Tuesday, 19 July 2011
This post is in memory of an old gentleman friend of mine called Gabriel Guerririo. As you can guess from his name, he was from Italy, but became a p.o.w. working on a farm in this village and never returned to his homeland.
He kept an immaculate garden; his wife Camilla tended the front flower garden and he grew his vegetables around the back. There were two ramshackle greenhouses; one for tomatoes and one for his grapevine. He had two sheds; one for his tools (beautifully neat) and one for his wine press and huge flagons of fermenting wine.
Gabe's garden was his pride and joy and weeds didn't dare set foot in it or they were whisked away quicker than you can say 'jumping jack flash'. There was a big artichoke patch and rows of pristine vegetables - then there was his grapevine. Festooned in summer with hundreds of bunches of grapes, carefully tended, and destined to be made into a rather viscious tasting wine.
One day he proudly presented me with some prunings of the vine and instructions of how to plant and care for it.
Most years I hack it right back as it threatens to take over; but, last winter I never got round to it, and now have six beautiful little bunches. There may not be many - but it's a start.
After his wife died he lost all interest in his garden and it became a wilderness. I helped him out occasionally but it wasn't the same. The grapevine became a tangled mess and he stopped making his awful wine.
He died a few years ago now, but his memory lingers on with my little grapevine.
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