31 Mar 2014

A good day out

I'm taking a break from writing about our recent time in Italy to share about the lovely day out we had yesterday with our local daughter.  It was Mothering Sunday, a day in the Christian calendar (traditionally the 4th Sunday of Lent) and now more commonly known and celebrated as Mother's Day here.
I had lots of lovely presents of flowers and chocolates, some pretty cards and several phone calls from the children and grandchildren and our local daughter cooked lunch before taking us out for a drive in the countryside.  We headed for Monsal Dale and Monsal Head, a popular beauty spot in Derbyshire stopping for a wander around the interesting village of Tideswell with a church which is known as 'The Cathedral of the Peaks'.
The day was cloudy with some mist over the hills so not good for photography, but the views from high up on Monsal Head looking down Monsal Dale and up the Wye Valley with the river and viaduct below were still spectacular.
The old route of the Midland Railway formerly crossed the river over the viaduct and then carried on by way of a tunnel through Monsal Head and is now part of the Monsal Trail.

       Some of my presents - tulips, a shrub (skimmia japonica), pots of jam and chocolates.

                                             Tideswell Parish Church, Derbyshire

                             An angel and rose bush on one of the stalls in the chancel

I've wanted to visit Tideswell for quite a while.  St. John the Baptist Church, the parish church of Tideswell was very interesting with many beautiful wood carvings especially on the choir stalls and we shall go back and spend more time there when we have the opportunity.

We enjoyed a tea-time treat of tea or coffee with cake (slices of orange spice cake, chocolate cake and scones with strawberry jam and cream) in the tea rooms and craft shop with picture gallery on Monsal Head.....

....and then a last look at the view before heading back home.

28 Mar 2014

A visit to the Abbey

Whenever we're back home in Italy we go to the nearby abbey whether it's to get something from the pharmacy, the monastery shop, visit the church or just wander around the grounds. This time I wanted to see what was going on in the cloister and inner courtyard gardens and to buy some honey and other items.

The gatehouse
Entrance to the inner courtyard, inner monastery buildings, library and cloister
Entrance to the library

The Chapter House

Stained glass window in the Chapter House - St. Benedict
Stained glass window in the Chapter House - St. Bernard of Clairvaux

                            The cloister garden had been cleared ready for putting in the bedding plants.

                    This is the cloister garden as it looks in the Summer months planted out with salvia.

March 2014
Summer 2011

Going through the cloister and down some steps there's another garden which leads to the monastery herb garden, allotments and vineyards. Since the last visit the trees have been cut back and it looks as if drilling is going on to create an artesian well.

Finally we went into the monastery shop and bought some honey and a bottle of herbal liqueur (elixir of San Bernardo).

23 Mar 2014

Italy: the garden in March

Early morning during our recent time in Italy.  There had been an overnight frost that particular night. Thankfully, it didn't last long, which was a good thing as the night before a nephew, who lives next to us along the lane, came to give him a hand to cut up some wood for the fire and for storing.
Nearby our neighbours were doing the same and thinning out some of the patches of woodland.

Another task was to prune some of the fruit trees and vines (some of the old branches and last year's growth) and mend the wires and some of the supporting posts on the pergola. 

The remaining vine branches and some young fruit trees were then tied to the wire supports using flexible young willow shoots. 
The cut vine branches are bundled up, stored so that they dry out and then used for kindling. 

The two bay trees by the front drive had been shaped into three balls, but as they were growing too high to trim safely it was decided to cut the top ones off.

It's always satisfying when all these routine seasonal tasks are completed and the garden looks tidy again.  In between there are some simple lunches with delicious food and last year's new wine to enjoy.

Frappe or crespelle are sweet pastries eaten just before Lent at Carnevale(Lent 1st Thursday)

16 Mar 2014

A time in Italy

 We've just got back from our time in Italy and it's been good to find the promise of Springtime in both countries with much better weather than previous months.

The outward journey by plane and train to south of Rome was uneventful (in contrast to the journey back because of cancelled trains to Rome when we had to find an alternative transport i.e. bus and metro) and it was good to see the familiar mountains and villages of the Ciociaria region.
It doesn't take long to get back into our usual routine once we're home in Italy, but since we're limited for time and there's a lot to do, especially in the garden, we always hope that the weather stays dry in the early months of the year.  In fact, we arrived to cold, wet weather and it was important to get the fire on and warm up the house in the upstairs apartment. (We have two storeys in our family home which is now split up into identical apartments and these days we use the upstairs apartment which can be heated by wood-fired central heating or gas).  We're very fortunate that relatives look after the accounts and the maintenance of the house when we're not there and do everything to support us when we are.  Consequently, we do spend a lot of time being entertained by family and entertaining family and friends and this time was no exception. The weather soon improved, so it was a pleasure to look out over the garden then enjoy what was growing and coming into season.  It was also good to see the various insects coming to life in the sunshine.

Mr P. soon got to work in the garden pruning the vines and the fruit trees - more about that another time. Some old wooden pergola poles, originally cut from our trees in the wood on the opposite hill to the house, had to be replaced. They needed to be chopped up and stored for future firewood.

At the end of a sunny day the snow on the distant mountains seemed to turn pink as the sun set.

I'll share some more of our trip to Italy soon.  Meanwhile, I hope that everything is going well with you where you live and you have a good week.

We're enjoying the Spring flowers that are blooming in our garden and neighbourhood. DH has lots to do bringing his plants on in the UK garden plot.

A view from the kitchen window this morning - lovely blue skies, although quite windy out.

 A happy St. Patrick's Day tomorrow!