Friday 18 July 2014

Nothing's ever straightforward!

We had a lovely evening with Jeff last night. We took him to the restaurant Da Carla just outside Sorana for dinner. The restaurant is in a beautiful little spot next to a small fishing lake and has a lovely outdoor covered seating area, which was the perfect temperature in the balmy evening air.


We all completely stuffed ourselves - the antipasti course would have been enough for me, but of course there was a main course to come! I had antipasti Toscana (three different cured meats, and a range of different bruschetta-style breads: one topped with tomato, one with mushrooms, one with liver pate and one just with olive oil) to start, while Stuart had antipasti della casa (pretty similar, but with the addition of three small dishes of bean salad, olives and something along the lines of coleslaw), while Jeff opted for prosciutto and melon - in Jeff's case the portion was so generous that it came on two separate plates: a whole plate of prosciutto and a side plate with half, if not three quarters of a melon on it! After that, I had to find room for a quarter of a chicken plus side dishes, while Stuart had baccala (salt cod) and Jeff had lamb. One of the side dishes we had was our first taste of the famous Sorana bean (a white bean grown only in this area that has special protected status - it can only be a Sorana bean if it's grown in Sorana). Very nice they were too. We were full to bursting point by the end of it, although Stuart managed to find room for a coffee, while Jeff and I stuck with the ice cold bottle of limoncello (straight from the freezer).

Frosty bottle of limoncello. (I didn't drink the whole bottle.)

On our return home, I retired to bed just before midnight, while Stuart and Jeff sank a couple more beers and chewed the fat until around 2.30am.

I was surprised, therefore, to hear voices as I was finishing up my exercise at around 7am this morning - I hadn't expected to see the boys for another hour or so and had prepared to creep around quietly so as not to disturb them. Of course, Jeff had a long day's driving ahead of him, so naturally was looking to set off as early as possible. So, after a couple of cups of tea and some final checks that he had all the necessary paperwork with him, we waved Jeff and our little Citroen off into the distance. It was a strangely sad moment watching our little car disappear along the drive and a slightly unsettling feeling to know that we were devoid of motorised transport! Still, we would be getting our new car later today, or so we thought...

Getting ready for the off.

And away they go!

Into the distance. Sniff!

NO car! A sad, and slightly unnerving feeling.

Despite looking and feeling shattered, Stuart headed to the apartment to do some more banging and bashing around, all in the name of constructing the shell of the new kitchen, while I went back to the office for more hours in front of the computer.

At around 12pm the phone rang - it was the guy from the car dealership, asking to speak to Stuart. Our expectation was that he was calling to let us know that the car was ready to collect this afternoon, but I heard Stuart's voice change, and then him saying something along the lines of 'don't worry, it's not your fault...' which I knew couldn't be a good thing!! He put the phone down and announced that our new car will be ready for collection... next Thursday. Brilliant. Apparently the mechanic is taking longer than they had anticipated to check it over.

Of course, with half a kitchen still to go and collect, plus three family members and associated baggage to pick up from the airport on Monday, not having a car until next Thursday is not an option. There was nothing for it but to start looking into car hire prices.

We decided to have some lunch first, to give us time to muster the energy needed to plough on with the car search. Not only have we both been feeling somewhat jaded after a late night last night (although mine wasn't anywhere near as late as Stuart's), but today has also been hot and sticky. Stuart even looked hot and bothered in the apartment and that's the very coolest part of the whole place.

Lunch dispatched, I gave Sue a call to give her the news that we no longer needed a lift to Porcari this afternoon, but that we probably needed a lift to Montecatini Terme in the morning instead!!

To cut a long and dull story short, there followed lots of internet searches, coming up against brick walls and revisions of plans (at one point we were considering getting a train from Pescia to Florence, then a taxi from Florence station to Florence airport to collect a car) until finally I seemed to (half) hit the jackpot and (touch wood) booked a Ford Focus estate for a week, to be collected from Montecatini in the morning. I say, 'touch wood', because I am sitting here just waiting for the phone to ring for them to say 'actually we don't HAVE that car available here...', and I say 'half' hit the jackpot because I unwittingly booked it for 8 days rather than 7, simply because I said we would return it at 10am instead of 9am. I also failed to add a second driver, so we will have to pay for that when we pick it up.

Things have reached a stage here where nothing comes as a surprise any more. NOTHING is ever straightforward, so it's no longer a shock when things don't go according to plan. It's no less frustrating or annoying (especially when it inevitably involves additional unexpected costs or delays), just far less surprising.

After having made the car booking, I returned to my office work to try and crack on with a couple more hours. I did this, but was then rudely interrupted by my computer announcing that there had been a problem and it needed to restart. It eventually told me to reboot:

Ever had that feeling that nothing's going right?!

When it finally revived itself (I was thankful that it came back to life at all, to be honest!), I discovered that the file I had been working on for the last couple of hours had not been saved. Of course it hadn't!! At that point, hot and sticky and well and truly fed up, I decided to throw the towel in, with the rather unappealing thought of having to catch up with some work over the weekend.

Stuart spent the afternoon doing more banging and fixing in the apartment, and while still a long way off completion (we need to buy the rest of the parts before that can happen), the kitchen is beginning to show signs of taking shape.

Clearly things will look much neater and tidier eventually, but it almost looks like a kitchen now!

He also fitted a blind to the kitchen window.

We had a brief stretch of our legs to check the post mid-afternoon (a few letters and LOTS of ants in there today), and while walking along the drive spotted these:

So, at nearly 6.30pm, I think it's time for a glass of wine and a bit of down time - there's a busy weekend ahead!


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