Thursday, 7 April 2011

Sunday 3 April: Acres of Blossom & a Wood Smoke Kitchen

First job, sort the steering wheel, a somewhat essential item that we're not going to go far without.

As the miles were being ticked off yesterday, so the steering wheel had got looser and looser. At every comfort or fuel stop so KP took the steering wheel off and tightened a few bolts.  A somewhat disconcerting sight to see how easy it is to remove (ie not much holding it on), but all my questions and concerns were met with a simple "oh, it's fine, rock solid, that won't come off". The only way it could, apparently, was if you were to give it a sharp upwards tug.  Something I had absolutely no intention of doing whatsoever.  So we were OK, weren't we?

And so we kept rolling on, tightening it at every stop. Until I drove over a bump and it went crack.  Now that was worrying.  Not to be brushed off with another "oh it's fine", I probed a little deeper. "How exactly is a steering wheel connected to the wheels?", "what are the chances of it being corroded where it joins the wheels?", and so on.  I was given the usual reassurances (which sort of worked) but this time also a promise to give it the once over when we got to Parma.  I was made happy enough to risk the last few miles, but no further.

So before we left Parma this morning, the tools came out and KP tinkered whilst I cleared the room and settled the bill.  Expecting the worst I was very happy to hear the words "that's going nowhere!".  Yippidy doo da, we're on the road again!  Next stop Serramonacesca and home.  Happy.

Happy that is until KP, having spent all day yesterday telling me everything was fine, insisted on taking the first shift (which is unusual, he not being a morning sort of person).  A few miles into his shift, he declared how nice it was to have a steering wheel again!  I don't think I'll trust him ever again.

Traffic jam from hell
We only had about 450km to go and the terrain was fairly easy, but not wishing to push our luck and the old girl (who's done so well), we took it slow. The drive was fairly uneventful, only broken up by hitting the traffic jam from hell (a bit of a pile up but nothing too serious), some jaw droppingly beautiful fields of blossom, and me getting a sunburnt arm (yes, really!).

The traffic jam we were soon through, but the fields of blossom just went on and on and on.  Never have I seen anything quite so stunning.  Quite where I've been all these years I don't know, but I had no idea grape vines either blossomed or gave such a display.  Acres and acres and row upon row of thousands of tiny white or red flowers.  In the middle of this explosion of spring, you would also often find, amongst the hazy sunshine and rolling hills, a lazy tumble of ancient brick villa, ornate gates and poplar lined driveways.  Italy in the spring, heart achingly beautiful. A must for any bucket list.

But nothing could have prepared me for the views as we rolled into Abruzzo and got ever closer to home. The mountains of the Apennines, drenched in snow and sunshine to our right and the glistening Adriatic to the left.  Ancient villages tumbling down hill-sides lying somewhere in the middle.  It was good to be back.

Almost home.  10 minutes to Kokopelli

And the house was fine.  Just as we'd left it.  The kitchen still smelt of wood smoke, nothing had changed. We just walked around in a dazed sort of awe, throwing open shutters and letting the sunshine stream in. The grass hadn't grown too much, but there's still plenty to do.  Oh where to start?  Tomorrow we have a planning meeting but, for now, we just enjoy.  KP dug Rosemary out a drive so we could get her onto her resting space under the fig tree whilst I unpacked, sorted, pottered and cooked.

Eventually, with the sun going down, Rosemary was settled in her new spot and oh how pretty and happy she looked.  All ready for her first guests. 

That is as soon as the barns have been converted into showers, loos, laundry and so on.  Two months in and we're still waiting for quotes.  Ho hum.  One for the morning.

Rosemary's new home

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