Tuesday 28 February 2023

Once again speechless

I won’t go into detail but in our absence we have had some work done in Italy.  We had a price and paid some money up front, never a good idea.  We were told the worker was an honest man.

When the job was finished we received a photograph of some scribble on a scrap of paper saying how much we owed. It was more than we expected but we assumed the additional 120 euro was tax.  We are happy to pay tax for goods and services, transferred the money and asked for an official receipt.    This arrived and showed there was no tax, for some reason the work was exempt.  Of course we queried the extra 120 euro and were told it was the cost of preparing and issuing the receipt. 

Bet you didn’t anticipate that, us neither. 

Saturday 25 February 2023

Stop Looking

You might hope that having downsized over the last eight years and having to contain our worldly goods in a top floor apartment we would be pretty organised by now.  Think again.  I have spent hours searching for a Liberty silk scarf MrFF bought me many years ago.  I knew I’d seen it here in the penthouse but despite checking all the cupboards and drawers several times I just couldn’t find it.  I had another search today, everything out of everywhere yet again.  I did find the leather glove that matches the one I thought was in the hall cupboard but it’s not there so I still have just a single glove.  

After checking unlikely places like the shoe box and many handbags I gave up, I’d even been through my wardrobe in case I put it on a hanger.  Then the old memory kicked in and I remembered I have one those special scarf hangers, like a coat hanger but with holes to loop scarves through.

Yes the Liberty square was there as was a lovely Givency silk one my Mum brought me back from Paris more than 40 years ago.

I am so happy to be reunited with these two items, the search for the glove can wait.

Thursday 16 February 2023

Life’s ups and downs

Amazingly almost 6 months since we made the first of 6 identical applications and 3 site visits later we finally received the document to allow us to connect to the new water supply, we paid it immediately.  This at least means we can make a temporary overground connection when we arrive to serve our needs even if we simply continue as we were filling irrigation tank once a week for household use.  

Meantime the Italians play Chinese whispers, Mario it seems reported to one neighbour that we intended paying 930 euro or whatever it is to take our pipe down the road behind our house.   We had a message from the most troublesome neighbour asking if we wanted to do this, we’d already told her no.   Apparently the work due to start on Tuesday didn't, we are not sure if they are holding off hoping we will cave in and save them 300+ euros each.

In other news the computer wouldn't work at all early in the week, MrFF spent a lot of time trying to fix, unsuccessfully trying to find a PC in our building he could use and visiting the local computer shop.  Yesterday he got it going and worked most of the day restoring stuff, today it’s completely dead again.

I have had some horrible virus, cold like symptoms with the added benefit of a banging headache and nausea.  I had to take to my bed on Tuesday and didn’t eat for 24 hours.   MrFF produced a small slice of pizza and a jacket potato for my dinner, I brought that up straight away.  I am on the mend now and pleased to report I’ve lost 4 lb during my involuntary detox, all the Christmas excess gone and so far I have very little appetite.

I haven’t been outside for 3 days and wondering if a gentle stroll and some fresh air might be in order, maybe I should wear a mask. I’ll leave you with my lovely amarylis definitely a great result. 

Sunday 12 February 2023

We give up

We have given up trying to negotiate with our neighbours, we have opted out of the  communal contract for installing the water pipes in our road.  After been constantly told what we can have, our plans being ignored, we were finally offered a pipe that would cross the road opposite our house but none of the inspection chambers we asked for and no connection to the house just a few meters of exposed pipework left for us to sort it.  We were prepared to pay the cost of this work but were told it was too expensive, I translate that as too difficult.

The final straw was being told that despite reducing the total pipework by more than half the, price would be the same.  We were also told that our existing supply would be disconnected and that work is starting on Tuesday.

So now we have no offer of connection to the new supply from the water authority, no pipework to our house and most probably our existing pipes have been damaged when the new supply was installed - welcome to Italy.  

The neighbours have to split the cost of the work between 3 instead of 4, it’s now 1250 euro each.  It’s defies logic that they can’t work out that they need 25% less pipe and a 25% smaller trench so there should be some adjustment.  The first neighbour in the road who is a few meters from the new meter location is happy to pay for her pipes to travel down the road, connect to the old leaky 40 year old pipes under the road at the chamber and travel back in them to her house parallel to the new pipes.  It’s not just the cost it’s the unnecessary amount of pipework under the road vulnerable to damage as they are not buried deep enough plus the problem of finding any leak under the tarmac.

I am so happy to be free of this nonsense even if we have no outcome, my life is too short to continue Arguing with donkeys.  MrFF has provided a lot of information and evidence to help this project succeed but the neighbours know better.  After sending us various emojis that we didn’t understand, the parting shot from the worst neighbour was that when we install our pipes we must not damage hers and if we do she will claim damages.  Maybe she forgets that her husband broke Giovanni’s pipes last year when repairing one of their leaks.  Giovanni’s water was off for half a day while they made a repair, we can do that if we have to and I can check with Giovanni how much compensation he received, nothing.  She also forgets that it works both ways and they need to take care for our pipes.  

Now we have to wait to see if we can get the documents to connect to the new supply, the Tecnico is coming out again on Thursday.  Please don’t hold your breath this is only our sixth attempt.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Water torture

can hardly bring myself to write any more about the dire water situation in Italy.  We had some hope recently when we heard that Acea were actually starting work.  It took only a few days for them to install the new supply pipe to the top of our road, during which time no one bothered to check the work or that the supply was the correct size, we simply received photographs that told us nothing.

Then Mario reported that he had spoken to the contractors who said they were installing only 3 meter points and of course we discovered the missing one was ours.  By this stage we had applied 5 times for a connection, 5 times our application had been cancelled without notification, we applied again yesterday.  Meantime the neighbours are getting irate as if we are doing this on purpose.  We can do nothing until we receive an estimate for the connection which is also the contract with the necessary document to make a payment.   No one helps us,  we raised a complaint against Acea because they were failing to respond within the time scale of their own service statement, in fact failing to respond at all, a neighbour told us to stop complaining to Acea as if it’s any of her business.

Then we were told the 4 pipes in our road, that will cost us another 1,000 euro on top of the 4,000 already paid last November, would go down to the chamber beyond our property where we could link into the old pipe to run the supply back up under the road to our property.  We have explained the existing pipe cannot be used as it has a leak that we cannot find under the road.  We were told there are no leaks under the road, which is nonsense.  We fixed one leak last year and there are visible repairs we’ve made over the years and patched the asphalt.

MrFF has 3 times sent to the neighbours a scale drawing he prepared of our proposal to bring all the pipes down the road and t off to each property.  Apparently no one has even looked at his drawing though one neighbour said it would be expensive, presumably through some super power.

Then yesterday MrFF received a really abusive email from a neighbour saying it was alright for us as we are retired but she has a job and a family and cannot be doing with our interference.  I am furious that she makes assumptions about our life, she has no idea of our obligations and pressures. She went on to say we can do what we like but the pipes are going in next week and if we connect later we better not damage theirs.  She suggested we jump on a flight and sort things out, presumably she wants us to live in a hotel until we have water.

I am distraught, I feel constantly tense and neither of us is sleeping.  We want to get back to finish work on our terrace, we want to see our cats.  We knew when we paid up for this hair brained project it was a recipe for disaster but we could find no alternative.  I’ve said it before, there is no wonder Italy is full of abandoned houses that the government tries to sell off for a euro, some days I’d happily take a euro for ours just to be free of the stress.  If you are interested you also have to take good care of our cats and put up with some unpleasant neighbours who fortunately are not always in residence.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Sitting in the dark

I mentioned previously that last year we signed up to an energy saving exercise where you turn off as many electrical appliances as possible at a predetermined peak time in return for a credit towards our bill.  The intention is to reduce demand and therefore the possibility of power cuts or the need to restart coal fired power stations.

We took part several times in December, the first ever hour we earned £2.99 credit, the next few attempts about half that and inexplicably lower still when we switched off for 2 hours, which is a long time sitting in the dark.

The scheme stopped over Christmas and recently started again big style with offers of higher rewards plus mention on the tv news and in the press. I read of one lady taking part and expecting to receive £10 credit per event, good luck with that.  I read that only 5% of participants could expect to save that that amount. Our first 2023 switch off oddly during the hours of daylight earned us 21p for an hour.  Wow, thats really going to save the planet.  

We’ve probably earned less than £10 for maybe 6 attempts though nothing shows on our account as credit.  As I said it was more about making a difference by reducing demand but our power saving is a drop in the ocean as we neither use a lot of electricity at peak times nor at any other time, pointless preaching to the converted. I don’t think we’ll continue though the offer of an extra 12p credit if we keep opting in and don’t break our streak is tempting - not. It’s actually quite insulting given the profits the energy companies are making and paying their top executives. I will continue to be frugal with power but I won’t be sitting in the dark  or switching off the fridge, tv, computers etc. I’ve seen the light.