Surrounded by such extraordinary wine and food it is always a problem keeping fit and healthy but there is a simple solution: keep chickens!
For those of you who have visited, you will remember that our top field has a 5* chicken hotel set in about an acre with around 150 hazelnut trees. Just the job for a small herd of chickens and as you read in the last blog we started off with half a dozen who are by now well behaved youngsters. After a week we decided that another 4 would be in order but they lasted only a few days. Younger and smaller they were quickly taken out by crows (according to Franco the farmer). We weren’t so sure but a week later we saw with our own eyes a “murder” of crows dive-bombing them in broad daylight. It seemed that we were down to 5 and when Mocha got into the field and chased one out, down the drive and into the drain, just 4.
It took nearly 2 hours to coax Mocha out and then all afternoon to retrieve the chicken, by which time we had found the other missing one and a pair of wings that the crows had found indigestible from the week previous. I have now borrowed a professional catapult from Perangelo and have turned my focus from dandelions to crows.
We have since added 6 slightly bigger/older stupid ones who daily shun their palatial lodgings in favour of roosting in one of the 150 trees. Every night, for an hour or so, or until we fall, or it gets dark, we traverse the slopes armed with torches and sticks, and try to round them up. Plucking chickens from trees 8 ft up on steep slopes is exhausting and beats any other form of exercise.
The house in Eastbourne has now completed and we now face the challenge of transferring all our affairs to Italy. With the help of Bobtino, a useful American and expert packer we managed to bring most of our bits and pieces here by van. I have always told him that there was nowhere decent to eat in Eastbourne but he thought the kebab, fish and chips, curry, Chinese and Thai were up there with the best.
With Barbaresco a Tavola over (72 wines sampled) and a sneak visit to a Barolo tasting posing as a buyer (only 50) we have slowed down our tasting schedule but we never go thirsty and now have some decent claret from the UK to supplement the cellar. We have a few cantinas targeted for next week that impressed at the tastings but were unknown to us e.g. Saria and Manera. We were also pleased to see other favourites high on our list at the tastings: Sottimano, Ressia, La Ganghija, Sarotto, Negro Giuseppe. We also recently visited Sciorio again (with Kim & Dave) whose Benificio and other long oaked reds are exceptional. We have also been accompanying Bobtino and Leslie on the occasional wine tour and have met some interesting people and gathered some hilarious true stories.
The funniest concerned a pot smoking Grandma. Her granddaughters, who were passing the house, thought they’d pop in and say “hi” but got worried when she didn’t answer the bell. One of them went round the back and came running out screaming at her sister to get back in the car and drive away. She had stumbled upon the pensioner using a vibrator!. She didn’t realise she’d been rumbled as she didn’t have her hearing aid in! The overriding thought in her mind was “mashed potato” which apparently described Grandma’s thighs.
On a sad note I went back to the UK briefly last week to attend the funeral of City legend, Chris Pickering, whom Les and I had known for over 30 years. Les unfortunately had to stay at home as Sherry is really showing her age at nearly 18 and needs continuous TLC.
Chris was a consummate gentleman and had never been late for an appointment in his life, that is until the hearse broke down on the way to the Memorial Service. It was a shame that he missed such a huge turn-out, around 350 people, but he managed to catch up at the crematorium. It all ended in a fitting send-off at one of his favourite locals. He will be sadly missed. We look forward to Anne and his delightful children Charlotte and James visiting soon.
Despite a couple of days rain this week, summer is definitely here as we are overrun with vegetables. Les has done a fantastic job and we have had incredible spinach, rocket, lettuce, strawberries and now the tomatoes, beetroots and onions are coming on stream to be followed soon by beans and broccoli.