Archive for September, 2009

The views of life

Saturday, September 19th, 2009


This is the view from our back balcony, where we sit every evening to watch the sun go down – and we have breakfast on the front balcony, shading the sun with a big beach umbrella. But from all the windows of our apartment on this little farm, everything you look at is beautiful: the curve of a ploughed field rising to an impeccably spaced line of trees; the distant view of hills and mountains; the gray-green lace of the olive trees; the curling fingers of mist around the valley in the very early morning.

It’s very hard to leave so much simple delight. Sometime, maybe, we’ll stay to help with the olive harvest… but tomorrow we start the drive back to London – me with lots of writing done, and both of us with the prospect of excitement and entertainment ahead. Really, I have no good reason to feel so wistful! Well, except for leaving these olive trees.


Oh! And the swallows which today are wheeling and diving in increasing numbers, which probably means they’re getting ready to leave as well. Last time we were here we left later in the month and the swallows were gathering on the power lines by then.

And the sense of being close to the seasons and the way in which the land is used: that’s hard to leave too, if only because those of us who mostly live in cities don’t often witness the pace and rhythm of the country. It’s a blessing to treasure and remember.

Comfort me with figs

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009


I haven’t blogged much recently although I have every good intention about keeping it up – I like having a blog and I enjoy writing it when I actually get to it. But life and work got in the way quite a bit after I returned from New Zealand, and in any case I tend to find London life both hectic and stressful. So when I’m in London I get to a stage where I only think about what I want to say in a blog when I can’t sleep, and then when I’m awake the next day picks me up again and throws me into a new set of demands and I forget about it all again, until the next time I can’t sleep…

But right now I’m sleeping like a baby: indeed sleeping better than most of the babies I’ve ever known. I’m also dreaming a lot –elaborate story dreams that perplex me for hours after I wake, wondering what on earth that one was about (a very detailed dream about being in prison in Zimbabwe is just one example).

One good reason for presently sleeping well is that I’m on holiday in my favourite place in the world: Italy. We’re in an apartment on a little organic farm in the Umbrian hills, north of Orvieto, where we first came two years ago and had such a glorious time that we’re back again. It’s just as wonderful this time. The air is clear and scented with thyme and rosemary, the sun is shining, the swallows are swooping, the olive and fig trees are burgeoning, the pool is beckoning: happy happy days. It’s so easy to have delicious meals: tomatoes and basil warm from the garden, good bread baked in a wood oven, local cheese, and melons, figs and peaches out of a foodie’s dream…

I’m writing every morning, and in the afternoons we think about going to look at something wonderful. We don’t always go, though. Sometimes we just read, or pick more figs, or swim, or walk to an abandoned house nearby that we fantasize about buying.

Just look at these figs and you’ll probably understand why they are worth a journey all on their own.