31 May 2015

A day at the beautiful Italian lakes...

With the weather promising warm sunshine and blue sky mid-week, we took off to Stresa on Lago Maggiore!

The day was as beautiful as it promised...and we even saw the Giro d'Italia, which tracked right through the centre of Stresa!








19 May 2015

We are seeing the light again!

I feel human again.

We have electricity!

After a week of darkness in our lounge and a non-functioning kitchen (which required me to roast our vegetables in an electric frypan in the dining room), Stu identified the problem that has been causing the overload switch to trip out.

He found an electrical box with wires in it buried outside our lounge!

Yes, wonders never cease. After 5 years, we are still learning new things about our house.

The environment in the box was humid and the wires were wet.

Stu moved them around a bit and to lift them up (with the power off, of course!), then left the lid off to allow this week's wind to dry it out as much as possible before we make a more water-proof solution.


15 May 2015

Seeing the happy or the sad...

Stu and I were talking the other day about The Past.

When Stu looks at old photos of someone or something from his past he is happy. He thinks fondly of the people, remembers what great times they were and looks forward to the same memories being created in the future.

When I look at old photos I am sad. I wallow in a big hole of contemplation. I remember how valuable a person was to me, how things have changed and how fast time has passed by. I decide that everything in the future will be "lost" in the same way.

For consideration...


13 May 2015

It's not easy...but it's beautiful...

Our electricity to the kitchen and lounge has died (!?).

It may be ants in the electrical box or it may be something far more sinister...we have yet to investigate.

For now, we have a giant extension cord running around the lower floor which has to be moved every time we want to cook or watch television!

It's not easy living in an old stone house in Italy...

...but my "wall of roses" is worth every bit of it!


12 May 2015

Our fienile is used for the first time

We spent this week "moving into" our new/old fienile.

First, Stu erected our outdoor table and chairs. This was a special event in itself because we've had the setting for about 10 years but have resisted setting it up under our pergola because we wanted something that would feel "new" in the fienile when it was eventually finished. After the setting was in place, Stu moved the BBQ into a corner which has a view over the vegetable garden. He also fitted a rather posh stainless steel bar to the wall from which he has hung his cooking utensils!

While Stu did these tasks, I gathered some of the antique farm items that we'd found around the place when we first purchased the property. These included a hand crafted wooden rake, a handmade wooden bed warmer, a wooden pizza paddle, and a wooden structure that we can't exactly recognise but that could be a cattle yoke or something associated with a pig trough (!?).

I also found an old candelabra which has points for 6 candles. We will hang this off an old chain over the central beam.

Then I donned my decorators hat and got arty with the little nook in the rear stone wall. I wandered around the house looking for anything that might suit this special little spot that our muratore had created for us. I found my collection of 4 copper items (including a milk can, a kettle, a cake mould and a small cup), 6 green bottles (complete with a decent covering of dust!), an old wine bottle washer, a green glass vase and 2 ivy potplants.

To add just a little more style, we added a small round glass table, a large wooden table and a cane basket, along with a large cane chair with soft cushions that will be a favoured destination for siestas!

With our fienile now "dressed" and crying out for people to enjoy it, we had our first BBQ last night and have organised a party for 35 friends in a couple of weeks time!




11 May 2015

Just in time for my roses!

Those of you who know me will know that I'm rose-obsessed.

Over the last few weeks I've been worried that my 15 climbers and bushes would bloom before I returned to Italy.

Whilst in Australia, I emailed my friends regularly with demands for "The Status of the Roses".

Every response threatened progress:

- "They have green shoots" or

- "The buds are just forming" or

- "The flowers will be blooming within days" or

- "Here's a photo of my first rose"

This last response, received when I was 16,000 kilometres away, sent me into waves of panic: Would I make it home in time!?

It seems I did...

My most advanced climber has been flowering profusely over the last few days and the first of my bush roses bloomed today.



Found: gooseberries

To Stu's immense relief, today we found his 6 little gooseberry bushes buried amidst our jungle!

A few little fruit are already hanging off them so he has put borders around the plants to protect them.

I am so excited at the thought of gooseberry pie...but it remains to be seen if the fruit actually makes it into the kitchen!

Gooseberries are a bit like peas when it comes to Stu's ability to wait until they're cooked...


09 May 2015

Our garden is a jungle

After being in Australia for 5 weeks, we returned a few days ago to a veritable jungle in our little valley.

Spring has brought rain and heat, a combination that encourages phenomenal growth here.

I managed to weed half the garden today and will do the other half tomorrow. Stu has been busy with the lawn mower and whipper snipper (translation: "weed wacker" for our American friends or "strimmer" for our English friends).

We are keen to get it under control and beautiful again so that we can sit in our new/old fienile and enjoy it!

Above: My pergola garden where the plants are lost amongst the weeds

Above: The first of many wheelbarrows full of weeds

Above: We won't mow our paddocks yet; we'll let the bees and butterflies frollick amongst the wild flowers a bit longer!


Casting off in "Castaway"

We have just spent 5 weeks in Australia (hence the recent lack of posts...)

While we were there we took possession of our "home away from home", a Toyota Coaster bus which we have had converted into a mobile home.

We engaged a small company in Brisbane (Motorhome Conversions) to import the bus from Japan and fit it out as a motorhome for us. It has a kitchen, lounge/dining, bathroom and bedroom and Is surprisingly spacious and very comfortable.

We named our little bus "Castaway" and drove it 1500km from Toowoomba to Rockhampton and back for its first little spin.

All went well and it was lovely having our own space.

Castaway is now in storage until our next visit...

Above: Our first bush camp

Above: Washing the bus before putting it into storage
Above: Farewelling the bus at the storage shed


08 May 2015

Fienile renovation...the result!

The renovation of our beautiful old fienile is finished...and it's everything we had imagined it could be...