There again and back

To referee my second game of the season I travelled to Market Bosworth to discover that an assessor was waiting in the changing room to assess my performance. There were two other assessors there to assess the refs at the club that day, there is supposed to be a shortage of referees, perhaps less assessing might help to solve the problem? I pointed out to the gentleman that this was probably my last season refereeing, I am getting on now and past injuries have begun to make it a bit of a struggle to keep up with play, so I would appreciate it if his report did not lead to officiating in fast colts games. In conversation after the game he agreed I was a bit slow on long chasing runs. Cheeky sod I thought!!! His acknowledgement somehow irked me,  I think I may referee next season now.

On Sunday I drove to Stansted Airport, adding an extra 20 miles to the journey through not paying due attention to the Satnav  and missing the airport exit on the M11 with Roger Woolnough to catch a Ryan air flight to Ancona.

On arrival in Italy Joan and Phil were waiting to pick us up by the exit to the airport. The two and a half hour journey to their farm house in Santa Vittoria went very quickly, Phil, like all Italian drivers likes to keep his right foot hard down on the accelerator at all times, leaving no visible gap between the car in front.

After welcoming coffees we were keen to inspect their  grapes vines and it wasn’t long before we trotted down to inspect their small vineyard. Sadly they were in a very sorry state, the dreaded mildew (or something like it) had been ramapant through the rows. There were plenty of bunches but most had failed to fill out. It looked as if it would have been a bumper crop. We spent our first session in the vineyard cutting the shrivelled bunches from the vines. A few days later we picked the few that were left and had filled out. That evening we watched Joan and Phil start the wine-making process. Pressing the grapes entailed a bare footed Joan shuffling around in a large tub of juicy grapes. It made eleven litres of juice which I am informed should make ten litres of wine.

Roger and I seemed to have very little rest time, if we weren’t helping out in the garden we were off walking or visiing some of the local sights with our hosts. On one day we visited the coast one and though we didn’t get to paddle in the sea I did take several photos of seabirds. On other days we visited nearby hilltop towns, in which we saw lots of cats, churches, priests and mostly deserted streets, however the views from this lofty settlements are quite stunning. On one afternoon walk with Wags (neighbour’s dog) he refused to leave us at the end of our trek and came back to the farmhouse. Staying the night and most of the following day it wasn’t until late that evening before Luke (his owner) came and picked him up. On one morning we visited some ex-pats (Janet and her husband Malcolm), they live on the other side of the town and kept chickens which seemed to live in the house with them. We soon  discovered that Janet likes to talk, giving few or no opportunity to respond, we soon learned that the trick wass just to listen and smile a lot. Her husband Malcolm has a different tactic, he takes himself on a lot of long walks to escape the verbal barrage.

My favourite day was when we visited the mountains and took what we thought was the shorter of two walks. In fact, after checking up on Google Earth on my phone, it became apparent that our path was several miles longer than the other. It is shame I didn’t think to check that until after we had exhausted ourselves. On the return journey back to the car we walked through a tunnel and I tripped, causing me to stumble and then sprint blindly through the darkness, before steadying myself. On returning to the car, Joan provided a very acceptable picnic out of one of those bags that women always seem to be able to produce when the need arises. Bless ‘em.

The day before we flew home we accompanied Joan and Phil to a party hosted by a couple from Edinburgh. They had a lovely house with infinity pool set on the side of a cliff, but strangely no garden. I was told that their garden back in the UK is listed in Yellow Pages, I am assured that means it is pretty good.

The weather had turned chilly as we left and there was drizzle in the air, but Roger and I didn’t care as we had our sun tans to show off back home and a few extra pounds of opulence around our middle regions, courtesy of Joan’s superb vegetarian cooking skills. We are looking forward to meeting the Italian vine-weevils again in the spring.

On return to the UK it was only four days before Sue, Sarah and I were due to fly to the Azores, I also managed to do a bit of digging at the allotment and of course refereed a rugby match that was notable for the athleticism of the Ref.

While we were away, Charlotte, Suraj, Lucas and Ellis came down to look after the house and Jamie.

Jamie is getting to grips with the paperwork involved in buying a property. I think he finds it all quite confusing, but then I have to admit I did too when we bought our first house. Suraj and Charlotte have promised to help him while we are away.

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