Amongst the essential collection of frying pans, coffee pots and kitchen knives Graeme insisted on carried with us from Australia was a precious little package of tomato seeds. On arrival a selection of these were nurtured in tiny pots. One of them is a sentimental favourite. The original seeds were taken to Australia by Graeme's Italian teacher's father when he emigrated from Southern Italy in the 1950s. They have become fondly known as Antonella's Father's Tomatoes and it is fitting that they should make this sentimental journey back to their homeland.
Since our arrival the seeds have germinated and grown strong in their little pots, moving from windowsill to doorstep, depending on the weather. Then came the time to plant them out. Trouble is we only have a pocket handkerchief size garden here. The one flower bed that gets any sun is just big enough for a tiny bay tree, a selection of herbs and a few geraniums. As the days passed, increasingly desperate, Graeme would stand out on the path exploring all the unlikely possibilities - hanging bags of earth off the wall, putting pots outside on the road, giving them away to neighbours. He finally planted out three of the seedlings and the remainder sat sadly in their little pots. And then Mariella took us to a party and he met Jean.....
Jean & Aziz are renovating a beautiful old stone house on an olive farm on the slopes of Cortona. Jean is establishing a kitchen garden. Not your average Australian kitchen garden - out the back between the shed and the barbecue - but a formal, dry-stone-walled, Belle worthy, thing of beauty that a humble tomato fancier from Sydney could only dream about. He had found a home for his tomatoes.
Jean's own tomatoes have a head start but she's watering and nurturing the little fellows and he gets to visit them regularly.
A giant cinghiale watches over the garden.
Dermott has been warned not to wander off into the woods because there are real wild boar around and they come down to drink at the stream. Dermott is neither brave nor intelligent and while he has kept away from the woods he has faced a challenge from a totally unexpected quarter.
This is Lamu, a beautiful, gentle, abandoned dog Aziz and Jean have adopted. At their first meeting Dermott decided to assert himself. Lamu flashed her teeth and quickly put him in place. It was an humiliating experience which he really would prefer not to talk about.