of the biggest storms I can remember in all the time I have been coming here and lived here. It must have gone on for well over an hour. There was literally no break in the thunder, it just rumbled on and on. Having had electrical stuff blown up before now we unplugged everything, phone, computer, tv etc. My phone has been temperamental since I dropped it on its head last week, blowing it up didn't seem like a good idea!

For all that the temperature is still a mild 25C, so at least we are keeping the warmer weather. My husband bought loungers for the garden on Saturday - he has told me to return them as he thinks they have jinxed the weather!

The rain is a good excuse for indoor activities. We have been using our Italian tapes, playing Chess (son and husband anyway!), on the laptop, when it isn't thundering anyway and reading. I'm reading a thriller called "Ratcatcher" at the moment. If you don't mind knowing alot of it has been done before i.e. Sharpe, Aubrey, even Discworld and you like this kind of thing it is a page turner. It helps that the hero is tall, dark and handsome!! No, the publisher isn't Mills and Boon! Plus being set in London I know most of the locations which I like, I miss London, so this is one way to be there!

The kids are watching a German channel on the TV which has kids programmes on it. Some of them are like Art Attack or Smart. So far they can make an igloo out of ice to hold ice cream. Good use of time!

One thing the rain is helping is the grass seed. With the sprinklers it had started to grow anyway, but now we nearly have a lawn! Who would have thought it possible?!! I will post pictures of my lush greeness as soon as my camera has batteries!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Heatwave and Florence.

The heat and the humidity is starting to really hit! I know from past summers here that this probably means it is going to soar into the 90F /40+C in July and August. The thing is although we have air-conditioning I really don't like it! I never have. Ours isn't connected yet - the voltage into the house has to be increased first. This is probably going to be around the end of June, but I think we might need it sooner.

Currently I am closing the shutters at night and leaving the windows open. The temperature in the house during the afternoon feels identical to that outside! The thermostat for the heating has a digital thermometer on it, currently it isn't dropping below 26C in the house even at night!
In the UK we would be claiming summer had arrived and that a drought was about to strike. It's when I think this I wonder what I am doing here, heat not being a strong point of mine ;))!

But in other ways this is part of the fun of moving to a meditteranean country; the weather is hot and predictable in a way it never was in the UK!

We bought a little paddling pool from Esselunga last week. A proper pool would be nice but the kids think this is great fun. I may join them later in the summer!

One very big achievement we have made is finding Antonia a school for September! What a relief! The children of another family we know here will be starting at the same time, so she will have a familiar face or two. She was really excited up to the point she realised I would not be staying with her. Never mind, been there before so I will deal with it as I need to. It is a private Catholic school so she will get her Italian up to speed pretty quickly too, which is what I really wanted. It looks like a lovely place and all the kids we saw were really friendly and bouncy, which to me usually says the school is a place they like being. We shall see!

I'm off to a local Indian restaurant tonight with the mums from a group I go to here in Florence. Click on if you ever want to meet up with other English speaking expat females here in Florence! It says mums but basically the kids are a good excuse to get together for a natter!! I will let you know how the meal goes. An Indian in Florence! Different!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Gardening Tips - how to seed a lawn, Florentine style

If anyone needs any help with how to seed a lawn at this late time of year, here is how you do it:

I'm sure these chaps would be more than happy to oblige should you need a hand!

I thought it would be a rotivator that would turn up, but no...! The gardener then proceeded to put the seed on by hand. Somehow I thought the presence of the digger would also mean one of those machines that distributes the seed, but some things still have to be done the old-fashioned way!

Not sure how this grass is going to turn out...we shall see.

Open Garden Day in Firenze

I now finally know what it is like to be on display! Not sure I like it.

Sunday was the Open Garden Day in Florence. I believe it happens every year. Private gardens in Tuscany can be part of an association ADSI which helps with the conservation of these important gardens - some of which date back to the Renaissance. I'm not sure what the full extent of their involvement is, but I do know, from the tree cutting episode, that everything done on a grand scale has to be approved at various levels in the comune first, probably under their advisement.

Anyway, where we live was included in Sunday's open day, as you can see:

This group, of about 40-50 people was just one of many groups this size that passed through over the course of the day. There was a break for lunch, but otherwise it started at 10.00 a.m. and finished at 7.00 p.m.! It was fun taking photos of people taking photos of us! My son had many ideas on how to improve peoples photo's none of which I let him carry out!!

We took the opportunity to visit another local garden, the Giardino Corsi Annalena. It is much smaller than where we are but very formal. It was a lovely garden, as you can see:

However, for my children the main attraction was the water:

Next year I want to visit a few more gardens, now the novelty of being watched has worn off ;)

Monday, 7 May 2007

Lumberjacks, Italian Style!

Okay, anyone old enough to remember Monty Python or young enough to be discovering them have got to be wondering about this one!

We HAD a tree in the garden, a dead tree. Our Landlord had to obtain permission to cut it down as every tree in this garden is listed and probably has a name, let's call this one Bob. Anyway, Bob was dead long before we arrived but the comune, as with many things, had to approve his removal. He was finally taken down a few days ago. Where he stood there is now a big hole in the sky and the jackdaws that used him as a perch have moved to the smaller trees.

However, his removal was dramatic, noisy and quite exciting, especially when watched with two kids!

Having seen this sort of tree cutting and removal done in the UK with gloves, goggles, harnesses, very large cherry pickers, lots of "danger, men at work" type signs, you can imagine my awe when things finally got underway. In Italy men really are men at times!

Here's the photo's:

One very small cherry picker, one very big tree! At this point most of the branches had already been removed without having to leave the safety of the basket. But no goggles or harnesses!

Where's that cherry picker gone?! Also you may (!) see a harness, I was just never sure what it was attached to!! This guy really was macho!

And, finally, how else do you pull down a tree! Yes, there is a large chunk missing from its base, but you never know with these guys! The lumberjack forgot to put his gloves on for this bit and burnt his hands :P, not pleasant. The noise was tremendous as it came down. Unfortunately a couple of trees and alot of bushes got in its way, but otherwise I'm fairly sure it went where it was expected to go. As you can see, it has already been put to good use. Unfortunately not for much longer as it is quickly being sawn up and taken away. We are "rescuing" pieces ourselves. The smell is wonderful. I'm hoping it acts in the same way as Cedar wood and I can use some as moth repellant. If nothing else I just like the smell!

Now all I have to do is stop my 3 year old singing "The Lumberjack Song" every time the men come back in the garden to cut up the tree! Can't think where she has learnt that song from! ;))