Whether it was because it is currently quiet here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, or whether it was because I needed to expend some energy, or whether it was because I was intrigued, or whether it was because I wanted to help, or whether it was because of the offer of delicious home cooked lunch, I was not sure, however bright and early on Saturday morning I was certainly ready to drive the ten km to good friends’ agriturismo to help them with what turned out to be 170 meters of plastic pipe.
Paul had telephoned, they were out of water, their well pump was not pumping and although he is a man of very many talents, he admitted to requiring help to raise the pump to take it off to the engineers to get repaired – and could think of no better person to call but me! So off I set, only to find that the job was not as simple or well thought out as I had imagined. Somehow we were to pull up a large stainless electric pump, two electric cables, a nylon cord and a chunky black plastic pipe, all 150 + meters down a small hole in the ground. Theoretically the rig up was not dis-similar to the rig-up for oil exploration, a hole in the ground, a rotating wheel above, and lots of space and machinery liberally spread around, however there the similarity stopped. Heath Robinson had visited. The hoist was us – the wheel head, an old duck taped covered wheelbarrow wheel with a piece of steel reinforcing rod as an axle strung between the hydraulic lifts of the ancient orange (is that paint or rust?) Fiat tractor complete with glow plug starting, Paul assured me he did not purloin it from the local agricultural historical museum, and with that we were to heave up all this tube from a tight orifice!! Now I may be an expert at pulling rigid tube out of tight orifices, but never in this manner
Needless to say before darkness and despondency fell we could not manage to extract more than 20 meters of tube and associated paraphernalia, so called it a day and returned heavy hearted to the farmhouse to make calls for the morrow – more hands and more machinery…
Unusually for Umbria Sunday morning was one of those nothing mornings, grey, dull, flat, neither hot nor cold, damp, but not wet, best suited to lazing in bed with mugs of tea and hot buttered toast, however on the promise of an English Breakfast off I toddled, well with a name like Paul how could his family not be English, and his wife is an excellent cook.
I love Italy, and most things Italian, am always surprised when asked when I am next returning home to Scotland and I answer, home? I am home here and have no plans to go back to Scotland, and people are mildly surprised at my response. However there are some things I do occasionally, just occasionally miss, and recently it had been baked beans, that curious product, white beans in a sweet tomato sauce made famous by the Heinz co. Now I was brought up on home cooking, processed food was a no-no when I was a child, a trait by-enlarge I maintain to this day, however for some reason tins of baked beans did find their way into my Mother’s larder, and onto hot buttered toast, of course washed down with said mug, NO it would have been a cup, we did not have mugs, of tea. And, sometimes I crave Baked beans.
Last spring joy of joys I discovered Lidl supermarket stocked own brand baked beans, well not Heinz but nevertheless baked beans and they were only 47cts so nervously unexpectantly I purchased a tin or three, and yes… they were good. But like all good things they came to an end and Lidl no longer stock them.
I have been living in a baked bean desert, so to be offered cooked Sunday breakfast by an Englishwoman was a chance not to be usurped. Bacon (real – her mum brings it from the UK) fried eggs, black pudding, hash browns, English muffins (why we call them English muffins’ I never know as they were made long before America was invented and they started calling cupcakes muffins – now I read muffins have reverted to being called cupcakes, still we call muffins English muffins odd very odd!) and a pool of baked beans. I spotted the bean container in the vast fridge, it is a plastic jar, huge, called a ‘family fridge pack’, almost large enough to exceed hold luggage allowance on Ryanair, again brought over by a loving mother from the UK, how lucky some people are to have such loving thoughtful mothers.
Suitably replete we all headed outdoors, once again to pull on the pipe. More hands, a cute mini digger, the cord tied to the back of a shiny pickup truck, fence dismantled, crow bar substituting for bent reinforcing rod axle, lots of scratching of heads, and finally as the wheelbarrow wheel was seemingly on its last spin we witnessed a long hard pump exit the hole, we had done it!
Today shopping in Gubbio in PAM supermarket I discovered in amongst the canned goods, baked beans – Heinz no less and only €2.50 a tin. Now I know there is inflation, the cost of living and iva/vat rises almost daily in line with politicians and celebrity pay packets however I ask you have you ever heard justification for a tin of baked beans costing €2.50?? That means each bean costs 10 cents (and no I have not counted it is an approximation) aarrgh…
Enough of this folly I know why I am here in Umbria, a great choice I will happily revert to Italian cuisine, light breakfasts and my suppers of divine hand cut pappardelle smothered in finely sliced local black truffles, I do not miss beanz!