Anyone seen the Azores high pressure system? No one is the answer unless that is you live in Portugal as it is still sitting in the Atlantic instead of being nicely placed over the western Mediterranean and bringing us warm winds and summer.
Maybe next week they say it will establish itself just 2 months late. I was chatting to the guy who grows the grapes I buy to make wine in November and asked him how the harvest will be this year ? His reply improved my knowledge of Italian swear words but the gist of it was a really awful year. The grapes are hardly developed on the vines due to the lack of sunshine and the cool weather in April and May. It will he said be as bad or worse than 2009 which was a very poor year down here too. No surprise that apparently they were searching for the Azores high that year too is it.
Still he says we will have a go at making wine but it will lack body and need to be drunk quite quickly. Not normally a problem to be fair .
As a reminder that September is not that far away the Puglia regional council is meeting this week to consider the dates for the hunting season.
They pull in all interested parties and try to hammer it out. The list of interested parties is impressive. Anuu, Arci caccia, E.p.s., F.i.d.c., A.n.l.c., Enal caccia, Italcaccia Legambiente, Wwf, Animalisti italiani, Enpa, Italia Nostra, Lac, Lav and LIPU. I am reminded looking at this list of the old adage, a camel is a horse designed by a committee or a committee is a group of people that keeps minutes and loses hours.
I think Italy is run by committees hence the slowness of everything. This looks to be one of them. Basically the list divides into hunting societies and from Legambiente onwards into bird protection societies.
When you think each sends three or four delegates and each will want an hour to listen to their own voice the fact that they can even come to any agreement is mind blowing. However according to the paper today what normally happens is that everyone has their say and then the Council in a Solomon type ruling split it down the middle and decide to keep things as they were last year and the year before . Everyone knows this but turns up anyway. I guess there are allowances and a good lunch each day while they work their way to the conclusion they all know is coming anyway.
LAC are the anti hunting lobby but they are up against a very vocal, politically astute and powerful group of hunting lobbyists who like the NRA in the States have many politicians in their pockets. Though politically influential, the hunting community is increasingly unpopular. A survey published by Eurispes, a research institute, found that that less than 18% of Italians regarded shooting as an acceptable pastime.
As a walker myself I am always interested in the statistics that LAC produce to highlight the issues with hunting.
It is not just birds, rabbits and wild boar who meet a sticky end in the Italian hunting season.
According to the LAC statistics published today, 35 people were killed in the last hunting season, and another 74 injured. Italy’s anti-hunting league, the LAC, said all but one were hunters killed accidentally by their shooting companions.
But the 35th victim was a mushroom collector shot dead near Arezzo in Tuscany. Of the injured, 13 were also non-hunters, mostly people out for a walk in the woods or cycling down a country lane.
One issue that leads to so many accidents is the unusual freedom allowed to shooting parties under Italian law. They can go on to any private property and fire anywhere not within 50m of a road or 150m of a house. It is the hunter that decides if he is within those limits or not.
Mind you here the hunters do seem a little more sensible than those in Cyprus. When living there our house came under fire quite often as they blasted away nearby. Because of the high number of deaths and injuries there the hunters have to all wear high visibility clothing normally bright red which scares the birds away. Our next door neighbour was a keen Greek Cypriot hunter and would produce his gun to get the pigeons off his roof. He managed to hit three of his own windows , all the windows of the bungalow opposite and we had ricoches bouncing off the walls of our house. Tally of pigeons killed – zero.
As it is a forgone conclusion I can safely say that the season will star on September 21st and go on till the 31st of January. They can hunt on Wednesdays Saturdays and Sundays plus four extra days to be decided dependent of weather conditions, and the arrival of migrating birds. The Council is talking about introducing the killing of pigeons as well but let’s see.
Over in Calabria they seem to focus more on the shooting of vermin like Jays and pigeons which seems far more sensible if you are going to allow hunting . It is a pity that Puglia can’t start the change as well.
I have eaten tordi ( thrush) at many houses down here during the season and whilst tasty as a morsel the effort to get them to table seems hardly worth it. When I was a fresh faced 18 year old I used to take girl friends to a nice little restaurant in Beauchamp Place in London . In those days the street was called the village as you could live happily there shopping at the baker’s shop, the butcher etc without ever having to leave it.
The cheapest main dish was wood pigeon in wine and very good it was for 3s 6d . The only pub in the street The Grove Tavern was owned by Richard Dipple whose family had been landlords there for over an hundred years. I worked there occasionally and one time Richard popped out to check his very nice Rover which he parked on the opposite side of the street. He was horrified to see a huge scrape down one side of his prize motor car. Then he saw a note fluttering in the breeze tucked under the windscreen wiper. Thank god he thought, an honest motorist and went over and retrieved it. On it was written “the policeman opposite thinks I am writing my name address and phone number down silly fool. ”
Enjoy your weekend.