Saturday 30 September 2017

Give me credit

I'm going to stop posting that all is calm it just tempts fate. This week Mr FF tried to renew our car insurance but his credit card was declined, I offered him mine and that was declined too. Our cards were due to expire in August while we we'd be in Italy so we contacted Barclaycard before we left, explained the situation and in April we each received new Visa and American Express cards that ran until 2020, great. However when we spoke to Barclaycard after the cards failed they happily explained that they'd ceased their association with American Express, issued new Visa cards in August and stopped all the cards we have with us. Mr FF asked if the existing Visa cards could be reactivated till we came home, no chance, computer says no. Cue several lengthy and expensive phone calls with lots of holding, repeating the same information, passport number etc, spelling out our Italian address to three different people, receiving texts and emails demanding we phone America to progress our request. Eventually after a few days they approved the issue of an emergency card. Meantime I remembered that I had a Marks and Spencer credit card that I hardly use, fished it out and tried a small on line purchase to see if it worked, card declined. I phoned M&S bank, explained our dilemma but they said I should have told them I was abroad, it's in the terms and conditions, who knew. I asked them if I could have the card working but they said they wrote to me in August asking if I wanted to keep the card, that expires in 2018, and since I didn't reply within 14 days they'd stopped it. I explained that we were in Italy for the summer so not receiving post and questioned why they couldn't just let my card run to expiry, they said its in the terms and conditions that I have to keep using my card. I asked if they could reactive it, no but they could send a new one to my home address, I said that wasn't helpful and finished the call before I lost my temper. By now I was furious with frustration and though I hadn't spoken to Barclaycard thinking that just one emergency card would be enough, I decided to call them to ask just why they'd decided to issue new cards within four months and stop the existing ones. We knew that the American Express cards were defunct but didn't understand why the Visa had to be replaced. The lady was lovely, she said she'd try to get the card I have reactivated, I explained my husband had tried that and she'd be wasting our time, hers and mine, but she insisted. I only held a couple of minutes and she came back saying that's your card back functioning until the end of the year. Unbelievable, it's infuriating that one operator tells you no while another solves your problem, just the luck of the draw. Mr FFs emergency card was being couriered out at this stage but he was cross and phoned to ask for his existing card to be reactivated, they said no and when he told them that was wrong they offered to do so until the end of October, you can imagine his response and eventually he got his card live until the end of the year too. What a shambles, we are exhausted with fighting and worrying about booking our journey home without credit cards, goodness knows what would have happened if we'd been in a hotel having to pay for accommodation and meals or travelling from place to place with no means of paying. All Visa had to do was reactivate our cards but they took us down a lengthy expensive and stressful route they means we'll be leaving them and applying for cards with different providers when we get home. It's a pity for that lovely lady who actually helped, she probably gets no recognition for her dedication and is treated the same as the jobs worths who bang on about terms and conditions or just tell you no and don't give a toss about customer service.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Autumn thoughts

My posts of late have been about as frequent as the rain we've received here in Lazio. We had an overnight storm and turned off the irrigation thinking it was redundant for the rest of the year, now we are thinking of turning it on again. There's not a lot to report, time is whizzing by, days are quiet and calm, it's lovely. We are sleeping well now we can actually lie under a light duvet instead of tangling ourselves on top of an unwanted sheet. Of course we've had another water leak up above the house, four leaks in four months must be a record. The latest is fixed and Mr FF had taken it upon himself to clear the track of the pipes down the hillside of undergrowth and self seeded trees as roots were distorting the plastic pipes and cracking them. He's up there now with a brush cutter, he'll come home scratched snd bleeding expecting a heros welcome. A porcupine has been digging in my garden, made a large hole and eaten the tubers of some iris, it's also chewed through the irrigation pipe. The hunting season has started, we hear the shots early morning and late afternoon, some times the pellets shower down onto our terrace and we shout out that they should respect the distance they are supposed to be from property. Mostly round here they are after wild boar but the casual hunters accompanied by dogs wearing bells will shoot anything. I hate them killing the songbirds, but at present if anyone took a shot at that porcupine I wouldn't object. The cats are eating on demand, I tell myself they can put on a bit of weight for winter and I wonder if they'll survive with the automatic feeder. I worry about other cats taking all their food, a large grey male keeps coming round and terrorising the,, we call him the nasty party and chase him away. However we were away for an overnight and Crema and Grigio survived and didn't bear a grudge at being abandoned. I can only be hopeful and tell myself they are healthy and strong, their lives have been happy and stress free, unlike many of the cat population here. Let's not dwell on that, we left them as kittens last year for six months, we've promised next time it won't be so long. We've got weeks left before we think of leaving, plenty of time for more water leaks and garden predators, besides I haven't had any polenta yet.

Friday 8 September 2017


Suddenly we had rain, not as much as we need but everything is freshened. The temperature has dropped by about ten degrees to the manageable mid 20s so we can work and sleep easily. Even the cats have taken on a new lease of life, spending much more time outside instead of finding a dark room and Theo the shy one has been seen chasing the girls up trees and rolling around playfully with them. The water in the pool is a bit cooler now, it doesn't stop Mr FF getting in and since all the neighbours have moved back to Rome leaving is alone in our little road he's not so bothered about wearing his swimming trunks. We are finding the energy to walk down to the village early evening and were thrilled to see that some of the olive trees we thought killed by the fire have started to shoot again from the bottom. Not all of them of course and it will be many years before they become trees again, but it gives is hope. All that heat and they still come back, a bit like us, I am cooking and ironing again, Mr FF continues with his new damp proofing. The garden is happier too, my terrace pots are overflowing with flowers and maybe the lawn will soon be green again. It does feel a bit autumnal in the evenings but I'm still in shorts and t shirts, flip flops too of course and I'm not missing those sweaty days of intense heat at all, this is just right.