Today started out straightforward enough: I got up to do some exercise, Stuart also got up early, so that he would be ready to be picked up by David at 7.45am in order to go and do some strimming work on some land in Sorana.
I showered, had breakfast and settled down to check emails at my computer. When I got up from my desk to take my cereal bowl through to the kitchen, it was with horror that I realised that Reggie was playing with (chewing) a packet of sterilising tablets. Yes, the ones that say "do not ingest", "keep away from children", "harmful if swallowed", and so on. I snatched the packet from under his paws and stuck my fingers into his mouth to make sure he didn't have anything in there. I was relieved to find that he hadn't (YET) penetrated the foil packaging, although it seemed that he had been making serious inroads! The bewildered look on his face said "Arghh, why did you take that away? I was just getting to the good bit!", but I stood my ground and placed the packet of tablets firmly in a secure drawer safely out of the reach of little paws.
I guessed that poor Reggie was bored, and as he hadn't had a walk yesterday, I decided I would take him on a short walk before getting properly stuck into my work. The pair of us therefore headed up the road, but we hadn't got far before a vehicle pulled over and the man got out to introduce himself as our neighbour - the guy who lives in the house directly above us on the hill. Stuart had sent him an email a couple of days ago to make contact, and when he spotted Reggie and me on the road, the very friendly chap pulled over for a quick chat (Reggie barking at him and trying desperately to get away, of course). It was all in Italian of course, and I can't say that I was very eloquent, but I did at least understand him, and I think (hope) I managed to utter some vaguely suitable responses. Paolo went on his way with the promise to come and visit us soon (or was it for us to go and visit him soon? arghh, I need to crack this language thing!).
After that, I decided it was time to head home, so Reggie and I went back down the hill and I sat down at my desk for the second time that morning. However, it wasn't long after that that I heard the crunching of tyres on gravel and a car door slamming. Not expecting any visitors, I wondered if Stuart and David's day had been significantly shorter than planned, so went out to investigate.
It wasn't Stuart and David, but Andrea, who had popped in on his way up to Vellano to let "us" know (clearly he wanted to speak to Stuart, but since Stuart was out, he had to put up with me instead) that the architect from the superintendent's office in Florence would be visiting next Wednesday morning. It's not the best of timing, but at least we now have an appointment in the diary, which will hopefully mean that things can move on after that. Andrea explained (yet again) that the canopy above the apartment door, the satellite dish and the goose house (or at least the walls of it) will need to be taken down before the visit. Yes, yes, we know all of that. He then scratched his chin and asked (all in Italian again, of course), if we could take down the old shed with the corrugated iron roof that sits at the edge of our lawn.
The shed in question is a pretty old barn-like construction (decades old, if not older) and houses all of the overflow items that didn't fit into my office-come-toolshed when the man cave was dismantled. The shed was full to the rafters.
I told him I wasn't sure that dismantling it would be possible - at which he scratched his chin again and said that it might be ok if we could just take the roof off it... but it would be best if the whole thing could come down.
What a bombshell! Until now, Andrea has never indicated that this shed could be an issue, but at this point I think he is trying to cover all possible bases. He told me that he'd recently had a customer who had built themselves a little pizza oven in their garden - and the superintendent had even taken exception to that, so I think he's very nervous. He also seems to have some doubts about the beautiful wooden fencing that Stuart built with help from our NZ HelpXers Nick and Tess. Andrea said he hopes that the fencing will be OK... I hope so too!!
So anyway, next Wednesday morning will see us visited for an inspection by Andrea, along with an architect from the comune in Pescia and the architect from the superintendent's office in Florence. As Stuart is not due to be here on Wednesday morning, it could be an interesting morning for me, coping with three Italians and a dog who's unlikely to give them a second's peace. Poor Andrea was treated to a volley of barking that literally didn't stop from the second he got out of his car until the second he got back into his car 10 minutes or so later. It wouldn't be quite so bad if the barking wasn't quite so earth shatteringly loud - it's hard enough concentrating to understand the language without the added difficulty of not being able to hear it!! (Actually, I think that Reggie knows that Andrea usually only turns up with news that will make our lives more difficult, and that's why he doesn't like him, or at least why he tries to make it impossible for him to speak!)
Feeling somewhat shell shocked, I finally got to sit down at my desk and make a proper start on my work. I sent a text message to Stuart to forewarn him of the news and got on with my conference papers.
Stuart and David returned just before lunchtime, so I sat and had a chat with them while they sipped a well earned beer. David had kindly offered to spent some time helping us out with some manpower this afternoon, and after this morning's news, it was clear what that help would consist of!
After lunch, I headed back to the office and Stuart made a start on sorting through all the items in the shed. David returned not long afterwards, and the pair of them traipsed up and down the garden, making a pile of rubbish to be taken to the bins and a couple of piles of items to be kept - which will now need to find new homes.
After a trip to the bins, David and Stuart sat down for a chat and a beer, after which David left for home.
Stuart wasn't done yet though. Just as I clocked off from my work, he was starting to measure out a new (enlarged) space behind the house, with plans to pile everything up there and cover it all with some new tarpaulins.
So there you have it. We have been here before, and quite frankly it's getting a bit tedious! How many more times will we have to move piles of tools and paraphernalia around? And how many more hoops will we be made to jump through before we can get our permission to build our wood shed and pergola, and erect a poly tunnel and solar panels? (I don't even like to think about the possibility of the fencing being a problem!)
|The contents of the shed start to come out. Good job we don't have guests at the moment - oh, hold on, yes we do. Good job they've had a day out in Florence...
|This is just a fraction of the stuff that needs a new home.
|Reggie tried to help with the new storage area.