Hitting the books …

I thought I’d share a little selection of our current reading matter with you – those of you who know us know that whenever there’s something to be done, we like to research everything possible so that we can do the job ourselves … and with a whole house to restore, in another language, we’ve got a lot of bedtime reading to do!

Bee-Keeping for Dummies –

Well apparently it’s in my blood. My great grandfather was a beekeeper having three beehives in his garden and my mum remembers fondly watching him remove the honey, dressed in his veil and wafting his smoker around (you can see I’m not fully versed in bee terminology yet!) I don’t remember him but I do still have some of his gardening tools which are now back in my possession thanks to Marcus’ channel hopping back and forth to our storage container in England. I’m therefore hoping to do some ‘channelling’ of my own and to connect to the member of my family who knew something about our little honey-makers.

In the meantime, I’m making do with Nicolò from the Ligurian AlpaMiele Association to whom I sent an ‘Italian-ish’ email explaining the situation with our little squatters and who replied with an ‘English-ish’ email saying he’d like to help, and also practice his English which makes all future communication much easier for me! His latest email says that we’ll need to remove the area of the wall where we think they are and with it being on the first floor it is a very difficult job to do – it sounds as though he’s already made his mind up that it can’t be done. But I’m one step ahead of him and am replying with an email showing photos of our sturdy scaffolding that we’ve brought back from our storage container and confirming that the area where the bees are is an area of wall we want to open up to create a window … so it is work we would be doing at some point anyway. We’ll see what response I get but if it’s not a helpful one I do have a back-up plan (I think that’ll be Plan D or E). One of our next door neighbour’s friends keeps bees in a village halfway between the campsite and our house so I’m hoping I can approach him for some advice. He knows what he’s doing because he provides the local bakery with honey from his own bees – and their honey and walnut brioche are delicious!

So I’m probably jumping the gun a little with my reading of this book but even whilst the bees are still buzzing around in our wall, it wouldn’t harm to know what’s going on in there!

Calendario Lunare –

This is my bible for the year in my ‘orto’, at least for this year whilst I’m learning. There are twelve chapters, one for each month, and each one details what jobs need to be done in ‘l’orto’, ‘il frutteto’ and ‘il giardino’ – what to sow and when to harvest. There are explanations of old and new tools in use – handy seen as I’ve got a ‘legnaia’ full of about a century’s worth of ‘rastrelli’ (rakes), ‘pale’ (spades), ‘zappe’ (hoes) and ‘seghe’ (saws) and once you skip past the pages on ‘le malattie’ (pest and diseases) of the month you find pages of yummy looking recipes showing you what to make with all of the fresh bounty you’ve grown. There are also ideas of how to preserve certain produce – ‘conserva di fragola’ (strawberry jam), ‘marmellata di pomodori verdi’ (green tomato chutney) and even an intriguing ‘liquore all’aglio’ (garlic liqueur). Basically I’ve just listed what will be available to any friends and family who come to see us this year so be warned and pick your month to visit very carefully! However, the book is in Italian so it won’t be the quickest of reads so you may all be safe for this first year!

Manuale dell’elettricista –

Whilst Marcus is already a qualified electrician in the UK, he wants, and needs, to learn the ‘Italian’ way of doing things so bought himself a book to understand the basics of those thin two and three pin plugs that the Europeans are so fond of, along with the various wiring rules as to where to run cables, etc. He’s already removed all the old wiring from the main consumer unit after we switched one of the lights on the other day, heard a buzzing noise (no it wasn’t the bees), and then a ‘pop’ as the RCD flicked itself off. Not that there was much wiring to remove as there was just one MCB and two flat cables winding their way around the walls for the whole house – it took him about three minutes to disconnect everything! And so we now have a bit of a Heath-Robinson affair that my grandad would be so proud of, with English wiring coming out of our Italian consumer unit – but for the next few months, it will be more than sufficient as we only really need one socket in the house to plug our caravan into when we get up there after Easter … everything else can then be plugged into the caravan. But, with this book also being in Italian, we’ll be fighting over the dictionary so might need to tackle this and my ‘veg’ book in shifts!

Norwegian Wood –

When this book first came out I heard about it on the radio and was intrigued as it was an immediate best seller, which seems strange given the subject matter! Then I put it to the back of my mind, but now with two woods of our own to maintain, an empty ‘legnaia’ and a yearning to heat our house with wood burning ‘stufe’ it seemed the ideal book to buy. Just flicking through the pages it could be mistaken for one of those coffee table books, full of photos of wood piles in various forms … some of them resembling works of art, but once you delve into the text you start to understand it is a manual for the serious work of chopping, stacking and drying the wood – something we really need to get a grasp of this year. We’re not planning on creating any sculptures of our own just yet, we’re just going to concentrate on having enough dry wood to heat our house this Winter, so I’m not fussed what form our wood pile takes … though I think we’ll have to keep it out of sight of passing neighbours until we’ve perfected the correct layout. And if all else fails – we can burn the book!

4 Comments, RSS

  1. Anne Sowry March 19, 2016 @ 10:18 pm

    Was such a nice surprise seeing marcus today and hearing all your plans first hand! You have me worried now with your preservatives, please tell me the safest months to visit☺️ you are not wrong. Those who know you both certainly do know you like to research!! Missing you both hope to see you soon

    • Mid-Lifer Italy March 20, 2016 @ 9:30 am

      I think to be safe with our garden produce … you’re probably best avoiding January through to December!! Or at least give me a few months to practice!

  2. Clare March 20, 2016 @ 12:24 pm

    Fantastic catching up with Marcus again on his latest but sadly, for us, last jaunt back to Wakefield this year. I know you so well and would expect nothing less than the copious amounts of reading matter you are accumulating. Perhaps the next blog could be a selection of the ‘to do ‘ lists that are no doubt filling up with your new knowledge. You must have some filing system in your brains to keep track of all the ‘stuff’ you guys have taught yourselves. I know I say it often but I am proud to know the pair of you, your ingenuity and drive knows no bounds. Keep inspiring me xxx

    • Mid-Lifer Italy March 20, 2016 @ 12:37 pm

      What a lovely message Clare – thank you. And your suggestion of a blog topic has been duly noted in my ever expanding ‘Blog Draft’ file! Inspirational … I’m not sure … but as long as we keep you all entertained then I’m happy xx

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