Just to keep livening up the blog, here another archive photo: a view from our window in November.
The rain I mentioned last time has continued and reached it's climax on Christmas Eve, when it was also accompanied by gale force winds, the dreaded Scirocco. I have mentioned this wind before on this blog, because it has so much influence on our weather. It allegedly originates in Africa, in the Sahara desert to be precise and then blows in a North-westerly direction (i.e. it's a South-easterly wind, as winds are named after the direction they come from for some reason).
Now you would think, that a wind coming out of the desert is good news, dry and warm, however you'd have thought wrong. En route to Italy it crosses the Mediterranean, where it has plenty of oportunity to pick up a bit of water. Then as this warm wind travels north it hits the cold air mass coming off the Alps and the Appenines. A great time to shed some of that excess water again. In other words, in our little niche in the Northwest of Italy it doesn't rain very often, but when it does, the Scirocco is usually involved.
To compound the problem, all our windows are south-east facing, and our bedroom window in particular is leaking. Although I did squeeze an entire tube of silicon into various cracks and openings in an attempt to solve the problem, new cracks and hidden holes appeared elsewhere. The net result of all this was that I stayed up Christmas Eve, or rather Christmas morning until half past one, continually mopping the floor! On one occasion, I swear I saw Santa on his sleigh sailing past us and he never made it down our chimney as he got blown on by the wind. Rudolph's nose was Blue! I'm not sure if it was due to the cold or due to prolonged exposure to water.
Anyway, Christmas passed peacefully, as usual with plenty of food and sitting around a blazing fire. What, you want to know what we've been eating? You're a nosy lot aren't you? Ok, we started with bruschette with a chilli paste and with an olive and bean paté, followed by Zuppa Lombarda (consisting of sage, garlic and beans). Then I made up a new recipe: sage and onion stuffed ravioli tossed in olive oil and lemon juice. For main course we had a free-range capon (a castrated cocckerel) stuffed with a chestnut stuffing (which we made during the chestnut season and had put into the freezer), accompanied by rosemary roast potatoes and a Neapolitan style cauliflower salad.
Right, enough of that flippancy. Boxing Day the rain held off for long enough for us to dare a trip to our plot of land to see what damage the snow and the storms did. I'm glad to report that most things seemed fine. The first sowing of broad beans was a little damaged by the wind as they were already quite tall. Peas, fennel, celery, the brassica, onions and garlic all withstood the cold. Only our baby lemon tree looks like it got some serious frost damage. I hadn't covered it this winter, because we never had any frost the last few winters, and if than never this early (more like February or even March). The kumquat looks fine though and might just give us fruit for the first time this winter.
The wind caused a bit more damage than the frost. It blew over a slightly fragile olive tree and broke off numerous branches of other fruit trees, most notably the loquat and a couple of the plum trees. Well, all in all it could have been worse and the days are starting to get longer again, so roll on spring...