Thursday 3 July 2014

Arrivederci Astra!

I had a restless night last night - just before going to bed I spotted a large and ugly spider sitting at the edge of its home in one of the beams on the landing ceiling. I'd noted its home (a funnelly-type web in the beam) on the first day we arrived here, but had been unable to evacuate it with the vacuum cleaner (despite several attempts) - last night was the first time I'd seen it come out. As a consequence, I spent the entire night tossing and turning fitfully, convinced said beastie would be sitting on my pillow staring at me. My cause wasn't helped by the fact that it was baking hot in our room again - the window had to remain closed thanks to the ant army that hadn't yet quite got the message - so every time I freaked out about the creepy crawlies getting to me and hid under the covers, I then overheated, so threw the covers off again, then freaked out and hid under the covers again, then overheated again... and so on, with this pattern repeating until it was time to get up. I felt wrecked when I finally got up to go and feed the cats and head outside with my kettlebells. I was certain that all my tossing and turning would have disturbed Stuart's night's sleep as well, so was determined to leave him to sleep in as long as possible.

When I came in from my exercise, I thus went straight to the office to boot up the computer instead of hitting the shower and disturbing my slumbering husband by rummaging around in the wardrobe for clean clothes. However, I didn't have to wait long before I heard footsteps above, as he surfaced at around 8.30am.

After a shower and breakfast, I returned to the office and Stuart announced that his plan for the day was to attempt to finish strimming the drive - to get it all out of the way so that he could have a well earned break from strimming tomorrow. He still seemed very tired (although said that he'd slept relatively well - my fitfulness clearly hadn't been as disturbing as I'd feared), but I sensed in a slightly better frame of mind.

So off Stuart headed for the driveway. During the course of the morning, the phone rang no fewer than four times. The first time it was a lady speaking Italian, and I couldn't manage to understand what she was calling for - other than the fact that she read out what I thought was one of our mobile numbers twice (it turned out to be Stuart's). After a frustrating couple of minutes she told me not to worry and hung up. I felt small and useless.

And then the phone rang again. This time it was an Italian man, speaking in English and asking for Stuart. I asked him to wait while I went to get him - I tried calling Stuart on the walkie talkie, but of course with the strimmer on he couldn't hear it. I ran up the drive to find him, but it was sod's law that at that particular point in time he had reached the very furthest part of the drive and was strimming outside the gates. (And I thought I'd done my morning's exercise!). Of course, by the time Stuart had walked back down the drive, the man had hung up. Once again, I felt useless. I could have asked him to call back in 5 minutes while I went to get Stuart, but I hadn't thought of that.

Next, the phone rang and it was an Indian-sounding guy who spoke initially in Italian, but then switched to English. Turned out he was from a holiday letting agency that the previous owners had run an ad with and wanted to talk about renewal of the ad. Even in English it took me several attempts to get across the fact that the person he wanted to speak to no longer lived here and that we were the new owners of the house. He even had to ring off and then call back again so that he could take our email address down properly (took about 3 attempts to spell it out) to send us the details of what he was calling about.

After all of that I felt rather fed up with constantly feeling so useless and ignorant. Thankfully, by this time it was lunch time and Stuart was heading back down the drive to the house.

We ate lunch on the patio and noted that our army of ants, while smaller in number than the first time we noticed them, was still going pretty strong.

After lunch it was back to the office for me and back to the driveway for Stuart. He has really slogged it out over the past couple of days, and the results are very impressive.

At around 4.30pm, the phone rang again - this time, though, it was the friendly voice of Sue, who we'd meet a couple of weeks ago, on the other end. I felt an immense sense of relief! Sue was calling partly to have a chat, partly to arrange for us to go round to theirs for a glass of wine next week, but also to say that they had found someone willing to take away the Astra for us, and they could be here within an hour or so!! The sting was that it would cost €250, but given that we were expecting to have to buy a new battery for the thing in order to move it, and had no reason to assume that the other people wouldn't also want paying (or indeed would even take it), we decided that it was worth getting it out of our hair once and for all. I'd asked Sue to give me 5 minutes to go and find Stuart and check with him, so when she called back, I gave her the go-ahead.

We then had a very nice chat about how things were going, and I felt reassured that the difficulties we've experienced and are experiencing are not unique to us. Sue had some helpful advice about the residency documents and reassured me that finding the language difficult to master was quite normal! Chris and Sue seem like really nice people, with a similar outlook on things to us, so I'm looking forward to having the chance to chat at length with them when we see them next week.

All of this brought me roughly to the end of my office-working day, so I got changed and took the hedge trimmers to the lower tier below the lawn. The aim was to attempt to neaten up the brambles and bracken that pops up all over the place at the edge of the guest patio/lawn - but they are proving incredibly hard to reach since there is a drop (to the tier below) from the patio/lawn level, and from tier level, the bank is steep and incredibly soft - so if you attempt to stand on it to cut above you, you simply slide back down (not a good idea when holding a power tool in your hands).

I eventually got to a point where I started making a little progress, and was almost getting excited about the fact that I was going to have made a visible difference... when the starter cord of the trimmers got stuck, meaning that the thing simply can't be started. Ever again. (Stuart feels that with a relatively bottom-of-the-range tool like that - which still cost close to €200! - no one will be interested in repairing it). Arghhhh!

It was around this point that we heard the sound of engines and car doors - and Chris arrived, along with the truck to take the Astra away!

Stuart dealt with things - it was necessary to have a fiscal code and identity card, so Chris had kindly offered to supply his for the 'deal'. We needed to make a photocopy of these for the man, and according to Stuart, things almost all fell apart when he took a look at the log book and then queried whose car it was. Chris said it was his, but the man (no flies on him) noted that it wasn't Chris's name in the log book. Chris explained it had belonged to a lady who had left and gone back to England, and who definitely wasn't coming back for it. THANKFULLY, the guy (reluctantly) agreed to take it.

It's going! It's going!!

And we went from this:

To this:

Oh, the beauty of a clapped-out-car-free space.

One small victory! And one important thing ticked off our never-ending to-do list.

We went from one headache being sorted to opening a pile more, in the form of a vast selection of bills that arrived in today's post. There were three envelopes from the electricity firm (two addressed to the previous owners, one addressed to me), one from Telecom Italia (addressed to the previous owners), one from RAI (addressed to the previous owners), and one from the water company (addressed to the previous owners). All of them bar the letter from the water company contained bills of one sort or another, all of which we think will need paying (even though some of them cover time when we didn't live here). Certainly what we do need to do is to sit down with each of them and translate them - another time-consuming but important task!

Finally before we came inside to start dinner, we decided to have another 'go' at the ant army. Stuart got his plastering platform out, and perched the ladders on top of it, with me standing on the bottom of the ladders. He then scaled the ladder armed with ant powder in one pocket and insecticide spray in the other in an attempt to reach what appears to be the sources/destination for the ants in the top corner of the outside of our bedroom window. Fingers crossed that will do the trick, as I'm not sure how many more nights of keeping the window closed (and vacuuming up ants on the windowsill twice a day) we can face!

We're both grateful that it's Friday tomorrow - this has been a long week for both of us, for different reasons, and we're looking forward to easing off the pace just a little (although with less than 3 weeks until our first guests arrive, we know we can't afford to take it too easy!).

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