Tag Archives: Olive Oil

Rocking Dog Holiday Snaps

Salami In Spello,Rocking Dog

Salami In Spello

A while ago I promised a white post. It seems really on trend to produce beautiful faded pearlescent blogs. Rocking Dog loves colour but I challenged myself to do a post using less eye poppingly colourful snaps! With temperatures in Umbria hot enough to want to whip off the pool cover, there was certainly no shortage of colour. Skies were lapiz blue, ploughed farmland rich terracotta and trees were clinging onto their beautiful yellow and rust cloaks.

In my collection there are many photo’s of gaudily lovely geraniums, harvests of rosy apples, pomegranates, sun dappled buildings and of course THE olives! Yet this post shows off timeworn hand painted ceiling friezes, ancient stone masonry, Umbrian autumn mists and delectable Umbrian produce.  Also included in my white post is the pristine white marble
Flying Services Memorial at Arras, France.

In this post I think I should have included our poor garden. With the intense heat of the summer the “grass” resembled Texan buffalo herding scrubland. Soon it will be seeded with a coarse and very hardy Argentinian grass. We are hopeful it will look green and verdant when spring arrives.

During our stay we used the chainsaw, electric hedge trimmer, branch lopper, wheelbarrow and rake. Alas the hammock remained unused and the telescope never got to view twinkling constellations. One day!

Number 5 now has a beautiful wood-burning stove (thank you to Firebox, St Werburgh’s for supplying our Mendip Woodland, it looks great). The stove installation necessitated  the building of a new chimney. I couldn’t help thinking that the style of chimney probably hadn’t changed since Roman times. Testing the stove for the first time, felt like watching for the smoke from the Vatican when choosing a new pope!

In between heavy duty gardening and olive picking there were opportunities to explore “new” hilltop towns, to take part in the bread & oil festival and to come together for the village halloween party. There was also the small matter of partaking in a number of wine tasting evenings in preparation for an Umbrian wedding (the daughter of good friends). It was such a good excuse to sample Umbrian grapes in a glass.

Friends and family came to pick and to ultimately taste the new olive oil. It was lovely to share the sun and spend time enjoying autumn in Umbria. Real Live Rocking Dog very quickly realised that he could gather extra food rations if he hovered under baby Douglas’s high chair!

We had a truly lovely time and the village couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. It really is time to learn the language. Ciao!

 

Arras Memorial,Rocking Dog

Arras Memorial

Fortress, Cortona,Rocking Dog

Fortress, Cortona

Morning Walk,Rocking Dog

Morning Walk

Lovely Lighting,Rocking Dog

Lovely Lighting

Timeworn Numero,Rocking Dog

Timeworn Numero

Ceiling Whimsy,Rocking Dog

Ceiling Whimsy

Cheese,Rocking Dog

Cheese

Gelato,Rocking Dog

Gelato

...& Aragosta!,Rocking Dog

…& Aragosta!

Glitter Shoed Gardening In Umbria

Hanging The Hammock,Rocking Dog

Hanging The Hammock

Good morning from Rocking Dog. I had good intentions of continuing to garden at 5.30 am on my return to the kennel, but alas….! To escape the piercing heat of the Umbrian sun I did indeed choose to garden as dawn arrived in the garden. I was awoken by my own dawn chorus of naughty chattering birds flitting busily on the ancient olive tree outside our bedroom window. I gardened in linen nightie and glittery sandals and as a result my legs are in a scratched and sorry state! The Italian version of Sticky Willy is coarse, barbed and unforgiving.

Umbria has had no rain for a few weeks now and the land is parched. It has been unusual to have such high temperatures so early in the summer season and there are real concerns for this years olive crop. The little olives have had no chance to develop before being hit by temperatures nearing 40 degrees. For those of us who pick olives as a pleasurable hobby a poor crop is sad but not an economic disaster. Meanwhile for those who depend on the crop for their livelihood a poor harvest is a severe body blow. Of course a poor crop trickles down to whole communities (pickers,olive oil pressing facilities, bottle & can suppliers,retailers etc…) Olive oil really is a way of life in Italy.

It is not only olives which have been affected, we witnessed vineyards blackened by fire and food crops struggling in the earth for moisture. A huge field of sunflowers have been planted over the garden fence and we hope that in a months time there will be a blaze of yellow on the horizon. Sunflowers are a rotational crop, so it may be a few years before the cheery yellow field reappears so close by.

Our grass resembles cattle driving prairie land. We hope rain will come soon. It was too hot to plant anything new, so leaf clearing and tidying was the order of the day. Planting will be done in October when we will assess what needs replacing after the sweltering summer.

We hung the hammock, added pretty lights and watered the thirsty geraniums. I found the most exquisite little nest on the path. It was truly an architectural masterpiece with grasses and soft pulpy seed heads. It was so soft, so delicate and tear jerkingly beautiful. I didn’t get to sit in my oak tree’d reading nook, nor use my telescope, the swinging chair remained un-sat in .. but getting close to unfamiliar plants was enjoyable.

And Suddenly it’s Evening by Salvatore Quasimodo

Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth
Pierced by a ray of sun:
and suddenly it’s evening.

It wasn’t all about work in the garden, we managed to fire up the ancient pizza oven after some remedial internal grouting. Of course the pool provided delicious respite from the unrelenting heat, and Michele’s provided the perfect escape for Prosecci and cake!

So, it’s back to verdant woodland management back at the kennel and I think wellies may be rather more sensible than glittery shoes!

Have a good week and at least the rain is on the way here.

Love Rocking Dog x

Watering The Geraniums,Rocking Dog

Watering The Geraniums

Garden Treasure,Rocking Dog

Garden Treasure

Unpromising Crop,Rocking Dog

Unpromising Crop

Lighting to Hang,Rocking Dog

Lighting to Hang

View To The Village,Rocking Dog

View To The Village

Early Morning Dip,Rocking Dog

Early Morning Dip

Escape For Cake,Rocking Dog

Escape For Cake

Fire Up The Oven,Rocking Dog

Fire Up The Oven

Back To Woodland Gardening,Rocking Dog

Back To Woodland Gardening

Arrivederci Italy- Missing You Too Much Already!

Tribute To Canaletto, Rocking Dog

Tribute To Canaletto

Indeed Arriverderci Italy- Missing You Too Much Already! The sunny alfresco meals, the cooling Aperol Spritz’s, ancient terracotta buildings bathed in winter sunshine and the tremendous olive harvest are alas a luxuriant memory. In the space of two short weeks England has emerged damp, leaf fallen and on the gigantic treadmill that is Christmas

Italy as ever was truly wonderful and the weather blissful- how I love November holidays! A few days spent in eye shot of San Gimignano was followed by days harvesting olives at our friends house near Castiglione del Lago. Finally we ended up in Venice, with our lovely girls flying in to enjoy our stylish yet bijoux Airbnb. Their trip started with getting a Harrod’s Christmas pudding (a gift for our Venetian host) swabbed for narcotics at the airport!

The Umbrian olive harvest was amazing this year. The garden last year yielded no olives whatsoever, in fact there was very little oil to be had anywhere in Italy. A very small enthusiastic group of us picked for four days in a seriously blue skied grove. We harvested 550kg of olives of various hues which were taken to be lovingly processed into the most wonderful organic single estate olive oil. It is truly sublime on lightly toasted bread, smeared with a garlic clove, a drizzle of THE oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Olive picking was interspersed with alfresco meals, trips to Medieval hill top towns (both Andyman and I will have the topic as our Mastermind subject!), markets and generally soaking up Italian life. We bade arrivederci to our gorgeous Umbrian hosts and travelled onto Venice in our hired Fiat Cinquencento.

Andyman and I had our first ever holiday in Italy, travelling in an ancient Volkswagen Fastback which had lain idle in his parents garden for years. We drove through Germany, over the Alps and wended our way down the Italian Riviera. We camped in a two man tent, feasted on frozen Calamari and drank copious amounts of Lambrusco! Homeward bound we headed for Venice. The drive leading to the city was very flat and industrialised and I must admit I didn’t have huge expectations. We camped up and then took a water taxi out onto the Grand Canal at dusk. I remember being totally in awe of the twinkling lights, bridges, gondola’s and water lapped eating places- truly magical.

I have a photograph of me dressed in a white pirate inspired pantaloon suit (we are talking the age of the New Romantics) sat at the gondola station with the gondoliers clad in their iconic striped tops and straw boaters. We certainly didn’t have the money to take a trip out in a gondola, so a photograph was the best we could muster! After a couple of days we eventually headed back into Germany where I was based. We had to drive VERY slowly to make the petrol last as we had not a single pfennig to our name! Eventually back at the base we found a kind soul to buy us a drink in the NAAFI. Sweet memories of the summer of 1981!

Venice 2015 equally lovely and so special to spend sunny moments with our girls.

Room With A View, Rocking Dog

Room With A View

Blue Skies In Umbria, Rocking Dog

Blue Skies In Umbria

Olives To Pick, Rocking Dog

Olives To Pick

What A Workhorse!, Rocking Dog

What A Workhorse!

 Good To Be Back- Venice, Rocking Dog

Good To Be Back- Venice

Laundry, Venetian Style!, Rocking Dog

Laundry, Venetian Style!

My Girl & Fritto Misto, Rocking Dog

My Girl & Fritto Misto

Other Girl, Alfresco Nap!, Rocking Dog

Other Girl, Alfresco Nap!

Venetian Mist, Rocking Dog

Venetian Mist