Al Fresco Dining

One of the best things about living in a country with a temperate climate in early autumn, is the ability to still eat al fresco. In summer eating outside can be plagued with all manner of problems, flies, mosquitos and ants to name a few, but in autumn when the dreaded mozzies have faded away outdoor eating is a pleasure. A few weeks back when we finally had our cooker fitted we had friends around for a traditional (English) Sunday roast dinner. The weather was good, and as we sat tucking into roast potatoes and chicken it was hard to believe we were in the tenth month of 2013.

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A couple of weeks later I decided to invite a few people over for an afternoon of al fesco dining, and as my mate: partner in crime so may say, was over from the UK it seemed a good idea. I checked the weather forecast and it all seemed okay, until a week before the proposed date, when the forecast was for thunderstorms and torrential rain. “Oh well,” I said the the OH, “Looks like we’ll have al fresco, inside. If we have the door open we can call it in fresco.” My attempt at humour instigated just a reedy snigger from OH and a roll of the eyes.

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So al fresco day was upon us, I spent the previous afternoon prepping, and the morning; with my OCD in overdrive making canapes and antipasti. The mini porchetta were in the oven as was the Sicilian lemon chicken and the Abruzzi green torte was cooling. All this kitchen activity is of course accompanied by the shuffle of the iPod, and as I take the riccotta torte from the fridge the excellent new single, Loud Like Love by Placebo is replaced by Bauhaus’s, Kick in the Eye B-side, Satori. The rain has been continuous all morning and as the final dishes are finished people begin to arrive, then as the last of my guests park their car, the rain stops and the sun peeks out from behind a grey cloud. It’s still a little chilly but everyone gathers together, half of us are standing on the patio outside the front door while the rest are just inside the kitchen.

The weather may not have been perfect for out gathering, but as the last of the guests leave we give ourselves a self-congratulatory pat on the back, and vow next time to do any group gatherings in the summer, and to hell with the mosquitos.

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Wee Beasties

Growing up in the UK I lived in a semi-rural location. I was lucky enough to play in fields, help out on the local farm and as a teenager earn money stacking turves destined for the new housing estates being built in the 1970’s.

The first thing I had to tell myself, when I decided that this was the house I’d like to live in, was that I have to get used to the not so pretty of creatures that inhabit the land. The wee beasties that crawl and fly and buzz and sting. Now, I’ve never really been very good with bugs, but this said I’ve always had a live and let live attitude. I’m quite happy to live in a house with a spider, just 100_6169as long as the spider doesn’t want to walk over me. With the exception of mosquitos and ants, I usually take visiting critters back outside. Who am I to say that just because it’s not easy on the eye or creepy looking it should be stamped upon.

This week I’ve been visited by some wonderful creatures. On Monday morning the iPod shuffled and Tiziano Ferro started to sing La Differenza Tra Me e Te (Stefano Maneo Remix) and I spotted an enormous spider trapped inside the washing up bowl. It was desperate to get out, but it’s legs could find no purchase on the sides of the plastic bowl. So I removed it and set it free among the rubble from the restoration, where there’s plenty of hiding places for it to lie in wait for unsuspecting flies.

Tuesday, I noticed a small wood wasp, she was building a nest inside the old window frame in the kitchen. She was a delicate little thing, and when she flies her longer back legs dangle like clip_image002stilts. A visiting friend said I should kill it and remove the little nest that is the size of a one-euro coin, but I refused. She’s doing no harm, I don’t need to open the window, and I know it’ll not get much bigger than it already is. She just needs somewhere safe to lay her eggs, and despite her vicious looking sting, I know she’s more afraid of me than I am of her.

Wednesday, because the doors and windows in the living room were open we were plagued by flies, but a quick squirt of insecticide spray soon put pain to there foray into the house. And Friday, we had our first visit of the summer from a scorpion. I was just about to sit down for my dinner when Dutch said, “What’s that on the floor?” I looked down and a magnificent black scorpion was making its way over towards the darkness created by the heel of my Ted Bakers in the corner. So I soon snapped a quick photo, the flash causing it to scurry to the relative safety of my shoes and armed with card and plastic tub, I removed the visitor and took it back outside, where it scurried off into a dark crevice beneath the house.clip_image003

This is, however, only the beginning, as summer progresses we’ll have the mantis and the grasshoppers to contend with, not to mention the dreaded mosquitos that will be on the attack. Maybe it’s time to start thinking of getting some fly screens made in readiness.