Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Small world II

Monday 29th April

Sat in the airport at Treviso we reflect on a hard week of shearing and the new friends we have made and the places we have seen. Time for "due grande birra, per favore", 7.40 euros and we didn't get a full glass, the most we have spent all week. Getting on the plane, Jon spots a couple of seats and checks that no-one is setting there, the chap says no and we sit down. As we take off, we notice the chap doodling on a pad, Jon said " I wonder what he is doodling?" "Probably a sculpture he is working on, there is normally something part finished in his front garden." Jon is now looking bewildered, "Is this a leg-pull?" . No we have sat next to someone whose shopping I deliver in Bristol. A pleasant flight back soon passes and we are collected by Chris, and it's home by midnight.

It's raining !

Monday 29th April

It's a good start, breakfast and a look outside, it's not raining. It was raining for the last hour of the journey and quite misty, now in daylight without the rain, the scenery was stunning. The grass is very long and green and the mountain range behind us with the snow capped peeks, we have nothing like this at home, the grass or the views! We are led down to where the alpacas are being kept, in a "poly tunnel" like structure, slightly damp but not wet. Then we are shown the shearing shed, a part finished structure that will be home for the alpacas and a fruit and veg business when complete, we will have to bring the alpacas about 100 metres through a building site and are told that only some of them are halter trained. We set up and clear a holding area for the alpacas, then it's off to fetch the first group of females and crias. It's now raining, we get halters on everybody and start to make our way back to the shearing area, then the two males break out and are running the fence line getting wet. The first job is to get the girls under cover and shear them, Claudio and Annalisa are left to put the males away. Shearing in front of an audience is sometimes a bit of a trial, here we have builders, family, friends, someone with a camera, and the local vet. First alpaca sheared, vet steps in to show how to inject and drench, Jon has trimmed toenails and she is released. After a couple the vet leaves and Claudio takes over, the girls and cria are all sheared and taken back. Now for the soggy boys, they not very wet, but I suggested that the fleece is taken out of the bags to dry before storing. All completed, 99 sheared in 8 days, 9 locations and 1200km travelled.
    Back to the chalet, shower and over to Claudio's home to meet their children, have some tiramisu and talk alpacas. After a lovely meal we are taken to the airport for the flight back to Bristol. The scenery is magnificent, tall mountains all around with snow on the peaks and tunnels that go for miles through them.
Arrivederci Italia - rivedervi il prossimo anno.

Slow train to Belluno

Sunday 28th April

Sunday starts with a leisurely breakfast and a look at the train times for the journey to Belluno, there is a normal service from a local station to Bologna then a high speed service to Belluno. Total time 4 hours, great, but there are no seats available! we have chosen to travel on a holiday weekend along with half the population of Italy. Martin takes us to Viareggio and organises the tickets, two changes and about 6 hours. We have a quick look around the harbour at Viareggio, packed with "super yatchs" and return to say our goodbyes and put the cases in the car for the drive to Prato Centralle, the start of the train journey. Prato to Bologna change to the Padova train, which is a double deck train rattling along at 150kmh and standing room only. Then at Padova we board the train to Bolluna, this is a 2 hour journey stopping at every town on the way. We also encounter a delay of about 35 mins meaning a start time of 14.30 and a finish time of 21.00, it's nice to see a couple of smiling Italians waiting for us in the rain at the station, Annalisa and Zara recognise us immediately. How ? we are the only ones wearing T-shirts and shorts, all the Italians are in coats and fleeces! We are soon sat down for pizza and beer or pizza and birra as the locals say. Off to bed in our own chalet, it's dark and raining lets hope the alpacas are under cover.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Rainy saturday

Saturday 27th April

Only the girls left to shear and it's raining, so we have to get them under cover close to where we are shearing. We put them under shelter about 8 meters away from the shearing station, this means a longer walk to fetch each one and additional time. Giusy, Martin's partner, is promoted to shearer's assistant's assistant and is helping with the ropes and collecting fleece. Lunch break is taken, pasta, and we complete the girls late in the afternoon. Now the rain is coming down quite steadily and all the alpacas seem to be enjoying the rain on their backs. Shower, supper and sleep, Ready for the journey tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Small world

Friday 26th April

The school run in the Todd household is much the same as most in the UK, except today there are two english shearers getting a lift and we have to stop for pizza for the girls lunch. Having collected said pizza we are delivered to the drop off point and Hillary whisks us away to the next location. Here we have 4 alpacas to shear with Fiona, a new owner who has only had alpacas for a couple of months. We were shown to the garden where the alpacas were kept and chose two trees to tie them between, set up the kit and we were ready. Shearing goes well and we are soon sitting down for lunch. Martin., our next lift,client and host joins us for lunch. During lunch we discover he came from Sherbourne close to Yeovil where I came from, at the point he said his grandfather started a garage and told me the name, my jaw dropped. My father worked in this garage as a young man and would have worked with Martin's father!
We travel a couple of hours to Martin's where 7 move customers await haircuts. Boys sheared, females put undercover out of the rain, a quick shower and we are off to Viareggio for pizza for supper.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Superglue used

Thursday 25th April

Chrissie delivered us to our next lift, Hilarys husband John, who drove us to the next shearing location in Umbertade. Equipment playing up, but rescue is at hand when we borrow some shears from a local sheep farmer, even had the correct plug on it. I am shearing the fifth alpaca when I'm told he is an Italian champion, then whoops his elbow goes between the comb and we have a white alpaca with a red stripe down his leg. Jon is on hand with the superglue to sort the problem.
Boys (10) completed and we're off into the hills for the girls, lunch on the way is pizza and I'm asked to drive because we need an extra car to tie the ropes to. It's like the final scene from the original "Italian Job" as we go along this winding road into the mountains with drops on both sides.Girls all sheared (17) and its back down the mountain, shower and tea with Hillary and John. We get a lift back to Casa San Gabriel from David and it's straight to bed.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Third day compleated

Wednesday 25th April

Toast for breakfast, and we off shearing again. The alpacas are fetched from their houses and brought to the underground garage, where we are waiting shears in hand. Just thinking to myself that the equipment is going well, when disaster strikes and  a nasty noise from the shears means I have stripped a cog and the shears aren't working. Oh well backup set in use and we have completed another eight. Lunch of lasagne and  our next lift takes us to Casa San Gabriel. Chrissie has been our driver and she and her husband, David, will be our hosts for the next couple of days. When we arrive it's straight to work,  4 more alpacas sheared and no superglue used. It must be a record, it can't go on! Supper and a few beers and  it's off to bed in our own little house.