Castello di Potentino: Brief Extracts

Here is a brief edited extract of my thoughts from the past week.

Day 1, Friday 28th June

I had no phone and no idea where I was. I was told I was in Castel del Piano but all I could see was a mechanics garage whirring across the road with a sleepy clay tennis court behind me. My only weapon was a phone number which I had managed to scrawl down the night before and after avoiding the inevitable for 15 minutes, I tentatively crossed the road to face the only sign of life. 

An old lady was walking down the crumbling pavement towards me and I decided to approach the situation with a 2 prong approach; Firstly I used my Italian and then secondly reinforced my efforts with my well honed hand gestures which I was fairly adept at. After a few minutes of struggling I had encouraged an unwelcome crowd with 3 of the overall clad workmen peering into the discussion. The crux of the problem was trying to explain that I wanted to use their phone when I had my English phone in my hand. Ten minutes later I had managed to work my way into the owner's office at the back of the garage to call Charlotte and with a broken signal I left the conversation with some assurances that I wasn't completely abandoned.

I found a bench and was awoken by a horn across the road. Charlotte had managed to find the anomaly amongst the locals and we started our journey back into the country. I shared my car seat with a Great Dane called Minerva and a Chocolate Labrador called Cocoa. We slowly pulled up to the castle and I tried to take in all of the surroundings. The sun was coming down over the mountains and the vineyards were lit up with a warm orange glow.


Day 4, Monday 1st July

Uran, the Albanian Italian speaking estate manager, had a cheeky grin on his face as the 6 of us gingerly clambered into the back of the tractor. It was 8.30am and we were starting work. Soon we realised the source of the grin as Uran mercilessly pushed the tractor to its speed limit while cruising down the bumpy terrain to the forest. It was reminiscent of the PSF truck with Andy at the helm. There we would be drifting around dusty outskirts of Pisco as we worked our way to Earth Bags. Fifteen months on it is a similar uncomfortable feeling with the objective changed to avoiding any wandering children to trying to avoid any of the prized vines or olive trees which we were taught to love if everyone is to get along happily.

Day 7, Thursday 4th July

Independence day. We celebrated with 3 Americans who I am working alongside here. It was a classic Potentino dinner which you would start sometime around 7pm and emerge 4 hours later after a hearty meal and plenty of interesting as well as obscure conversation. Knocking American foreign policy can be a favourite dinner topic amongst members of the various dinner parties (usually between 10-15 with a combination of workers and guests) but on this occasion it was outlawed and we had a non ironic or sarcastic chat about hunting Elks in the North of the States. Apparently there is a children section of the rifle stores where you can buy guns that will fit snugly into the arms of a 10 year old. We duly held our tongues.

Day 8, Friday 5th July

Working in the vineyard can be tiring work but also slightly satisfying as you move between the lines pruning and tucking any stray vines into the wires. I have also rediscovered the world of audio books after my last childhood experience of Steven Fry reading Harry Potter. On a similar cliché I have started the Lord of the Rings and Frodo and the boys are just approaching Rivendell. Reading is a big part of my life here and I'm having a brief respite with Michael Lewis' The Big Short before considering any more heavy novels.


The weekend has finally arrived and we escaped a wedding at the castle to head to the coast. A picnic and impending Wimbledon glory surely awaits me and Andy tomorrow...