Time Travelling

Last night whilst watching the BBC program, Second Chance Summer, where a group of English people experience living in Tuscany: The objective of the show is to discover if any of them will choose to remain in Italy. Two did choose to stay but it was a comment one of the women made that struck a chord with me. She said that although she liked being in Italy it was like travelling back in time. At first I agreed, but then I thought saying that could actually be quite insulting, as it could infer that the country hadn’t progressed. (But I’m sure she meant it in a nice way).

DSCF1452

Rural Italy is very different from the urban sprawl of Milan, Turin and the other major cities; in fact the difference between southern and northern Italy is blatantly tangible. Things here in rural communities go on as they have done for decades. Today Mario is in his olive grove pruning his trees as he and his family have done for years. The centre of the tree is opened up to allow air to circulate through the branches giving it the familiar vase shape. You could be forgiven for thinking it’s like travelling back in time but it’s a very different situation. Today Mario is using an electric saw connected to a generator whereas if we went back in time it’d be a hand saw. Today the cut branches will be loaded onto a motorised trailer and taken to his wood store rather than in the past a donkey.

DSCF1300

I think the charm of Italy is that much has remained unchanged, towns are still mostly made up of original old buildings giving it that ancient feel. Take Rome for instance, everywhere you look there’s an old palazzo and terracotta tiled roof. This gives an impression of travelling back in time, however look closer and you’ll spot the satellite dishes and solar panels.

IMG_1871

Here in Abruzzo we’re reminded of the region’s history, the coastline is dotted with trabocchi; ancient fishing stations that are still used today. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a romantic notion to continue with tradition, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. The reason why people still fish from a trabocco is that they’re effective. Olives are maintained as they have always been because it’s a fool proof method of cultivation. Backs ache after plots of land are planted up with tomato and pepper plants as they’ve been for years. At times it’s a hard life but rewarding one, but it’s not like going back in time because as time moves on it’s the tried and tested methods that survive through becoming adaptable.

The Missing Dwarf

How do you dispose of an unwanted dwarf?

Now there’s a question most of you will never have been asked before, although I do suspect it’s a particularly common one for some members of the Renegade Writers.

I like living in the countryside. A rural setting really suits me. I guess you could call it semi-rural really, as although we’re on a hill over looking a valley and surrounded by olive groves and fields, we not too far from a town, shopping centre and other amenities. I like the quiet that comes with living in the countryside. I go to sleep with the window open and all I hear is the click of cicadas, the hoot of a distant owl and the occasional  barking dog. When I wake It’s to birdsong and the rustle of grasses in the breeze. Today at 06.45, Alfie decided to let me know he wanted to go out; clever for a five-month old; his cold nose on the sole of my foot did the trick of waking me. The morning was misty following yesterday’s welcome thunderstorms and there was very little birdsong. I put the kettle on and switched on the iPod, adding my noise to the day and the Squeeze classic, Cool for Cats played as I dropped instant coffee into mugs.

One of the benefits of being semi-rural, is that there’s always somewhere to walk the dogs away from traffic. Not far away is a dried up riverbed next to vines of ripening grapes and little pockets of olive trees. The road through the area is safe to let the dogs walk off their leads as there’s very few people that drive along it. I love taking the dogs there, it’s great for them to nose around and discover new smells, they chase each other and hide from their humans behind the bamboo; No doubt sniggering like naughty school-children as they hear their names being called.

Clips 3

Alfie Mac managed to get his head into the shot top left

The only thing that ruins these moments of pleasure is fly-tipping. The selfish act of fly-tipping is not a problem just for Italy, it’s  a problem for rural areas all over. I grew up in a semi-rural part of Staffordshire and the lanes around our house would sometimes overnight grow a pile of rubbish or miraculously a beaten up of sofa would appear in a field. Even down our lane here in Italy, someone has bothered to drive up at night and deposit an old mattress down a slope that leads to some redundant olive grove. There’s always a mattress or a fridge. I think these items must be the most difficult for people to dispose of, either that or they just don’t know how to get rid of them.

Clips 2

If getting rid of household items poses a problem for some people, what about disposing of unwanted dwarfs? As I took a diversion from the main track down a little pathway, worn away by passing feet, I came across another example of fly-tipping: this tipping was of the Disney persuasion. In the rough grass lay a set of concrete garden ornaments, these were shaped into the guise of Disney’s version of Snow White and her dwarf friends. However there’s only six of her vertically-challenged mates with her; one of the dwarfs is missing.

As I stand looking down at these concrete cadavers I ponder the name of the missing dwarf, could it be, Happy or Grumpy, possibly Bashful or Doc, maybe it’s Sneezy. Could it be Dopey, it may even be Sleepy.  At my side Alfie nudges me, bored with standing still and my attention is taken away from the Disney death, and as we wander back up to the main track I debate the plural of dwarf, is it dwarves or dwarfs. No doubt the answer will be found with a Google search. The Plural of Dwarf explanation

CAM00123