Since moving to Italy, it would be reasonable to say that we've had more than our fair share of challenges. Each challenge has called on us to become 'experts' in various ways. We have been plumbers, electricians, stone masons, brick layers, tile layers, water technicians, drain layers, landscapers and gardeners.
You would think by now that there were no more 'experts' that we could be...
I love our log fire. In fact I wouldn't be alive now if it wasn't for our log fire. The nights before Christmas were some of the coldest I had ever experienced, where even 5 layers of clothing and a down sleeping bag weren't enough to keep me warm.
My relationship with our log fire had progressed to such an extent that I have lately been lighting it with only 1 match (as opposed to the 8 matches that I used to need!)
So you can imagine my confusion when the Afghan biscuits I baked this morning didn't seem to fill the kitchen with their sweet aroma like they normally did.
Instead, there was another more insidious stink pervading the air.
'The rustico smells of smoke!', I cried out to Stuart.
Stuart dropped his gardening tools and rushed inside, where he sniffed the air and announced that it was all in my imagination.
I wondered fleetingly about my own sanity before opening the doors and windows to allow the smoke to clear. Maybe there was too much ash in the fire...I would clean it out before lighting tonight's fire...
But that evening, just as we were enjoying a meal of chilli con carne, we were again surrounded by smoke.
'There's smoke everywhere!', I cried to Stuart.
Stuart must have considered the distraught woman before him long enough to realise that a little tact was necessary. He suggested that the wood might be damp.
'I'm telling you! I can't breathe!', I yelled as I grabbed the torch and shone it at the flue where great swatches of smoke were escaping through every nook and cranny.
After realising the gravity of the situation, Stuart launched himself at the flue, prodding and pushing its 9 different sections in an attempt to tighten the gaps.
Unfortunately, there was little improvement and smoke continued to ooze into the room.
I guess this means that there's one more 'expert' that we will need to be tomorrow...