Le Marche is enjoying the hottest June in over 200 years. What is it with the weather this year?
Pete and I have been choosing bathroom fittings this week. Three long, hot sessions of three hours each choosing loos and taps! What is wrong with us! Our saleslady, now friend and confidant, is patient and knowledgable. She flicks through the glossy brochures with the hermetic zeal of an ancient archivist. This is a family run business. Her brother sits at a desk at the far end of the shop, seemingly busy, staring at his computer screen. Every now and then she shouts across to ask further about some product. Every now and then he shouts over, unprompted, with further information about yet another product.
There is no one else in the shop, though the telephone rings often and she breaks from us to have a detailed discussion and archive ruffle for some other demanding customer. At one point she takes a break to collect her two year old from nursery, at another to lead us through back-room labyrinths to look at some product that is actually in stock - this is rare. Other frequent breaks to shoo away her ten year old who, with precious entrepreneurial skill is trying to sell us his own home made lemonade at 50 centesimi a plastic beakerful.
During one session another customer walks in, sits behind us. After an hour or so Pete turns to her to apologise for keeping her waiting. "No problem" she replies genially, "I've spent weeks choosing a tap for my kitchen sink and I'm no closer." If she'd told us that last week we wouldn't have believed her.
By 7pm Friday evening we are satisfied (as far as one can be) that we've chosen almost everything to fit out two bathrooms, but we have been known to change our minds. We make an appointment to come back next Tuesday.
Outside, entrepreneurial son has set up a lemonade stall in the car park. There isn't another soul about. I feel for the lad and stop to buy, "One lemonade please, but 50 cents is too much, I think".
"A deal!" I can't decide whether the boy's not such an shark after all, or whether I should have bargained harder. The tepid water with a squeeze of lemon and a sachet of sugar with the local bar's logo on it tasted quite good really - I tell him so. His smile is inscrutable.
I am writing this as Italy is playing England in the quarter finals of the World Cup. When you read this you will know the result. Pete has gone for a boys' night at Paolo's agriturismo to watch the game on a big-screen TV. He'll be the sole Brit there. I felt a bit like Sir Walter Raleigh (playing ... bowls was it?), when the approaching Armada was sighted. Goodness me, look what happened when England won on that occasion, but that was Spain, wasn't it?
In the garden here, one lone flower on the prickly pear has bloomed. It blooms for one day and then it dies. But what a day!