Family Time

Christmas is coming. Our first Sabina Christmas.

Except that it isn’t.

Our daughter is having surgery in the UK on the hip complaint that caused us to learn how to make marmelade (or MarmalAID, as we called it) last year. And so I am sitting at 38,000 feet on a flight from Rome to Liverpool, with a couple of hundred Napoli fans, and a sports reporter called Massimo, who they all want to have their photograph taken with. This is slightly awkward for me, as Massimo and I are sitting on the front row of the aircraft, with an empty seat between us, and so that is where the fans sit for their selfies. At first, he apologized each time it happened, but now we just smile, roll our eyes and shrug our shoulders at each other. Luckily, there is a lot of turbulence today, so we are confined to our seats a lot of the time, which is keeping the seat invasions to a lower level than we would experience on a less bumpy flight.

A couple of hours ago, I had no idea who Massimo was. But our family have a “group chat” named viaggio, in which we post such mundane messages as “through security”, “boarded” and “landed” when we travel, and everybody gives a little thumbs up to communicate that they know where you are. So today I posted a pic of Massimo, and within a minute, my son had told me that
he was the Sky Sports Italia football correspondent, and that his Twitter profile picture was clearly rather out of date. He also shares his name with an Italian politician, apparently…

Anyway.

Back to Olive Hill, which will be without family cheer this Christmas, while Darling Daughter recovers from her latest surgery, and we catch up with family and friends at home.

A year ago today we visited the farm and took photos, which amazed me as I killed time at the airport this morning, so I thought that I would share them with you, dear reader.

This bottom photo was taken exactly one year ago from the ridge opposite the house. You can see the two arable fields, the vineyard, the rather overgrown, but otherwise healthy, green olive trees, and then, closer to the house, the sick trees, which we have pruned back so hard this year.

The top two pictures show the poor, sick olive trees, with their sad little leaves all on the ground. These two pictures show the scale of the problems that we took on with the olives, even before the hardest winter for many years struck, with its gelo and -14° temperatures, just as the olive blossom was attempting to form. No wonder then, that by the time we finally took ownership in May, these 100 or so trees were little more than living skeletons.  A year later, after serious pruning and lots of TLC, the trees are bouncing back to life. No wonder that olive trees are called eternal.

The picture of the citrus trees tell another story. This time last year these were in rude health, covered in oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, clementines and lemons, which one could pick directly from the balcony. The cruel winter caused them massive damage. Three of the trees are dead, and only one managed to produce any fruit at all this year, in the shape of four little clementines. We have watered, fed and gently pruned them, and as long as the weather gods are kind this winter, they too will provide us with fruit again one day.

The beginning of 2018 saw our little farm at its lowest ebb. The olives dying, the vineyard uncared for, the fruit trees unprotected from the vicious frost that would attack them. A year later and it is being nursed back to life.

Roll on 2019, we literally can not wait to get stuck in!

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