Sorry it’s been a while.
We’ve had visitors, J E and their son A, my new BFF or rather BFFTH (Best Friend For This Holiday)
A is 6, I am not, although we share the number when it comes to birthdays.
The family were escaping the UK quarantine situation and enjoying a much quieter Italy, and I had my work cut out, as CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer)
First off A is a little City boy, born and bred in London and he has enjoyed a very varied life in holiday terms – Sweden, Japan, Australia to name but three, but A is not awfully keen on bugs.
It’s Italy, it’s August and we have, in no particular order of nastiness:-
Biting ants of all sizes, from one centimetre to barely one millimetre
Pappatacci – miniscule biting machines, which suck your blood and are smaller than the net holes in the mosquito nets we have on all the windows.
Snakes -of the grass variety, but rather large and black/grey in colour.
Add in the non-biting varieties of grass-hoppers, crickets, cicadas, butterflies, moths, APCs (armoured personnel carrier bugs – bright green in colour, and they let out a smell when you capture them) and for a little boy with an allergic reaction problem, the holiday could have been one miserable round of calamine lotion, anti-histamine and hysteria.
Luckily for us, A was a delightful bundle of energy, unluckily for me A was a delightful bundle of energy. Blimey, I may not have run (although I did) but he kept me on my toes.
Each day started with the walk around the house and garden to see where the ants had set up home today – favourite spot the movable light cube next to the jacuzzi.
Then followed the lizard hunt, A was a little scared at first, but then took to them like a fish to water and loved spotting them.
Then a walk through the grapevines, a favourite spot for the barely visible (to my eyes, and his parents too) grasshoppers. he was particularly smart at finding the green ones which match the grass so much so that they even have tufted dry straw coloured bits – they look exactly like cut blades of grass. Also some surreptitious eating of the wine grapes, which astonished me because they are particularly lip-puckering at this time of year.
Next the favourite bit of the walk to the compost heap to switch on the well pump, so we could water the plants. Being in charge of the pistol water hose, was a little boy’s dream. Very diligently he sprayed all the plants and filled each little moat with water. He did get slightly distracted one morning and wanted to spray some pedestrians walking on the other side of the hedge, but we avoided an international incident. This was followed by one more circuit of the garden just to see whether any new ant hotels had been set up and if the twig booby traps had worked to stop the ants entering the house.
His booby traps worked a treat, I think it was the constant grinding motion when the unfortunate ant found itself under the ‘booby trap’. Those ants went to ant heaven.
We checked out the figs for freshness and he felt the ‘fig glue’ which was emitted when you pulled them from the trees. he thought that was fascinating, but rather annoying when you couldn’t get it off your fingers.
The morning routine was completed when he was ‘allowed’ to clean the jacuzzi of dead bugs using the jacuzzi net. He and I were the nitty Noras of the pool cleaning world. A diving in, carrying the net which was twice the size of his body, and picking up bugs and clearing up what we decided was ‘calcium’. I’ve no real idea what it was, but A wants to be young man with a portfolio career. Mondays as I recall a scientist, Tuesdays a sewage expert – he liked the idea of cleaning pipes!, and the rest of the week an engineer of the general variety. Discovering calcium was considered to be very interesting to a scientist. I did feel I was using child labour, but honestly he loved it.
We’d have lunch at home sometimes and what a joy he was to feed. Pretty much anything goes – a six year old who ate black olives like other children eat Smarties. More child labour followed with A being the house’s official salad spinner operator. Afterwards we may have discussed the merits of Lego and the death ray machine, and he corrected our Swedish pronunciations and taught us new words and the merits of his ‘kick you out’ strategy for anyone who broke his house rules.
All of this was very lovely, but I didn’t do any running, except for the day we went to a local vineyard with wide open spaces and the opportunity to play chase. I started chasing him casually at first, just so that he was occupied whilst the grown ups did the wine tasting and buying. Then he came up after I’d stopped and said something along the lines of ‘well do something then!’
So the chasing began in earnest, up the mini escarpment to where the vines where – now known as homey. Apparently he couldn’t be caught on homey, so I continued to chase until one panting heap cried ‘enough’. And it wasn’t me – A had given up the ghost, I outran a 6 year old.
On his last day we did our final run around the garden, I think he had successfully overcome his bug fear. We’d found a porcupine spine and that was going back for show and tell at school. We were walking along the vines him picking grapes and then I saw the empty snakeskin (thank goodness). Mmm about a metre in length and too late I couldn’t stop him from seeing it.
Quick thinking was required and I told him that we had eagles in the area, and that maybe the eagle had dropped the snake when flying over. He seemed sure the snake would have died from that height and so we moved on, although he asked me if I could pick it up. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to, but having spent 10 days telling him that the insects wouldn’t bother him if he didn’t bother them, it seemed churlish to refuse to pick up some dead skin. It crumbled in my fingers, but ugh I still shudder when thinking about it.
A slight fib for the purpose of not freaking him out, and then luckily a little later on he found a large feather in the garden – I’m thinking wood pigeon, but to A it was proof positive that an eagle had indeed been flying over the garden. Phew! Another trophy for show and tell.
All of this doesn’t really tell the whole story, but we had a ball of a time, even though clearly I’m not used to entertaining a 6 year old, who was either full on or totally wiped.
Two days off, after their departure and I started my running again. It was hot, 26 degrees and about 7.40am when I finally got out. All was quiet, I pootled along Mill Lane and met an old guy with a walking stick, we exchanged buongiornos and I moved on. Next up Lovers’ Lane where a lot of cleaning up was going on, I am thinking the shooting star shower spectacular had encouraged ‘the love’.
Turning back I got a wave from an unknown person on a moped, and made my way to the Slope of Hope. The cicadas were out in force, the temperature rising and on the day before the big August holiday, very few people to be seen.
Laundry Lane beckoned, past R&P’s house – R you’re fine the garden looked fab! And onto the rest of the run, it was a bit too warm for my liking and I really slowed down. No-one around to witness my shame at taking a breather and a drink. I continued until I hit Argo’s loop – just over 3.5kms run. Not great but okay for a warm up run.
I’m hoping the weather warms down a bit, as I think A could have outrun me on the last section of Laundry Lane and that would never do, as I am enjoying the bliss of tiring out a 6 year old, on just one day. (he was way more successful at tiring me out, on every other day). You have to enjoy the successes when you can.
Time – not saying
Physio – Nope
Jump Rope – still exhausted from A, so no
Best track – Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day
Because I probably need to sleep that long