Tuesday 27 June 2023

My mistake

I recall MrFF saying that once the terrace was finished we would enjoy a couple of weeks of relaxation before returning to the UK.  We must interpret that word differently, I imagined lazy days lounging in the garden but he started strimming the orchard, beginning each morning before 7 am and working till midday.  It has to be done, which if we had a family motto I am sure is the one he would choose, and while I love the area full of wild flowers it looks equally lovely when it’s cleared.

He has made some repairs to the render about the house, particularly where the builders replaced the tile skirtings and touched up the paint.

He also decided to use the tiles left over from the balcony to tidy the area around the pizza oven and bbq, neither of which we have used in 20 years.  In the late afternoons as it cools somewhat he laid a levelling screed over the rough concrete, that has already smartened up the space.  He gave me such an incredulous look when I said he should just paint the screed and forget about the tiles. I am at 74 happy to bodge things and get on with the life I have left.

It was our 53rd wedding anniversary last week, after all those years together we still we each retain our individuality.  Whether I am wise to continue believing what my husband tells me is another matter, he is making a big improvement but time is running out for any relaxation before we leave at the weekend.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Slow service or no service

We were up early this morning and made the half hour drive to the garage to get the broken window fixed.  Giuseppe who helped us last week wasn’t there, the man we spoke to sat us down and asked us to wait.  After a while he came back and said the part due yesterday hadn’t arrived, he would make a phone call to ascertain if it would be delivered this afternoon, he’d be 2 minutes, Italian speak for half an hour.  

We waited 40 minutes during which time the man asked for our car keys but that was just to move our car into a different parking space.  Last week he insisted on driving it into the workshop, I think he just likes driving our car, I saw him sitting in it with the window down chatting to a couple of lady customers.  

Eventually Giuseppe arrived and said the part might arrive later this week or more likely Monday, that will be 11 days since they supposedly ordered it.  I am sure Skoda don’t take that long to deliver spares, I doubt the order has been placed yet. The garage have our phone number but it never occurred to them to cancel our appointment then they made matters worse by keeping us waiting 40 minutes before sending us away.  Now we have to wait, it’s tempting to order the part ourselves and get our local garage to fix the window.  

In other news over a month since we completed and submitted a form to Acea  the water company, appealing against water usage of over 300 euros while we were in the UK and our water was turned off in two places, before and after the meter, we have received an acknowledgement of the form, they have now passed it to the department that will consider it.  Presumably in a few years time.

Friday 16 June 2023

Bastardi laddri (bastard thieves)

Yesterday we had to go out for paint for the outside of the house and decided to combine this with a trip to Ikea on the outskirts of Rome in search of new garden dining chairs.

MrFF had an old can of the paint with our name and a date in March 2003 written on it but no colour code, we took that with us.  The nice man in shop looked at the tin and went off, he returned with a 2003 diary, consulted the appropriate page which had an entry included the name of the decorator who painted the house soon after we bought it.  We were told it would take half an hour to produce more paint so we went off for a fruitless trip to the local builders yard. The new 14 litre can was waiting again with our name on it and again the 2003  date, at least this time there was a computer generated label.  Mr FF put everything in the boot and pulled over the cover that conceals the contents of the boot.

The Ikea visit was a waste of time, there were very few outdoor chairs and none we liked.  We had some lunch, the food was dreadful and I was not allowed to have mashed potato with my veggie meatballs I had to have couscous, that was the rule. When we left Ikea there was some kind of fly past, their equivalent of the red arrows but not quite the same standard.  We stopped briefly for gelato, to take away the taste of the awful food, then headed towards the autostrada and home.  For some reason I glanced into the rear of the car and saw one of the windows, the small quarter light at the drivers side was broken.  I told MrFF who misunderstood and thought I meant the back window, he said it was a trick of the light.  Eventually he understood, we stopped, there was a hole in the window, broken glass on the back seat and the rear seat folded down presumably to check the contents of the boot, two cans of paint and a new brush which were of no interest.

We’d obviously been targeted at Ikea, but not noticed the damage when we left, because of our UK plates and the assumption the boot was full of our luggage.  We went back into Ikea hoping they had cctv but they said the car park did not belong to them however they called security.  A nice young man arrived, I was oddly pleased to see despite being a private security company he was wearing a gun. 

He took our details and checked in the car park where the broken glass confirmed it happened there.  He completed a form but didn’t offer us a copy and told us to report it to the police, which he said we could do when we got home.  We don't plan to bother our local police, they will do nothing.

We set off and the heavens opened. We stopped at the services and attempted to block the hole with one of my supermarket bags for life.  Our car, which we have only had 3 months is a Skoda, no sign of a garage except in Rome but since Skoda are part of VW we went to a garage near where we exit the autostrada.  They couldn’t have been nicer, ordered new glass to be delivered next week, booked us in for the repair, knocked out the remaining broken glass and patched the hole with some plastic. They even vacuumed the broken glass from the back seats and gave our coats a good shake too.

This incident has out a real damper on things.  Our car is a very distinctive colour, its 4 years old but looks smart and more expensive than it was.  We always worry when travelling to and from Italy, we never stop off in cities and always book accommodation that has secure parking.  We never expected this to happen when out shopping, now we will think twice about going anywhere.  Happily today it’s hot, we are at home and it’s so peaceful and quiet.  We are forecast good weather for the at least 10 days.   Time to consider and take stock, some days the world is such an ugly place, many awful things are happening, much worse than our little incident but we must not forget the good things and the good people.  Take care.

Monday 12 June 2023

Start of the week

The terrace is finished, I am still cleaning the tiles with the help of some heavy rain.  The contractor recommended acid but I prefer water and some hard work.  We cannot really use the area for a couple of weeks so the table and chairs, pots of plants and strings of solar lights are all on hold but there is a certain beauty as it is now.  The darker tiles are the new ones, the lighter border those we salvaged, I like the contrast and simple pattern.

The garden is happy with the sun and rain, a few snaps

And a giant peacock moth spotted in the border, about 10 cm wingspan, I hope it’s just drying out.

Thursday 8 June 2023

They never fail

Yet again our Italian neighbours astound us with their, I shouldn’t say what I am thinking so let’s settle for lack of sense.

Many months ago we had the housing made for our new water meters at some expense.  Despite our suggestions it is located at the side of the road in a prominent and vulnerable position.  When we had our connection made, the last of the 4, we received a standard water company steel lockable door to be fitted to the cupboard.   However the opening made by the village contractor was too wide, he came and measured the opening six weeks ago with a view to fitting the door and nothing happened, you’d be a fool to expect it would.

So the cupboard stood proud on the roadside with all our meters and stop taps accessible.  We had heard of someone nearby loosing more then £500 worth of water while they were away despite having turned off the supply, they had no leaks so can only assume someone helped themselves in their absence.  We also heard that a house above us that is rarely used had been broken into and considerable damage caused.  So we really wanted the door fitted to the meter cupboard for both security and to protect the pipes in winter.

We contacted the nasty neighbour who has been ‘running’ this relocation project for a year explaining our concerns and confirming that the Acea door was waiting here in our garage.  She wrote back saying there was never an intention to fit a door, so why did the contractor measure the opening, and that Acea do not supply doors, so what is this oblong of steel we have with Acea written on it.

MrFF repeated that we have a door etc, she said if we want a door we can arrange it ourselves.  Excuse me we have the door.

Anyway after the initial reaction NN must have tried to engage her brain and a few days later wrote on our group page that the original contractor wasn’t able to complete the cupboard but his brother would have a door made by the local blacksmith and would fit it for 200 euro, to be divided by the 4 of us in the road.

Again, on the group page, MrFF wrote saying we have the door, with some adaption it could be fitted to the cupboard for a much smaller price.  NN replied that the original contractor said the door we have isn’t good quality. He never even looked at it let alone measure it and it’s standard issue, there are millions of these doors in Italy.  She also said we needed a new door because we all needed a key, the door we have has only one key.   Unbelievable.

So MrFF unpacked the door, took it up to the cupboard, placed the door in the opening and took some photographs, for the hard of understanding. He explained we only needed a metal side panel welded on and it would be fine.  He offered to organise this and work with the brother who we know and get along with fine.  He also got a little tetchy, though nothing compared to what NN assails us with, he asked her to please read what he had said (it took 3 attempts to get her to understand we had the door here) and that he is a highly qualified engineer.  He is but that means nothing obviously compared to the skills of the guy who built the housing too big, got the pipe entry in the wrong place so the water board simply knocked a new hole in the side and left two of us with connections that leaked, MrFF refitted ours himself.

NN replied at length that she had spoken to the brother who wouldn’t work with MrFF because MrFF doesn't speak Italian well, though the brother always chats to us and has been to our house for coffee in the past.  I think she made that up.  There was then a tirade about NN having run this project really well, that will be why it’s over a year now and still not finished, her mother being a pensioner, us too, all the usual rubbish.  All I can say is it has to
 be cheaper and more sustainable to purchase a small panel of purpose made steel than one 3 times the size, it’s ridiculous.

At the end of this debacle the other neighbour sent a message, on the group, telling MrFF that the door wouldn’t work because it’s too small.  God help us, she works for the ministry of finance.

I am thinking that we will use the door we have here to erect a small memorial to this whole crazy project, to commemorate the limited abilities of those around us, neighbours, water board and comune, and to thank them for giving me enough content to write a book if the frustration of dealing with these people doesn’t kill me first.

Tuesday 6 June 2023

And another happy day

Getting to the stage of restoring the balcony tiles has been stressful with much head shaking and tutting from our appointed contractor and spasmodic periods of work putting down extra screed often halted by heavy rain.  

Now we are on a roll.  Today three workers arrived at 7.30 am, measured a lot, shouted a lot, disagreed with MrFF a lot which is normal here and started laying the tiles.  They’ve worked till mid day and look at the progress.  

The men are having beer and sandwiches in the garden, they deserve that.  I am hoping they will continue working this afternoon if it’s not too hot.  I am also hoping they will finish this week as I am already looking forward to having our table and chairs back on the balcony and the place to ourselves.  Mr perfectionist FF isn’t so happy that they didn’t start in the centre of the terrace and work out or take any notice of his carefully prepared plan, there is a tiny sliver of infill tiles down one edge and it’s the more visible edge.  I am easily pleased and can ignore that.  The darker tiles are the new ones and will form a central oblong, they at least seem to be in the right place.

Grigio has been busy as usual, she just gets on with the job.