Riverside Lodge

Riverside Lodge

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Dragon in the Loo

On our last evening in Tuscany James and I went for a short car ride to fetch some groceries we needed for the trip home. We left Jemima and Hippolina with the hotel babysitter. 
As we passed by the wonderful house we had so often seen during our picnics,  a lady wearing a turquoise party dress waved at us, asking us to stop the car. Although she looked ghostly pale, she was stunningly beautiful.

"Buona sera, I am Donna Valentina, and you are the people who wanted to look at the house!" She told us, and it sounded as if she were stating a fact, not asking a question.

"Well, yes!" I said. "We have been on holiday here for two weeks and have had several picnics on the meadow just behind the house. We have admired it every time..."

My joy turned to disbelief when all of a sudden she took a large copper key from a pocket in her dress and said, "I am the owner of this house. I will show you around, and if you like it, you shall be the new owners!" Then she smiled at us and giggled like a child entering a toy store. 

"She's a madwoman!" I thought to myself, and when I looked into James's eyes, I was astonished to realize that he didn't seem to be thinking the same thing at all.

Instead, he nudged me and said, "Isn't this perfect? You've been staring at the house longingly ever since our first picnic. Now we can see it from the inside at last. Let's go!" And we did.

It was a shock to see how cluttered and dirty it was on the inside. The kitchen counters were placed crookedly and there were flowers growing from cracks in the parquet floor.

"The house has been empty for too long! Much too long. I cannot live here, it is haunted you see. I am afraid, but I know, you two are not. Look at you, two young and healthy rabbits, just perfect for this place."

"What do you mean - this place is haunted?" James asked Donna Valentina. He was frowning.
With a grave voice Donna Valentina replied, "There is a dragon in the loo and three ghosts and a devil on the second floor."

"Alright then," James sighed, thinking - as he later told me - that the lady must be a madwoman, "let me have a look at this dragon." And he moved toward the toilet bowl to pick up the lid. 

"Oh no! Not now! The dragon will attack us!" Donna Valentina cried with a look of agony on her face. But James had already lifted the lid.

His irritation with Donna Valentina turned into laughter as he saw what was looking up at him. It was an exceptionally large and very green lizard.

Donna Valentina had turned away and was trembling from head to toe.

"It's a lizard, Donna Valentina!" I said to her. She turned her head slightly and said, "Yes, I told you, dragon!"

"Hello there!" James said to the animal, "looks like you were imprisoned inside a toilet bowl. Sorry about that. I will carry you into the garden now." And he did.

After that, James and I wanted to see the rest of the house, too. We could certainly see the potential this place had. I was just starting to follow James up the ladder to the second floor, when Donna Valentina wailed, "Are you sure you want to go up there? There are three ghosts on the second floor and a crouching red devil! Wait until the morning!"

"I'm sure it'll be alright," I tried to soothe her. "I'm certain my husband can deal with these... ghosts."

She looked at me doubtfully as I started to climb and started to plead, "Take the house keys, Signora Rabbit, and come back in the morning... With strong workers... carrying spades... and axes..."

I pretended not to hear that last part and followed James onto the second floor.

"Oh hello!" James said to the long eared ghostie. The mother rabbit seemed to stare at him defiantly, but he understood. She was only protecting her two little long eared babies.

"It's just a family of white rabbits" said James as I joined him on the second floor. "Oh dear," I said, "they seem even more afraid of us, than Donna Valentina of them!" I joked.

We continued to walk towards the corner of the room where there was a large broken window facing the meadow. There was an enormous green plant growing on the inside of the window and a small animal was huddled between the shelves in the back. 

"James, don't tell me this is the red crouching devil!" 

James chortled, "I believe it is, my darling." And to the squirrel he said, "Hello you! Nice to meet you."

Back downstairs Donna Valentina held out the key to us. 

"So, you have exterminated the ghosties and you buy the house, yes!" Again, it sounded more like a statement than a question.

"We'd be buying a house from a lady that is possibly mad and also hates animals... but I looove the house, James!" I whispered into my husband's ear. James agreed and, in a loud voice he said, "We have decided to buy the house as a holiday home."

"Yippeeeee!" Donna Valentina exclaimed. Then she thrust the key into my paw and ran off into the night. 

"I will send you the paperwork in the mail!" she added and ran as fast as her legs would carry her.

It was the last time we saw her.

"I'm so excited, James! I can't wait to renovate the house on our next trip! It's going to be the most beautiful house ever!"

"I know, Julie, it's going to be amazing," he said, leaning in for a kiss, "a holiday home and five new little friends! Let's go tell the girls!"


Hello everybody,

Have a pleasant Sunday and a wonderful week!

Hugs, Nina


Saturday, 4 August 2018

A Picnic in Tuscany

Hello everybody, it's me, Hippolina! 

I was sent to Riverside from Birgit in order to have a better life. Soon after my arrival, the townspeople decided to let me try out family life with each family for several weeks, so that I can decide with whom I would like to stay in the long run. 
Currently, I am testing out the Periwinkles. They are four very friendly people - James (the father), Julie (the mother), Jemima (the baby girl) and Quackie (the duck).

Believe it or not, but we are on holiday in TUSCANY and currently preparing to go for a picnic.
Julie is running around with a handkerchief in her paw. No, she isn't crying, she is just trying to wipe away her sweat.  

"Is there anything else that needs to go in the suitcase?" she asks. Jemima and I shake our heads.

"Just the photocamera here," answers James, holding it up by its strap.

"Alright, that should fit inside," says Julie. I am a little surprised, because the trunk looked full to me already. 
There is a plate of biscuits in there, Jemima's baby bottle, three bananas, an apple and an orange, the cats' water bowl, their toy mouse and a tin of cat food, a yellow thermos filled with ice tea, the flask James got from Tuomo and which he has filled with apple cider, two matching silver cups, a towel and a bottle of paw sanitizer.

Apparently, it is a Mary Poppins type trunk, because everything fit inside perfectly, believe it or not!!

When all our baggage is tucked away and Jemima and I are strapped safely into our car seats, the journey begins!
Jemima was really nice to me before we went abroad and asked me whether I wanted to take one of her toys along for the trip. I chose Sally, a pink rabbit with a green bow. Now Sally accompanies me everywhere.

Believe it or not, but the Periwinkles' kittens Pip and Molly aren't very keen on driving today and at first they seem really scared and confused and hide underneath the blanket of their basket.

After a while they stick out their noses and look around the car.

And a little while later they act like the most experienced car passengers ever. Molly is cuddling up against me (believe it or not!!) and Pip is doing what he likes best - taking a nap.

We drive and drive and drive a little more. Julie makes a comment about the beautiful italian countryside and the gorgeous Mediterranean cypress trees. Suddenly she cries "stop!", because she has seen the perfect spot for our picnic and so James parks the car.

It's a spectacular place for a picnic, believe it or not. There is a wide green lawn with colourful flowers on it. We place a white blanket on top of the grass and everybody gets to eat and drink something.

It's VERY hot, so Jemima and I have taken off our dresses. I need to rest for a little while... Trying out a new family and being on holiday - especially in another country - is a strenuous business. You never know what great thing is going to happen to you next. Quackie does her sport for the day by jumping on my stomach.

There is an empty house next to where we are having our picnic. It seems to have caught Julie's attention. She is always looking at it while sipping her apple cider.

After a while she gets up and checks out the veranda. Molly and Pip follow her.

James starts to take photos of Jemima and me. We are eating the cookies the Periwinkles got from Siiri and Iivari and they taste like heaven, believe it or not.

James wants to take a picture of Julie on the porch. As he gets up, I give Jemima a big squeeze, just because she's so cute and fuzzy and really nice to be with.

Out of the corner of my eye I can see that James takes a photo of that, too.

Then he takes a photo of the two of us with Julie on the veranda. The cats have joined us also.

A villager comes by and takes a photo of us all. 

I don't mind people taking pictures of me, but I don't think I'll need any copies of these, because I'll never ever, ever forget this wonderful trip with the Periwinkles - believe it or not.


Hello everybody, 

Hope you have a restful Sunday and a very successful next week! 

Hugs, Nina