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Showing posts from July, 2009

Friday and the end of another week/month

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Blue thistle the name of which I have no idea! Well what a day I had yesterday, first I went off to the apiary to help Terry with the bees. He had a couple of students who were there to do their practical and as he has recently had major surgery he needed help lifting the heavy supers off. The apiary is on one of the largest top fruit farms in the country so the next time you buy an apple in a supper market there is every chance that it was one of Terry's bees you have to thank. I am assuming that you would only buy English apples!!!!! I rushed back from there to have a quick sandwich before setting out for Canterbury and the shooting lesson. We had booked two one hour lessons back to back so Jeff went first and I took Basso to sit behind the gun for some practice. He was as good as gold and was more fascinated by the traps which were firing the clays than the noise of the guns. Earlier that morning he had done a beautiful bit of hunting in the garden - I found him frozen an…

Thursday and the sun is shining

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This is a perennial sweet pea that I have tried without success to destroy - it comes up religiously every year despite being pulled out by the roots. It has no scent and is growing in a really awkward place. We were promised a deluge for yesterday evening and though it did rain it was only fairly light. In anticipation of the bad weather I had rushed out to do a bit of gardening and picked our first handful of runner beans - who else do you know that is mad enough to have a plate of runner beans for breakfast- they were delicious. For lunch we had a dish that I had seen Bill Granger do on the TV. It consisted of pasta and fresh peas in a sauce made with butter oil and garlic, fried, then single cream and lemon zest added. Though not low in calories it was very tasty and very easy. We had it with the inevitable cucumber salad and to our surprise neither of us fancied supper as it seem to keep us full for the whole day. I was very pleasantly surprised with a phone call from the cen…

Wednesday and bin day

Good morning all, well the sunshine has deserted us this morning and the sky is very overcast and dull.
Last nights dog training was a revelation, our usual trainer was unavailable and the class was taken by a tall Swedish bombshell who took no prisoners!!! I am feeling every one of my 61 years this morning. Basso played me up something terrible but by the end of the class he was beginning to realise that he was not going to win. I think I have some serious work to do with him and it is no more "Mr nice guy" for him. What is so difficult, is that every trainer gives you different information. I had just bought a new thicker slip lead and was told I needed a thinner one, I have been told not to put a collar on him as it ruins their coat around the neck, but last night she wanted them all to have collars on when training. The long heavy chain that had been recommended was also wrong and needed to be shorter. Eventually I think I will be able to open my own shop with all…

Tuesday and very late

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Sorry to be so late this morning but I did something stupid and drank a cup of coffee very late and then couldn't get to sleep and was still wandering around at 2am. Anyway good news - Terry and the bee inspector came yesterday morning and after four hours of discussion form filling and minute inspection of every single bee!!!!! my hives have a clean bill of health and even more importantly so does the honey. One of the packets of dead bees has been sent to head office for analysis but apparently it can take 5 months to get a result and even then it could come back negative. However, there was one thing they were both agreed on and that was that it was a definite case of poisoning and most probably contaminated water. It seems that the bees have a very pragmatic approach to contaminated bees they eject them from the hive to die. Today the sun is shining and the sky is blue and I would like to get out into the garden and do some weeding - the grass could also do with a cut but I…

Monday morning and raining

Well we were very lucky with the weather for the CLA game fair but it was a pretty miserable journey up on Friday - the trip usually takes us 2 hours but it took 3 as the traffic was terrible and we drove through some heavy showers. We were up early on Saturday and drove the 45 minutes from my sister in laws house to the fair where we were marshaled into a parking area right at the front. We then made our way to the Landrover stand to enquire about the off road driving only to find that it was just a ride around their demonstration track. So following the obligatory bacon sandwich we had a go. Unfortunately they didn't let us drive so Jackie and I went together and I tethered Basso to a post and asked a nice lady to keep and eye on him while we had our 5 minute ride. The course looked pretty severe from the outside but once inside the car it was such a comfortable ride you could hardly believe you were travelling over such rough terrain. That done we made our way to the Duba…

Friday and a busy day ahead

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Red clematis makes its way up the side of the shed. Well it's raining, but everything I have heard about the weather is predicting a good day tomorrow so we should be alright at the game fair. We had a good day yesterday and have deposited Nip and Tuc with our friends. We decided to try a pub called the Malta Inn which is situated right on the river but it was packed to the gunwales as we had forgotten that it was half term and also the river festival. We moved on to another pub not as nice but we had a reasonable meal and then it was back to drop off the dogs and home for a siesta but not until about 4pm. We are not leaving until about 11 am so we have some time this morning to get the bits and pieces together. I spent some time yesterday watering the pots and boxes as although we have had rain they dry out really quickly. I picked and ate my first fig yesterday which is always a treat and fortunately, big though he is, Basso can't reach the upper branches so I have some …

Thursday and the week is whistling by

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What a dull, damp, dark and dismal day it is today there is not a glimmer of sun through the blanket of cloud. This is a photo of my hens who are now laying an egg a day each. I don't know if you can see the fallen apples that are strewn about their run but they don't seem to like apple and leave them well alone. The construction at the far end is their summer shelter which gives them both shade and also keeps them dry in a down pour if they have the sense to shelter. Still nothing from the Bee inspector and I have decided to leave it for the weekend as we will be away. I will ring him on Monday and see where we go from here. There don't seem to have been further fatalities so I am hopeful that it was some freak occurrence rather than actual poisoning. Today Nip and Tuc are being taken to our friends where they are going to stay for the weekend so I need to get them all packed up with their bits and pieces. 2 crates, 3 days supply of breakfast and dinner, biscuits for g…

Wenesday morning and Bin Day

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Bronze fennel in bloom. Well no sign of the bee inspector if I don't hear from him today I will have to ring him and see what is to happen. The fatalities have slowed down and the pile of dead bees is not significantly larger so I am hopeful that while the colonies might have had a knock they will not be totally wiped out. Until I have a definitive answer to the problem I am hoping that the honey may be OK. I was pretty shattered yesterday as I had a mad fling and took down all the ornamental glass and stripped out the welsh dresser and everything got washed and put back on clean shelves. Basso got a trip to the vet as he is very itchy and I think we may well have another case of the fox mange - so that has now been treated. I made a fruit cake which I took with me to dog training last night and it was most welcome others in our group had also made cakes and there was hot coffee, what a treat. The training session started well but then the heavens opened and we all got soaked…

Success and Disaster

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Lets start with the good news first. As you can see Basso is in the water reluctant but in. I managed to get him in the water and swimming. He still doesn't think it is fun but at least we are getting there. I got absolutely soaked and have some nice claw marks up my legs to prove the point but at least I came home satisfied that we are making progress. There were plenty of jelly fish in the water but at least I avoided getting stung. There were a large group of dogs swimming but I still had to wade in and drag him in on his lead before he would get out of his depth. When we got home it was showers for all, the dogs got hosed down in the garden to wash the salt our of their coats and I had to change out of my soaking wet clothes. Then disaster struck - from the top picture you can see a large number of dead bees. I rang Terry my bee mentor to explain what had happened and he shot round immediately. He is of the opinion that the bees have been poisoned and we collected three specim…

Monday morning and bright sunshine

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Yet another hemerocallis unfortunately they are almost over now but I have had huge enjoyment from them. Well fortune favours the brave and I felt quite brave going shooting with people I had met on a shooting forum. As luck would have it they were extremely nice and looked after me very well. The shooting ground was very nicely run but buried deep in woodland with half the stands shooting into the woods and the other half out over open fields. They had a nice club house which had a couple of ladies who were making fried breakfasts as fast as they could - I ordered Mike a bacon baguette and a coffee to keep him amused while I went off and shot. We started at 9.30 and by 12.30 I was too was ready for a bacon fest.
It is pretty nerve wracking to shoot with people you have never met before but there was one other lady so I didn't feel too alone. I had been asked to bring Basso as many of them would never have seen a Spinone before and he did cause quite a stir. There was a couple there…

Sunday and off to Dover

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This is an old photo of our garden when we first moved into the house. It has been through several reincarnations before reaching its current status. The sun is shining at the moment and I am off bright and early to Dover for a shoot at a new gun club. I hope that I shoot reasonably well as I would rather not embarrass myself. The club has a canteen and we are intending to have bacon butties for brunch. Mike bought the last of the cherries from a local orchard and I sat and de-stoned them last evening then at some point I am going to make them into a calfoutis which I hope will freeze. The temptation to sit and eat them is huge but the results of eating that many cherries could be disastrous!!!! I made a quiche yesterday, something I haven't done for years, and what a revelation it was. It was absolutely delicious. I made the pastry very thin and very crisp and we ate it warm out of the oven with a nice salad. Well can't spend long on this this morning as I have to get goi…

Saturday warm and wet

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Indignity upon indignity poor Basso had his swimming lesson yesterday but how do you explain to a dog that you are not trying to drown him? The hydrotherapy pool was beautifully organised and a lady in a wet suit was in the water to help him but he just kept looking pitifully at me as if to say "help me mum she is trying to drown me", His first few circuits of the pool were a mad panicked splashing session with his paws just flailing in desperation. Towards the end of the lesson he was swimming quite well but only in an effort to get out of the pool. I will now try to get him to come into the river with me the next time there is a high tide and a sunny day or I might take him down to the beach and try in the sea. I am hoping that he now realises that he can swim and but I don't think he has worked out that it is supposed to be fun. We took some of his toys that float but he was not a bit interested I don't suppose I would be if some one threw me a book to read…

Friday and the end of the week

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Lampi e tuoni - thunder and lightening Mike managed to catch this on the camera a few years ago -not easy to photograph

We had a wonderful storm last night
and plenty of rain fell so the garden should be very grateful.



I had a good day yesterday - once Jane had arrived and was settled in her chores we departed to Dartford with the gun and the dog in the car. It was a really beautiful day and we were the only ones on the Skeet stand which meant I could take my time and practice the shots I found most difficult. I tried to persuade Mike into a couple of shots but he refused. I was reasonably happy with my shooting and felt that I had hit approximately half of the clays so not too bad. Once I had finished I packed the gun into the car and took Basso out - Mike drove back to the club house and I walked with the dog. The lady running the place had with her her Labradoodle [Labrador poodle cross] who was the same size and colour as Basso and after initial introductions the 2 dogs spent a good …

Thursday morning and off shooting

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This photo shows Basso retrieving his new dummy which is supposed to be the realistic weight and size for a pheasant. Yesterday was a very odd day as it rained and drizzled on and off all day and you were never quite sure what to do. We decided to take the dogs for a walk in the woods so that if it did drizzle we didn't get too wet as there was some protection from the trees. In between the showers I managed to get out and do a bit of gardening but nothing significant was achieved. I had been asked to write an article for the doggy magazine describing our day at the working trial which took me rather longer than I had expected - it is a long time since I have written and essay!!!! Anyway, I have sent it off and we will see if it gets published. Today I am off to do some clay pigeon Skeet shooting and I am hoping that Mike might actually have a go. I am having to tread very carefully as I know if I push him he will back off and I will have lost the opportunity. The weather fo…

Wednesday and a day of rest

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If this is the state of the dog imagine what a state I am in!!!!! I spent yesterday quietly catching up some of the paper work that needed doing - and bracing myself for the evening training session. We left home at about 6pm and the weather was fine but when we were half way there the skies darkened and then it started to hose down. Good job I had brought my wet weather clothes and my hat as we were going to get soaked. Fortunately it only rained for the first 15 minutes but we continued to get wet as the water dripped down off the trees. Well what an evening we had - I was hoping that Basso was going to be good I had deliberately not fed him so that I was spared the little bag of poo to take home. Well he was a total nightmare and ran off to play with the dogs in the advanced group but I hasten to add he was not the only one, every single dog in our class did a running off trick and some more than one. Then just as the class was ending we had all the dogs in sit and stay positi…

Tuesday morning and a long lie in

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The topiary arch has been trimmed and is looking quite nice.
Yesterday turned into quite a busy day in the end - Our friends came to our house for coffee before we went out to walk the dogs and then on to a pub for lunch. The first pub we tried was so packed we couldn't park the car so we then decided to try a local Bistro but that was closed on a Monday and we finally ended up in a pub very near home. We had an adequate meal at very reasonable price. Then it was back to our house for coffee and a quick turn around of visitors before our old neighbours arrived for tea. I did several trips up and down the garden and lots of introductions to the dogs chickens and bees. Anne you must be so proud of yourself and deservedly so. The satisfaction of completing such a race must be phenomenal and all the hours of sweat and training have definitely paid off. CONGRATULATIONS Now on to matters of honey - having made a big inspection without getting stung I was quite pleased with myself but wh…

Monday morning and the start of another week

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Goldfish in the small pond with a tench swimming just underneath looking like a shadow
Well I had a quiet day yesterday, just pottering around in the garden and the kitchen. I took the dogs for a nice walk in the woods as it was quite hot and sunny by lunch time. The woods are a good place to get Basso some training in hunting as there are a multitude of paths up which I can send him. The older dogs stand and wait when we get to a junction but Basso selects a path only to find that I whistle him back and take a different one. I also did some retrieving with him in the garden and to my surprise he he behave impeccably bringing the dummy straight back to me. Anne I expect you are feeling the effects of the yesterdays exertions - do you also have to go to summer school today? Chris, thanks for that recipe I have bookmarked it for a later date - and will try it with a larger lump of pork. Today, we are due to go out with friends for lunch and then a former neighbour is coming to visit…

Sunday and there will be honey for tea

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Yesterday was a bit of dull day with constant threats of rain that never materialised. So in the afternoon Terry came round and we went through the hives to check up on the bees. All seems to be going well and there is quite a weight of honey to extract this autumn. Both my hives now have 2 supers on which means that if they all get filled I would be looking at 80lbs of honey. I am pleased to report that I didn't get a single sting despite handling millions of bees. I believe today is Anne's big day and the weather is certainly cool at the moment, it has rained over night but is currently dry and windy - should be ideal running weather. Lets hope all goes well and we get a report on how it went once she has recovered. Today I intending to have a lazy day and other than taking the dogs for a run I have no plans to do anything. I still have some ironing to keep me busy and there is always work to do in the garden. My runner beans have been badly attacked by black fly which…

Saturday and we are forecast showers

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Yet another hemerocallis - I did warn you I had several. Well Anne the weather looks a bit iffy for you run tomorrow but at least it is not likely to be blisteringly hot. Anyway all the best I hope it goes well. I have a blank diary this weekend so I am just going to potter around. I was expecting a visit from my chef friend but they cannot get a baby sitter for their cat so they are not able to come. The poor old thing has been in a cattery for 6 weeks and I think they feel a bit guilty to abandon her her yet again. She is an elderly cat and rather timid so easily disturbed. We were out for most of the day yesterday and I made a rare visit to M&S as I needed some more socks. While we were there I bought myself some T shirts at prices I could not resist - 4 for £16 we then decided to buy the few bits and pieces in the food hall. Mike picked up a punnet of strawberries which were huge and incredibly regular in shape but when I checked the label they were from the USA so they we…

It's Friday again and the end of another week

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More hemerocallis I have quite a few plants and as they come into flower so they are getting photographed. Yesterday was a lovely day here it was sunny and bright with a light breeze and the temperature was a very acceptable 20+ so absolutely perfect for me. I seem to be waking a bit later these mornings and I think that the absence of the howling cat has made a difference. I suddenly got the cleaning bug in the morning and decided that all the kitchen cupboard doors needed a good clean. They are white so they really show the dirt but they look spectacular when clean. I was really in the mood to get out into the garden and get on with some work but we were due to go shooting so I had to put the brakes on that. However, I did spray the runner beans with soapy water as they are suffering from an attack of black fly. There were half a dozen beans ready to pick so they were added to the supper menu. Shiona arrived promptly at 10am and we set off for Dartford. The shooting ground is…

Thursday and the sun is shining

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Beautiful pale cream hemerocallis, its such a shame that the flowers only last for one day.
Well today is a shooting day and I am off with Shiona this morning to Dartford shooting club to shoot some skeet and put my new gun through its paces.Skeet is a way of shooting clays where instead of the clays coming at different angles you move and shoot the same trajectory clays from different places thus changing the angle. This is very difficult to explain in words but it is good fun.Yesterday, was a day of mixed showers but I did manage to get the dogs out for a nice walk and give Basso some hunting instruction and general training. I managed to get him to walk to heel on the return journey with no lead so progress is being made.All the rain has made the garden look very lush and now would be a good time to do some weeding but strangely I always seem to have better things to do!!! The hens are going well and now 3 out of the four are laying and the eggs are gradually getting a little lar…

Wednesday and bin day

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This is a photo of our utility gun dog class as you can see they are a real mixed bunch. After John had been yesterday the heavens opened and we had a huge storm with thunder and lightening and it poured with rain for some time. However, by the time we were due to go to class it was bright sunshine. As we drove across Kent to the class the sky got progressively blacker and then it started to pour down. Mike kept threatening to turn the car around and go home but we persevered and discovered that we were not the only mad people who had turned up. Almost everyone was there all dressed up in their wet weather gear and off we went to train regardless. After an initial soaking we were rewarded by a clear and pleasant evening. Basso is making progress if only slowly and that is largely my fault for not doing enough with him. Each week I resolve to do more but some how I get caught up in other things and never do quite as much as I should. Anyway by 9pm I was exhausted and the dog h…

Tuesday and no rain at the moment

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Fish vortex at feeding time Well I have had a long lie in this morning and didn't wake until 6am. I managed to get the dogs out for a nice run yesterday morning and go home just in time as the heavens opened and we had a deluge. Basso had been in the mud and came back with black wellingtons on so we had great fun trying to hose him down and stay dry ourselves. With James here it was a Sunday lunch of roast pork which I must say was very delicious. It seems that my purchase of half a pig was well worth it as the meat is really of very good quality. Once the clearing up was done James headed back off up to London I headed for my bed. We had several heavy down pours yesterday and I believe we are forecast the same for today. John the gardener is coming this morning and I have a large tree peony that needs pruning back drastically. Chris you asked about the amount of work required for a pond - well I guess it depends on what you want and how big a pond you intend. A small wild…

Monday morning and the start of another week

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A lovely yellow water lily in flower - and what a difference in temperature it is down to 15 degrees this morning and according to the weather forecast it is going to rain for the next couple of days. I feel very tired this morning despite having an early night and sleeping soundly in the cool. We are destined to have a piece of roast pork for lunch today so I'm glad it is not blisteringly hot - James arrived early yesterday morning and after a fried breakfast he went off to bed and slept until 1pm when I woke him for lunch. I hate waking sleeping people but I know myself if you sleep too long after nights you cannot get back to sleeping at night. I am hoping to get the dogs our for a run this morning while it is still dry and I managed to get two loads of washing done yesterday in anticipation of the wet weather. I must admit a couple of wet days would suit me as it might provoke me into some house work. The kitchen could use a really good clean and the wardrobes need sorting…

Sunday and raining

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Basso takes the opportunity to examine the roof garden. Well it is raining and the temperature is down to 17.8 degrees this morning. After the sultry evening it feels really nice and fresh. I am very glad as it may give James the chance to sleep in comfort for a few hours. He is due to arrive this morning following his block of nights which I am sure have been trying as sleeping through the day must have been near impossible. Listening to the news it seems that we are all probably going to get the swine flu at some point and lets hope it is as mild as they say. I have had flu twice in my life and it was an experience I would rather not repeat. I have had hundreds of colds but they are as nothing compared to flu which laid me low for some time. My real fear is for Mike as with his emphysema he is already compromised and flu will hit him hard. Anyway enough doom and gloom. We took ourselves off to the nice food shop yesterday only to find that half of Kent had the same idea and …

Saturday and up extra early this morning

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Basso after his swimming lesson.
He still is not getting out of his depth despite my wading right in to tempt him but I have to hose him down to get the salt out of his coat. In fact I hosed us all down when we got back as we had stirred up quite a lot of river silt and we were all pretty mucky and smelly.

Yesterday, I made a very nice soup from a bag of chard and some medium oatmeal. The recipe was in this months Home Farmer magazine and it is a very good way of getting greens into Mike without him really noticing.
Today I have a ham to cook as it has now finished its time in the Suffolk brine solution so lets hope it turns out OK. The photo is of my new pot that I have purchased for just such jobs and you can get an idea of the size by the wine bottle alongside. It was on special offer at Nisbets the catering suppliers so I couldn't resist. It also means I can collect chicken carcasses in the freezer and make one big batch of stock. Yesterday there were two eggs so I now have an…

Friday and the end of the week

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Nip and Tuc have been shaved nice and close and it is only now that I can see just how portly they have become. So guess who is going on a diet? Tuc the brown one will be mortified as he thinks he is underfed anyway.... The poor thing has to resort to eating the fish food from the pond as it drifts towards the edge. We had a down-pour last night but it has done nothing to cool the weather it is still nearly 20 degrees outside and a blistering 26 indoors. I should have known it would rain as we spent some time watering the garden once the sun had set. It seem that when they forecast showers if I don't water we miss them and if I do we get a soaking. It looks quite misty outside but I think it is steam!!!! I should have gone to ring-craft classes last night but it was so hot I decided against it as the hall is not used very often and has a corrugated iron roof so you can imagine how hot it gets inside. Basso seemed only too happy to lie in a heap and snooze so I bottled out. I…

Thursday and July is here

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Hemerocallis now in flower - This is the first one to flower but I have several others as yet they are not ready.
Yesterday was a productive day - I managed to plant out the kale and cover it with netting to keep the pigeons off. The hens all got their wings clipped and are now starting to lay little eggs. I managed to get to the estuary by 8 am but found the car-park gates locked so I had to park outside. Basso made it into the water up to his chest but is still unwilling to get out of his depth despite my being in up to my thighs. I think this will be a slow process until he gains his confidence and I'm sure his tumbles into the pond when he was very young have not helped matters. Once we returned all the dogs got hosed down in the garden and I hosed myself in the shower.
There were several jobs that needed to be done as it is the first of the month - we read the meters and send the results to the supply company down the Internet so the we get an accurate idea of how much fuel we…

Wenesday morning and Bin Day

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This is the main square in Viareggio where the derailed train exploded killing all those people. It is a lovely little sea side town where we spent a lovely weeks holiday some years ago. We had an invitation from the owner of the campsite we had stayed on in Montecatini Terme. They had a very nice enormous flat in this main square. We had become very friendly during our two 6 weeks stay on the site and as I was very bored I ended up helping out by translating the menu to English each day and finally ended up helping out in the kitchens when they were short staffed. I also planted up their front flower bed and got roped into helping erect some huge umbrellas on the patio. The owner Sandra was about my age and also had two sons one of whom was a real trial and mother who was very demanding and not very well, so we had plenty in common. Sadly we have now lost contact though my friends in Bristol were at the site this year and the prodigal son was running the site and making a good…