From shepherds to millionaires

We’re back to gorgeous sunshine. The type that makes you 100pc sure that this is where you want to live.

 There’s a new type of pergola structure gone up near the site of the odtrc saga. I’m not sure why it’s been painted a slimy mustard colour but I’m sure they’ve got their reasons. The comune is also building a new park on the outskirts of the town and using only local plants so that it stays sympathetic to the local surroundings.

 All signs that Arzachena is becoming an important town in Sardinia. Strange to think that 60 years ago it was just a small shepherd’s village.

From bikini to snow

I may not have a house to build, but there’s plenty of other stuff to distract me like this freezing weather.

I cannot believe I was gloating to everyone back in the UK and US about being in flip-flops and bikini. Yesterday the temperatures plummeted by at least 18 degrees as I was regretting my decision to pack up my winter gear and store it at Mario’s parents’ because it was icy. It was actually hailstoning and in  some parts of Sardinia it was snowing.

Yikes. It’s officially springtime and it seems more winter-like than winter was. I hope we get sunshine and t-shirt weather again soon.

Twiddling my thumbs

Ho hum. There’s still no news on the house. For whatever reason, the brother-in-law isn’t doing his brother-in-law duties because the costruttore doesn’t have a job so our house is still confined to being just a ink sketch on paper.

I was talking to my dad on the phone last night. Mum and Dad were with me when I saw the house for the first time. In just over two months they are out here again. Last year, they thought they’d be out to make the garden all nice pretty and impart some of the pollice verde (green fingers) that sadly I don’t have. But obviously they won’t be. They’ll be out to see just a stark plot of land (sob, sob, sob). And perhaps when they come out next year, they might just get to see the foundations.

Also, just to clear things up. I’m so not depressed about the house falling down. Granted, I’m not enthusiastic about the project at the moment but what’s there to get enthusiastic about? I’ve stopped flicking through house magazines and also looking at what solar panels etc to get because by the time our house gets built, who knows what the situation will be.

 Still, if I don’t have to project manage the house, that leaves me plenty of other time to get on with How to Italy stuff.

An ant’s step on

Unbelievably, we still have no idea how much it is going to cost us to build the house and no idea how much the costruttore and the geometra will be charging.

But that still isn’t as unbelievable as the latest news: the costruttore wants to start building our house and has told his brother-in-law this because he currently doesn’t have any houses to build. This brother-in-law just happens to work in the planning department which will be responsible for giving our project the green light.

So, at the beginning of this week, our project was unveiled on the table so that the brother-in-law’s colleague could see the house that the costruttore would be building if our project got the go-ahead.

Basically, I still have no idea what is happening but we might actually be a step, albeit the step that a baby ant might take, further on.

I’m a domestic goddess – kind of

Settling into a new community is always difficult – even more when you work from home and your job means you speak to contacts all over the world on a daily basis. I love working on projects which breach cultures and timezones as each one opens your eyes to just what is going on in the world and the current buzz in each different country. The flipside is that it makes it a hell of a lot more difficult to make friends with the locals.

Still, it’s something I’m used to. I’ve lived in 29 different houses and 14 differerent towns in three different countries. I know it’s a case of getting out there, getting involved in lots of activities but also sitting back and waiting. And it’s finally happened. After five and months of being in Arzachena on a full-time basis, I’ve got a diary crammed with appointments.

We’ve been out with lots of different friends for dinner each weekend but the highlight came on Wednesday evening. We were at the theatre to watch Agatha Christie’s classic The Mousetrap when we bumped into the secretary of the local tennis club. ‘Mario! Emma’ she said, running over and kissing us on both cheeks. ‘Why haven’t you been playing tennis. We’ve missed you. Emma, ring me and we’ll play together.” This being Sardinia, it’s not a superficial ‘mwah, darling, we must do lunch’ type of comment, she means it. Result? It means I’m off to feebly attempt to hit a ball around the court next week.

I know we don’t even have planning permission yet. But that doesn’t stop me dreaming about my mini mansion. I can’t wait to have the house ready because I want to have dinner parties in the Anglosaxon style where you invite people and they rsvp and it’s all delightful and formal. It will all come as a bit of a shock, though, to the Italian guests because while they might admire the rather wonderful dining table I have my eye on, they certainly won’t admire my food. I’m still the type that burns pasta or leaves it to cook into a soggy, sticky mass. I have one signature dish involving sausage and mash (you can’t go wrong. Italians can only make mashed potato from a packet and as a result I’m temporarily allowed to bask in domestic goddess glory as I whisk the real deal out of the oven) but if I can’t serve that, I’m more likely to end up serving blue string soup in Bridget Jones’ style.

But by that point, the Italians won’t care as I’ll have plied them with lots of red wine. I’ve got it sussed.

Finally, finally, finally!

We were having breakfast on Saturday morning when the phone rang. It was the geometra. Could M come and sign the plans so they could be submitted on Monday?

 Could he sign the plans? Of course he bloody well could. I haven’t seen M get dressed so speedily before.

 So, the plans, which have actually turned out quite well, are signed and they’ve gone to the comune this morning. That in itself is cause for celebration. 

What puzzles me more than anything though is why money isn’t discussed until after the plans are submitted. Neither M or I have any idea as to how much this new progetto is going to cost us in terms of building materials, or how much we’ll end up paying both the geometra and the costruttore.  If I were in England, I’d have figured all that out before the building work begins but I’m not in England, I’m in Italy and I’m playing by the new rules that I haven’t yet understood.

 Let the fun and games begin.

Energy Saving in the Home

My apathy regarding the house has passed. Thankfully, I’ve had a reality check and know that soaking away in a spa tub with a bicchiere di vino rosso is not the best way to keep momentum moving. So I’ve decided to dedicate an hour a day to exploring the possibilities of making our house as green as possible.

 Interestingly, I read yesterday that the Brits are leading the way in eco gadgets and also about a Victorian house in Nottingham, in the UK, that has even got the goverment excited about the energy-saving devices employed.

Here are the links:

 The Recycled House

Green Gadgets to Save Energy in the Home – here you’ll find eco balls to wash your washing without washing detergent. M comes from a cleaning-obsessed family where la mamma gets up at 6.30am to start the daily routine. And yet I managed to convince him of the benefits. Result!

More Eco Gadgets – solar-powered ipod chargers, that type of thing.

 I haven’t found any good Italian sites yet so if anyone knows of any please let me know.