Winning Over Italy

The Coast Road Home


Okay now, knuckle down and concentrate.  Time to get back to the keyboard without any excuses.  It’s that time of year when it starts to feel colder inside than out.  There’s no central heating here and when it’s still a mid-afternoon 18 degrees on the Lungomare at the end of November, requests for such are looked upon with understandable disdain.  So blog!

“Why have I shown such disregard for those that might wish to read?”

Well Judge, there have been some reasonably mitigating circumstances over the last four or five months and perhaps, if you will allow, I can explain.  First off, there was the house, yes the one we started last year and is at last weather-proof and habitable.  There was no Santo’s Clause this time…oh no.  Far too smart to fall for that one again, not for stage 2.  No, this time we got quotes and other quotes and then threatened just to do it all ourselves which had the expected effect of bringing quote number one down to a more sensible level…without add-ons.  The windows and shutters I have to say are just about complete, 2 months after they should have been.  This was entirely our own fault for having paid the full amount in advance when we started to feel sorry for the installer who kept coming round with a hang-dog expression asking when we’d be ready for his part of the jigsaw….a now ex-friend of a relative.  I now lean towards the philosophy that having no project manager is better than six who think they are.  After scrubbing, sanding, cleaning, sanding, varnishing (the rather lovely wooden-beamed ceiling), sanding, filling and finally preparing the walls for their 3 coats of paint the summer was over and we were, tanless, ready to move in.  I should perhaps mention that the famous English phrase ‘like watching paint dry’ is lost on the Calabrese….nothing could be less boring. In the summer heat the paint is usually dry before you’ve managed to apply the loaded brush/roller to the wall.  Extremely frustrating! So, somewhat bare on the furniture front I’ll admit and with a couple of internal doors still to be found let alone fitted, we took the leap.  I was particularly keen to wake up on the first morning and try the new en-suite, hi-tech (by Calabrian standards) thermostatically controlled shower which we had chosen deliberately to counter the vagaries of the village water supply.  Two years of trying to wash with one hand whilst trying to alternate taps between freezing and tepid with the other, had invariably met with the soap squirting out my grip and shooting across the floor while I screamed at the sudden rush of scalding steam as someone next door decided that the garden had had enough watering for the morning.  No more!  A shower should be a thing of joy.  Sadly, that morning, it was not to be.  The higher I turned the temperature, the colder the water got.  Not wanting to confess that he’d never seen anything more complicated than two straight taps, the builder had installed the unit upside down.  “It’s red on the left in Italy.” He said. “This thing’s not Italian, look the instructions are in a foreign language.” Gently I explained that the ‘red bit’ wasn’t the hot water tap but the thermostat and that if he’d read the whole instruction sheet he’d have maybe seen the big picture with about 25 different languages.  “Were the numbers being upside down not a bit of a clue?”  At last, however, all was fixed, an early morning shower is bliss and all the window man has to do is fit the shutter catches on the outside wall.

“The other mitigating factors, your honour?”

Well, As I said, summer was over and I’d forgotten that September and October are the harvesting months.  The grapes, the tomatoes, the chestnuts….It all takes time you know.  What with work starting again and having to turn your feet and hands a deep black-purple while you make the next year’s wine and then see how many jars you can fill with passatta from a truck load of tomatoes,  it’s easy to forget about the laptop.

“I beg your pardon?  I seemed to have had enough time to fiddle with my guitar?”

Ah, that is true.  I may have got a teeny-weeny bit sidetracked there I have to confess.  But it’s all in a worthy cause, I promise.  I just have this little project called ‘The Dark Tourists’ which is ticking along nicely to some sort of conclusion….or beginning, I’m not quite sure.  The songs had to be written first of course (9 now in the melting pot)  but I’m hoping you’ll like what I’ve done.  Finding the musicians was a bit of an adventure in itself but that’s nearly done and something should be ready for the public in the new year.  Just need to find that elusive accordion player.

So, yes I guess that’s all the excuses out of the way and I promise I’ll work much harder in future and make sure the notepad doesn’t go to waste.  If your lordship pleases, the recent hours of community service should produce some half-decent posts.  Perhaps ‘Watching the Detectives” (a flight with the flying squad)  or ‘Spotting Dark Tourists’ (a musical journey in a strange language) might be fun reading in the next few weeks.

I’m hoping I’ll get away with a suspended sentence……….