This week was another busy one - with family due to arrive at the end of the week, the days were filled with lots of jobs, errands and bits of paid work to try to get as much as possible done before their arrival. That said, we still managed to find time to have a lovely evening socialising with our friends and we managed to fit in a cheeky worker's lunch at the lovely Toti restaurant on our way home from picking up our new car!
So the week started off with Stuart spending a long morning strimming the grass at the house of Carolyn, an acquaintance of ours/friend & neighbour of Paul & Kathy's. Although Carolyn is currently living back in her native Australia, she was keen to keep the grass tidy at the house here and had asked Paul to arrange for it to be cut. Coincidentally, Carolyn's house is one that Stuart and I looked at when we came to the area hunting for property. At the time we viewed the property, the bats that flew out of the living room were indication enough of the amount of work that needed doing to put us off pursuing the property any further - but we were bowled over by the beauty of the place as soon as we saw it.
So, after a long morning's strimming along with Paul himself and David, he headed back to Paul & Kathy's for lunch - I was very kindly invited to join them for lunch, but with work piling up on my desk I felt I had to decline so that I could chug on through my own work.
By the time Stuart returned home mid-afternoon, he'd had a call from Lunatici, the car dealer we had visited on Saturday to look at Pandas. The dealer had called to let him know that the Panda he had found for us had arrived from Lucca and was available for us to go and have a look at and test drive. So, once I'd finished up work for the day, at around 6pm, we headed out to the dealership on the Lucca road. We were impressed with what we saw - the car was spotless and looked in great shape, so when we were asked if we wanted to take it for a test drive, we of course said yes. We drove the car around some of the country lanes, tried it on some hills, and on the main road and were very pleased with it. So, on returning to the show room, we did the deal, signed various pieces of paperwork, and left with the promise of the car being ready to collect (oh, and pay for...) in just a few days' time.
Tuesday was a busy day filled with more work up in Vellano for Stuart, as well as to-ing and fro-ing for various pieces of pipe and plumbing for the job up there. I, of course, spent the day in the office, and I don't think there's much more to say.
Wednesday started off with our Italian lesson with Johnny. It was just Stuart and me in the lesson again this week as Sarah was still away and David was also about to head off for a few days in the UK, so it was down to the two of us to tackle Johnny's list of phrases to translate from English into Italian as well as a short Italian comprehension piece.
With the lesson finished, it was straight to my desk for me to cram in a couple of hours' work, while Stuart headed out to Esselunga to pick up some supplies for the evening. We had invited Paul & Kathy and their friend Simon, David, Donatella, and our apartment guests, Mike and Cath, for aperitivi on our patio in the evening. We spent the afternoon preparing snacks for the aperitivi, and received our guests at 6:30.
|Crostini with tomato & garlic; crostini with parsley & garlic; humus; crostini with cheese & figs; crostini with gigante bean & rocket; crostini with goats cheese, walnut & honey.|
Of course, it was still roasting at 6:30pm and there was nowhere to hide from the sunshine, but our guests gamefully sat in the sun on the patio in the sunshine until it mercifully dipped below the hill opposite. We had a lovely evening with everyone, and as we might have predicted, "aperitivi" turned into "well into the night", with guests leaving some time around 11pm.
Thursday started off with a call from Maurizio at Lunatici, the car dealer, to let us know that the car was ready for collection! Stuart hot-footed it into Pescia to arrange for the insurance to be swapped from the Doblo to the Panda, quickly emptied everything out of the old car, including taking the roof bars off, and then we headed to the Lucca road to go and complete the deed.
Within half an hour, we were driving away from the dealer in a shiny new(to us) car! All within less than a week from making enquiries to leaving in the new car. Amazing, and such a different (so much better) experience than the last time we bought a car in Italy! Let's hope this one also brings us fewer problems...
After having driven a little way further towards Lucca to find the office in which we needed to sign some paperwork to transfer ownership of the Doblo to the dealer, we were heading towards home when on impulse we decided to stop at Toti for a worker's lunch. It was a rare treat for us to eat out just the two of us together, so we enjoyed the experience, feeling ever so slightly as if we were on holiday (the new car adding to the feeling as it felt as if we'd just picked up a hire car!).
|"I like driving in my [new]car - it's not quite a Jaguar..." etc.|
Of course, we weren't on holiday and once back from lunch it was back to the grindstone in the office for me, while Stuart did more jobs around the house.
It was an early start on Friday to say a sad and fond farewell to our apartment guests Mike & Cath. We hope that they won't stop at just the two visits and will be back again for more in the future!
After that it was a full-on day of work in the office for me, while Stuart cleaned the apartment in readiness for new guests the next day before starting on tidying up our own house a little.
Saturday was a long day with Stuart doing both a check-in and a check-out at the pool house, and the pair of us spending the day trying to ready our house for the arrival of Sheila, Kerys & Ben in the evening - part of which involved creating a makeshift office for me in the corner of our bedroom and moving computer, printer, etc. accordingly, while also trying to make the office-come-dumping-room seem a little more like a bedroom for Ben to sleep in.
After a hard day's tidying, furniture moving and cleaning, Stuart prepared to head to the airport to collect everyone at 10:40pm.. only to find that their flight had been delayed. To cut a long and frustrating story short, everyone finally arrived safely at the house at just before 2am. The second time Sheila has been let down by BA in the last month, although at least this time they actually got her here - eventually!
After an hour of catching up over a drink and everyone reacquainting themselves with Reggie, we finally all headed to bed just after 3am.
With such a late night, and the exhaustion of travelling the day before, it was a slow start for us all on Sunday, but once our newly-installed apartment guests had headed out, we felt it was safe for us all to head out too (leaving Reggie at home free to bark as much as he liked without disturbing people downstairs).
We went straight to Sandrino's cafe/bar for a late morning coffee, which turned into a light lunch of pizza slices while Stuart and Ben trashed it out on the table football.
After a trip to Esselunga to pick up some supplies, we spent a relaxed afternoon reading, playing board games, playing with Reggie and generally taking things slowly, finishing the day with a barbecue and an early night to go some way towards making up for the night before and to prepare for the week's activities ahead.