The Pig Yard

May 09 - An interesting month because in the UK we have two Bank Holidays and with our week away in Florence and Venice we had far fewer days at work than normal and this was really good. Steve is now into count down mode and has set up a spreadsheet to remind him of how may working days left before he retires. We also spent a lot of time in the garden and the hard work we have put in has started to pay off particularly in how good the vegetable plot is coming along.

The garden has never looked better with the late spring flowers really putting on a great display. It would be too easy for us to take all the credit however the weather has helped with plenty of sunshine followed by plenty of rain.

This shows a clematis Montana that has taken over the west wall of the vegetable plot and grown to the top of a conifer in next door's garden.

In the early part of the month we went to see Rumours of Fleetwood Mac a cover band of Fleetwood Mac. As always Steve was sceptical as to how good they were going to be whereas Jane entered into the spirit of the evening and at one point she started to talk about them as if they were Fleetwood Mac - praise indeed.

The band was excellent with great vocals from the two lead female singers and superb musicians. The whole look and sound were almost identical to that of the real thing.

We went on many cycles together during the month, not as many as Jane would have liked but she made time to get out her own whilst Steve cut the lawn or was otherwise engaged inspecting the inside of his eyelids on the sofa.

We do have some regular routes one of which takes us past a lake in West Hunsbury where there is always a variety of ducks and geese to feed with stale bread. In this photo Jane is watching a dog harassing "her" beloved water fowl whilst the owner looked on. If the dog hadn't come out of the water when it did she was contemplating the notion of giving the owner "a piece of her mind".

The highlight of the month must be our visit to Italy. For the first time ever we allowed a travel agent to organise the whole holiday from beginning to end. The benefits were that we got a two centred holiday - Florence and Venice with all connections arranged and couriers waiting for as at all points of arrival. The down side was the cost but we can afford it and we don't have any intention of dying with money in the bank.

We wanted to set off on an early flight and to do this we had to book to leave on a Sunday so we opted to stay overnight at a hotel close to Gatwick and leave the car there too. This worked very well. We had a pleasant and inexpensive meal in the hotel on the Saturday evening and then up early in the morning to transfer to the airport and catch our flight to Florence. All went very smoothly and at Florence airport we were met by our taxi driver holding up a board with our names on it - we felt special and it was a good start to the holiday.

The cost of living due to the pound/euro exchange rate was very high. We paid 6 euros for a 330cl beer which works out at about £12 per pint.

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