Tree fellers


Tree fellers? It could be how the 60’s Irish brothers singing group The Batchelors described themselves but I’m not sure I could write a decent blog about them. Having said that I did see one of these cast-your-mind-back tv programmes recently on young Lena Savaroni who won fame on the original tv talent show Opportunity Knocks. She was probably only about 10 or 11 and a regular performer on Saturday night tv at the time. This evening she elected to sing a duet with one of the Batchelors – the one with the moustache who looked a bit like one of the perm-haired Liverpool footballers from the 70’s, ie a bit seedy. He clutched the young short skirt-clad Lena in his arms whilst she had her legs around his waist as they sang this cheesey love song to each other. It made for some very awkward viewing especially as it was introduced by one of those creepy DJ presenters. Let’s just say it was a more innocent time. Well that’s my Batchelors story and as blogs go it’s a stinker so ‘tree fellers’ must refer to something else eh….

It’s actually the theme for our last visit to Italy. We were there again in February for another few weeks trying to get the place straight after our 3 years away. This time we concentrated on trying to recover the garden, particularly at the back of the house where the olive grove had turned into an impenetrable jungle full of crocodiles, wolves and anacondas. I might have made that last bit up. There were no crocodiles. But the big moments came when we took down some very big trees – the biggest of which required help from my heroic Bulgarian/Italian builders-cum-general handymen led by the irrepressible Nikolay (he’s the shy guy in the middle).  My favourite three fellahs who are my tree fellers. A ha!…

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But first up, the journey down. It wouldn’t be a trip to Italy without some travel drama befalling us. But shock of shocks, we had a sublime trip apart from the weather which was appalling all the way apart from, inexplicably, through Switzerland, where it was  balmy in Basel and still cheery in Chiasso. No snow on the roads through the Alps  – incredible. We had two overnight stops, which made the journey less tiring. One in a tiny village called Celles in southern Belgium where on a lousy night we found a delightful bijou hotel, Le Saint Hadelin, and had a great meal in its sister restaurant. Then in a small old hotel we know in Como where the management are very friendly and accommodating. The weather actually cleared up just as we left the autostrada after 1000 miles of travel and headed inland for the last 35 mins of driving to our home in little old MdF. The gods of fun seemed to be smiling on us for once. Bloody hell. We must have caught them unawares due to the thick fog. Who cares, we’d reached our home without some infuriating challenge for a change. Thank you baby Jesus. One of these days if you keep delivering these little miracles I might just convert to religion.

Since we’d been there in October/Nov our builder Nikolay had finished off the plastering and painting work on the outdoor extension and it looked great. This was C’s first real view of it and she loved it. We were so pleased and here’s a view of the extension all completed…lovely and incredibly I helped build it! Just call me Plastera Paulie.

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That was cool but the major problem on arrival (there’s always a selection) was that our gas had run out again (grrr)  and we were looking at a delivery date of well over a week. Now the weather was ok during the day but it was bloody cold at night. Look at the snow on our local mountains…

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We couldn’t convince our suppliers to tell their lazy fat-arsed driver to deliver sooner so we asked Nikolay if he could sort something and he came up with a solution which meant connecting large gas bottles to the gas supply pipes which worked beautifully.  We had to snuggle up at night for a week or so but the canister solution was inspired and worked beautifully – hot water and lovely heating. Ahhhh!

So back to the land. Although I’d cleared a lot of the olive grove and the garden to the front and side of the house the last time I was there, the ahem cultivated area to the rear of the house was like something from the Orinoco jungle. It was 40ft high olive trees that should be 10ft high, entwined with thick vines and ivy, and ferral weed trees that had sprouted everywhere. And two huge trees; an enormous almond tree at least 20 ft higher than our 3 storey house at the rear and v close to the house and a huge fir tree at least twice the size of the house to the front and just a few yards from the building.

We set about the tree to the rear and had decided to take it down completely. It was a tricky task and had to secure several ropes to its upper reaches to allow 3 of us to pull it away from the house as it was being felled. We lopped off all the lower branches to begin with then took this fellah down…

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You wouldn’t believe how much tree we had to cut to pieces afterwards. Next the firking fir to the front. This we had to keep following an exploratory visit from the local ‘Land Police’. Yes believe it or not the country that has cultivated the Cosa Nostra (Mafia), Camorra, Ndrangeta and Sacra Corona Unita organised crime bodies (and failed to control them), employs a vicious police arm to control citizens from doing ‘bad stuff’ in their gardens. And they are mean. My guys shit bricks when the LP appeared on the drive way. Anyway all’s well that ends well because after one really stormy night when we lost our satellite dish, a large branch of the tree and lots of pine needle crap etc off the roof we got to lop off the heavy brooding lower branches of the tree…

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The amount of wood we cut up was amazing – here’s a shot of the pile before we left – it’s 18ft long, 6ft high  and 8ft wide…

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But mostly we had to burn off a huge amount of the lesser branches and all the olive tree cuttings I did on the previous visit. I must have burned over a ton of stuff and ruined quite a lot of clothes into the bargain. And I must have smelt like a smokey backswoodsman from Deliverance. Ah well…IMG_0005

It wasn’t all hard work; we had a fab time catching up with our lovely and generous neighbours and friends J&C and F and enjoyed some great evenings with them. And during the day we sometimes allowed ourselves an hour off to do some online stuff at our fave local cafe bar…

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But as ever we got seduced by the atmosphere, enjoying some fine food and wine, shopping and even though it was midwinter, appreciated some lovely weather evidenced from this typically beautiful sunset shot…

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Ah Italy you get me every time. And we’re off there again in a week’s time for another adventure. Sorry it’s been a while since blogging – this post has been 3 months in draft form and I’ve got some belting rants to get off my chest. More to follow dear readers

pp

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