It's Tuesday. We've been back three days but it already seems like a lifetime ago that we were on Italian soil.
The final days of our holiday were spent in some great places, I can't remember where I left you, but we saw Volterra again (but screwed up the medieval festival by getting our Italian 'and' and 'until' muddled, but enough about that!). Still, being able to feast on hot chocolate that was so thick you needed a spoon almost compensated.
We drove to an amazing hill town in Southern Tuscany that had underground caves as well as buildings on top of the hill. Pitaglia is now a bit of a haven for the creative and artistic community. As a hill town it is beautiful to walk around. More care seemed to have been taken here with presentation outside apartments etc. We would go back here and recommend the trek it takes to get there.
Our final day we visited Lucca. Again, a little more off the beaten track so less touristy, but fantastic none the less. It is Puccini's birthplace. It was close to Pisa, so the idea was to spend the morning there and then trug over to the airport in the late afternoon for our evening flight.
Now we're back and our home has been beautifully cared for by friends and family and we are so grateful for this. School is looming on the horizon rather quickly, so today we've been for haircuts.
Master Beehive the younger has a Scout camp for the rest of this week, which, in hindsight was a rather silly idea as he gets back on Sunday and starts secondary school for the first time on Monday morning!
In the garden, I am slowly preparing for final harvest and removing dead flowers and vegetable plants. The broccoli has been decimated by some kind of fly and also by caterpillars so the chickens are enjoying some greens (and the odd bit of fleshy caterpillar). I'm thinking already about rotation and next year's crops. I
know for a fact there will be less courgette next year as, despite the 'humongourgette' that we picked before we went away, there were two further ones that were there to greet us on our return. I've made courgette marmalade now and tomorrow will be making a beetroot, chocolate and chilli cake (or two) and lots more ratatouille!
I've had my name down on our local list at the allotments and am hoping that I might be in with a chance to own one before Christmas so I can dig over and get it prepared for Spring. I intend to move most of our vegetable growing over there as the allotments get more sunshine and perhaps turn more of our own land over to longer term crops such as fruit and even things like lavender or sunflowers (yes, I know what you're thinking, neither a long term crop nor a crop that copes with shade but we do get 'some' sunshine).
I'd love to own a couple of goats, but in all seriousness, there isn't really the space to extend the livestock even if I moved everything over to an allotment. I think, if we 'did' have the space, goats or sheep would be our animals of choice due to the fact we could get quite a lot of produce from either; wool, milk, cheese and potentially meat if we felt we could. In another life perhaps?
What are your plans for your homestead next year?