The woodburner is glowing orange, the smell of woodsmoke permeating the air. The cat is on the sofa and the kittens are curled around each other on the chair in front of me. I can hear the gentle patter of rain outside the door as the clouds come down lower over the surrounding hills. The chickens have been fed (four eggs today) and I’m sitting here at the kitchen table with a mug of tea and the rest of the day to play with.
We’re in Abruzzo. A couple of kilometres from the village of Serramonacesca, in the foothills of the mountains that make up the Majella national park, one of the wildest and most inaccessible areas of the Italian Apennine mountains. We’re looking after a tiny campsite for six weeks while the owners are on holiday. A job between jobs if you like. We’re doing some whitewashing of walls and looking after the animals and any campers that turn up. Although at this time of year it’s really very quiet. Lots of time for walking in the mountains.
The mountains here are home to wolves, bears, chamois, deer and wild boar, amongst other creatures. We had already spotted a few deer but yesterday, en route to the local castle we saw three wild boar, snuffling in the undergrowth, for truffles no doubt. They were quick to disappear though. The wolves, chamois and Marsican brown bears have yet to present themselves to us. We’ll be lucky to see any but you never know.
Even without the wildlife these mountains are magical places to go walking, with ancient caves and rock formations, ice-cold crystal clear swimming pools, tiny shepherds huts, and carpets of wild herbs and flowers everywhere. Wild thyme, helichrysum, lavender, gentian, marjoram, sage, jasmine, genepi, cornflower, iris and edelweiss. There are juniper bushes galore and blackberries, rosehips and sloe berries growing together in great tangled masses. It wouldn’t have been so bad being a hermit here in the 13th century, I’m sure.
This is a lovely way to spend a few weeks. I’ve never been into the idea of working your ass off so you can go on a fast-paced see everything holiday, only to then need a holiday once you’re back. This is it for me. A little work and a lot of time to play. Walks in the mountains, swims in ice-cold pools, relaxing on the terrace in the sun with my book and a couple of kittens curled up on my lap, good food from the garden with a glass of local wine, cosy evenings in front of the fire. Yep, this is just what I needed.
Hope you’re having a relaxing autumn too. ’till next time ♥