Friends, Brian and Sue, took our box stuffed with this years Xmas cards, Pa's birthday pressy, mums and the next 2 years of pressys for the not so littles. They had parcel2go collect it by Hermes and 3 days it was there. All safe and sound including Pa's decanter, he sounded really pleased with it and hopefully it made his being off his feet a bit more bearable.

Ma had sent her Xmas box via UPS and in the mix were 2 leather repair kits, for the leather suit and Mikes coat. We did the suit first, covering up the cat pickle marks, by the time we'd finished we had the hang of it mostly. Have to say it looked a lot better so tackled the coat next which was rubbed on all seams, collar, cuffs, edges and inside edge. It looked very old and worn before we started but afterwards it looked just like when we purchased it, so very pleased and we've enough colours to touch up two other brown coats and redo everything again.

With most of the outside and indoor chores completed until the spring after a week of rain and fog but mild temperatures between 12-18c, then bright and chilly, I got around to cutting out fabric for a quilt to back the star quilt top made over a year ago. While sorting the fabric for this one I also started looking at 2 illusion quilts at the same time. Holes and furrows appeared in the garden and we had to replant lots of the iris that were being dug up then we saw some of the culprits, deer, despite taking care not to startle them we got 6 photos but only this one shows just the one of three in any detail, they blend in so well they're very hard to see even when you know where they are lurking.

Then we had some bad news, Brian had a bleed in his eye and needed to stay in the UK to get the treatment he needed so they'd not be coming back for Christmas so plans had to be revised. Ann decided to accept an offer from Italian friends in Assisi, Annie was already booked to go to Serbia skiing -then she fell and tore ligaments in her ankle and was off her feet for 2 weeks but was Ok to go on the holiday but didn't risk skiing, so we invited the usual suspects to dinner on he 16th as we planned to hibernate till after the New Year.

Mike fed up with the terrible Internet service, despite numerous calls where promises were made an engineer eventually admitted Telecom Italia was throttling back our line and there was nothing they could do so he started looking for an alternative supplier and found there was only one option that would give a 2-7gb supply and they came out to test the system three days after being contacted. Marco had it all up and running, tested, installed and said we had 10 days to decline and we could drop in to the office anytime. Silvia in the administration department was also extremely helpful and as we'd passed o 2 contacts, Francois in Holland was extremely pleased to be recommended to them, we got a 45 euro discount off the installation fee. The difference was astounding, films played without stutters and lip sinc errors. The only the thing we needed was a Voip converter box at 43 euros from Amazon so we could use our dect phones. A Voip would cost 89 euros and it would have to be upstairs and this way we get communications on both floors by the first week in January, The next mall item was to get a free Voip number and we signed with a company that have reasonable call rates both in Italy and internationally, compared to others, and like a our Pay-as-you- go Cell phone we put at least 6 euros on account and top up over the web when we need to – simples.

Sent off modem and cancellation letter to infostrada telecoms as the Internet at weekends, evenings and holidays drops to a level below EU standards and its unusable and ordered VOIP box of tricks this pm delivery due between 1-3rd Jan, so just email and SKYPE during the change over.

Had a look at and just after Xmas hell is freezing over. We don't think we're high enough to get anything more than sleet as we're below the expected hit zone. What we did get was a -6c wind chill so burnt wood on all fires with lots of planned soups and stews but the cold did kill the wasps, bugs and tics. There were marigolds, roses, snap-dragons, germaniums and nasturtiums in bloom although not for long! The warmth indoors meeting the chill of the stone walls started causing mold on the northern walls and inside the front door the render began to lift so lots to add to next years do list. The last week brought a surprise westerly gale, we huddled in bed listening to things bang and creek, we were certain devastation had taken place but the following day showed 2 bins blown to the gates, a large glass bottle blown into the car – both unharmed- 1 uprooted plant and a bought down taking a section of fence out, a lot less than it actually sounded.

Keeping the 3 wood burners going, Bertha for the central heating, the stuffie in the kitchen to cook on and the caminette in the living room stopped the house from cooling down to much during the very cold weather. We did use a lot of wood nut the stews, baths and being able to feel our fingers and toes was worth the effort of bringing barrow loads of wood in each day.

The 31st was the usual firework display, at least it was dry this year, and we were snug and warm watching from inside at the displays as they erupted all around us, the Italians know how to party!

Happy New Year each and all.