We are fighting an ongoing battle with the septic tank, which seems to be struggling to work properly (although I should respectfully point out that it has been Stuart who has done all of the (very)dirty work so far) - and scratching our heads as to exactly how the system was fitted (other than the obvious: badly). After a long chat with Paolo, the owner of Frateschi, the builders' merchant (and who likely supplied the parts for the system to be fitted in the first place, 7-8 years ago), Stuart is fairly confident that he can fix the issue without us having to fork out thousands of euros for a whole new system (a worrying prospect that has been on the cards) - but you can imagine that the fix will be laborious and considerably, well, unpleasant work.
It’s clear that the drain-off pipe from the tank isn’t functioning properly, and it’s possible that even the soil in the leach field has failed because it’s become so clogged up after years of use and abuse of the system without the tank having been regularly pumped. Paolo’s suggestion is to fit a new drain-off pipe and run it off in a different direction, which should resolve that issue. However, another contributing factor to the problems is concerned with the fact that our system has two tanks – a degreaser and the tank itself. It’s only the toilets that are meant to drain directly into the tank itself. All other drains (sinks, washing machines, showers) are meant to go first into the degreaser to remove soaps, grease etc. before continuing on to the septic tank, as the soaps etc. can kill the good bacteria in the tank. Well, it turns out that only our kitchen sink and dishwasher go into the degreaser – the washing machine, shower, bathroom sink, apartment shower and apartment bathroom sink all go directly into the tank. (As it happens, we have no idea where the apartment kitchen sink goes, but don’t think it goes anywhere near the septic tank!) So another part of the job will be to re-route those waste pipes into the degreaser rather than running directly into the tank – a job easier said than done with the pipes of the apartment bathroom all being buried beneath tiled/concreted floor...
Tank issues aside, there have been computer issues: my computer – a vital part of my work and my means of earning a living – has been so unstable recently (even after reinstalling Windows, I have been battling against an average of 5 crashes before the thing even starts up, as well as random crashes sometimes as frequently as every hour) that in desperation (and fearful in case one day it just wouldn't start up) we went out on Wednesday and bought a new one from Euronics in the iperCoop complex in Montecatini. The excursion to Euronics served as a sharp reminder of how far we are from being fully fluent in Italian (heaven forbid that we should start to feel as if we were making progress on that front!): after telling the sales assistant which computer we wanted to buy, and successfully getting across our request to have an invoice with my tax code on it (so that I can reclaim part of the purchase price against my tax payments), the assistant came back to tell us that they didn't have any of the model we wanted in stock, but could get one in for Friday. We were happy to wait until Friday, so continued with the paperwork – the sales assistant mumbled some other things which we didn't quite understand, but since we thought we'd got the gist of things, we went to the cashier, paid for the purchases and took our receipts ready to return with to collect the goods on Friday. About halfway home, the phone rang: it was Euronics wondering where we were... After doing an about turn and returning to the shop we realised that the sales assistant had offered us (and had boxed up for us) the display model, which we could take away with us there and then. In our defence, he had spoken very quickly and mumbled quite a lot, nevertheless it was with a mixture of humiliation and relief that we set off for home a second time, this time with our purchase on board. Of course, the new computer will need to be set up properly with all the things I need for work, and so far we haven’t had the time to do it, so I’m still working on the old one, which strangely now seems to be behaving itself (perhaps it knows its days are numbered)!
Naturally, no list of our problems would be complete without a car issue, and as I write this, we are stranded with the car refusing to start, again. Deja vu. The problem we were having almost exactly a year ago (which has, in fact, existed intermittently ever since we bought the car) seems to have returned, and both yesterday evening and this morning the car has simply refused to budge. This meant that poor Reggie had to forego his usual charge around in the woods and had to make do with a trot up our donkey track last night, while this morning the three of us had a very wet walk in the pouring rain along the road into the village with Reggie on the lead.
Amongst all the issues, however, we have managed to get a fair bit of strimming maintenance done on the terraces, have planted out tomatoes, celery, peppers and more courgettes in the veg garden, we've both done some work (me managing to get back to the office properly this week, albeit with an unstable computer, and Stuart back up in Vellano doing gardening work), and on Thursday we spent a wonderful evening with lots of friends, delicious snacks and wine at Trattoria Lina, a new restaurant recently opened by our friends Michelle and Mimmo in the pretty hamlet of Macchino. We've had a real taste of summer this week as well, with some balmy evenings and a couple of days where daytime temperatures hit 30C. In contrast, we have been treated to torrential rain and the rumbles of thunder today - but at least that saves us having to water the vegetables!
|Zucchini on its way!
|A lovely start to the weekend on Friday night...
|...and breakfast the next morning!
|Love in the mist.
|A cool spot for a hot dog.
|Strimming work to be done.
|Ready for our next guests.
|A sit-down protest on the drive after not being able to go on his usual run around in the woods.
|... Not sure the washing is going to dry.
|At least the plants will enjoy it.