Newsletter August 2009


Hello friends,

              Once again I have got behind on writing a newsletter - the last one was December and it is now August. But when I start writing one, I make a list of all the things that have happened in the period and there have been quite a few, which might excuse the delay a bit.

              This year we had Christmas here at home, and Caroline and family had theirs at home too. We were joined by my old friend Peter Jones, and we all had a good time. When the dust had settled, Beryl went off for her annual visit to her sister Pam in Florida, staying with Pam and Bill in their new home just down the road from the old one. She enjoyed the visit, the shopping, and the company, and even managed a swim in the heated pool that is part of the complex. On her return, she met up with Norman and Maureen Green in Orlando, and caught up on news with them. While she was away, the wooden beam which supported the ramade over the terrace, started to sag, having evidently rotted out in the centre. I had to get this fixed pretty quick before the whole lot collapsed, so called in a local mason who made a quick and good job of replacement. At the end of March we paid a visit to Caroline in Ferrara, but staying the night on the return journey in Camogli, of which I have written before. As things have turned out, this was probably our last visit to Ferrara as Caroline, Francesco and the girls, Anna and Julia, have moved to Canada. The trip to Ferrara was notable in that the autostrada north from Genoa into the Po valley climbs over a spectacular pass, and it was snowing! We had to follow in a three lane file of cars behind three snowploughs which were clearing the road and it was a bit hairy in places. We enjoyed our visit, spending a day in the Santerno valley where we visited a favourite restaurant and Leo’s winery, from which we emerged with 120 bottles of his best wines!

              I think I mentioned earlier that a little ginger cat had adopted us, which we assumed was a male. It would arrive in the morning and evening for food and sometimes would stay around all day, even indoors. We had decided that we would take it to the vet to get it ‘done’, so Beryl caught it and put it in the cage and off she went to the vet, leaving the cat there for the day. When she went back to collect it, the vet pointed out that it was a female and had already been spayed. To find this out, the vet had shaved a patch on her belly. The cat disappeared after her evening meal and when we saw her again, she had acquired a tattoo in her ear. We got the impression that she frequents another house and has another set of owners and they were a bit surprised to see ‘their’ cat appear with a shaved patch! We still don’t know who the other owners are, but it has its advantages if one wants to go away.

              At the end of March we had a short visit from our Ottawa friends Heather and Tom Kovacs, who had been staying in Nice for a few days. It was enjoyable to catch up on what had been going on for both of us, to have a few nice meals and sample various bottles of wine. A bit later on we realized that the palm tree situated near the pool house had died, we don’t know exactly why but suspect the wind may have had something to do with it as the new growth was badly torn about by successive mistrals. Salt from the pool might have had something to do also. Nothing else to do but to remove it, and in its place we put a swing seat we had bought, which fits in fine.

              In mid-April Francesco left for Canada on his own, as they had decided to let the girls finish the school year. He went out to look for somewhere to live, a job and the other things that have to be done. They had decided to go to Ottawa as it was likely to have the types of jobs they both were looking for. In May we had a visit from an old colleague, Rod Riordon, from Dunham, Quebec, and had an enjoyable week with him, doing a bit of local sightseeing, dining and of course, wine tasting.

              At the end of May we took time off to visit Amalfi, which neither of us had previously visited. This is described in a separate newsletter.

              A couple of days after our return from our Amalfi trip, a friend from Kanata, Chris Walton, arrived at Le Muy on a cycling trip through Provence. We went over and picked her up and brought her back for dinner with us and then took her back to rejoin her tour. It was good to catch up on the news after a dozen years!

              A couple more days and Paul Pulsifer and Shawn Charland, colleagues from DREO and Lockheed Canada days, arrived to spend some time with us. Paul, on a previous visit, had offered to do a curry dinner for us, but we had upped the ante by inviting some of our curry-loving friends so it was 12 of us that sat down to dinner. It was a lovely evening so we were out on the terrace and the curry was fabulous and much appreciated by all.

              Again a couple of days respite and it was time to pick up Caroline and the girls, and for Brian and Rupert to arrive. I met Caroline about half-way, at a place called Ovada, north of Genoa. She, the girls, the cats and their baggage had been driven down by a friend in Ferrara. We transhipped the bags and cats, had a snack in the restaurant, and hit the road home. We got back an hour or so before Brain and Rupert arrived. With all the visitors here at once, we had to do some creative bed planning, and Caroline and the girls finished up in the basement, where we had put a full double bed and a single mattress on the floor. We were prepared to move them into our neighbour’s ‘studio’, which had been offered to us, but Caroline preferred to be in the house with us if possible, and it worked out OK. The girls had a great time in the pool, Brian and Rupert went out exploring a few times, and we enjoyed meals and aperitifs together. Brian and Rupert left on the 16th and we had Caroline and the girls on their own until the 22nd, when they left from Nice airport to fly to Montreal and begin their new life in Canada. Their departure was a sad moment for us all.

              Since their departure, we have had no more visitors, so things have been quieter. At the end of June, the pool pump failed and had to be replaced. To compensate, Beryl had a good morning at the local flea market, Le Jas Robert near Grimaud, and came back with a beautiful crystal chandelier, which, we have learned, as it hangs from the ceiling, is called a ‘lustre’. It now hangs over our dining table. The next milestone was the arrival of our painter, Monsieur Louis, who repainted the interior of the house except the main salon, dining room and computer room, leaving it all spiffy and new. After a day or so, we established a routine for a ‘pause café’ at 10 am each day, where we sat down on the terrace with a coffee and chatted, and Beryl found that her French worked really well!

              As I write, it is still hot and summery, with floods of tourists everywhere. The economic situation doesn’t seem to have diminshed the numbers, but we hear that they are not spending as much as usual.

Best regards from Alan and Beryl