Learning to Live

I thought I’d share a little selection of our current reading matter with you – those of you who know us know that whenever there’s something to be done, we like to research everything possible so that we can do the job ourselves … and with a whole house to restore, in another language, we’ve got a lot of bedtime reading to do!

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Well it’s already looking like Spring here with tiny wildflowers appearing in the grass, primulas peeking through the dead leaves covering the ground of the woodland and blossom covering the almond trees. The Winter has been ‘brutto’ which, this year, means there’s not been a prolonged cold snap and we’ve only had a couple of days of heavy rain. Whereas last year, we had a ‘brutto’ Winter because there was a lot of heavy rain and quite a lot of flooding – basically the Italians moan about the weather just as much as the English!

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I’ve already mentioned that we were lucky enough to have been left some tools by the lady who sold us the house and, although they’re all pretty old, and we’ve had to ‘retire’ a couple of pieces due to some over-zealous digging on our part, they’ve been really useful. We’ve managed to do all our work so far – re-levelling the whole of the driveway, digging out the steps to our new compost area and building our rustic fence for re-supporting the grape vines along the front of the house, and all we’ve had to buy to top up our ‘attrezzi’ is a rake and some branch ‘loppers’! But that is all about to change as Marcus has made his first trip back to the UK in a van we’ve hired, to collect some of our belongings from our storage container.

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Where liquids and test results are concerned, we’re not having much luck! Our wine has turned out to be less of a Bonarda and more of a ‘Bonar-don’t’ and we’ve finally got the results back on our water sample from our well. A two page document in Italian listing the various tests carried out, and alongside these, the result of each test and a column detailing the maximum permitted amount of each element. All was looking good until we got to the bottom of page one and we noticed that our result figure was a lot larger than the permitted figure … and the word ‘batteri’ (bacteria) in the test name … oh!

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We’ve managed to pick the hottest day of the year so far (who’d have thought that it would be t-shirt weather on 4th February?) to test our ‘stufe’ (cast iron stoves) but we hauled them both outside into the sunshine, cleaned them up of all existing debris and piled up our little selection of firewood (handily found in our newly reorganised ‘fienile’) to get a small fire lit in each one. After watching the smoke billow from the newly cleaned seams on each stove (and which probably wasn’t helped by our choice of wood which may have been a bit on the ‘green’ side – good job there were no neighbours passing to point that out …) they both settled down to a nice steady burn, giving off a good amount of heat. And when it came to coffee time, we set our kettle on the little stove top to boil, before sitting in the shade to take a break with a drink.

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We have news on the twelve bottles of unknown vintage in our ‘cantina’ … unfortunately the verdict isn’t good … they’re undrinkable! Bruno, our next door neighbour, likes a drop of the red stuff so we took a dusty bottle up to him to taste. Not a good sign when the cork breaks three times when trying to remove it but he poured himself a small glass and tried it … his face said it all. However he said not to throw it away but to pour all the other bottles into a large demi-john and leave to turn into vinegar which we can then use on our summer salads.

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