I have been trying – unsuccessfully I might add – to photograph one of the pair of Red Kites who live just behind us in Propriano for some time now, so when I was invited to stay with friends at Casa Altiani in Olmi Cappella where they are in abundance, it seemed a fab opportunity.
Hugh suggested that we try flinging little bits of beef into the air from the terrace so that we could photograph the bird as it swooped to catch it, but after a few glasses of wine, we decided that we were wasting our time and went back to the barbecue. Hugh is the BBQ King and has even been known to cook his Christmas turkey on a Barbie, so I had high expectations. Fortunately I was not disappointed – delicious lamb with a redcurrant jus, and Gill’s special lemon chicken and roasted vegetables flavoured with herbs from the garden. We sat out on the terrace until very late, but still no luck with the blasted Red Kite!
It’s been so hot that even though we were up in the mountains, we were finding it hard to motivate ourselves to get moving. However, all that changed Friday morning just before breakfast. We were quietly enjoying our coffees in the kitchen when some visitors arrived – four donkeys! Apparently, they used to live on the land but kept eating Jan’s flowers, so they have now been evicted, but still come to visit from time to time, to see what’s going on.
I felt quite brave as we were separated by the sturdy iron gates so I stoked one of their noses, but jealousy is obviously rife (or they thought we were going to provide breakfast) as they immediately started jostling for space. I found a little bit of grass to feed them, but one got a bit over-enthusiastic and bit my finger. The big grey one who seems to be the ringleader decided enough was enough, and off they trotted.
Our plan was to walk up to the Col (about 2 hours), have lunch at ‘A Merendella’, the restaurant at the top and then drive back. As with all best laid plans, that quickly went by the wayside. We were still breakfasting at 10am, so as our table was booked for 12:30 and it was another glorious hot sunny day, we decided to take the car as it’s only about 10-15 minutes drive.
We managed to bag a prime spot outside on the terrace – enough shade for those who wanted it, but enough sun to even up my car-sun-tan (one arm only!). It was only once we’d happily settled ourselves that the proprietor mentioned that they’d laid a table for us inside! The inside is just like a ski lodge or proper mountain auberge, and apparently in the winter is it lovely and toasty warm, but fortunately they were very understanding and happily transferred everything outside for us.
Lunch was a simple but delicious affair; salads, crêpes and tarte du jour (which is always onion in case you were wondering), followed by ice cream, apple tart or fiadone which was easily one of the best I’ve tasted. We even saw a huge Red Kite swopping back and forth in the road just below, but by the time we’d all got our cameras out, he had gone…