And all of a sudden, the pace of our Olive Hill Life is changing.
Scott has three weeks left in the office, then we will spend Christmas at home in the UK with our family. Upon our return, the renovations will begin, and our casa campagna will be redesigned, renovated, remodelled, refurbished, reconfigured, revived, redecorated and reinvigorated.
The house is not actually that old, originally having been built in the early 1970s, in its day, it was probably The Most Stylish House in the village.
That day is long gone, however, and so we currently live in something of a shrine to a life long since left behind. So long since, in fact, that some of our design features are apparently once again in fashion, thanks to a concept which I believe is called “seventies modern”.
I have no real idea what seventies modern is, to be honest, but if our current bath tub is “de rigeur”, I think that I’d prefer the “modern” to the “seventies”.
That said, trying to decide how to upgrade a house which is basically habitable is proving something of a struggle, albeit a vital one, as I have no plan to continue with our current level of “luxury” any longer than is absolutely necessary.
And yes, as you can see, after a long day outside, we do use the bath tub!
After the bath, top of the list of things to be changed, is the one and only modern appliance in the house: the three year old boiler, or furnace. Oh, how I HATE the blooming thing. On the one hand, it is wood fired, which is a good thing, as we have a lot of wood to burn.
On the other hand:
- The wood that it consumes in a day takes an hour to bring into the house, then a second hour to clean up all the mess that you made taking ash out of, and wood in to the house. Then a third hour to lie down, exhausted, and recover from the exertion that the last two hours took.
- It burns at two speeds, either smouldering gently and producing no heat at all, or burning so hot that it boils all the water in the system, causing noxious fumes of burning paint in the boiler room, melting the thermostat, and creating the (hopefully) illusion that it is about to explode.
- It needs to be stoked up with kindling, or great big lumps of wood approximately every thirty seconds, depending on whether it is smouldering or boiling the water.
- Whichever you stoke it with, it will either go from smouldering to burning the paint, or vice versa. There is no in between.
- Before you leave the house for longer than ten minutes, it must also be stoked, causing it to either boil the water, or go out, leaving one in a constant state of anxiety about what will be found when one arrives home.
- Likewise, it must be stoked up before bed, causing sleepless nights in case the blessed thing explodes while you are in bed.
- It never, ever stays alight when you leave the house or go to bed.
The situation with the boiler leaves us very glad to have seen a couple of seasons through before deciding exactly what to do with the house, as it was not even on our “to do list” back in August, when all we were thinking about was air conditioning and a pool.
Just like the land, the house must earn its keep, so we will be incorporating a self contained letting bedroom into the design, as well as allowing for guest bedrooms upstairs. This is where the renovations become rather more exciting for me, as I dream my way through magazines, glossy brochures and websites filled with gorgeous images of free standing baths, rain water shower heads and glamourous kitchens with eye watering price tags. Scott is equally content making plans for solar roof panels, a bio gas plant in the basement, and a rain water harvesting system.
We must, however, start to become interested in each other’s ideas pretty soon now, as Giorgio the Geometra is starting to become concerned about getting our plans agreed by the commune in time to start work, in order to meet our self imposed deadline of the 1st June opening for the bed and breakfast unit.
GeeGee has already rained on our “glamping” parade, as apparently we will face a million bureaucratic hurdles to install our log cabins, so now we are trying desperately to add words like “yurt” and “hobbit hole” to his vocabulary, in the hope that they will involve less bureaucracy. It’s true to say that glamping is not really a part of your average Italian’s vocabulary when it comes to holiday concepts.
Of course, despite the change in the season, work outside never stops. To Bella and Holly’s delight, our Proper Agricultural Workers have been busily felling trees (to improve the view from the bed and breakfast room), carting wood up for the boiler, and have now commenced cleaning up the vineyard, in readiness to start pruning back the vines at leaf fall. All of these activities are The Most Exciting Things For Dogs Ever, apparently.
This weekend, as well as viewing mobile homes (we’ll need a roof over our heads during the renovations) and finalising the plans with GeeGee for submission to the commune, we’ll be bottling up our first bottles of white wine, in readiness to take home for family and friends at Christmas.
If 2018 has been the year of doing “The Most Exciting Thing Ever” many, many times, I do actually think that bottling my own wine may just take the prize.