Sunday, 11 September 2016

It never rains, but it pours!

If you thought I came across a bit smug in the last post, you will find vengeful amusement in this one!

Cyclone Morgana is in town and in our home!

Dark skies on the horizon!
Yes, we have water coming through the roof!  And not just a bit of a drip either.  We have full scale water ingress - pouring through at least ten spots and trying to collect it all with our beach towels and buckets and little man's paddling pool!

Ugh!  It's just a section, so not as bad as if the whole thing was leaking, but we knew it wasn't right.  It has already been repaired twice in two years and we were making enquiries to have a third tradesman come and have a go at it, possibly even bringing over someone from UK, as we're sick of throwing money at it and then worrying about it all through the winter when we're not here to check on it.

With our kind neighbour's help we've done what we can to stop the worst of it with lots of plastic sheeting, but the water's still coming through.  If there wasn't already, there is certainly a sense of urgency now about getting it sorted before we head back to UK for the winter!  Unfortunately, the way it works is that we need dry weather to make sure this time the job is done properly so we just have to wait out the storms and keep wringing out the towels!  Oh, the joys!

On a more positive note, today I'm meeting some people who messaged me as they are keen to buy Il Palazzotto!  It's not on the market, so I'm not sure how much they think they know about it, but they are friends with someone who lives just round the corner and got my details from her.  We kitted it out to meet our needs (remember the time I took a wall down to fit the American fridge freezer in?!) and are so happy with it, plus little man is part of a gang of 4 boys all around the same age, all living seconds from our front door and already playing together, and to us that's priceless, so I have absolutely no doubt that nothing will come of it (yes, I'm so confident of that fact I'm openly declaring our leaky roof in the same post as the meeting!), but it's flattering all the same and, I admit, my curiosity has been piqued.

After all, what sort of Renovation Ragazza turns down a meeting over coffee with potential buyers?!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


Hello all.  In the ongoing quest to become better acquainted with what's nearby our little town, we took the train up to the capital city of Bari yesterday.  I must have been to the airport on the outskirts of the city more than thirty times and we have visited the centre on a couple of occasions, but not that we felt we could properly explore and take in the sights.  So yesterday we strolled around the old town and ate in a well-reviewed osteria and enjoyed a coffee in the sun.  All pleasant enough.

Today Mr RR asked if I agreed that it wasn't anything special, and commented that we have everything we love right here, concentrated in our little town, and it's so true.  We have visited so many towns around here that people rave about from Lecce (the Florence of the south) to Ostuni (the white city) to Cisternino (it's all about grilled meat!) even our beautiful neighbour up the coast Polignano a Mare (it's sexy and it knows it! - an American film star dined at the next table to us!) and so many more. We always come away slightly bemused: Monopoli's properties are probably a quarter of the price of those in the towns we've visited, but we can't see that they come close to our concentration of atmospheric, balcony-lined, cobbled streets, our beautiful, seafront passeggiata, our clear sea and sandy beaches, our stunning cathedral, and on and on.

Of course we might be biased, everyone's entitled to their opinion, there's no place like home, etc, but what a treat to be so in love with where you are!

I do try to stay open-minded.  And one thing Bari has that Monopoli definitely doesn't?  60% of the bones of Saint Nicholas!  So that's kinda different!

Father Christmas was black!

And buried in Bari!

Thursday, 1 September 2016


I'm writing this from a little town in the South of Italy.  No, BH is not finished.  Yes, we chose to run away from it all for a bit!  But just look:

You couldn't expect me to stay in UK the whole summer knowing this was waiting for us!

A week and a half before we left, I sat down with the two teams working on BH because, even having been friends with each other for more than ten years, they were both complaining that they'd be better off having the site to themselves.  We all agreed that the builders would stay on site and finish all they could for 3 days, then the floorboard guys would come back in on Monday and have a week to finish their job so they could be paid in full before we left for Italy.  Everyone was happy with this approach and, despite the project not being 100% finished, I was happy enough with the progress over the 3 days that I gave our builder the bulk of his final payment and my blessing to take some time on holiday in Bulgaria with his family while the floorboards were done.  Hmm!  Anyone recognise this scenario yet?!

Well, maybe not, as this doesn't play out at all as I would have expected!  Monday comes around and my builder has started his drive across Europe and as much as I really, really didn't want to disturb him on his time off, I didn't know what to do when it turned out there was no sign of his floorboard friends on site by lunchtime and after a few hours of texts and leaving messages, I was none the wiser as to why.

When the floorboard boss finally phones he tells me his team have left UK for their holidays and, despite having received £2000 (more than generous for the work completed to date), they won't come back on site unless I pay them in advance the rest of the money for the full job!

Best laid plans and all that!  I thought I had everyone lined up perfectly, but instead, I was left with no-one on site.  Worse than that, I was kicking myself that, once again, I had let myself be cajoled into giving tradesmen more money than I wanted to.  On top of all that, I had let my guard down, once again, and been charmed by a builder into believing I could count on him to look after my best interests, because while this is going on, a little voice says, did your builder leave for his holiday, with your money in his pocket, knowing the other team, with your money in their pocket, that he brought to you, had no intention of being on site?  Jeez, was I still as naive as ever even after all this time on all these projects?

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.  I was reassured somewhat when my builder was so incensed by the betrayal of his so-called friend that he said he was going to come off the German motorway he was on at the next exit and start back to the UK in order to confront him and put things right (of course I told him he better not even think about stopping his holiday with his family for this mess).  More conclusively in terms of helping me know who I could count on, 2 days later, the bulk of the money given to the floorboards guy came, via the builder's account, back into mine, along with a very bitter text from the floorboards guy leaving me in no doubt as to the pressure he'd been put under by our mutual builder friend!  I would never have imagined I'd get my money back!  Given the amount of time they had spent on site and petrol and materials, they are seriously out of pocket now!

Best quote of this whole thing came from my builder:
"I leave you alone with the site for 6 hours...!"

So, onwards and upwards!  My builder is firmly in my good books, (though I am still somewhat perplexed as to the leverage he has!) and we're now onto our third company for the floorboards (I don't think I shared with you the story of the local company I originally booked, who came out with so much racist rubbish in the week leading up to their starting that I told them to take a hike!).  Fingers crossed, we'll return from Italy in a couple of weeks to find the house full of beautiful, stained and varnished floorboards.  Is it too much to get my hopes up?  What could possibly go wrong now?! Ha ha ha!