Saturday 25 September 2021

I didn’t expect that

As usual our lovely cat Grigio appeared within minutes of us pulling into the drive.  She ran up the road with plenty to say, in good condition and pleased to see us.  Giovanni our neighbour must have heard us arrive too as quickly there was a text to say Enrico was at his house, wrong Enrico was in his way down and despite spending a month at Giovanni’s he is now reinstalled here with Grigio.  They are a delight to have around.

Even after only a month the house was really dirty, very dusty, cobwebs and dead insects, the bathrooms had become fly cemeteries.  I’d left cleaner in the toilets but they were stained with limescale and horrible so there has been a lot of cleaning to do.  We left the penthouse for 13 months yet it only needed dusting after all that time.

However the biggest surprise was the terrace pots.  We’d moved everything to the front of the house under a timed sprinkler.  It was a scene of devastation when we returned,  big pots tipped over, lots plants pulled out by the roots, compost everywhere.  We have no idea what caused such destruction, maybe a gang of porcupines or wild boar.  There are big holes in the adjacent border and also in the lawn at the other side of the house.  I’ve never seen anything like it, I spent half a day replanting and sweeping.

So not the return we expected, however the weather is lovely, temperatures in the high 20s, lots of sunshine and most of garden looks lovely if a little overgrown.  We still have a few tomatoes, a few peppers, lots of grapes and figs.  MrFF has cut the lawns, we are presentable and enjoying al fresco breakfasts and outdoor showers once more.

We have made contact with friends and neighbours, a trip to the market yesterday, we are out to lunch tomorrow, Piero has delivered pecorino and ricotta.  I think after the weekend normal Italian life will be fully restored by which I mean the terrace work will be starting, all the tiles will come up to install a new damp proof course, cue more dust and exhaustion, as I said normal Italian life.  As you can see the terrace is clear of most pots ready for the work to begin although I’m sure it would be a safer place for my plants.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

In Italia

Our journey started well if very early on Sunday. All our paperwork at the ferry was in order, the ship was large, new and practically empty.

Sunday we had a comfy night in the Champagne region of France, in a very small Ibis bedroom where we took turns to stand up.  It was clean, cheap and conveniently on our route, no complaints.

We had a day of delays yesterday, roadworks and confusing detours in France, inexplicable long queues for the San Gotthard tunnel, but we made it to our B and B on Lake Como and our delayed dinner reservation.  Despite completing the locator form required to enter Italy including where and when we planned to cross the border there were no checks at all, none into Switzerland either, no customs checks anywhere.

This is the lovely early morning view from our bedroom window. Just one more day in the car, with no pressing deadline to arrive and another of our epic journeys done.  The church clock is striking 7 am, the sun is coming out.

Saturday 18 September 2021

On the move again

Guess where we are going, correct.  Now we have most of the telecom and IT chaos in the penthouse fixed we are going back to Italy.  Cue a little more madness as MrFF completes the travel paperwork, declarations etc which he did enliven by entering his Italian biometric card as ID for the ferry,  he said he thought he’d take the risk.  I made him phone to give them his passport number, I don’t need the stress.  He must be addicted to the push one to be given the run around lengthy and frustrating phone calls, he’s made so many of them lately.

We leave early in the morning.  Our usual French and Italian stop overs are fully booked, it must be busy on the continent,  so we are trying new places.   I am taking far too many winter essentials with every intention of getting back to Yorkshire in November, I shall keep a very close eye on the travel situation.  

I didn’t do half the things I wanted to whilst we were home, but yesterday was calm and sunny so after a little essential pruning, I cannot stand seeing shrubs covered in dead flowers, we sat out in the communal gardens chatting to neighbours.  It’s sunny again this morning, the view from our balcony is gorgeous, we are relaxed.  I doubt that calm will continue since the extensive terrace work planned in Italy will be right outside the lounge door no doubt filling the house with dust yet again.  

So I’ll enjoy this last Yorkshire day and think about being reunited with our cats on Tuesday evening.  We are told they are just fine, Enrico is being spoilt by neighbours and apparently Grigio has been on the roof but fortunately not all the time we’ve been away.  Thank goodness she’s worked out a way to get down.

Friday 10 September 2021

Our little break in Yorkshire

I spent many months in Italy dreaming of being back in our Yorkshire penthouse.  We have been back three weeks and it's been more of a nightmare.  A few things that we haven't had working 

The internet

The landline that operates the front door intercom and access

The car air conditioning

My sense of humour

MrFF, ever hopeful, has worked tirelessly to try to improve things.  He even opened a special secure email account in Italy, a PEC, in order to obtain an unlock code for the device we use there for internet.  He paid his 12 euro and sent off the request, of course he's heard nothing, I imagine a response will arrive around Christmas, not necessarily the one this year.

Against my wishes, he got our garage to order a replacement part for the car air conditioning from ebay, a second hand part.  It arrived late and didn't work, a week later he paid almost half the car's value for a genuine part which has finally been fitted and does work.  We took the car for a test run today, it was lovely and cool but the engine warning light was back on, that's another problem.  Since we drove over 1000 miles on the way home with this alarm displaying MrFF is quite blase about it.  I on the other hand panic when the light comes on to say we are low on petrol.

However I have had the most wonderful haircut, so short I just need to run my fingers through it and its styled.  We've socialised with friends in the building, I've sat out on our balcony and in the communal gardens knitting, we've had friends for coffee, we've been to friends for tea and cakes and early one evening shared a bottle of prosecco with a lovely neighbour in her pretty ground floor patio garden.

But what could have been a calm and pleasurable 3 weeks of mostly the latter activities has been majorly stressful and its only now that normal service is being partially restored.  I don't know if its the covid effect or old age that makes us both so tetchy when things don't work, maybe its just the complications of modern technology.  Of course MrFF is more anxious than ever to get back to Italy and start the major project of installing a new damp proof course and replacing all the tiles on our large upper terrace.  I cannot even contemplate the drive back to Lazio let alone all that upheaval and then picking the olives, I am not yet restored.