The Lemon House reopens 14 March 2016 after the winter

In 2015 The Lemon House is open until Saturday 7 November and reopens for guests after the winter on Monday 14 March 2016.

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Kayaking, Orgosolo, Indian cooking

Francesco adjusts Jane's pedals while kajaking
Ada in Orgosolo

We did go kayaking, Liz, Jane, Francesco and I. It was rather cloudy and the conditions were not perfect but we all enjoyed it. Diane took some photos, see left, everyone thought Francesco’s head in Janes’s lap was hilarious. I have seen this so often, I did not get it😳. On Sunday I went with Ada, Francesco and his wife Elisa to Orgosolo, famous for its political murals and history of banditry. Not sure the latter merits its own museum but I did not see it, so what do I know. Still, there were some pretty courtyards (see Ada on the photo right) and some pretty good cheese and wine.

Madhur Jaffrey prawn curry

Still longing for some Indian food. I made a prawn curry yesterday, thanks Madhur Jaffrey, see photo left. Tonight I will try some chestnuts from Ada, they do look wonderful (see right) but I never cooked them before.
Today my baby brother has his 60th birthday. How did that happen? Happy birthday, Ken, and see
you soon…..

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Old friends visiting

Peter asleep on sofa

Another long gap, oh well. August was very hot in Sardinia and we were pretty busy, although it is never our busiest time as it is really too hot for MTB and even walking is hard. The nice part is that Chris and Judith, our dear friends from UK, come to Cala Gonone and Peter can go climbing with someone he really knows well. Judith and I are close now too and I love to hear how her three kids are getting on and what is happening at the school where she is Head teacher.

And then suddenly it was September, and the temperature should be going down but it scarcely has. It is now the middle of the month and it is still 28C. Another close friend, Diane, is here from London, celebrating her retirement from her high-powered IT job. Someone to talk to when Peter falls asleep on the sofa (see photo left).

Cake for Ulrike's birthday
Beach at TAncau

Today is Ulrike’s birthday so I made a cake which went down well at breakfast even though we do not know the words of Happy Birthday in German (photo right). The weather is rather windy and a bit too rough to swim in the sea (photo left at Tancau). But tomorrow should be calmer. Some of our guests will be going kayaking in the morning and I will go too, in the afternoon, with two lovely women Liz and Jane who stayed last week.

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Sad news 😢

Terrible coffee on train
Luigi Salis funeral

A very long gap between blogs… Peter did write a newsletter but still. The reason is that a very dear friend died back at home. My friend Liz succumbed after a two year battle with cancer and, although she had been very ill, everyone had every hope she would now get better but it was not to be. This is one of those times when it is really hard to be living far from home. But I needed to go and Peter found it quite hard to manage all the work in The Lemon House by himself. Although the actual physical work is doable, the psychological effect of being responsible for lots of other people’s hard-earned holidays is not easy.
On the train on the way back here, I drank the worst coffee I ever tasted. One shot of Lavazza and half a litre of water, in Italy this would not be allowed to be called coffee. And then shockingly, we heard that another friend, Luigi Salis, had died of a heart attack. He had been so helpful in arranging cycle races in this area and allowing many of our guests enjoy a piece of the colourful local calendar. A hard act to follow. Our thoughts are with both families.

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Wedding in Scotland

Jenny, Kieran and their parents and grandparents
Anne and best man Liam
Anne and baby Lucas

A few days in the UK makes me miss home for a while these days. A momentous occasion indeed, nephew Kieran got married, something we could not miss. Wonderful weather in Scotland for the wedding, a gorgeous place, all my family together… And I don’t think I have ever seen a happier couple. Just lovely. Left: Jenny and Kieran and their parents and grandparents, right: me with best man Liam. Then a couple of days in London to top it off, great fun to see Diane and Rosemary, Shekhar, Elizabeth and her brand new baby boy Lucas (5 days old in the photo on the left), another special moment.

We have been back a week already and all was calm till I discovered my driving license had expired. Just as well I have my own personal bureaucratic superhero. Peter Paperhead had it all sorted out in no time, I just had to queue up several times to get various receipts and an eyesight check and I now have the piece of paper that allows me to drive till the new license arrives. Whew!

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Mixed feelings and Lotzorai Cortiggias

Advert in Ramblers' magazine Walk
DAV Panorama advert

Our ads to sell The Lemon House have appeared in Germany and the UK so we have had a couple of enquiries. This is very unsettling of course, since although we know we want to go ahead and move onto other things, there is a certain reticence to give up this fascinating period of our lives. We took some photos of the house which we did not think to do before someone asked…

But the victory of the Tories in the UK elections and the speed with which they want to run the referendum on leaving the EU had brought home to us our affinity with the European project and distance from the Little England view. Peter is now applying for Italian citizenship and every day gives me a blow by blow account of some bureaucratic nonsense involved. Lucky me😢.

Lotzorai Cortiggias: Inside an old house
Lotzorai Cortiggias: Pasta, cheese, wine for lunch
Lotzorai Cortiggias: Donkey

All of Lotzorai turned out last weekend for a Cortiggias event, two days of open house with local food and craftwork for sale or display all round the village. Our guests thought it was the best food they had eaten in two months in Italy. For me, the nicest thing was the atmosphere, everyone working together and celebrating their own culture with pride and humility at the same time. Well done, the Lotzoresi! Left: the interior of an old house and the donkey on the ground floor, above, a plate of pasta with cheese and wine.

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New easy routes at Monte Oro, Baunei, east coast Sardinia

Philip and Philippa on Ebano, 6a, Il Pozzo, Monte Oro, E coast Sardinia
Peter climbing Meatfly, Il Piccolo Principe, Monte Oro, Baunei

Peter and friends have now repeated all but one (Butterfly 6b+) of the 11 routes up to 6a / 14 routes up to 6b /18 routes up to 6b+ bolted recently on the NW side of Monto Oro (sectors Uttolo, Il Piccolo Principe, il Pozzo, Rolling Stones, San Pietro, 27 routes altogether) near Baunei on the E coast of Sardinia. We are now recommending them to guests, whose feedback is very positive. Until now at Baunei for grades 5-6a in the shade until about 1400, there were only the 3 routes (2 x 5a, 4b) bolted by Peter & Anne at Monte Scoine. The access to the new Monte Oro sectors is much easier than Monte Scoine (short walk on dirt road, no need to risk hire car!) and the easier routes are better. In the photos: Philip and Philippa from Switzerland enjoying Ebona, 6a, “For us one of the highlights of our vacation on Sardinia was climbing routes not in the guide!”. Right, Peter on Meatfly, worth 6c+ for non-obvious crux section at top after strenuous climbing on holes. On shade almost all day. Great climbing 😊.

See topos.

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Gluten-free foods and the Wife of Pi

Gluten-free foods in Sardinian supermarket
Arum lillies

Last week we had two celiac sufferers and we were happy to confirm that the local restaurants are catering for this, no surprise as there is a very high incidence of the condition amongst the local population. There is a large selection of foods ‘senza glutine” in the supermarkets too (see photo above). I repotted some plants on the balcony but no contest with the beautiful arum lilies given to me by my neighbour Tonina (see photo right). I used them as an excuse to buy a little vase.

Wife of Pi cartoon

Peter spent two days laughing at the cartoon titled Wife of Pi shown on the left. A woman is shown sitting at the doctors with her husband saying ‘He is irrational and he goes on and on’. Ha, I know how she feels. One of Peter’s Sard friends even calls him “Pi”, pronounced “Pee” like his initial. When not giggling, he was stressing about a Google update which penalises websites which are not well-adapted for mobiles. Luckily he found a fix which required hardly any effort but we both wasted a day trying other things out first.

Now the weather has turned a bit cold and there were a few cloudy days. Now it is just very windy but I slipped in a day of kayaking and now I am about to start a new knitting project if I can find something I like…..

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Certified Food Allergen Expert

Allsafe Food Allergen Management Certificate
Sard bread made at home

There are 14 food ingredients which are quite likely to cause a severe reaction if someone has an allergy to them. Peanuts was no surprise but celery ?? Anyway, now I know what they are and have the certificate (see left) to prove it. This is because as of this year, we have a new law which states we have to display any possible food allergens in the food we provide. Who would have thought a carrot cake could be so risky….. Thanks once again to Advanced Food Safety in Wigan for their helpful course.

I have had a thorn in my thumb for 3 weeks. Today I tried to dig it out but it is still there. I should never touch the pot plants without gloves….. I am still on the bread making course and finally made some at home (see photo right). It looks nice but is a bit hard really…. I had a weekend in Rome due to Peter’s teeth, he had to go to the dentist and since there were no guests for the weekend, I went too. It was as glorious as always.

Now the Lemon House is full again with a delightful group of walkers from Scotland and Yorkshire, our accents are growing stronger by the day. The weather is nice now and some of the hardier guests have already been swimming. Any day now I will brave it.

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Cycling, Scerì and oil platform

Cycling with the girls

As predicted, we got really quite busy last week. But just before, there was a quiet day and Ada invited me along on an all-girls cycling trip. I thought she meant just us but when I got to Francesco and Elisa’s house, there were seven others there, age range 60 to just 8. This last was Aurora, a girl from Cardedu who is the kind of person who makes you happy to be alive, just to watch her jumping on and off the bike – she cannot reach the saddle and the ground at the same time! We all made it to the beach at Museddu (see photo left) through the back roads and fields of wild flowers and some of us continued as far as Su Sirbone, a beautiful ride down the coast beside the red rocks of the Marina di Gairo. Not very strenuous for serious bikers but quite enough for the first outing of the year, some parts of my body told me later.

Oil platform being towed from Arbatax

Then the house got full and a couple of days had to be spent cleaning rooms and getting shopping in. But one day in the laundry, I glanced out towards Arbatax just to check the oil platform had not moved. I have been waiting for it to be floated out, it was obviously near completion, and I have always missed them going out before. I shouted for Peter to bring the camera, sure enough it was in the middle of the bay and heading for the headland… (see photo). Another few minutes and I would have missed it, that would have been sad. An amazing thing, bigger than the village it looks, it will be towed to Norway now.

Alexandra and Anne at Scerì

Our second kayak trip had to be shorter than usual as the sea was quite choppy and afterwards we were asked where would be the nearest place to see a nuraghe, the Bronze Age structures that are all over Sardinia. We suggested Scerì which is near Ilbono and I decided, given it was early evening, that I would like to go and see this one again so I went along to show the way (see photo). The nuraghe at Scerì dates from the Middle to Late Bronze Age, so is about 3500 years old, a conical shaped tower but in two parts, a lower chamber leading to a staircase where you can get on top and have a fabulous view of the countryside all around, with the sun just setting, it was a perfect time to be there. The Domus de Janas below the nuraghe is a very special place. These so-called ‘fairy houses’ are actually grave sites and this one is said to be much older than the nuraghe, dating from 3500-2800 B.C. And walking under the weirdly shaped stones, you can feel that this has been a sacred spot for a very long time.

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