Monday, 1 October 2012

Farewell from Murmurings

The view from my garden bench

For me September has been a difficult month.  Health issues linger making concentration and observation almost impossible except within my own garden.  The long awaited visit to the UK was nearly cancelled but when it came eight days away was just what needed.

I have only swum twice in the lake this year although a lot of locals and tourists alike enjoyed the water, and we both think that there were many more boats of all shapes and sizes on the lake this year.

This is going to be my last blog on Murmurings. I am going to create a blog which is personal to me - my likes, my writing and my hobbies.

'The Haphazard Gardener' will remain, as will 'An English Garden/Lake Como' + a new blog called Alice - which will give some background to my novel Alice due soon on Kindle.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Way too Hot

August was way too hot for me – I’m sure if you’re reading from the UK you are probably thinking why are you complaining but it got to the stage when we desperately needed rain. The grass became so dry it was crisp and slightly painful when you walked on it – well if you will go barefoot!  Typically though on the nights of festa or fireworks we had rain or thunderstorms.  The streets were full of tourists, coming over a much shorter season than usual and we’ve seen some weird and wonderful sights. An amphibious car a pretty shade of turquoise green, drove along, admired by many, it turned left and drove straight into the lake. The little sunshade in the middle of the two passengers was opened and they drove/sailed off into the distance. And there has been a man travelling above the water held up by a water jet - I can give you no other explanation.

You could spend an entire day on the promenade watching people, boats and oddities like this.  We’ve seen danger too. Swimmers – one hopes unaware of the dangers, for surely they wouldn’t otherwise be so stupid  – crossing the water where the boats swing in – one guy had to tread water and raise his arm up to make sure he was visible, as a speed boat swept into the cove. Several people have lost their lives in the water this year, which is always sad when such a beautiful place is tainted thus.  The currents are strong; and the calmness it might portray misleading.

And we’ve had Ella to stay.  Ella is a Lagotto Romagnolo – an Italian  Water Retriever.  She is a ‘must have’ dog in my opinion.  She loves to swim, to chase, to play and to snuggle up.  She has the sweetest nature– well as sweet as Saffron but virtually non-moulting – their coat is hypoallergenic – described as hair it resembles a sheep but longer and more rustic. She’s gone back to the owners for one week and then we have her for three more weeks – we are sorely tempted to indulge ourselves. She is however, not a good dog for a gardener as digging is one of her favourite pastimes.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Best Bar in Lenno

Tuesday is market day in Lenno; always busier in the summer months with visitors from all over the world being boated in from other towns and villages - all looking for a bargain! And it’s when Bar Sport is at its liveliest.

Each year Bar Sport has extended its repertoire; now serving coffee, cocktails, fine wines and snacks to homemade pasta, excellent pizzas, and even better salads (that’s because I prefer salad to pizza) – these are especially generous in both content and portion.  My favourite this year is the chicken salad; made a la Elio owner. The chicken boiled with herbs and then stripped from the carcase across a good mixed salad (not all Italian restaurants are very good at mixed salads) with artichoke, little onions, chopped gherkin and olives it is one of the most flavoursome salads I’ve tasted in Italy.  The portion too is a meal in itself. And I am informed that his stock from this is added to his risotto – so that too must be delicious.

He, his wife Catherine and their staff are attentive and welcoming – Bar Sport wins top marks from
Elio, Catherine and their son Allesio

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The roof is complete.  The insurance will pay for the internal decoration.  ‘Better than a kick in the teeth’ as my old dad used to say.  Good workman, quick delivery, clean and tidy - almost too good to be true.  The warm weather that we’ve had during June should help to dry the interior out so the painting can commence soon.

View from Pigra looking SW
A friend took us to the top of Mount Tremezzina, via the top of Mount Lenno.  A little nerve racking, with Andrea constantly asking me if I was nervous!  As long as I looked at the inside of the mountain and all the lovely wild flowers clinging to the crevices I was fine and he was very careful.  From Pigra you drive along the top of a mountain before you begin to climb again.  We came across a field with donkeys, with the majority of them facing in the same direction with their ears pricked up.  ‘Ah!’ I said – ‘Stop for a photo.’ ‘Ooh.’ Andrea said. ‘Donkey salami’.  The sad thing is - he wasn’t joking.

View down towards Como

We passed tiny farms with goats and donkeys in makeshift
enclosures. And when we reached a refuge called Calbiga (Venini), at the end of the road - what a view!  The day was perfect, with barely a cloud in the sky.  Walk just a few yards and look to the left and you can see Lake Lugano and the smaller lakes beyond – turn to the right and you can see Lake Como. We were above Argegeno and you could see the leg down to Como.  Walk straight ahead in between the cattle – docile in character with long horns and tongues and at a point some yards further on you can see as far as the leg of Lake Como that stretches down to Lecco.

We ate sitting at rustic tables with bench seats – it is said that on a Sunday more than 200 people are served lunch.  I was glad we went on a Wednesday – meeting a car either whilst going up or down would have broken my nerve!
A portion between three!
Our cheese starter was delicious and more than generous, so generous in fact I cancelled my second course of home made stew.  I didn’t ask what the meat was when the guy brought me a couple of chunks on a plate anyway!  The guys had sausages – not as your English sausage, more a rough slab of minced meat but very tasty, with polenta.  Now I don’t like polenta – I’ve had it lots of times and quite often it’s stodgy and clings to the inside of your mouth but this was yummy.

I walked amongst the cows with the long horns – I met a young brown cow head on and put my hand out – as you would to a dog you’d not met before.  It eyed me for a while and then uncurled its long brown tongue – I hastily withdrew my hand.  Like a spurned puppy he followed me along the path for quite a way.

It was a lovely experience - one I hope to repeat in the not too distant future.

My friendly cow

Friday, 1 June 2012

Two days before we travelled to the UK – Phil discovered that the flat roof of the annexe was leaking in most of the rooms and mould was growing down the walls and the ceiling.  Now you might think that this was very neglectful but it was less than a month previous that we had shown it to some potential buyers, with no more that a few flaky pieces from an issue we knew was already present.  We have had so much rain this winter and spring and the cold February obviously penetrated the membrane and caused it to break up.  We managed to put in place three quotes to be done when we returned and inform the insurance agent – giving him one week to consider whether we were insured for such damage or not! As in all things Italian the estimates are all different – all with conflicting advice as to what is really needed. 

The insurance agent sent out a ‘man’ who looked at it closely and has gone away to consider!  Fingers crossed we get some help – we pay enough every year.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Disappointing weather

At the beginning of April we had a few wet days which left fresh snow on the highest mountain peaks.  So from record March temperatures, we are back to temperatures as low as 4deg C. It has rained a lot during April but it hasn't stopped the swifts from returning - the Italians would say this is the sign for the beginning of summer - nor from the cuckoo - calling from the wooded mountain behind the house.  Nor has it stopped the blackbirds and sparrows from courting!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Car Park Meadow

We have a meadow near us which edges a car park - nature's garden of subtle shades of green meadow grass - the hues lifted by early flowers of pink clover, blue ajuga and sorrel's red flowers towering over, interspersed with buttercups - shining like sunshine on the dullest day.

This meadow is cut several times throughout the year but each season will bring new colour from different plants to the verdant pasture.