Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Aeroplane wine

For the third time in 8 days, I am drinking a (plastic) glass of British Airways red wine, a merlot from negociant Laboure-Roi. More well known for their burgundy, this is humble vin de pays. And the strange thing is that each bottle has tasted worse than the previous one! I am curious as to whether my state of mind has influenced this, or is it the perils of repetition...or is there really this level of variation in such a standard product?

Suffice it to say that I shall not be seeking this particular blend at my local merchant any time soon.

But hey, it is free!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Celebrating the Event

Friday night, the end of what has been an extraordinary week. On completion, Kate (the agent from La Porta Verde) gave us a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate. To be honest, we were so knackered that we did not get round to it, and the weather was so cold we couldn't even go and sit in La Torretta. We brought it back with us (nervously wrapping it in plastic bags and a t-shirt in the middle of the suitcase - it has survived!) and on Friday night we were finally able to crack it open and celebrate!

An excellent and clean prosecco, always lighter than Champagne, and thus much easier to drink. Mercifully, also only 11%.

So - here's the the future!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

La Torretta is ours! - Wednesday

Wednesday felt like a very different day. We woke up, looked at ourselves, and both thought "crikey - we've finally done it!". So, here you see me, proudly unlocking for the first time (and trying to ignore the weeds in the drive that I really need to tackle! The weather was still very cold, and there was about 2 hours before heading for the airport to take in the place on our own. I am delighted to say that the sun beamed down on the front terrace, so we were able to have our sandwiches (bought from the village shop of course!) with the sun on our faces, overlooking Papiano. That was a good moment...

So, the work starts now. Rental, website, letting agent, buying a LOT of towels, sheets and pillowcases, utilities, local taxes, blah blah blah. And getting the garden together. We will be there next at the end of March.

Can't wait!!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Buying La Torretta - Day 2 Tuesday

Tuesday morning was a bit of 'free time' as we did not have to be at the Notary's office until 3.30pm - and we did not really feel like we were on holiday. So, after a slightly more leisurely breakfast, we did nip up to La Torretta, keeping our eyes peeled for the current owners, in case they also dropped by! We did not really want to meet them before the big day. We didn't have keys, so we stuck to checking out the space - as you can see from the photos. The land to this side actually falls away more than I remembered, which will give us a great aspect for the pool, and give the land a bit of structure
From the other side, you can see how open it is to the small road to the side. This road is a tiny lane, just servicing the 3 or 4 houses up here, and you can't see it at all from the house because of the dip. It allows you to 'borrow' the view of the field of olive trees on the other side of the lane, as well, so that it feels like it is part of the garden. We will need to fence in the land, as if you have a pool it is a legal requirement that there is protection from random people running in and drowning themselves - so your choice is either to have the pool enclosed or the land. We will plant a second row of trees in front of the ones you can see o provide a screen from the farmhouse behind and to mark out the right of way where the white gravel is.

At 3.00 we met the other sellers in the cafe (a bit stilted as you might imagine) along with the agent. Then, off to the offices, a bit late because the notary's car broke down. 

Suffice it to say that the experience of sitting opposite the seller whilst the contract is read out word for word in Italian and then in English is rather unusual to the English way of doing it. I had a liking for the seriousness of the occasion.

And, by 5.50pm - at last we owned La Torretta.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Buying La Torretta Day 1 - Monday

Papiano from Casa Girasole
After a cold night - we seemed to have arrived in Umbria in the middle of a short chilly burst - we awoke in the lovely B and B Casa Girasole, and were treated to a glorious view of the bell tower and the tiny borgo of Papiano, shrouded in beautiful crisp white frost, the kind that makes the world seem clean again.

We spent a few minutes talking to Aafke and Roberto, who own the B and B, whilst caught in that limbo state when meeting someone. Are they coming to me? Am I going to them? After about 10 minutes I had to break the silence and yes, of course, we were supposed to be with them about 15 minutes ago! So, in the car and off to the next village, Castello della Forme, and - how exciting - our first glimpse of La Torretta from the road. We only had time for a slow drive-by, but that was enough to lift the heart.

Next stop Perugia, for our Codice Fiscale. As usual, a nondescript government building, you take a ticket, sit in the chairs, wait your turn. We only had about a 20 minutes wait, which by all accounts is pretty good! And really they should hand then out like toffees, as it is a number to allow you to pay tax. Then on to the bank in Marsciano - 2 hours to open an account, and that's after having spent several days in the UK emailing across everything from utility bills, letter of introductions and by bronze swimming certificate (well, not the last one..). Still, at least when we arrived, they knew who we were, which probably saved about an hour of introductions. There was a hairy moment when we noticed that the manager had typed my name in as Jhon...this then led to much wringing of hands, lengthy phone calls to a number of departments - and then finally, an amendment as it was their fault. Phew! Lunch beckoned in a charming local restaurant. Great food for €15 per head. I'm liking this area...

In the afternoon we re-visited La Torretta with the geometra who oversaw the building - a charming chap called Roberto, who enjoyed bounding around the land and talking wildly. Everything you would expect!

So, after all that excitement, we still hadn't signed the paperwork, though we had paid the money! very strange..

Off to dinner and then the preparation for the next day.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Getting back in to the Flow

A week of getting back into the flow of running. What do I mean by that? When you put in a real effort and it does not feel like effort, in that you actually enjoy pushing yourself, testing the limits. Saying it does not feel like effort is different to saying it is not hard, because it is. It feels like good tough, getting in touch with your inner animal.

So, the method of choice was a 8 x cemetery hill session on Thursday, about 3.5 miles of hard effort in a 7 mile run, in the cold. The repeat runs of Cemetery Hill starts with a tough climb, then it gets a bit more gentle, and finishes with a flattish 100m. All told about 3.5 mins per cycle, the overall run about 55 minutes. At the end your legs are screaming, your lungs are burning..and yet today you feel really alive.

And, as the saying goes, no-one ever felt worse after a run than they did during it. Clearly not true if you injure yourself, but in general terms, the afterglow is good...and provides calorie burn too...

As I sit scribing this I am imbibing a beautiful Sancerre La Reine Blanche 2010 Vacheron. Vacheron is organic and biodynamic, and I do think I can taste it in the restrained yet powerful essence of the wine. It is fresh, clean, zingy, a little bit of minerally steel, some gooseberry, and just the right amount of cut for the Salmon Wellingtons, Cavolo Nero and Aubergine mixed vegetables that is bubbling away.

Looking good round here tonight!

Pip pip.