So, since I'm now uselessly sitting at home I may as well celebrate the fact that today, exactly 2 years ago, I started this blog. Happy Blogday! This gives me an excuse to do a bit of a review of the story of this blog as well as our story in Italy.
When I started this blog I did so for 3 main purposes:
- As a personal diary and memo to self. I'm not the most disciplined person in the world. I've tried keeping hand written diaries, but I loose them or forget about them. With this on-line version, I can now easily look up again when I planted my broad beans last year and whether they were a success. I can check out what the weather was like this time last year, etc. Also, whenever I'm not writing anything for a few days, I ask myself why. If I've been too busy, that's good, but if I haven't done much to report about, shouldn't I get up and do something? There's always something to do on a smallholding. Having no boss you have to kick yourself up the backside occasionally.
- To keep in touch with friends and family. Having moved to a foreign country we wanted to keep our friends and family updated on what we were doing and this format saved us repeating the same thing in numerous e-mails, letters and phone calls. Of course I don't write the most intimate details in here, because you never know who is reading this.
- And last but not least this blog was set up as an information exchange with like-minded people, who can maybe share their experiences of say growing and processing persimmons, gardening in accordance with the moon phases, bee-keeping etc. I'm pleased to say that the latter has recently also started happening.
Having previously barely looked at any blogs until very recently, I am amazed at how many hits my blog gets and from how many different places! Since I installed that little world map on my side bar at the end of March 2008 this site has had 7,590 hits from 102 countries! Here is the top 10 country list:
The Usa has just overtaken the UK on the number 1 spot. My home country has only made it number 10, and who are all those Indians visiting my site?
The highest risers from year one to year two were:
I'd love to know who you people are in Slovakia, Russia and Vietnam!
Anyway, enough of statistics. Since my camera has definitely taken it's last photo, I'm going to have to use some archive photos, which is just as well as I thought on this occasion, I'll give you a brief review of how we ended up in Italy as semi-farmers without going into too much detail.
In 2004, after having lived 15 years on the outskirts of London, the time seemed right to realize a long-held dream. Rather than working anything up to a 60-hour week in the wine trade, plus some 3 hour plus daily commute to work, and still barely surviving on my wages, it was time to go. We had been paying a mortgage for our house for some 9 years, and in that time the value of the property had trippled. So we could sell up, pay off all our debts and set up somewhere else.
Why Italy and why Liguria in particular is another story for another day. Suffice to say, as soon as the sale of our house was confirmed, we bought ourselves an old camper van. We called it the truck:
We were lucky enough to be able to store most our posessions with my parents in Germany and set off with the truck to Italy in June 2004 in search for a permanent place to live. So as you can see there was a certain amount of urgency to find something, preferably before the onset of winter. We soon stumbled across a small dwelling, which wasn't quite ideal in that it didn't have any land attached to it, but it was well within our budget. So by October we signed the papers and moved into a part of this 300 year old palazzo, formerly the kitchen quarters of the residence of the Marquis of Remedi:
The first few months were miserable. For complicated bureaucratic reasons we were not allowed to start renovations for the first 3 months. We were sitting in a very draughty kitchen, without electricity, no cooking facilities except for an open fire place, running cold and colder water, and all that during the coldest winter in the region for 30 years.
But in the new year things started picking up. We had the place renovated, electricity installed and furnished. Our search for a suitable plot of land finally bore fruit by May 2005. Our budget didn't stretch for a well tended piece of land near our village anymore, instead we bought a badly overgrown plot on the other side of the valley. It was covered in bamboo and brambles.
It took us the best part of 2 years to finally beat back the bush and cultivate all 18 terraces. Under all the shrubbery we found close to 100 useful trees, most of them we managed to nurse back to health and productivity. Amongst the trees we dug over the land, enriched it a bit and planted beds for our veg. Things can still improve, but we are getting there. I still have many plans, but now money is lacking and we have to be content to make small steps at a time. But content we are (the song on the note sheet is called felicitá - happyness):
After an initial business attempt, which failed, partially due to the financial crisis, we are now finding various means to earn some money, without which the world does unfortunately not turn, but in the words of Edith Piaff:"Je ne regrette rien".