Second installment

Added on Tuesday 23 Mar 2010

Photo: discussion. As promised the second installment of my new blog. I have to say I have never made a habit of reading other peoples' blogs myself, as they always seem to resemble an Alan Bennett monologue-`I went to the shops the other day and bought two packets of custard creams, but what I really wanted were chocolate digestives', so I am hoping people do find this of interest or at the very least a bit of a laugh!

Recap-November 2007-Let The Build Commence!

The build did indeed commence on the very day we began picking our olives! scaffolding arrived as well as an enormous crane `il gru' which we were not expecting! Although the build started off well, the first word we learnt here was `speriamo' (we hope) quickly followed by the second word `extra' (as in, that will cost extra).

`We hope to be finished by............'.I may as well have just filled in the blanks!

Several months in, the surveyor informed us that permissions were required from the local `comune' (council) in order to let our builders remove the old roof and rebuild a new one. All `extra' paperwork and permissions of course had to be paid for. While we waited for these, all work had to stop as it turned out, for at least a month. David and I decided to keep busy by continuing to landscape the land ourselves using the tools the workmen had left. This included dismantling an old shed made of concrete, corrugated iron and oh yes, asbestos! Not one of David's better ideas!

April Came And Went......


Photo: cat. and I asked the `geometra'(surveyor) when the build was likely to be completed, the reply was hopefully by the end of June. Speriamo! Speriamo!

Amongst all this chaos, a black cat arrived one day on our `apartemento', doorstep, whose home was under a bush! Bit by bit she would stay longer and longer until it was decided that once our house was finished she would come with us. David named her `tiddliamo' an Italian take on `tiddles'. Understandably the Italians don't `get' it.

And by the way, aren't black cats supposed to be lucky?

June Came And Went................

and so did our lorry loads of sterling transferred into euros in order for the renovation to continue.

By this point we had been living in the one room apartemento, for 11 months witnessing our savings evaporate. Finally the stress took its toll with me completely losing `it' whatever `it' was and informed them in Italian `basta e basta' (enough was enough!) along with a couple of Italian expletives (which I will not repeat here!)

Photo: scaffolding. Every Italian will tell you what they think you want to hear regardless of the truth or the reality of the situation. If our surveyor, Leonardo, (the name has been changed to protect the guilty), had only told us in the beginning that the build was going to take a year then we would have been able to plan accordingly........unfortunately, however he didn't, so we were unable to.

After examining and translating into english our contract with the builder, we realized it was a standard contract similarly used in the UK which stated that if the builders' were one day over the scheduled finished date they had to pay us 100 euros for every additional day they were overdue. I reminded Leonardo, our surveyor of this, who just laughed! That was it! I threw down the gauntlet (actually think it was more of a soft white glove) and informed them that it had to be finished by 30th August or else, not really having an idea of what else was going to be!, we were going to move in regardless and had to show absolute conviction that we meant it. While secretly panicking at what we might be moving into.

30th August 2008-Move In Day/D Day!

Made it! The house was ready, (well it had a bathroom at least!). We couldn't sleep as we were so excited; we had already packed days before using our olive crates, and now using one to transport our `acquired' black cat!

We had phoned our removal man based in Scotland several months before to tell him our move in date that we needed our bed etc-yes, yes no problem! came the reply. Quelle surprise (that's all we need-a third language!) he did not arrive and was not going to arrive until mid September.

We had no kitchen; it was on order and wouldn't be installed for another 6 weeks, no couch, no table and last but not least, no bed! NO NOTHING!

We resigned ourselves to the situation, as we always do, and just had to get on with it and sleep on our cold hard terracotta floor.

Photo: meal. The following day we were invited to our neighbours' (Sergio and Gabriella), for dinner to celebrate the beginning of the wild boar hunting season. Sergio's claim to fame is always that he never has to buy meat-he justs hunts it! This is real Italian dining with home made everything from wine, grappa, pasta, dessert and of course the `free' meat. All the men were sitting in their shorts (well I'm hoping it was their shorts) and vests whilst the women were cooking, as equality hasn't quite reached the Umbrian countryside yet. You never quite know what is going to happen at these occasions, not least because they speak the dialect which is a bit more difficult to understand. We were the guests of honour and talking about how our furniture hadn't arrived...when everyone suddenly stopped talking. Sergio told us that we can't sleep on the floor as it is not good for you! or our backs. Sergio, being the head of the local hunting association, ordered everyone to bring us mattresses and chairs. These people do not have a lot of money so this was quite humbling for us.

So as dusk was setting all you could see in the horizon was a 4 car convoy of old fiat pandas and jeeps with mattresses tied to the top! Truly la vita e bella!

............Next month on Campogrande Bed & Breakfast diary

We are bang up-to-date-Its April 2010 with olive tree pruning and how NOT to do it!

Also the worst snow storm this side of the Alps!