Why did I say yes? I had promised to officiate at the Harborough Rugby 7’s on Sunday and duly turned up at 11.00am (it was bitterly cold) to do my duty. Jim also arrived at the same time and we agreed to run the touchline on the 1st Team pitch. We ran along those touchlines from 11.30am until 5.30pm when the last final took place. We had no break and I was to regret it. I got home, had a bath, helped Jamie write a letter on the computer, then packed my bag for tomorrow’s journey and went to bed about 11.30pm.
I got up at 5.00am, rang Roger to make sure he was awake and made a cup of coffee and waited. At 5.30am Roger arrived and we began the drive to Stansted airport. I connected my SatNav to his car’s cigarette lighter to find that it wasn’t connected to the battery. We got there anyway. We caught the 9.55am flight to Ancona with Ryanair, to stay with Joan and Phillip. A couple of hours later we landed and were met by them in the Arrivals Lounge. They didn’t seem to have changed since last year. I suppose that is what Italy and red wine can do for you. After quite a long drive we arrived in Santa Vittoria and were met by Wags the dog, who had been left in Joan’s care until her owner (Luke and family) returned from the UK.
The weather was much better than the last time we stayed and we did have some very warm days.They had made some of their own red wine from last year’s grapes and we all agreed that it was very consumable and each evening, did so. I was also introduced to a very strong drink called Lemonchino (Joan made it). It is quite moreish and I suspect confuses the brain if you drink too much. I have the recipe and intend to make some of my own.
We were treated to a few days out and visited a blue lake, the mountains (with added snow) and some hill top towns we hadn’t been to before. Unlike last year the visibility was good and we could see the beautiful scenery of Marche. Phil had one of those significant birthdays that annoyingly crop up every now and again and we took him (and Joan) out for a very nice meal to commiserate with him. Roger and I rather pigged out on the meat course. One evening Rob and his wife came around for dinner. They were an interesting couple. Rob earned his living as a BBC/ITV camera man, but was semi-retired now. Quite a lot of wine got drunk.
After running up and down a rugby pitch for 6 hours, it took me few days for the legs to recover and I struggled to be fully mobile. However, Roger and I spent many a pleasant hour in our Italian garden; planting vegetables, moving soil and practising our hunting skills as we stalked the dreaded wine weevil. Wags the dog got taken for quite a few walks, and on one particularly hot day she returned completely exhausted and fell asleep on the gravel outside the front door. Not to be outdone I fell exhausted onto my bed and had 2 hours sleep! Don’t know what Roger did, but I think I can guess.
Last year I remember being pleasantly surprised that Joan could cook (I knew she could take assembly and staff meetings), despite being a vegetarian. I remember that the meals were delicious and I was nearly converted to the same pagan practise. However, it just shows what a years practise can do. This year, each meal was a gourmet’s delight and I am sure would have attracted a Michellin star or two, if the critics knew about ‘Villa Waggalino’. After starters and main course, most meals ended up with yours truly in Cheesey Heaven, with always at least 6 different varieties to choose from. I felt sorry for the others as they usually had to finish their meal eating a sweet dish called dessert (I believe they can rot your teeth).
Unfortunately though the ash cloud did threaten to close Italy’s airports, we did have to fly back to a very chilly UK after only one week. We thought it might be a nice idea to return in September (you can see why). Our return journey was uneventful, though we did see Bob and his wife at the airport, also returning to the UK.
Since being back, the weather has been cold, cold, cold! The plants in the garden don’t seem to have grown at all, and the evening shadows creeping across the Marche landscape seem a long way away now.