Work in Progress….

This week I went into Rome on my little train, for the first time in over six months.

To my amazement, my little train has changed beyond all recognition, and is now an upgraded version of its former self: a Funky Little Train!

The FL1 train line runs from the town of Orte, half an hour north of us, directly into Fiumicino Airport, with stops at our local station, and several stations in the centre of Rome en route. It’s incredibly convenient, and one of the reasons why we bought our house. Currently, the trains run hourly into the city, but the line is being upgraded, and rumour has it that from autumn 2021, we will have trains to Rome, and the airport, every 15 minutes.

Back in 2018, when I first started commuting to work in the centre of Rome by train, our station was literally a shack on the side of the railway tracks. Passengers alighting from Rome were expected to make the sign of the cross, say a little prayer, look carefully both ways, then step nervously down from the northbound platform, and walk carefully across the the tracks. Climbing up the steps onto the southbound platform, one would silently thank The Lord for not having been squished that day.

Work in Progress at Stazione di Stimigliano

Since that summer, the station, the tracks, and even the trains that pootle up and down our little branch line have been undergoing a massive programme of modernisation and fancification, and of course, we have been carrying out our own programme of modernisation and fancification at home.

This week, we reflected on what we had achieved in exactly three years of Olive Hill Ownership. It’s still work in progress, but it’s sooooooo easy to forget how far we have come in those three years.

We have tamed (more or less), at least half of our eight hectares of land. We’ve stripped the house back to a shell, and rebuilt it, adding new wiring, plumbing, windows, doors, bathrooms and a kitchen. We’ve even made the staircase neat and tidy! Of course, there’s still so much more to do, but last night we treated ourselves to a pat on the back, and popped into a local bar for a drink on our way home from Brexit related bureaucracy in Rieti.

The vines – a jungle in 2018, and somewhere approaching neat and tidy now
The house. Before, during and after the works!

Two weeks ago, we bought a Funky Little Electric car. It’s sunshine blue, and we zip around Sabina in it, as if we don’t have a care in the world, trying to forget that our home is still awaiting quite a lot of upgrades, including solar panels for electricity, exterior paintwork and … a charging column for our funky little car. It’s fine, we plug it in to a socket on the front porch, and try to remember that we can’t use the oven while the car is charging.

But I digress.

This morning I drove my funky little car to the fancy new train station. Nowadays, the grotty old shack is gone, and the station building has been upgraded and painted a rather fetching shade of primrose yellow. The platforms have been extended, and an underpass has been built, complete with space age LED lighting, so passengers no longer have to make the perilous journeys across the tracks to reach the car park.

Much like our almost modernised Olive Hill, the station is much better, much shinier, much more fancy and modern than they were three years ago. But there’s still work to be done.

These three past years have taught me the art of flexibility, and I’m learning to go with the flow. I celebrate what has been achieved, and try not to notice what has not been done. And all of this came into force this morning, as I whizzed silently, and electricly into the Via della Stazione in Stimigliano, to find it closed, as the station car park is finally being modernised and fancified (I hope).

Remembering that “flexibility is the key to airpower” (a throwback to a former life), and that the model of funky electric car that I was driving is badged as “zen”, I merrily zipped to the next station south, parked up, and headed up to the southbound platform.

Five minutes later, a gorgeous, funky electric train slipped silently into the station, and whisked me into the centre of Rome.

As usual, this is a lot of words to remind myself that the process of modernisation and fancification takes time. It has its bumps, and its jolts, but it is definitely a journey that I am very happy to be making.

The house, the farm, the train line, the journey out of covid.

Piano piano, andiamo avanti, e andrà tutto bene.

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