I was reading a blog this morning written by a Canadian living in Italy who was bemoaning the quietness of Italian Sundays and how pleased she was to be called into work. There is nothing quiet about Sundays around here especially when my next door neighbour in is residence ( he of the grandchildren from hell fame). When not chasing his rotovator around his garden nor metal bashing on an industrial scale in his large workshed he is banging on my front door at 8 a.m.
This morning he kindly had bought a present from his trip yesterday back to his place in Taranto. Four Orata fish from the fish market down there which regulars will know from an earlier post are my favourite fish for wood roasting. We are out for lunch today so I popped them in the freezer as Italian sunday lunches preclude any hope of being able to eat anything in the evening. By 8.30 he was back at the door . Senti ( listen) Mike you have a great crop of walnuts this year. I noted his large bucket and sharp knife and waived at the trees using my famous fill your boots international sign . There is no such thing as a free lunch even in Italy.
From the window by the computer I could see him gathering and then shaking branches. We have five or six large ( 30 ft) walnut trees and he is right it does seem a good year.
I always feel a twinge of guilt that maybe it should be me out there collecting my own stuff but it passes within seconds thank goodness. We have 58 almond trees as well and I do nothing with them either. One year I did harvest about 20 trees worth of almonds and put the 40 odd kilos of them in a sack. However I then realised these things didn’t come ready made. You take the husk off, then you have to dry them either in the oven or outside for 2 weeks and then you sit with an hammer and split the shell , extract the nut and then keep them in a dry place while you work your way through them. Walnuts are even worse as their husks stain everything they come into contact with so you have to wear gloves and very old clothes. Now I don’t know about you but my old clothes are my comfortable clothes and I fight a continual battle to keep them from ending up in the duster draw so the last thing I want is walnut stains on them. I buy walnuts in the market for €5 a kilo and eat two a day so a kilo lasts a month at least and someone else has done the dirty work.
I do envy the various ex-pats I meet here that embrace the countryside and relish this tussle with nature every day but honestly I’d prefer to read a book and then cook the fish that are the quid pro quo for the nuts. My 40 kilos of almonds by the way went in the skip sometime ago.
Giovanni, my neighbour, actually interrupted my reading of the South China Morning Post online edition. My daughter and her husband live in Hong Kong and Typhoon Usagi is about to hit there, the biggest storm since 1979. I was somewhat amazed to find that Usagi wasn’t the big headline . Can you believe it Bunga Bunga Berlusconi was. It seems that in 2008 in order to delay the transfer of critical evidence concerning money laundering between shell companies in Hong Kong and Mediaset, Bunga’s huge media empire, our man promised the then head of Hong Kong’s government a private audience with the Pope. You just couldn’t make it up could you. Anyway Beijing delayed the trip which finally took place in July this year. Today Beijing agreed to release the docs which relate to 150 million Swiss Francs that are in various Swiss bank accounts the Italians have found. Apple Daily a Chinese paper first launched the news . They are a Hong Kong Chinese language tabloid newspaper that now prints on line in English too. Like so many ex British countries ( I am old enough to remember school atlases when most of the world map was coloured pink) they do however use old english . I read this morning of an Hong Kong model photographed on a junk party boat who because of her behavior was described as a floozy. The Times of India similarly often has the headline ‘train mishap kills 200 ‘.
Talking of Typhoons I remember when working in Canada that a co-worker’s husband went down to their place in Florida to ready it for hurricane Andrew that was arriving. He however misjudged it as the storm came in much faster and he and a few neighbours were trapped in the house. He had phoned his wife at our office and told her he was okay and that they had a few beers and some bottles of gin etc which they were busy working their way through . It was a massive category 5 hurricane and as the news got worse she started trying to phone the house. The phone rang but wasn’t answered. After several hours of trying and as the news worsened she started to panic as their town was in the eye of the storm. After 6 hours she tried phoning the local police down there but understandably they were busy. We comforted her as best we could and stayed in the office as she dialed again and again. The TV then showed the storm passing on up the coast leaving destruction in its path and suddenly the phone at their house was answered. Hello said Bob the husband . Thank god your safe she said, I’m fine he said but when is the hurricane due to arrive as the TV isn’t working anymore. It’s been she said and it was the worst since 1935. It’s been ? he queried, I must have passed out and slept through it. It was a hell of a hurricane party, everyone else is still asleep.
Outside it had been one hell of a hurricane as well.