The sun is shining, the egg is in the breakfast pan and, Well Worn Hand, one of my favourite tracks by, the Editors, shuffles on the iPod. All is good with the world this morning, but hang about, what’s that shadow? I look outside and there’s a woman wandering down the side of my house, she has a carrier bag in her hand so I assume she’s foraging. The pan comes off the heat and I’m outside with the swiftness I can muster this early on, senza caffe. I try to explain that this land is private property now, but she can’t seem to grasp what I’m saying. I gesticulate, waving my arms like a windmill in a gale and point, “Proprieta privata,” I say, “proprieta mia.” I’m jabbing myself in the chest, hoping it’ll lend some gravitas to my statement. She looks at me with a watery, aged eye and points to my land. “Si,” I say, “ casa é terra.” She shakes her head and asks if all the land is mine. I point to where mine starts and ends and she shrugs her shoulders and shuffles away.
Now part of me feels a little sad that the lady can no longer forage on my land, it’s not that at the moment it’s anything more than may hundred square metres of untamed wilderness, but; and here’s where I stand on the issue. First when I’ve cultivated it, do I want all and sundry thinking it’s a free-for-all in my cabbage patch. – No, and second, these unwelcome visitors always come down the steps onto what will upon completion be our patio and outdoor space. Now I for one don’t want to be having a shower with some old lady popping her head around the window. Or there’s the (remote) possibility I may have the outside door open and be engaged in some bedroom gymnastics, and no unsuspecting field forager wants to see that in the early hours.
So there’s nothing for it, I have to buy a sign. The Italians love their signs, they have them all over the place. Beware of the dog, for sale, for rent, you name it and the houses are plastered with them. So with iPod installed, and Linkin Park, playing With You, I set off for Lanciano, a mere 20km away. I take the scenic route, rather than the direct route as I like the views as the car climbs upwards revealing the lush fields below. I read somewhere that Abruzzo is often referred to as the lungs of Italy. In fact the header photograph to this blog was taken from the road up to Castelfrentano, and later Lanciano.
We reach Ikasa, part of a company called Brico, a sort of hardware cum electrical cum you name it we sell it store. My OH, Dutch heads off to look at wooden kitchen surfaces and I hone in on the signs that are rotating in a display. I flick the carousel round until I come across three signs. One is an A4 piece of plastic with a red no entry symbol and large black letters that shout out Private Property, another is an A4 landscape, blue and white one that simply says Private with a blue no entry sign. I dismiss this one immediately as being too passive. The final one is just 6 inches long by 3 inches wide. It simply says Private and has a small no entry sign. “So, what do you think?” Dutch says, when I walk over, signs clutched in my hand. “Pine or not?” I give him one of my bemused, or quite frankly gormless looks. “For the kitchen.” I’m non-committal, Kitchen surfaces can wait for another day, today is all about a private property sign. I hold up the two I have and ask which he thinks we should get. I’m favouring the bigger one that screams, ‘this is my land so bugger off’, Dutch just points to the small one and says, “This one.” I’m about to protest when he informs me that he thinks the smaller one is more dignified. “But,” I mumble, “the big one will fit on the post and stand out, I’ll have to trim down the smaller one to fit on the post box.” He nods and says, “Exactly,” then turns his attention back to the work surfaces on show.
Back home and with the self adhesive sign trimmed and in position, I mumble to myself as I walk the few metres back to the house, “Just one more unwelcome visitor and I’m going straight back for the big bloody sign, and it’s not up for discussion.”