It was a magnificent summer here with little rain much to the annoyance of HO who resorted to using our sulphur spring when the hosepipe ban was introduced. Sound familiar? Ultimately this proved too much for late summer crops but autumn looks promising. A steady stream of visitors, particularly family, was great fun and the pool got well used. The weather should mean that 2012 will be a magnificent year for the reds although the white wines will be average. Apart from one weekend when we were driving down to Lucca for a Kasabian concert it was unending sunshine. As we sat in a queue of traffic in mist and rain just outside Genova we were reminded of a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK.
One highlight, second to Heather & Aaron’s announcement of a new grandchild on the way, was the London Olympics and Paralympics. I was lucky enough to get tickets for an evening of finals at the Olympics and took my grandson Milo for an experience of a lifetime. Despite not seeing a Team GB medal won, the atmosphere was uplifting and London has never been so welcoming. Smiles everywhere, masses of proud helpers eager to assist. It was unforgettable and a real downer when it finally came to an end.
The big news for us came about as I was unnecessarily checking the weather forecast and pressed a link saying “looking for a house in Neive”. We had been bemoaning the performance of some of our pension investments and suddenly here was an opportunity; a cheap, attractive looking house locally that could perhaps be a holiday-let. We arranged an appointment to view.
It was in a fairly isolated but attractively tranquil position amongst vineyards and hazelnuts in a valley near Mango, 1.5k down a winding lane. We thought it could be viable but decided that its location warranted a cheeky bid of €20k less than the asking price. 5 weeks later and it was ours. We now have a new project and one of the benefits of the continuing good weather have meant that we have painted the outside with 70 litres of good white British masonry paint brought down by Stevio on his annual wine exploration visit. He fortunately came by car as he apparently “didn’t know the way by air”. The electricians have rewired the house, a new kitchen is ordered, table and chairs bought, builders starting this week on minor bathroom alterations and now we can move inside to decorate. The previous German owner who was relocating from Munich to Berlin left loads of decent furniture and other stuff so expense is kept to a minimum. We also have enough German books to open a shop.
All will be ready for Easter next year and we plan to offer it at €5-600 per week. It has 2 large bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, comfortable lounge and very large kitchen that opens onto a covered terrace overlooking the mature garden as do the bedrooms upstairs. Perfect for 2 couples or a family and with an additional bed settee in the lounge could sleep 6 (dogs welcome). Very exciting as wine tourists and foodies find it difficult to rent self-catering accommodation rather than the ubiquitous B&B. We are happy to take provisional bookings now for Easter 2013 onwards.
New visitors to the area are blown away by its natural beauty and impressive wines and Mail Boxes Etc have been kept busy as they ship their purchases home. This included Barbaresco with personalised labels for my niece’s wedding later this month: Carlo Manera does a great job. The latest was a friend’s Art Group who stayed at Traversa for a week and despite not venturing too far afield are already planning next year’s trip.
So now as Autumn arrives we can get back to normal, in between decorating with the Alba Truffle Fair, Piacere Barbaresco and all the other tastings that we have neglected during a perfect summer. Having said that we are in the midst of a life change after the Horizon “Eat, fast and live longer” programme and we now limit ourselves to 600 calories (500 for HO) for 2 consecutive days per week which also means no wine!! The target for me is to shift 15kg and I am already half way there and the new bikes should help.
Finally, a favourite expressive John Keats poem “To Autumn”:
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.