Wednesday 25 May 2016

Tedious times

We are more or less finished with our major works.
Mr F,F back in joiner mode, has constructed the steps out to the balcony and we have asked for a price to clad them in a travertine finish to match our fireplace and to harmonise with the tiles we intend to install outside.  We are also waiting for the plaster to dry so that we can paint the walls.  The worst thing is that the carpet fitter can't come back until next Tuesday, that's another whole week without a place to sit down except at the kitchen table.  It's starting to drag. When I'm not chasing dust round the penthouse or washing the black kitchen floor, I am at something of a loose end with nothing much to do except admire the view,  I am doing that constantly.

Thursday 19 May 2016

Extra Energy, Extra Light and Extra Love

I thought I'd sorted Extra Energy by telling them that I was going to stop paying our direct debit and that they could disconnect a couple of pensioners for all I cared.  That seemed to work and we had confirmation that our monthly payment would be halved to £60 per month, bearing in mind we were already in credit for several hundred pounds.
While we were in Italy we received a revised invoice for the last 18 months, this included two winters and the total power we'd used was about £1,000.  On this basis they decided that despite still being in credit for £700 they would put our direct debit up to £95 per month, assuming that we would use more than twice as much gas and electricity in the coming year.  Yes that would be right.
I phoned them yesterday, once again ready to threaten to stop paying.  After passing me round a few times, at one stage being told that a lot of people there were new and didn't know what they were doing, I spoke to a really helpful and pleasant girl.  She put in place a refund of our credit and based on previous use recalculated our monthly payment and put it down to £71 per month, still probably a bit high but a great improvement.
I was actually a bit shocked to receive good service, finally, we had a confirmation email about the reduced payment almost immediately and should have a refund within 10 days.  As I said to the girl if all that happens it will be perfect, but why or why has it taken so long to get here.  
Meantime the doors and windows are being installed, it's not going quite as smoothly as expected but the newly formed opening was perfect, the guys are really pleasant and efficient and don't at all mind that Mr FF is edgy and keeps checking what they are doing.
Do you want a little look to be going on with, of course you do

My lovely neighbour came round yesterday with these beautiful flowers, so kind and cheering in an upside down penthouse full of dust and debris with plastering and finishing still to do.  I can't seem to stop smiling.

Monday 16 May 2016

Smitten by this kitten

After two weeks of cat fun it was hard to leave this gorgeous boy yesterday to spend our last night in Italy in the hills above Livorno, but since he over wintered and survived six months without us I am confident he can manage another few weeks.  Besides he's still got him Mum who has done a brilliant job of raising such a gem.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Briefly but brilliantly

We arrived in Lazio safely around 10 on Monday evening.  Mario,our neighbour had been to turn the lights on inside and out and thoughtfully lit the wood burner,  a wonderful welcome but though we looked in the dark so sign of the cats.
Yesterday morning we were greeted by Theo our timid black cat in the door step.  Mr FF went off for bread and milk, the lady in the village shop kindly adding a few homemade biscuits in the bag.  While he was away Lisa appeared, voicing her delight at seeing us again,  We pottered in the house and garden, opening up again after 6 months and the cats lay out on the terrace.  After lunch we did say that Marzia was taking the joke bit too far not appearing and I told Lisa if she went to find her baby she could have an extra cat stick.
It was almost 4 when I spotted a little white tail sticking out of the cat apartment, Marzia had come for food.  She ran off when she saw me but I spoke to her and she came back, let me stroke her and was soon purring.  She has grown into the most beautful creature, is in excellent condition, thick pure white fur with a touch of ginger still on her ears and tail, the most amazing ice blue eyes.   The only slight concern is that we now realise she is a boy.
Mario told us the cats spend most of the day up above us with Giovanni and his wife but always come down here for food.  It's wonderful to have them all back, to know they remember us and judging by the number of extra bags of food Mario had to buy when the supply we left ran out, they've eaten very well.
That and the fact the roofers returned to the penthouse yesterday to finish the work is the news you've been waiting for, let's all relax.  We are off to see The Danes later today, perfect.

Sunday 1 May 2016

Trust has gone out of the window

Friday morning around 8 just one of the roofing guys arrived, took some measurements and said he was going for materials, he wouldn't be long.  We never saw him again that day and as usual there was only an answering machine when we phoned the office.  Annoying as Mr FF waited around and could have been doing other things.
Saturday two guys arrived around 9.30, fair enough it was the weekend, they worked until lunchtime and said they'd be back today to finish off because they knew we plan to leave on Monday morning.
This morning we were up early as usual and waited, I said that it was reasonable for them to have a lie in on Sunday but by 10 things were getting tense.  At this stage Mr FF told me that he'd been a bit concerned yesterday when they took some of their tools away saying they needed them for another project.  We had the phone number for one of the workers, message service, same when we tried to phone the boss.  We've waited all day and its nearly 6, no sign of anyone, no phone call, niente, such a smart idea to ignore your 
customers and leave them in the lurch.

Mr FF is currently in the lounge trying to board up the opening to make it weather tight while we are away.  We really didn't want the guys coming into the apartment when we are not here because of  the risk that they could leave us insecure against the weather, though it's probably needs must as there are still tiles to put back and the new roof to waterproof.  
We will have to re-arrange the fitting of the new units as we can't rely on things being ready when we get back.  I don't blame the workers, it seems the management call them away and they spread themselves between so many jobs they do nothing satisfactorily.  Additionally they should have a manned office to deal with customers, not an answering machine that produces no response.
It's all so very very annoying, wasting our time and emotions and sadly typical of the construction industry.  On the bright side our builder who is a separate company has been great, he left his tools when he finished forming the opening for Mr FF to borrow.  He's coming to collect them later today and has offered to help if he can.    
When I first worked in the construction industry, for an architect, my boss insisted that our practice take on any project no matter how small.  As he said the little kitchen extension could be for the chief exec of some huge company that would one day need a new HQ and if we made a good job of the small work we might get the big stuff.  It seemed to work, pity that the roofing company we've engaged doesn't realise that, I don't imagine they'll get back in this building for a long time, especially if I have anything to do with it.
And how fortunate that one of us can turn his hand to this sort of work, which will definitely not be tolerated in Italy, where would we be without Mr FF.