Monday, 7 December 2009

Work in Progress

A kitchen - sort of !

Well it looks a mess and it is . Difficult to remain positive when rather than make progress we seem to go backwards! But its slowly getting done and we do get some help.My partner's brother came and worked for a few days and we managed to do some useful stuff.

French drain to take damp away from wall

How not to make a hole for cable through a lovely stone !

Cleaning old floor bricks is a very satisfying job. After you rub off years of dirt and plaster there's a beautiful red or pink terracotta brick - ready to go back in the house again!

On a more serious note Abruzzo has recently granted licences for oil companies to begin drilling .The oil in Abruzzo is of a poor quality and it will need desulphurising to be of any use - meaning that as well as the drilling there will also need to be desulfurising plants built

Contacts on line for the campaign against oil drilling in Abruzzo:

YouTube postings and blog by Prof Maria Rita D'Orsogna ( of LA University, USA):

There is now two Facebook groups:

Dull Rainy December- remembering summer

Oh it's dull here in Cornwall today ! The dog and I managed a quick dash down the road and back.I'm dreaming of my lovely hammock in Abruzzo in June.

I also remember back to the day in
2006 when I picked so many cherries from the 2 huge trees by the house that I ended up making jam with them ! Outside on an open fire ! And it tasted wonderful.
There were even enough to make Cherry Brandy for Christmas.

I love laying in the hammock as I keep telling you but there is one obstacle to my enjoyment and that is snakes; in May they are everywhere having just emerged from their long winter hibernation.I keep a small stone in my hand and if I hear some rustling in the grass I chuck it in that direction.I don't aim to hurt the snake just to scare it off .

It would totally freak me out if I ever saw one up a tree like this although I know that they do climb trees. In fact I was told of a farmer who was bitten in the neck by a snake that dropped down from an Olive tree.

I love the number of wild flowers that we get in Abruzzo in the summer. The land around us is mainly untended so no chemicals or pesticides go anywhere near it and the result is a beautiful wild flower meadow.

I've been collecting some seeds from the flowers and growing them in England with some success.I now have a very vigorous Verbascum that's taken up residence in our Cornish Garden and flowers all the year round !

On my Allotment in Cornwall I also have 2 Hop Leaved Hornbeams grown from seed . I hope to plant them in Italy next year to replace our huge old Hop Leaved Hornbeam thats growing at the edge of the garden. These Cornish trees have grown over 2ft in one year! Must be all the rain !

Friday, 27 November 2009

Abruzzo 2009

Abruzzo is the area of Italy where our old stone 'rustico' is.
BTW the building opposite is not that house! It's a beautiful example of an Earth house for which the area around Serramonacesca, Roccamontepiano and Casalincontrada is well known . More about 'Terra Cruda' later!

We've been slowly ( very slowly ) restoring the house since 2005 and have certainly had our ups and downs .From dodgy builders to hopeless plumbers we've certainly been there , done that and got the t-shirt!

Through the various Internet forums I belong too and a UK Period Property Forum I've met and corresponded with many other like-minded people and have received a wealth of advice and information. I'd like to use my blog to share this with you !

Anyway that's it for now .The dog wants a walk but I'll be back later!

a presto!

Here again - dog walked and reasonably contented. That's the dog and not me! We have been having a hellish time of it this year mainly because some work that we had done on the house has proved to be defective and unless we want to spend years in the courts and all of our meagre supply of money it looks like we are going to have to get someone else to sort it out.

I've been contributing to this forum and letting off steam ! Sometimes it helps to know someone else is in the same boat - in our case I think its called Titanic!
It's not all bad and it helps to remind ourselves about whats so wonderful about Abruzzo.This photo was taken in April just above the house.I think I counted over 100 orchids around just 1 tree . The grass was so green because Abruzzo had experienced its wettest winter for 200 years.We already knew that by the state of our kitchen!
Yes that's water that's run along the lane beside the house and is making its way into the walls.
I'm going to tell you all about it in my next blog but I'll just mention now that we are restoring the house using very un-modern methods ! Certainly methods unheard of by Italians we know!

We are taking away the cement in our house and re plastering with lime plaster .
Lime is a breathable material that is not damaging to the environment in the way that cement is. We have had some experience of working with lime in the UK but we are definitely on a steep learning curve out in Abruzzo.
Since we began working on the house we have noticed that our local builder's merchants in Scarfa stock 'BIO CALCE' a pre-mixed lime based plaster .It makes us feel less alone! But I wonder if its being stocked because lots of builders are involved with repairing churches and other historic buildings and this is approved by the Belle Arte people ?
We had lots of cement to remove from the house and we did most of the work by hand.
Thank goodness as some of the stones had these intricate carved letters and symbols on the going back to the middle ages. You can see here where damage has already occured through cement rendering of a whole area.The limestone has suffered a long split.