August 4, 2007
The big news this month is the arrival of fast internet. Ours is a wireless system, the signal is sent from and received by a tower on Monte Bignone opposite. In the picture the main dish is at the top, and underneath is a repeater that connects a neighbour about 2km away who is behind a hill blocking his view of the transmitter. All a bit complicated but it works fine for both of us and at last I can catch up on missing software updates, news and so on.
The other weekend a druid festival was held at Bajardo, in and around the old church whose roof fell in during an earthquake in 1887, killing 300 people attending Mass. According to local sources there is a strong pagan tradition around here, a triangle centered on the three villages of Bajardo, Perinaldo and Apricale. From here the Celtic tradition goes west to the Basque region then up the west coast of Europe through Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. That’s about as much as I could unearth. The evening started with a harp recital, followed with the band pictured here and finished with a fire eater.
Now that summer has truly arrived, with temperatures into the low 40s one weekend, we can go to the beach. There aren’t any sandy beaches round here; those that come any way close are covered with bathing establishments like the one pictured at Balzi Rossi, right on the border with France. Here is where the Alps meet the Mediterranean, resulting in immense cliffs. The beach is small and crowded but it’s at the end of a bay surrounded by rocks that are perfectly acceptable for sunbathing or slipping into the water.
If the beach is too far or too crowded there’s also the river at Rochetta Nervina, which we’ve now been to a few times. One of the rock pools along the river is deep enough to be safe for jumping into from a wall about five metres (16 feet) above.
Last Sunday an event was held at Palazzo Maggiore. This is a former nunnery; a lovely old building a few miles inland from here, now owned by a Dutch couple who run it as a restaurant. On this occasion there was a classical music concert in the morning, then an outdoor lunch (pictured) and finally a Tzigano (gypsy) concert. Over 200 people attended, variously speaking pretty well every European language. We skipped the morning concert, fearing that a whole day might be too much in the hot sunshine, and arrived for lunch, to find the tables set out under the shade of vines and trees, making it quite comfortable.
After lunch the Tzigano concert featured a Romanian four-piece band with a lady singer. Although she was generally agreed to be past her prime, with a voice needing at least a good service if not retirement, the band was highly talented, so I’ve included some video clips for those with high-speed internet. The pictures and video don’t do justice to the event, which was charged with atmosphere. Click the picture to go to the page.
Finally, the garden. It’s been a month of steady growth. One of the more interesting items is this chilli pepper plant; a variety called Pretty Purple. The berries stay purple through most of the growing season then gradually turn red, at which point they’re ready for culinary purposes. They’re rated as Extra Hot so we’re keen to try them out.
Elsewhere the tomatoes have gone crazy, as have the parsnips we planted experimentally (they’re virtually unknown here). And at last it looks as if we may see a crop of Cape Gooseberries; these had a late start because of the cold weather in March and April but are now developing fine.
Water has suddenly become something of a problem. The stuff we drink is fine; so far there’ve been no cut-offs. The problem’s with the variety we use for the garden. By law we’re not allowed to water the garden with tap-water as there’s only a limited supply, so for agricultural purposes there’s another source drawn from a local river. (How that keeps running is a bit of a mystery as it hasn’t rained for two months.) The “ag water” is at a very high pressure as it’s also used for fire-fighting. We had ours piped into a plastic drum with a ball valve, mounted on an upper terrace, but the drum developed a leak. So I re-routed the pipe to bypass the drum altogether, having never been really sure why it was there.
I found out. The pressure started to spring joints and burst hoses all over the place. Just using a hosepipe is almost like firing a shotgun; the recoil is dramatic. I can fire a jet of water fully ten metres and flatten any small plant unlucky enough to be in the way. So I’m currently undecided; do I replace all my old flexible hoses and get used to watering using a form of saturation bombong, or do I buy another tank and go back to what was admittedly rather too little pressure, especially once it reached the other end of the garden. Such decisions are pretty momentous.