Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Thurs 26 May - Not good start to our UK weekend

We're back in the UK now for the weekend and it feels very, very weird.  So much and nothing has changed.  

We've only been in Italy for two months but have settled into it's rhythms far more than I'd realised.  Arriving back yesterday was a huge culture shock.  Far more of a shock than when we returned last year after two months of travelling in Rosemary.  Of course we were very sad last year to get back and give up veedub living, but this was very different.  

Welcome to Britain
The first shock, having been told constantly for the last 2 months that the UK was basking in the biggest heatwave ever, was to get blasted by cold, wind and rain as we sat in the airport bus taking us across the tarmac to the terminal.  In flip flops and shorts.  Will somebody shut that damned door!

Of course everything seemed so fast, everyone was in such a hurry.  But that we expected, life back in the fast lane.  But it was more a feeling of weird wrongness, not helped by returning to the flat with somebody else living in it.  Very very weird.  Our flat, our stuff, but someone else's too.  Someone else's life mingled with our life.  But another life.  From another time and another place.  Caught in a time warp.

KP and I both stood on the balcony and looked out over the South Downs.  In silence.  Not quite sure what to do.  We needed to get some normality back.  Only one thing for it.  A curry!  Yes.  That's it.  Quick drink, quick curry, home and bed.  Nice.  

Or not.

The curry was rubbish.  The worst I think I've ever had.  And the worst service ever when I enquired, politely at first, as to the absence of the green peppers that were mentioned in the menu.  Such a little thing.

A good Malt Shovel band,
conspicuous by their absence
Without dwelling on the whole sorry affair that ensued, we gave up trying to rescue our evening that was now fast going down the pan, paid for the beer and wine, but not the food, and went next door for open mic night in The Malt Shovel.  

Having seen some great bands there in the past, this should have been an excellent way of recovering our evening.  But no.  It just wasn't our night.  No open mic night.  The place was dead.  One drink and we were off, still determined to finish on a good note.

We tried The Bear, good old dependable local full of some of the best characters Horsham has to offer (yes, really).  But dead too.  What is going on?  How can so much have changed in such a short time?!  Where is everybody?

Ah yes.  Bar Van rebranded.  Taken back to its roots. The Anchor Hotel.  And we did recover our evening.  Of sorts.  Live DJ thing going on playing all the old, very old, tracks from the 70s and 80's.  Lots of noise, people, dancing and some people we knew.  So the evening was fine, but it was now midnight.  

So much for our quiet evening and early night.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Mon 23 Apr - Bikes, Vipers & Baths

Feeling much revived by our early night, and with our usual zest reappearing along with the sunshine, a long session out on the bikes seemed like a good way of kicking off the week.  

The road to Chieti
And what a brilliant ride we had!  All the way to Chieti, 52km round trip.  Best yet.  Three hours of fabulous sunshine, long, long far reaching views, empty sweeping roads and great rolling tarmac.  With 600 metres of climbing and descending we certainly felt we'd worked.  

But it was Monday and we do have to work so we rolled into Kokopelli and set about our separate agendas for the day.  An admin day for me of networking, promoting and website design researching which was actually and surprisingly rather pleasant.  

The kitchen was a deliciously cool place to be working.  Cat thought so too and spent the afternoon with me sprawled across the marble floor. This cool, shady house is going to be an utter godsend as the temperatures rise.

KP, by contrast was working in the heat of the day clearing old, discarded bonfires to give the grass a chance of reclaiming the land.  

And playing with vipers.

I knew from the call of "Max, Max!" that something wasn't quite right.  It was the slightly high pitch with a few tremors in it that was the dead give-away, so I listened with interest.  Va bene?  said KP.   No bene, came the reply.  A swift slice of the head with a spade and the stand-off between KP and the viper was over.  Viper was il morte.  Rather sad really, but I guess they know more about these things than we do.

A site visit from the gas board came next and a decision on where to sink the bombol was made.  Now this really was very exciting.  Although only intended as a back up to the solar panels, the gas bombol was a sign that our days of limited hot water and 4 inch baths were now numbered.  A proper bath will be heaven indeed.

As the sun was going down so it was  time to down tools, or shut down computer in my case, and make the dreaded supermarket trip.  But it was quite painless and should see us through for the next couple of weeks.

A big bowl of pasta when we got back was just perfect for refuelling the energy sapped from the bike ride this morning.  Or at least I thought so, KP was clearly yearning for sausages and steak.  Domani, KP.  Tomorrow.

Sun 22 May - A Bag of Beans & A Chicken Madras

Bed at 2am meant a somewhat tentative opening of eyes and testing of the head at 6am as I awoke.  


all seems intact and amazingly OK.  I may just have got away with it, switching to water at midnight maybe wasn't a bad idea after all.  KP on the other hand was snoring well, and likely to be for some time.  

So, feeling ridiculously and smugly fresh, I went downstairs, made a cup of tea and read up on what to do with all my cherries.  Cherry jam became the plan for the day.  

But it didn't happen.  I went back to bed, went back to sleep till 11am, smugly fresh all gone, serves me right for gloating.

A quiet day was definitely in order.  A day crashed in front of some trashy film with the Sunday papers would have been lovely.  Plenty of trashy films here (all in dubbed Italian - hilarious) but no Sunday Times, so instead we chose to go chomping over the hills in search of broad beans for tea.  As you do.

My ponderings as to the wisdom of this idea were soon dispelled.  It was absolute heaven.  Every day more and more wild flowers and butterflies appear.  If only you could capture a smell in a photograph.

When we finally reached the peas and beans gone wild field the broad beans were still, sadly, far too small for picking.  Another two weeks and they'll be perfect, the peas another four.  

Having come all this way with rather delicate constitutions it seemed such a shame to return empty handed, and these baby beans were so deliciously and temptingly sweet.  So a rather pleasant half an hour was spent amongst the peas, beans, poppies and wheat picking the pods that held the most hope.

By the time we got back with our bag of beans we were more than ready to flop for the rest of the day.  

The sofa was calling, as was a supper of comfort food.  The baby beans forgotten, an evening with our last emergency ration of UK Lloyd Grossman Chicken Madras suddenly seemed like a very good idea.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sat 21 May - Saturday Night!

Saturday Night on the Town!  Evicted!

Another day started with a bike ride up the hill, but only to Roccamontepiano this time.  Market day.  It's only a small Market on a Saturday, but the fruit and vegetables are to die for.  Particularly now that there is so much bursting into season.   Asparagus in abundance, and the cherries!   I've never seem so many!   Or seen them so red and shiny and pungent.  I bought a kilo.  I didn't mean to buy quite so many but I think I was duped by the wily old lady on the stall.  Goodness knows what I'm going to do with them all, but I did seriously pig out on them!   Absolutely delicious.

Now, I know I said the weekends are for playing not working, but the kitchen is looking so good!  The temptation to continue with it was far too great.  

The kitchen was a dark, dull, almost depressing sort of place and for a room that is the heart of the house, that wasn't good.  I thought we could live with it, but I was wrong.  So seeing this room being transformed before our eyes is very exciting indeed.   A major kitchen refurb is not in our budget, we just don't have the money, so it's all being done on the cheap with best use of space and materials and salvaged parts.  It may be a long way from a state of the art fitted kitchen of Surrey (who wants one of those anyway?) but we love it.  It really is becoming 'The Heart' and a fresh, warm one it will be too, as soon as we have it filled with our drying onions, garlics, herbs, chillies and flowers.  

So I painted and painted till I could paint no more and the call of the sun was too great.

Finally, I downed my paint brush, put my bikini on (first time since coming out here) and attempted to reduce my cyclist's tan whilst working through the next "Learn Italian" chapter.  I couldn't be too totally decadent and just lie in the sun, could I?

White bits no longer quite so white, and all Italianed out, it was time to don my best frock and do my hair, we were going Saturday night on the town dancing!  Actually, I'll qualify that a little.  No frock, but i did put a clean pair of jeans on and a proper shirt, no tees for me tonight!  "Doing my hair" went out with my teens (ie very long time ago),  BUT, I did push the boat out and put some make-up on!  First time in over two months!   I like this weekend stuff.

We weren't exactly going dancing either, but what a brilliant night!  Totally not what we expected at all. Tucked away down a side street in Roccamonte is a little wooden bar.  Parco, it belongs to the Commune.  The little wooden bar was jam packed with long wooden benches and there was a band's equipment at the far end.  

Outside, surrounded by trees there's a semi circular arena with stone seating.  Absolutely brilliant for summer bands and al fresco nights.  I like this place.  This is what we want to create with our barns.  A coming together, all's welcome, anything goes, just chill sort of place.

And it just got busier and busier, and louder and louder.  What a party!  Arrosticini, meats, cheeses, breads, oil and tomatoes were piled on the tables and everyone just dived in, no ceremony, but what great food.  All ate, drank, talked, laughed, bantered, joked, and the wine just flowed.  Highlight of the evening was meeting an Italian with the broadest Outback Australian accent I've ever heard.  An absolutely hilarious long haired hippy beatnik sort of guy.  Love it.

But were the band ever going to appear?!  It was midnight and I was starting to flag under the weight of Arrosticini and wine.  And then they started.  

And wow!  Now, I'm not a hard rock sort of girl, more Deep South than Deep Purple, but these guys just blew me away.  Evicted.  What a voice!  And the guys on keyboard, guitar and drums were just amazing.  Great sounds, great atmosphere, great people, great night.

But a 2am bed?  A quiet Sunday, I think

Fri 20 May - That Friday Feeling!

I do think our decision to celebrate The Weekend with everyone else was a pretty good one.  

Having no demands on our time other than the cycles of the weather or the heat of the sun, we thought ditching the traditional Monday-Friday work pattern would be a good idea.  Work when everyone else is playing and play when everyone else is working.  Brilliant!  Or maybe not?  

Sometimes we do have some very strange ideas.  Why on earth did we think we needed to avoid the weekend crowds?  How very odd.  There are none.  But there is something very special about playing and working alongside everyone else.  I think it's called "fitting in", sharing, having a common goal, being part of a community.  And so we had fun this weekend, with everyone else.  A weekend contrasted from the week, and shared with friends.  Important lesson learnt.

So Friday came with that great Friday feeling.  Time to wrap up the week.  And what better way to start it than by trying out that new bike.

It really is a lovely little bike, very pretty, light as a feather and beautifully balanced.  I am seriously going to have my work cut out once KP and the bicci are working as one.  A formidable team coming on.  And that's how we started our Friday, a little spin up the hill that took us part of the way up the road to Passo Lanciano, a not insignificant col at 2,500 m.  Not that we did it today though, just a little scratch of the surface was in order.  We have a major dent to make in the kitchen refurb.
Getting there

After we got back, it was time to crack on, it's not the weekend quite yet.  So  as Max and Tomas worked outside, KP and I worked on the inside.  KP finished the wood panelling and I painted, all to some great tunes coming out of a getting ready for the weekend too Radio Deejay!   "One Nation, One Station". (Radio Deejay on Air!) A brilliant way to work.  

Eventually we got there Friday night!  Woop woop.  The usual crew were in the bar and another great evening we had sitting round the table outside, new faces and old, people coming, people going, but all so vocal and so much chat!  

But we were sensible, there's still Saturday night to come, and wandered back to Kokopelli before it got too late.  Some rabbit pieces were thrown on the barbecue, which did go rather well with yesterday's left over aubergine & parmesan bake and Wednesday's left over lentils.  

Quick, cheap, easy and wholesome.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Thur 19 May - A Jet Powered Bike, & A Few Musings

The days and weeks are just whizzing by.  Where did this week go?

A week dominated by bikes.  It started on Monday.  In the rain.  What else do you do with a rainy Monday, but go look at bikes?   Not for me, I might add, I have my beloved Van  Nic, my little titanium friend who never fails me, but for KP who thinks a newer, lighter bike with better gearing will get him up these hills faster than me.  Tee hee, we'll see.

So we spent Monday morning positively dribbling at some utterly beautiful works of art and perfection, and found an absolute gem of a shop.  Bevilacqua, the baby of two ex-Giro d'Italia brothers (www.bevilacquasport.it).  Their bikes are their life and their passion, and so my starstruck week began.  

In their workshop where KP went to get measured and set up for his very exciting purchase was a fantastic gallery of their races and photographs.  Brilliant.  And what nice guys.  We were in good hands.  

Go faster jets
A rather fine Colnago with Ultegra gearing was finally selected as the bike for KP.  Blue, with pictures of jets on the frame, it is a very splendid bike indeed.  But will it help him beat me up the hills?  We'll see.  

Beautifully balanced, it'll  certainly get him down them and sweeping round these mountain passes even faster, so I'll definitely have my work cut out trying to get back on his tail as we climb.  Best I get off my laurels and back into training mode.

Our next 'starstruck dominated by bikes' day was being at the finish of stage 10 Giro d'Italia to watch Cavendish make a dramatic finish.  The best day EVER!  And I've still got the biggest grin ever (17 May - Cavendish!). 

The rest of the week was just as exciting (almost).  The barn and the showers are taking shape.  No longer an ugly old tip of a building crying out for demolition, but the start of a very smart shower block in one half and a chill out zone with sun terrace in the other.  Yeh, OK, you do still need vision and imagination, but it is actually really happening.  

And so the theme of our week became guided by dominant factor number 2.  We have absolutely and totally fallen in love with this place and it's people.  We've only been here for two months, but have just slotted in to the peaceful, and at times highly amusing, continuum of daily life with all the characters that are unfolding around us.  

The hills, mountains and raw, unmanicured remoteness of the region all go together to make up the picture, but it is the people, the characters, and the village life, unchanged for generations, that are pulling us in.  Families are still living in the houses they were born in, the elders are just brilliant, and the youngsters, cheeky and all posy strutty, but likely to get a cuff round the head from one of the elders to bring them back down to size.  

The traditional roles and respect, to an outside looking in, seem to be still here and intact.  And it seems to work.  Think back to post war Britain, all snotty nosed kids playing in the street and one man shops selling everything with a smile and a gossip, and you have a picture of life here.  Not a lot of money to go round, and very few possessions, but I would love to play with Cameron's 'happiness tester' here.  Maybe a rose tinted view, who knows.

And therein lies the problem.  This we didn't expect.  We're building a business.  The fireflies that appeared for the first time late one evening this week didn't help either.  

Sian, Kim, Sam & Jess
If I could just pick up our families, and transport them all out here with us, no question at all.

It doesn't seem to matter how old you or your children get, that need to nurture and protect just doesn't go away.  Bit difficult to be a mother and protector, despite the wonders of communication technology, when you're over a thousand miles away.  

Ho hum.

This view?

But next weekend we'll be home!  How weird will that be?!  Back in Horsham.  

Overlooking Sainsburys.  


But just for the weekend.  

Or this one?

Very excited about catching up with everyone: Barking Benfling on Friday, if she manages to hang on to her bump long enough, Kimbo Friday night, Phil, Sharon and everyone else Saturday night, and we'll be bringing Sian and Jess back with us on Sunday to stay for a few days.  

Can't wait.

Think you're fast enough?

Enough musings.  Time to test that new bike...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Tues 17 May - Cavandish! Cavandish! Cavandish!

Giro d'Italia 2011 Termoli - Teramo Stage 10 & a Cav Win!

 What a fantastic day!  Totally Starstruck!  Giro d'Italia and a Mark Cavendish win.  And we were there.  Absolutely brilliant.

The morning we spent cracking on with our day jobs, KP in the kitchen continuing to exchange crummy old tiles for wood panelling, and me being a bit of a domestic.  Not being able to put it off any longer, I got shed loads of washing done and hung out, changed the beds, cleaned the bathrooms, swept the floors and beat the rugs.  In between all this, a passata was made to throw on a pizza for an easy supper later.

Rush, rush, rush but eventually a down tools at 1pm and out the door by 1.30pm.  We zoomed round the autostrada (forfeiting the tolls for once) and were at Teramo within an hour. 

We picked our spot just before the finish and there I stayed for almost 3 hours jealously and fiercly guarding my vantage point.  KP wandered off every now and then to keep me fed, watered and supplied with souvenirs, but no way, no how, was I going to move.

Clearly not a cyclist!
But it was great and well worth it.  Teramo and il Giro put on a great show.  We were kept entertained by live radio, dancing girls and boys and famous retired cyclists.  No idea who they were but from the way they were flocked around by cameras and journos when they arrived, I'm guessing they were Italian racing heroes.  The whole atmosphere was electric, a real party scene. 

From my vantage point, and with the help of my binos, I was able to keep up with the race as it whooshed along the Adriatic and ever closer.  No, I didn't have super-powerful, state of the art, binos that could see all that way, but they did give me a great view of the TV screens in the corporate tents opposite.

Who he?

And what an exciting race it was!  Fast, furious and flat.  Relying on Facebook updates for a running commentary and my binos firmly fixed in the corporate tents I was able to keep up to date.  Until 5km from the finish, and then it went crazy.  It was all happening so fast! 

I knew Cav would be tucked away in there somewhere waiting to make his characteristic awesome sprint for the finish, but I had no idea where he was!  So frustrating!  

Just slow down all of you!  Or at least spread out a bit!  When they whooshed past it was one big, exciting, blur of chaos and colour.  

So fast!  I hadn't got a clue who'd won, didn't see Cav, but it was absolutely brilliant!  To have the whole lead group race past in one big powering bunch, a single almighty entity, was just amazing.  The force, the wind and the energy created was awesome.  Just think what you could do if you could harness that!  Fly to the moon and back on pedal power alone.

Eventually it came clear that Cav had indeed won! We pushed our way through the crowds and found our way to the podium with the help of KP practicing his best Italian!  Dov'è Cavendish? Where is Cavendish?  And we were pointed and pushed in the right direction in time to watch him shake, cork and spray the champagne.  Just wow!

More Dov'è Cavendishes and we found ourselves waiting behind the drug testing vans. He came out, signed my card and stopped for a photo.  I almost swooned.  Cavendish groupie and unashamed!

Eventually KP dragged me away and we fought our way back through the crowds to make our way home, stumbling across an official Giro d'Italia merchandise van on his way home too . So of course we stopped him, accosted him, slipped him a tenner each and both came away with a goody bag of branded Giro d'Italia tee shirt, cap, loyalty bands, bags and clicky things. 

I grinned all the way home.

And I haven't stopped grinning yet!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Sun 15 May - Off-Piste Exploring

Our plan for taking the bikes out on a long endurance ride this morning was put on hold by the clouds building over the mountains and the brief shower we'd just had.   Change of direction. Let's go off piste exploring, but by design this time rather than accident!  

You see there's a gorge that follows the river that looks as though it should go all the way to Passo Lanciano, or Pretoro at the very least.  It needs exploring and a route through being found.  Just because it's there.

But could we find a route through?  Not a chance.  At least not without ropes and proper emergency equipment, we didn't even have a phone signal.  Climbing through the gorge was brilliant, and the sights absolutely magical the further and deeper we went.  

An African rainforest abundant with exquisite ferns, vines, tropical plants and dappled sunlight.  The rock faces, boulders and cascading water completed the scene.   A Garden of Eden.

One day we'll find a route, but not today.  The climb became too steep, and the moss and lichen covered rocks and boulders were too slippery, too loose and too crumbly to climb unprotected.

So we back tracked and tried another route over the hill.  

Following cinghiale trails, we got lost many times as the trails got more and more dense and became passable only to these wild woodland pigs with their thick hides and short legs, our longer legs (even mine) and soft skin didn't stand a chance against this undergrowth.

Eventually we did find our way over and through and got back home with enough time to spare to get to the sports field to watch the second half of the Serramonacesca United play off. 

Under pressure this time, the standard of play was far better and, at times, quite impressive. But not enough to save them the match.  Shame really, they fought hard. 

A quickie in the bar turned into a few more than expected as we picked up and practiced more Italian.  Eventually I dragged KP away and home to a very welcome supper and an even more welcome catch up with my girls.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sat 14 May - Pooped

After our late night and little party in the Piazza any thoughts of a lie in were quickly scuppered. First by Fausto finding Cat and then by KP running out of gas as he was making a cup of tea.  The noise was phenomenal.  Total chaos with Fausto and Cat having a barking hissing standoff in the garden and KP crash bang whalloping with the gas bottle and oven, with all the grace of a bull in a china shop. 

 But it was good to be up.  The sun was shining and we were going walking.  And what a great walk we had.  Two hours that became four.  One day we'll stop getting lost.  But when we stop getting lost we'll also stop discovering.  Yet more plunge pools and picnic spots were found, as well as an abandoned field full of broad beans and peas gone wild.  The beans were tiny but so sweet and delicious, the peas still in flower.   One to return to with foraging basket.

By the time we'd been out for four hours we found ourselves back at the Liberatore in searing heat gasping for a beer (KP), ice cold lemonade (me), and food (all of us).  The bar was tantalisingly close so we all picked up the pace and practically ran the last two kilometres to the bar.  Just as it was closing.  I thought KP was going to cry.

But we did make it home without any tears or anyone collapsing with sunstroke, dehydration or malnutrition.  Just.  Even Fausto lost some bounce.  He was certainly happy to get back and just collapsed in a welcome heap on the cold marble floor.  Sensible dog.  Don't think Tina will hear a peep out of him for the rest of the day.

Didn't really get a peep out of us for the rest of the dsy either.  Lunch was had before Tina and Fausto made their way home.  KP and I just flopped out and didn't shift till bedtime. 

What a great couple of days. 

And it's still only Saturday with Sunday, my favourite day ever, yet to come.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Fri 13 May - A Night on the Balcony & A Night in the Piazza

Just how much more can we fit into our days and weeks?  We've done so much, more than we could have possibly imagined, and each day takes us a step closer to Kokopelli, our special little campsite.

The soon to be transformed sleeping barn

The builders have now started converting the barns into laundry, showers, chill out zone, bunkhouse and barbecue terrace.  So very exciting.  Our vision becoming reality. This place is utterly spectacular and so very perfect for our passion of easy, chilled, simplicity.   

A space for your tent
There will be no marked out plots, no manicured lawns, no electricity hook ups, no TV.  Just pitch up, find your spot, choose your view.  Chill.  Your tent or ours, or even maybe a bed in the barn.   

We have so got it right here, and the last few days have just confirmed that.   Seeing the barns and the views transforming before our eyes, meeting and talking with people, describing our vision and, as the picture unfolds, watching their excitement mirror ours. 

One day soon a chill out barn with doors to the terrace
In the evening after the builders had cleared away and gone home, we wandered around awestruck at what was appearing.

After supper we sat out on the balcony in the warm Jasmine scented breeze, all the lights out, just the moon and the stars and the badger.  The silhouettes of the mountains above and the little lights of Serramonacesca twinkling in the valley below.  

The crickets were in chorus, the frogs in harmony and the late evening orchestra was joined every now and then by the mournful cry of an owl.  How could anyone fail but to be enchanted.  If we'd stumbled across a campsite like this on our travels, we'd have been in heaven.  They are few and far between.

As Max worked on the barns we continued to work on the house, work on our Italian, meet and chat with our neighbours.  As the sun just shone and shone and shone.

Terracotta bargains
Friday came, and a very exciting Friday it was.  A rummaging shopping trip with Tina.  An antique & flea market.  My most favourite thing ever.  

And a girl friend for company too.  I hadn't realised how much I'd missed it.  Girlie chat, girlie shopping, girlie laughing.  Just love it.  And you should see the bargains!  

A beautiful pale green, scrolled iron, day bed, a delicate twisted iron standard lamp, an old ceramic bowl, a large painted ceramic anti-pasti plate, some old terracotta pots and jug and a baby's buggy complete with parasol (not for me, silly, for Sian!).  A fabulous day.

A beautiful day bed for the guest room
KP meanwhile was having a right old boys' time.  Beers with the builders at home, followed by more beers and more people in the bar, followed by a pre-election mini-festa in the piazza. Free booze, free food and free fun.  

Tina and I joined in mid festa as KP and co were in full back slapping, male bonding flow.  Much laughter and banter.  Hadn't got a clue what was being said but, who cared, we got the jist of it most of the time (at least, I think so, but who knows).  What a great, spontaneous evening.  We finally dragged ourselves, and KP, away and back home for the lasagne that was slowly cooking in the oven.  

More food, more wine, and so to bed. 


Thursday, 12 May 2011

Wed 11 May - Giro d'Italia & A Naked Coniglio

Giro d'Italia 2011
Inspired by the Giro, we've developed this new thing on the bikes and, boy, does it hurt.  The beauty of it for a training programme is it's easy to do, it's great for mismatched people training together, and you can't help but to give it your all, no matter how much you're hurting. 

The mismatch for us falls in two very different power to weight ratios, and brain versus no brain.  Translated as the up hills being mine (strong legs, light body weight), and the down hills being KP's (greater body weight, no fear).  

So what has KP decided to do?  Getting fed up with getting left behind on the hills, he's come out fighting.  Rather than being a gentleman and holding back on the descents and waiting for me at the bottom, he's now going for it in a totally brainless way.  He's even overtaking cars.  He then belts it up the other side until gravity takes it's toll and starts dragging on his 6'3"/15 stone frame.  Problem is, he has a 10 minute lead and I have to catch him.  Double problem is, I can't help myself. 

I could just take it easy, not worry about the fact that he's ahead of me and just enjoy the ride. I'm not racing anymore, I don't need to do it.  I don't need this pain.  So why do it?  Because he's up there.  Somewhere.  And he's beating me.  

I can catch him, he won't beat me.  Gaining, I can see him now, he's in my sights.  Keep turning those legs, keep reeling him in.  Stand up now, power those legs.  Sit down, spin, rest. Stand up again.  Power on, nearly there.  Must get him before the top. 

You see, I just can't help myself.  He can't either, hears me coming, keeps working, defying gravity, pushing on.

Road to Pretoro, mountain stage of 2009 Giro
So this is how we spent our morning.  1 hour and 15 minutes of pain.  24 km.  I have to confess to a little cheat.  Just two switchbacks before Pretoro, about three quarters of the way into the long long climb, there's a short cut that cuts out the last two switchbacks.  But it's no mean feat.  The road is broken up and it's so steep in places I lose traction.  It hurts, it's pain and only sheer will-power and bloody mindedness (and the fact that some workmen are watching) get me to the top.  Ahead of KP.  Tee hee.  

But I almost threw up.  Took a good few minutes of sitting, spinning, recovering before my stomach settled back into its rightful place and my burning lungs calmed and cooled.  But I was back in front.

KP did catch me easily on the fast descent into Roccamonte and bombed past at the speed of light, knees practically on the ground on the sweeping turns.  Luckily for me there is a short, but very sharp climb back to Garifoli and home.  Easy for me, not so for KP.  So I caught him and we rolled in together.  Absolutely brilliant training session.

That out of the way, it was time to crack on with the serious stuff.  KP continued panelling the kitchen whilst I did the dreaded supermarket run.  On my own.  That was a first, and all rather boring really.  First time out driving and finding my way around on my own, I thought this would be a momentous occasion, but it was quite boring really.  

Hmmm...  Think I'll start with the head
The exciting thing was though, whilst I was out our bunnies arrived!  All hairless and ready for me to prepare.  Coniglio. Easy peasy, can't be any different from cutting up a chicken, can it?  Problem is, chickens come trussed up and neatly packaged in cellophane, these bunnies were in my sink and were looking at me.

First job, get rid of the head.  Chop, done, bin, gone.  That's better.  No more eyes. 

Freezer ready  bunny
Luckily my bunny benefactor had removed the entrails, just leaving me the heart, lungs and kidneys.  Easily removed I then moved on to sectioning the legs, ribs, saddle and back.  Hey! This is looking good!  What a big bunny too.  Eventually I had three packs for the freezer, two for the stock pot and one for the pan for tonight.  Easy, simple and totally delicious recipe I found too, courtesy of my Tuscan cookbook.

The usual swifty in the bar and we were back home with rabbit and freshly podded broad beans for supper, in our kitchen with one wall of completed wood panelling, totally pooped.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mon 9 May - Worms, Police & A Kitchen With Mange

Dramatic skies over Kokopelli

What is it with this weather?!  How can it change so fast?!  For the last three days we've had glorious sunshine and temperatures of 35 degrees, today it poured, it hailed, it stormed.  The thunder and lightening shook the windows in their frames (and me in my boots) and never got above 9 degrees.  A day for working indoors.

The first job of the very wet day was for KP to make a trip into Scafa for some woodworm treatment fluid for my 'in the process of being restored' trunk. 'Tarlo' is the Italian for woodworm we discovered before he left.  So, armed with this new word, off he went.  But it didn't help him one jot.  He ended up with the whole store in absolute fits, one poor girl helpless with laughter, at his crude diagrams of worms (complete with eyes) coming out of holes.  He even pretended to be a worm himself and eat a plank of wood.  "You eat worms?" she said.

Success was eventually achieved and KP made his way home with his prized tin of Anti-Tarlo.  And was promptly pulled by the police.  

This time he was, for once, not doing anything wrong.  Just on the phone in a lay-by.  A dodgy looking geezer at the best of times he'd obviously caught their attention.  They checked his licence, did a search on the number plate and a search of the boot.  The boot that was full of ropes and climbing gear, very suspicious  to the uninitiated.  Once the explanation was made and understood the polizia clearly changed their view of this dodgy geezer, they laughed, shook his hand, patted him on the back, pulled out a packet of fags and all shared a cigarette by the roadside.  Weird.

Eventually he arrived home, and continued to cause chaos here.   Brief discussions we'd had recently about how to disguise the tiles in the kitchen without major disruption, suddenly became a reality.  With major disruption.  The kitchen is (or was) fine.  It just didn't look very nice.  It worked, it was functional and, for now (with so much else to do), we'll just have to live with it.  Or so I thought.  But that wasn't taking into account a rainy day and a bored KP.

Utter nightmare
I disappeared to return to the painting of bedroom #2 leaving KP to contemplate removing the tiles and replacing with T&G.  Fatal error.  Chaos.  Utter chaos.  The first wall of tiles just fell off.  No hassle, no bother, no mess.  The second wall, not quite so.  Oh God.  The bangs and crashes echoing round the house alerted me in my neat little bedroom of order and painting efficiency that things were maybe not going quite to plan.

Yep, there was chaos.  The wall looked like a bricks and mortar fox with mange.  Bits of tile here, concrete there, chipped marble stairs.  Bang, bang, bang, pieces of shattered tile flying around the room like shrapnel from a machine gun.  Ho hum, says I and disappeared back upstairs leaving behind the little caveat of neatness and order to be resumed by tea time. 


Actually, he did, amazingly, do a pretty good job of clearing away.  I may have a kitchen with mange, but it's a neat and tidy one.  

Let's just hope the mange doesn't last too long...