This time we can really get stuck in to some real restoration work ! The roof has been fixed I've got a local carpenter making new chestnut windows and the next major job is the repointing.

The plan is to remove all the failing mortar and replace it with new, mixed from NHL3 lime and the local soft yellow coloured sand.The quarry for the sand is just up the road from us but I still need to discover how to arrange for a load to be delivered.

Hopefully one of my neighbours will know who to speak to.
Of course not all of our time will be spent working on the house.We have the usual meetings to attend.One with the Geometra to go through our plans for the bathroom and another with Nicola who is making our windows.We decided on brushed steel handles for the windows.These should be in keeping with the clean light coloured chestnut and lime washed walls.Nicola is having problems finding the handles in Italy so I expect we'll end up touring the ferramenta (ironmongers)

Another major project this year is the creation of a garden close to the house that we can enclose from our neighbour Roberto's sheep! They dont eat olives but everthing else is fair game.My plans done in photoshop will need to be formalised and taken to the comune.I hope they'll give us the go-ahead and won't think the plan is too 'English'.

We are also hoping that the dry winter has at least meant that the large hole in the neighbour's roof hasn't caused any problems.We'll see! I hope too that we can get some water butts for the grondaia to carry rainwater into.
The repointing is on my mind.

Mixing up the mortar by hand will be very hard work but I'm not sure if we will be able to sort out a cement mixer on this trip.We have not had the rewiring done at this stage so powering it would mean buying a generator. We're also hoping the weather won't be too hot or we'll need to be hosing down the walls constantly.At least we have the delicious cakes at Cafe Anna to keep our energy levels topped up.

Our olives trees are another worry.The olives I bought back last year were all full of maggots so I need to buy some traps to hang in the trees Hopefully the results of our winter's pruning and feeding should give us a good crop this year!
I have decided this year to stop flying! It seemed to me that by doing so I was flyng in the face of my environmental beliefs.

So our trips in 2007 will be by Eurolines Coach to Rome!
From Rome we are hiring a Smartcar which works out at less than £100 a week and the car itself does 70mpg.How many bags of lime can it carry though?

my Abruzzo home gets a bit wet!

Well it certainly was an eventful trip.

Amazingly enough despite the trials and tribulations we actually managed to acheive a great deal including repointing the bottom level of the house and digging out most of a ground floor room.

The trip didn't start well.I have not used Euroline coaches before and I certainly won't again.The coaches were quite comfortable but the trip was unbearably long with a change in Milan at 5am in a bus station where the loos and cafe were closed.
When we did arrive in Rome found it almost impossible to locate the office of sixt rental probably as it was underneath the Villa Borghese Park with so signs! Anyway the drive from rome to Abruzzo is through the most fantastic mountain scenery so I soon relaxed.

After a long journey arriving after 10pm it was a relief to find the house rat free and wonderfully cool after the hot car.

The next day we started to check over everything and immediately found the copper (or rame) downpipes had all been stolen, along wth an old bed frame,a metal compost container and even more mysteriously an old Fiat 500 left rotting in the hedge for at least 30 years! Other Brits have experienced breakins and thefts so you can no longer go out and leave your door unlocked in our part of Abruzzo!

We had plenty of close encounters with wildlife including a snake in the house and a large Scorpion that crawled up my leg.Most of the snakes that we saw were harmless 'Serpente Nero' but there were vipers about too!

The scorpions in Italy are pretty harmless too unless you are allergic to their sting.Nevertheless its probably a good idea to wear gloves if you are moving things.

These are actually made by bees!

The biggest problem of all was my neighbours' total lack of action on fixing the hole in his roof.It was obvious from the state of the kitchen that water was getting through to my walls and ceilings and a local downpour one day sent torrents of water into the upstairs bedroom.We've decided to halt any work on that side of the house because of this water damage.Lets hope I can soon get the problem resolved.

Meetings with the Falegnameria, Geometra and Muratore took up a fair amount of time but we still managed to get out and sample some of the delicious local cusine! Our main problem was that the antipasto dish was so filling we had difficulty eating anything that followed.

I managed to speak to an architect in the village of Casalincontrada who was very helpful in directing me to Bellante a supplier of bioedilizia in Abruzzo.They do local deliveries too!

Lime Render
I found it extremly difficult to buy any NHL lime in Abruzzo.Most of the builders merchants only sell the dry hydrate although Castorama do sell hydraulic lime in very small packs.
The product I used was made by Biocalce called Rinzaffo as this was the only material that was suitable and avaialble from Orsini in Scafa.Looking on the web site they make a product called Pietra which is more suitable for repointing work.

Later I describe how I make lime putty from a 2 euro pack of hydrated lime!

Peter helps to mix some lovely lime putty!