Bring on the bubbles………….

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Whoop whoop……………as if we’ve been living in Italy for a year already.  It really only does seem like yesterday that we were packing everything up and readying ourselves for pastures new.  I can’t believe my last blog post therefore was 433 days ago.  That’s truly bonkers.   Time really does fly………….

Meet Bad just the most gorgeous dog - ever

Meet Bad just the most gorgeous dog – ever

The move from the UK was a real feat of heroism as far as I’m concerned by both my husband and the Italian removal guys.  Gord drove a van over twice with the doors/kitchen/wardrobes he’d made – plus he made the same journey another 2 times with both our cars.  2 hours of driving and I’m uttering the words “are we nearly there yet” so I think he secretly enjoyed the peace and quiet doing those journeys on his own………….All our worldly belongings were loaded within 3 hours on the BIG day – the 7.5 tonne truck van was loaded to capacity – probably overloaded as it was sagging over the wheel arches!

Our Buddha

Our Buddha

The final few cms of space went to my Buddha who was  almost left behind – he was waiting patiently on our balcony and was only spotted on the final sweep seconds before the van set off – goodness knows how much he’d have costed if he’d come with us on the plane!!!!

It’s quite a scary experience when you see almost everything you own loaded into a van by strangers, the doors slammed closed and then it disappears into the horizon with the promise of ” a lunedi” see you on Monday (4 days later!)

And 4 days later there they were – or should I say there they were in the distance – the last mile to our house is down a VERY narrow and winding street which the driver expertly navigated backwards with literally mm’s of space either side – I just about manage it in a Fiat 500 going forwards – unbelievable driving skills.

And breathe............

And breathe…………

Some learnt advice though – never offer an Italian removal guy (or any Italian coming to that) a mug of instant coffee – I wish I’d captured the look of disgust on their faces when they drank it – well swilled it around and spat it out again more like……the cafetiere coffee was equally reviled!!!  Needless to say we now have a Nespresso machine 🙂

Box after box after box was unloaded – some into the rented house and some into our one day to be home – the only hitch was the sofa bed which ended up being cranked up by the “crane” and hauled over the roof terrace.  There was no way it was going up those stairs – and then it was still going no further – it finally wedged itself in the terrace doorframe.  The removal guys then proceeded to take the whole thing apart and rebuilt it in situ.  So that was October 2014 – fast forward to 1st July 2015  and we FINALLY MOVED IN to our home – almost 2 years to the day that the renovations started – so just a tad bit later than we’d expected but it really has been a case of piano piano (slowly slowly)…………..completing and finishing things just doesn’t seem to happen here – we had been warned that this was the case but gosh it’s painful sometimes.  I just keep taking deep breaths…………

The view from one of our amazing walks

The view from one of our amazing walks

Life in the rented house was challenging to say the least…………….a bit like living in a cave – limited daylight/a bathroom where even I had challenges standing up in it in places without knocking myself out – though the shower itself used to do that of it’s own accord – i.e. drop on your head for no apparent reason, and if that didn’t finish you off the plastic shower curtain would attack you if you got anywhere close to it which wasn’t difficult in the 1m square shower tray…………

The rental house kitchen

The rental house kitchen

The rental house bathroom

The rental house bathroom

 

The kitchen had a cooker that was from the dark ages (we didn’t dare turn the oven on as I’m sure we’d have blown ourselves up) – and the whole house in winter was like an icebox – it was warmer outside than in…………fortunately winter proper was only 4 weeks long but that saw me going to bed with thermals/dressing gown/electric blanker/2 duvets and a wooly hat………………..on the plus side it was next door to our soon to be home so as we moved things forward we spent less and less time there and more and more time in our proper house – in the latter stages only going to the rented house to sleep and use the bathroom.

Another tight squeeze!

Another tight squeeze!

So now no more going down 39 steps to get to our rented house and up 20 more of them to go to the bathroom (bladder control is now second to none!!) we’re sleeping in our own bed – not in our own bedroom yet but not long now.  3 more months and we’ll be done- the house will be finished – or there or thereabouts.

Rochetta Nervina - where we cycled to this morning

Rochetta Nervina – where we cycled to this morning

So today one year on and what an amazing day we’ve had – out on our bikes and up into the mountains first thing this morning, then celebrating with bubbles and red wine overlooking the sea munching on an amazing fish lunch,  a stroll along the coast with a yummy ice cream – and now about to open a bottle of our locally produced heavenly vino ………..who says dreams don’t come true 🙂

Salute!

Salute!

Posted in Living the Dream, The Renovation | 8 Comments

68 Days to the BIG Day

Our soon to be home

Our soon to be home

68 days to go till we move to Italy.  Sounds like a lot of days to go still but not in comparison to how many days we’ve been waiting for this day and how many days left in which to organise everything – from finalising a tenant for our apartment, booking self drive hire vans, cancelling bank accounts, deciding what to take/sell/give away/throw, and then of course all the things we need to arrange over in Italy such as healthcare, the importation of our cars, residency, ordering of tiles/paint/granite/marble/corian and goodness knows what else.  Lots of items on the to do list that seems to be ever increasing – so much to think about and do – but every item means one step nearer to realising that dream

Repointed walls

Repointed walls

The house is slowly moving forwards – 70% of the external stonework has been cleaned and repointed which together with the majority of the external paint work having been completed too has given the house a whole new lease of life.

Windows :)

Windows :)

Windows, railings, shutters and mosquito nets are now in place, solar panels functioning , electricity working, floors screeded, walls plastered, washing machine plumbed in, telephone line working and much more. There’s only a few things left to be done but it seems to be taking forever to cross the finishing line – all systems are meant to be go next week so keeping everything firmly crossed. Then the house can be handed over and Gord can weave his magic. Next week he’ll be bringing over all the internal and external doors/wardrobes/dressing tables/kitchen units/handrails/balustrades etc that he’s been making in the UK – it’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle one which will come together over the next few months.

Woodburner in situ

Woodburner in situ

By January we should be able to live in the house lock stock and barrel – as in we’ll have a bedroom/bathroom and living area completed, and then this time next year we should be completely done and dusted. To have everything under one roof will be amazing – instead of either in our lock up in the UK/in the apartment in the UK/in our rented Italian house or in our own Italian house. Bliss – it will feel like Christmas opening all those boxes some of which won’t have seen the light of day for 3 years!!!

The birthday girl

The birthday girl

June saw us celebrating Rebeccas 21st in Dolceacqua – and what a fab few days it was too – bike riding/rock pools/beach days/Monaco/chilling in the village and of course plenty of partying and all the trimmings that go with being 21 🙂 The village was invaded by family/uni friends/home friends/friends that live in Italy – the bars and restaurants certainly saw an increase in their takings that week!

Tour de Riviera

Tour de Riviera

 

Spending some time in the rented house in Italy has given me a taster for what life will be like in a few months and how much I have to learn – every day is a reminder of the things I do automatically in the UK but have to really think about when here. So here’s just some of those day to day challenges….

  • Remembering to get into the left hand side of the car when I’m driving instead of ending up in the passenger seat
  • Remembering to drive on the left hand side of the road
  • Anything to do with driving actually – scooters/crazy fast Italian drivers/beeping horns/road signs I don’t understand/parking in tiny places (even with a fiat 500!)
  • Remembering to validate my train ticket before I jump on a train – likewise with the bus
  • Using a washing machine where the instruction book and programmes are in Italian
  • When bumping into someone remembering to apologise in Italian not English
  • Getting wifi to work – I’m currently waiting for the line to be unblocked by Telecom Italia – but I’ll need to work through the set up process in Italian of course once it’s working
  • Just about making any recipe here in Italy – it’s not that I can’t cook – but here EVERYTHING is homemade – so people here take 20 minutes to make something that would take me a couple of hours
  • Working out what colour semi skimmed milk is in the supermarket/what the different names are for the fish/meat/fruit and veg etc
  • How to ask for the right weight of something

And so the list goes on………….each day there’s something new to work out – needless to say I’m a dab hand at pointing/gesturing /nodding and smiling. It’s just as well I don’t take myself seriously!!! So 68 days to go to the BIG Day……………….

Buon Compleano Rebecca

Buon Compleano Rebecca

Posted in The Renovation | 5 Comments

A Kaleidoscope of Colour

 

Italian Style

Italian Style

One of the many reasons I love Italy – it’s such a kaleidoscope of colour and eclectic experiences. How could you not fall in love with a country where a dog carries a handbag – OK I know it’s really it’s owners handbag but what an amazing sight to be greeted with on our first morning back in Italia!

Today is Festa della Liberazione – as it says on the packet – a festival to celebrate Italy’s liberation at the end of WW2.

Remembering

Remembering

And as I’m discovering with everything here in Italy it’s done with such pride and enthusiasm.

The Village Band

The Village Band

Every festa it seems to me has its more serious/meaningful side to commemorate/remember the purpose behind the day and then it’s about eating/drinking and partying with friends and family.

Easter lunch at Carol & Maluccios

Easter lunch at Carol & Meluccios

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m hoping that with all the hills here the excess is getting worked off – what with the 40 stairs to get up to the top of our house and the 250 Penny strides up the hill to get to our house in the first place from the village – I surely must have worked off all the Prosecco at least!

Partying Norwegian Style

Partying Norwegian Style

 

Having been here a week we seem to have done more than our fair share of partying and there’s more to come tomorrow – a small meal with 32 people!!!!!………….

 

 

So to the house – whoop whoop – we’re almost there 🙂 🙂 …………….windows are in/floors are screeded/underfloor heating is done/plastering almost complete and electrics working.

Our Windows

Our Windows

So really only the cleaning and repointing of the stone work and the painting of the outside of the house to be done – and then the builders will be off site.

Some of the team - Claudio, Carlo e Remo

Some of the team – Claudio, Carlo e Remo

Still a few months till we move over lock stock and barrel as it’s a 14 week wait for our doors to be made as Gord’s so busy at work – however in the whole scheme of things not long to go now…………..How long have I been saying that for????  And then when we arrive there’s the painting/tiling/fitting of the kitchen/bathrooms/wardrobes etc etc – complete finish in the summer of 2015.

We now have a car here which feels like a massive step forward– Gord drove it over stuffed to the roof literally with clothes and our bikes.

Safe arrival :)

Safe arrival :)

My driving is “sort of” improving – well at least I thought it was……….I opted to drive down the mountain (not literally) after a BBQ at friends – as you can imagine a mountain road is windy/narrow and has some steep drops.Well I don’t do steep drops so had a tendency to oversteer (so I’m told) toward the bank which I thought was plants and trees – it wasn’t – it was a mountain made up of stone………apparently I missed keying our week old car by mm’s!!

We’re renting the house next door to our house over here – so can come and go whenever we want – well work and holidays permitting of course!!!!  Again this feels like a massive step forwards – though on one level it’s going back in time too – the cooker and shower are something of an experience to say the least!  It feels a bit like camping – the house as with all the houses here has so much potential but has been left as is for years.

Steps that go nowhere!

Steps that go nowhere!

It used to be part of ours years ago – in fact our bedroom is inside this house (obviously you can’t see it) it’s a bit like Jenga a rectangle that is ours inserted and surrounded by Jenga pieces that belong to someone else!!!

 

 

This weekend is also Carugi in Fiore – alleys in flowers – so the whole village decorates its alleyways –truly stunning.  You couldn’t imagine the place being any prettier than it already was!

Dolceacqua in Bloom

Dolceacqua in Bloom

Carugi in Fiore

Carugi in Fiore

 

 

Magnifico

Magnifico

Fino alla prossimo volta……………..until next time!

Posted in Living the Dream | 6 Comments

2014 is the year of THE MOVE

New Years Eve 2013

New Years Eve 2013

Yes – 2014 is THE year we move to Italy – though given the questions that people keep asking, I suspect many people think we’re already there…..”so are you back for long?” “how are you finding it over there?” “I thought you’d moved!”  being some examples of what people are asking!!  Not that I blame anyone for asking those questions after all this move has been on the cards for a very LONG time – to be exact 14 years ago on Valentines Day the vision was created with a move on the cards around the time I was 50 – so given I’ll be 52 in May pretty much to plan (give or take a year or 2!)

Liguria, our beautiful region of Italy has had to face the most horrendous rain over the last few weeks – flooding/landslides/train derailments etc etc.

Our "beach"

Our “beach”

The upside of the terrible conditions has been that it’s tested our house to the extreme and we’re delighted to report that the Velux windows and new roof have remained totally dry – thank goodness.  Mind you I’m not really surprised given our architect and the team we have working on the project – they’re brilliant.  You hear so many horror stories of builds everywhere in the world where there is poor workmanship/incompetence/lack of communication (or worse still no communication)/over inflated costs etc etc.  I would just like things to be moving faster – but then as you all know it still wouldn’t be fast enough! 🙂  So I’m learning to go with the flow and to let go of MY timescales as it will be finished when it’s finished………….soon though I hope 🙂

We’re due over in a couple of weeks and getting very excited to see the progress.

Some "small" pipes!!

Some “small” pipes!!

We keep getting lots of photos of MASSIVE holes where pipes etc are being inserted and then sometime later beautifully plastered walls.  I feel so sorry for Claudio our builder who has built everything only to then knock holes in the walls/floors to then replaster – it must on one level be soul destroying.

One of the "small" stones to come out of the walls

One of the “small” stones to come out of the walls

 

 

 

 

On our last visit over New Year we had some hilarious “conversations” with Claudio and Remo (our electrician) trying to convey what we wanted/the suggestions they had etc.  The power of body language…….so as most of you know 55% of our communication is made up from our body language; 38% through the tone of our voice and 7% by our words.  In this case we were lucky if 1% of my italian made sense……..so given we were all seemingly on the back foot it’s amazing when you can’t speak how powerful body language is – thank goodness!  And the proof was in the pudding – everything done as we wanted – BRILLIANT!

So in terms of where we are with the build – most of the electrics have now been done and also most of the plumbing (underfloor heating next on the list) the stone has been ordered for all the sills and windows will be in situ soon.  Gord has made the kitchen/wardrobes and dressing tables – next on the list are the doors for him though these can’t be done till the windows are in as the exact size of one of the doors is dependant on the precise fitting of the window – there we go………… dependancies again…..hats off to any project managers reading this it really is a juggling act.  It all feels like it’s coming together – hurrah 🙂

Coming together

Coming together

And I’ve been learning all about LED (light emitting dode) lights……….their lifespan and efficiency – yawn!!!!!  When you are doing something from scratch you really have so much to think about – so in terms of lighting we’re having down lighters (i.e. spots) uplighters/chandeliers (I hope –  if there’s enough headroom) low level stair lights/wall lights/bedside lights and even 2 up/down lights for the roof terrace.  Who knew there were so many options and so much to consider.  Our usual approach is to do everything piecemeal – this has been such an eye opener as you have to do LOADS OF DETAIL in one go –  and of course you then have to consider if you want the lights on dimmer or not/sensors or not/joined up circuits or not/locations of light switches and which lights they control/zones or not – sooooo much to think about.  No wonder it all takes time.  We’re so used to walking into the finished article and changing bits or in our case have previously renovated but done things one room at a time over 9 years!

And one final piece of fascinating information for you all – it takes 40 steps to get to the top of our house where the living room is….yes 40!  Imagine how fit Gord and I will both be……and our guests after a few days 🙂  There’s lots of excuses to stop off on the way up as we’re on 4 floors (including the ground) and the view once you get up there over the town is so worth it.

Christmas in Dolceacqua :)

Christmas in Dolceacqua :)

Posted in The Renovation | 3 Comments

Slowly but surely……….

Buon Natale/Happy Christmas

Buon Natale/Happy Christmas

It’s the beginning of December and we’re still not finished.  Not that we were ever meant to be done and dusted by now but I’m SO impatient!!  Slowly but surely we’re moving forward – not at Penny pace but more the Italian snail pace of piano piano i.e. slowly slowly almost stop!  It’s quite ironic really that I spoke with my first ever boss today for the first time in a while – I remember quite clearly one of the comments that he made in my reference when I was leaving – that I was like a bull in a china shop (he’d written it with the best of intentions and did amend it to something more complimentary)  I’ve still got no idea to this day on what basis he founded that comment on!!!!!!

So last month I wrote that the top floor was done and that we were waiting on the plumbing and the electrics – Groundhog Day springs to mind as we’re still waiting on the plumbing and electrics!!  Project management and dependancies spring to mind – the plumbing couldn’t start till the solar panels arrived and these for some unknown reason took forever – however they are now here and installed so all systems GO GO GO.

Solar Panels/Velux Windows installation

Solar Panels/Velux Windows installation

The Velux windows are also now in, the roof tiled and incredibly well insulated, the sub frames for the remaining windows are in situ and more bashing about has been done by Claudio and his team for the plumbing and electrics and the new entrance created into the cantina. So it’s not like nothing has been done just not everything!!!!

Well insulated!!!

Well insulated!!!

And I’m still fumbling around in the dark making decisions on things I don’t really understand.  So take for example the wood burning stove – a no brainer to buy it here in the UK and then get it couriered over to Italy as it’s half the price here.  I knew I wanted something contemporary and curved that not only looked amazing but that did an awesome job of kicking out heat too –  after lots of research I found just the job – then came the curved ball – what type of flue did we want – an internally insulated one or an externally insulated one, or perhaps a pumiced one or a flexible one or a truncated one.  WTF!!!  Never mind the million and one questions regarding the pitch of the roof/distance from a vertical wall/height to roof ridge etc etc.  ARGHHHHH – don’t they know I don’t do detail.  And breathe………….

So woodburning stove and hopefully the right flue have now been ordered along with shower drains, thermostatic controls, taps, wash hand basins, toilets, shower heads etc etc – some of these were a tad bit more interesting to mull over than others but all equally important.  Who knew that when you put waterfall taps into google you’d come up with so many millions of options!!!!

Nativity Scene Italian Style

Nativity Scene Italian Style

And last but not least I’ve ordered my new left hand drive car – yippee.  Gone will be the big corporate car which has been my life for the last I don’t know how many years…BMW’s/Volvos/Audis and Jags – in is my funky Fiat 500 with a black and white checkered side stripe and sunroof.  And what deliberations I’ve had when deciding what to get – the major criteria has been being small enough to manoeuvre around the mad italian drivers/fit into the tiniest parking spaces/not feeling I need to breathe in on the mountain roads and large enough to carry 4 passengers without causing claustrophobic panic attacks!  And then do I go for a sunroof/convertible?  Left to my own devices it would have been a convertible all the way – advice though from everyone living over there is it’s a waste of time and money as it’s too hot for a large proportion of the year and a sunroof will do equally as good a job.  They’d best be right is all I can say 🙂

Christmas/Natale is approaching fast and whilst we’re not there for all the festivities we arrive on Boxing Day – so Christmas in the UK and New Year in Italy – Perfecto 🙂  So here’s to 2014 a VERY exciting year.  Salute 🙂295147_10152046760050417_207906947_n-2

Posted in The Renovation | 6 Comments

The Phoenix Rises

Nov blog 2

The new third floor and roof marked out for plumbing and electrics

I know – it’s such a corny title but it’s true 🙂  Our house has literally risen.  And touch wood everything is going to plan.  The second storey has been demolished and rebuilt, the third and final storey has now been completed with AMAZING views of the hills, the castle and old town (we were hoping at best to see the top of the castle so have been blown away by what we can see) and the roof is now on.

Actually not quite everything is going to plan – our budget has been completely blown to smithereens.  The house build itself is on budget, it’s all the other “stuff” that’s not.  So take the windows for example – it’s not just about buying the windows themselves but the iron railings that go outside, the shutters, the mosquito screens, the self cleaning glass for the windows in the roof etc etc and add into that the fact that most of our windows are the size of double doors – you get the picture………all of which mean extra €€€€€€ by the day.  However it’s very hard (OK I’ll rephrase that, I find it very hard) to economise on quality.  And so we pay the price and bang goes the budget.

It’s somewhat ironical that when I run workshops around project management there are 3 aspects that we focus on to avoid what we call scope creep:- time, quality and cost aka “the eternal triangle”.  The principal behind this is simple – be clear on these 3 aspects before you start the project, stick to your guns and your project is more likely to be delivered on time, to the costs that you planned and to the agreed standard.          Scope Triangle Triple Constraint

When one aspect of the triangle starts to move you impact on the other aspects – so in our case adding in a bit more here and there in terms of quality has increased the cost and put pressure on our suppliers to deliver to the timescales originally set out……C’est la vie!!!  In truth for us it’s about getting it right – well that’s my excuse anyway!!!

Remo our electrician - don't ask!! :)

Remo our electrician – don’t ask!! :)

So we’re ready for the next stage – plumbing and electrics.  It’s quite sad really after all the hard work our builder Claudio has put in he now has to smash it to smithereens.  Well that’s how it seems to me, demolishing parts of the walls etc to allow for the miles of tubing/pipes etc to bring us the water, heat and electrics that we need.  And again this has been very difficult to keep to scope – so an extra socket here, an extra sensor there, hmmm think we might need extra spot lights in that corner and whilst we’re at it lets put some low vaultage lighting up the stairs and in the wardrobes…..yep more €€€€€€€€ spent.  However we’ll be warm and toasty and should we want to be lit up like a Christmas tree!!!  Actually we’ve gone for the long haul –  paying up front with a view to economising in the long run – so solar panels for heating the hot water, a pellet stove in the cantina to fuel the underfloor heating and a beautiful woodburning stove in the living area.  Which combined with an overdose of insulation throughout the house should do the trick.  So when winter hits we can have both underfloor heating and a wood burning stove on the go, when there’s just a chill in the air just the wood burner and for most of the year we’ll need nothing at all – except hot water which will be free 🙂  And yes I was a girl guide – where our motto was “be prepared” – and as I don’t do the cold I think we’re as prepared as we can be!!

Mind you, we’ve just come back from a weekend in Dolceacqua where it’s hard to believe that it’s almost November.  Winter seems like a million miles away.  People are still on the beach, swimming in the sea, walking round in shorts and tshirts.  Lunch and dinner is still al fresco if you want it as of course is the inevitable early evening apperitivi – which in my case on Friday night consisted of 3 super sized goblets of prosecco which went down a treat – 5 hours talking plumbing and electrics has that effect!!!

After a hard days work it's the locals apperitivi time…….

After a hard days work it’s the locals apperitivi time…….

We’re looking forward to seeing what next month brings………………….:)

 

 

 

Posted in The Renovation | 8 Comments

And then there was summer

So summer has ended….well it has here in the UK though from all accounts it’s still holding out in Italy – and what a summer it’s been……one of the highlights being that we sold our family home in something of a whirlwind in July (5 weeks from the offer to the move date) and seem to have spent several weeks both before and after the move being surrounded by packing boxes.  I can still see a rogue few out of the corner of my eye as we’re STILL waiting on some furniture to be delivered but there’s certainly a lot less than there were a couple of months ago.

Our 2014 Home Town

Our 2014 Home Town

Mind you we have 2 (yes 2) storage units full of I don’t know what ready to ship out to Italy once our house is ready to accommodate them 🙂 It’s going to be like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one when it comes to unpacking them.

The hysterics of having no broadband for 6 weeks; no parking space for 2; no curtains; no wardrobes; no cupboards, no bedside tables, no chest of drawers, no desk; no………………………..has faded into a distance memory now as I keep a firm grasp on the important memories of the 5 weeks of summer in Italy.

Summer in Liguria

Summer in Liguria

The highlights:-

  • Long lingering lunches and dinners with family and friends
  • Culinary delights from pizza and pasta to zucchini flowers; goat and beans; spicy clams; rabbit stew; wild boar and lobster tagliatelle
  • Prosecco, mojito, peroni, vino rosso, vino bianco, vino rose, limoncello, grappa……
  • Lazy days and Mondays down on the beach

    Ferragosto Celebrations

    Ferragosto Celebrations

  • Village festas with dancing to crazy music till all hours
  • Waking up to blue skies and sunshine EVERY day
  • Amazing firework displays
  • Apperitivi on the roof terrace/in the bar
  • Evening beach picnics/lunchtime BBQ’s
  • Watching never ending sunsets
  • Planning to do “whatever” the next day

    Moving cement italian style!

    Moving cement italian style!

  • Summer walks without jumpers or cardys
  • Coastal bike rides
  • More culinary delights of gelato; tirimasu; biscotti; panna cotta
  • Passing the time of day with whoever can understand my “italian”
  • Italian aqua aerobics (boy was it hard)
  • Cappucino, café latte, café americano, espresso
  • Ice cold rockpools and water falls
  • Carnivals and festivals
  • Sleeping with the window open EVERY night
  • And so many other things………………….including of course daily visits to our renovation……. which you’ll hear more about in my next post

And so the summer ends – until next year 🙂

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Posted in Living the Dream | 12 Comments

We have lift off……….

We finally have lift off.  It’s been a long time coming but the day has finally arrived and the renovation has ACTUALLY BEGUN!!  The builder said he would be starting at the end of June and he’s only 5 days late (today being the 5th July)………..and that by Italian standards my friends is early!

Bird's eye view from our neighbours house

Bird’s eye view of the scaffolding from our neighbours house

The post is entitled “We have lift off” which is a bit of a nonsense really as in order to go forward parts of the house have to come down first.  We’re over at the end of July so am hoping it’ll be on its way back up again.  The only thing going up over the next few days will be the signs and scaffolding – however………we’re on our way 🙂  And interestingly we’ve hit hurdle number 1 already……..our house is storto (crooked) actually very very/molto molto storto which means that putting up the scaffolding is very complex and probably costly!!

Oops - Just a slight inconvenience to everyone

Oops – Just a slight inconvenience to everyone

On Monday we may have to get an engineer involved as we may need a special certificate (more money) and some specialist iron scaffolding (even more money) to support the structure.  Mind you better that than it collapsing with our builders on it I suppose 🙂  This extra money is already on top of  €361 we paid to the municipal police last week to get permission to put the scaffolding in the carrugi (cobbled streets) for 3 months.  Best they get a wiggle on then as we don’t want to be paying out any more for something as innocuous as scaffolding!!!!

Mind you that was probably hurdle number 2 – hurdle number 1 was getting permission from our neighbours to put the scaffolding in their garden.  Our builder in fairness was ready to start on July 1st but couldn’t get hold of the neighbours to get the necessary permissions from them to start putting the scaffolding up……numerous calls and visits later all sorted – turns out they live in Monaco.  No wonder they weren’t answering the door or phone 🙂

It’s so bizarre as we’ve been waiting for this day for what feels like an eternity and yet I feel slightly on a back foot by all the decisions Alessandro our architect is asking us to make.  And to make NOW!!  So take for example the heating…..it seemed really straightforward a few weeks ago – we wanted underfloor heating – then apparently you need to think about how you heat the floor up when you’re not at home (gas/electricity costs a fortune) so in comes a pellet stove.  Sounds straightforward but I don’t LIKE pellet stoves – I WANT a wood burning stove – these however can only be “fired” up manually – which in turn means waiting to get home for the underfloor heating to heat up (and if it hasn’t been on for a while this can take up to 5 hours!!!!!) Dilemma dilemma…..think we’ve agreed now on a pellet stove in the cantina to operate the underfloor heating and then a wood burning stove up in the living area for extra warmth and aesthetics!!  Plus solar panels for hot water…….and so the list goes on……..

So many decisions to make but all very exciting and long awaited.  A friend said earlier this evening it will be like the Olympics with all the hurdles ahead of us (they’ve been there/seen it and got the T shirt)  My philosophy is bring the hurdles on – the sooner we over come them the sooner we’re on the podium with our gold medals around our heads aka sitting on our roof terrace supping Prosecco and Peroni – perfecto 🙂

So cheers and heres to a speedy completion of our renovation.

WE’RE FINALLY ON OUR WAY……

IMG_7144

The many glasses we’ll be supping soon :)

Posted in The Renovation | 2 Comments

Almost there

So another long weekend in Italy  – and finally our restoration looks set to start – SOON!  The builder has been chosen, prices agreed and contracts are currently being drawn up as I type – hurrah! All being well work should start in June with an estimated  completion time of October…….well at least that’s what Claudio (our builder) has said.  He’s postponed a large job until October so they can focus on getting ours done and out of the way – this will include them working through August  – most unusual for Italians.  A promising start.

Still so many things to agree upon with Alessandro sending us off to visit numerous stores to finalise bathrooms/kitchens/lighting etc etc. We’re still undecided whether we’ll be buying or making some of these things but will need to make a decision soon, and of course part of the decision making process is cost/quality.  It seemed when we arrived that we had sooooo much time to “shop” however we’d forgotten/not taken into account Italian shopping hours ie close around 12 and reopen at around 3!  And closed Saturday afternoons. So given we had fairly lazy starts after nights out with friends our “shopping time was fairly limited to say the least.  Oh well…we’ll just have to return sooner rather than later!

We’ve been through a house renovation before in the UK – Gord did 80 per cent of it – the only thing he didn’t do was the electrics and plumbing – and he did do some of that as our original plumber was worse than hopeless.  However this renovation seems much bigger despite it being a smaller house.  I guess it’s because of the type of work that needs doing/distance/language barrier/different laws etc.  So I’m counting on the fact that the house will look different to some of the images below (though of course when renovating you go several steps back before you go forward……wouldn’t think that’s possible in this case!!!!!!

Daylight coming through a wall!

Daylight coming through a wall!

Leaking Ceiling!

Leaking Ceiling!

Crumbling Ceilings

Crumbling Ceilings

Collapsing Ceilings!

Collapsing Ceilings!

Posted in Getting Ready to Renovate | Leave a comment

Decision Time

So we finally have the quotes in – hurrah.  The rant obviously worked!!!  And interestingly at first glance they don’t seem much different…………… however when you dig a little deeper/question to understand what’s been included/not included – a large gap seems to be appearing, which in many ways makes the final decision easier.  The quotes are both from builders in the village and both are builders that our architect has recommended whose view we trust.  So next step is to understand the differences, explore possible discounts and establish when they can start.

Meanwhile back at the ranch tempers are getting a bit freyed as I still haven’t got a handle on what needs to be done and by when.  Gord is very calm about everything, whilst I’m a touch hysterical as I know there’s a million and one decisions to be made and I’m flitting around from one thing to another unable to focus on one thing for too long as I get side tracked and interested in doing something else.  And breathe………again!!!!

Spreadsheet hell!

Spreadsheet hell!

Time therefore to get some timelines on our master plan together with some very choice colours ie red for decisions that need to be made by the time we go and see our architect….which is in just 2 weeks……..and breathe!!!!!

One of the challenges we’re facing is being hundreds of miles away and in a different country – so popping into a couple of bathroom stores and searching the internet for the best deals all become something of a challenge.

Loving this

Loving this

Does what we want “work” in Italy eg plumbing for your toilet (thankfully we’ve been warned) is totally different.  Can it be delivered?  If we were to transport it ourselves what would the fuel and hire costs be? So many things to think about…………..and breathe!!!!!

As Steven Covey says I’m now going to put first things first and focus on the things that are important and not urgent – so informed decisions can be made without panic/hysteria. Time therefore to put timescales to paper – no matter how tedious and time consuming the process………then reward time with a nice glass/bottle of vino rosso………..perfecto!

Don't mind if I do!

Don’t mind if I do!

 

Posted in Getting Ready to Renovate | 2 Comments