My Diary, Uncategorized

Eyes Wide Open

My mother told me that when I was a baby I hated going to sleep. She also said that when I was a toddler and was supposed to have a little nap, she would find me asleep yes, but sitting up in my pram and with my fingers trying to hold open my eyes! And I’m still none too keen on sleep, I guess I’m a night owl. Sleep is such a waste of time. And so, eyes wide open.

It’s amazing the pleasure you can garner by just driving a little more slowly, traffic permitting and maybe even losing your way. I went to have an asthma checkup the other day, tiny hospital not many patients so the doctor had a bit more time to do what old-fashioned doctors used to do before we’d all become numbers, have a chat. On the way home I passed by a huge sign announcing a bonsai exhibition so I parked and found out that it was at the weeke I asked for enlightenment from a lady who was so surprised she didn’t seem sure of what to do so she photocopied hers for me.

My supper the evening before had been absolutely disgusting: pasta e fagioli from the supermarket ,frozen. I’ve rarely eaten such awful stuff so I decided I needed a treat. I found a nice little restaurant, quiet no background music, good menu and pleasant waiters. Just the right combo of helpfulness without being too friendly. And after lunch on the way back to the car I saw the park gates standing open. Need I tell you I went in? Overwhelmed by the green. The park was beautifully laid out giving the trees their growing room and they had grown beautifully into their natural shapes, most were enormous. On the way out there was a statue, Neptune giving a horse to Athena by Aligi Sassu. And that’s only the morning! So as I began writing this, keep your eyes open! You never know what’s coming your way!


Bolle, zolle e corolle (Bubbles, Clods and Petals)

I Decided to give Franciacorte a try. It was lovely driving through the vineyards, and although I am one of the lucky ones of this world and have never been hungry, the feeling of comfort and happiness when you see well-tended fields must be an atavic pleasure…. Parking was a bit of a problem, but by scraping the walls of a building……. I took the wrong road first and reached a blocked gate just in time to hear a rousing rendition of Fratelli d’Italia by a local brass band. The first thing I really noticed which I had never seen before was the cheese and salame “da passeggio”, which you nibble while you’re walking, just as if it were an ice cream. Then the first wine tasting – delicious. Interesting conversation too. But of course conversation is always better ….lubricated. I must try it in my lessons next year! I walked round admiring the good exhibits, especially the enormous space occupied by the guy from Lucca, hydrangeas , clematis and roses galore. Through the villa gardens and more wine tasting: this time a rosé which was more orange than rosé and too strong for my liking. Summer rosés should have a similar alcoholic content to a cup of tea, after all that’s what you’re substituting. I sat next to a secret garden in the cool shade wondering how long it would take for the alcohol to wear off! The Villa was decorated with incredible paper flowers, you really had to touch them to be convinced they were not real! there was a mini exhibition of bonsai from a private source, they were incredibly beautiful. After a final walk round (I bought some red flowered strawberries and some mad carnations. (Mad because they have straggly petals and look as if they need a hairdresser) And when it was time to drive home I got a volunteer youngster to accompamy me to my car with a wheelbarrow, Yet another opportunity to chat.

Gardening, My Diary, Trip, Uncategorized

Villa Carlotta

Who cares about a spot of rain? Well certainly not the fearless Garden Club members! We all crowded onto the ferry and sat on the few (nearly) dry seats to admire the loveliness of lake Como wreathed in the mists. We arrived at Villa Carlotta, one of the Grandi Giardini Italiani, to be greeted by Dr.Tantardini a phytopathologist who accompanied us round the garden. History, anecdote, advice, dripping magnolia trees, it was a fascinating walk until he said that it might be best to shelter in the villa, perhaps the rain would stop or taper off. So we had an extra opportunity to look around this lovely place with its reproductions of romantic Canova statues, Psyche and Eros of course. The rain did let up and we continued our explorations: he showed us how NOT to prune azaleas, told us which soil improvers to use for which plants and answered the many questions that we all had to ask him .What was extremely interesting was the kind of housekeeping he envisaged for a park like this. Little or no attempt had been made to prepare substitute trees should they die or get blown down; apart from the obvious danger of an old tree blowing down, the hole it leaves and above all the disappeared foliage, will completely alter the ecosystem that was there before. Tender plants will be left without shade or their windbreak so they will suffer too. We saw places in the garden where the azalea trees were old and destined to die or fall, leaving that particular space quite empty. It’s so much more complicated and linked in than I imagined. Another particularly fascinating insight was his aversion to irrigation systems. Apparently ,after time ,they tend to make the soil too lime-y and thus unsuitable for azaleas and rhododendrons. After a pretty decent lunch we tramped round the rest of the garden and then made our way home. A very succesful if wet day, there’s so much to learn.

My Diary, Uncategorized

An unusual,old fashioned and almost forgotten pleasure!

I have some beautiful brown leather brogues, bought years ago when we were not as animal-friendly as we are today, and paid for in lire! I think they make me look very English and I can assure you that gardening shows are the only place left to flaunt one’s Englishness with pride! So after several shows I decided to get out my shoe-cleaning kit and give them a polish.

I absolutely love cleaning shoes and I feel quite cheated by these easy-care plastic-y things we wear on our feet today! It brings back memories of home. When I was a kid my Sunday-morning job was to clean all the boots and shoes in the house. My grandfather’s Sunday boots were high ,soft black leather which you could work up to a really good shine; grandmother’s were usually black, very misshapen because of her bunions poor soul; my mum’s were normal, high-heeled court shoes generally in beige or tan, mine were ballerinas as befitted my age. I had a super harlequin pair but extremely trying to clean (all those different colours) Anyhow, I took great pride in all this. For the young people who have never cleaned any shoes, here’s how: first you brush off the dirt and dust, then you rub in the cream, then you shine with your black or brown shoe brush, and finally you buff the already -shiny shoes to a mirror-like quality!

Nowadays, you only see leather shoes very rarely. In the tube (having now given up taking pictures of manspreaders) I look at the floor, and what a pleasure it is to see really smart, beautifully shined shoes. The rest of the guy (it’s generally a man) is usually very elegant too .Come on, will anybody defend those shapeless smelly things everybody now wears? Absolutely awful and you can’t help remembering the famous scene in a Massimo Troisi film when he got out of bed to move the offending gym shoes.

real leather

whole family


Wicca”s diary 9

I underestimated my human; she does go hunting but she has a different technique from mine. Instead of sitting patiently for hours, watching she goes away and then she comes back home with plenty of stuff in brightly coloured bags. And mostly chooses wisely although she does get a lot of fruit. The only fruit I like is in a little tin mixed with tuna, it’s called tonnetto and papaya, very exotic!

I’ve been pretty busy lately. Patrolling. I’m on the look-out for the 2 enemy cats who infiltrate my garden. I have only had one serious fight, but the piebald cat scratched and bit MY human quite badly so now I’m a bit wary……. I keep up the spitting, hissing and and growling though.

They’re bigger than me but I doubt if they have my fighting genes. While I am putting on muscle mass and building myself up to really fight them, I’m practising my finer skills on anything that moves in the garden.”Scorched earth” policy she calls it .

I try to make her understand through gestures. Surely it’s obvious if I stand in front of the French windows that I want to go out? I wait a little while to see if she’ll catch on but if she doesn’t I can actually make a sound like “out”! I’m also learning to eat my food with my paws. I really enjoy pulling it out of my bowl and spreading it on the floor.

Now, a little bit of “soft Science” for my fans: according to the journal of Comparative Psychology, cats display Dominance, Impulsiveness, Neuroticism exactly the same as seen in African Lions.

WiccaThought of the day: if you were descended from lions would you obey someone descended from monkeys?