A friend sent around a couple of men who were willing to take out the massive tree that had died on the lower terrace and part of the tree by the house that was threatening to fall on the garage and wood store. If either did decided to fall the roots system would demolish part of the bank the house is standing on so getting them removed first was a priority. The price quoted for the tree work included cutting and transporting the wood up to the house, we thought, but they cut the trunks and branches into 40cm lengths and left it all over the terraces as that was what they said we’d asked. Unable to even lift one of the portions of wood we showed them our manual saw, wheelbarrows and Bertha where it needed to be burnt and they agreed we would be here this time next year trying to clear the terraces. So we re-negotiated their return to split the huge segments and use their pick up truck to transport the wood to the house where we would then stack it ourselves. In between the unseasonable rain we cut and stacked & burnt the twiggy bits that we could manage, while either running for cover or getting soaked to the skin, but we only got a short sharp burst while the UK got a deluge or dollop of the bad weather. Despite it costing a bit more than we anticipated , doesn’t everything, it was still cheaper than a proper construction company and a lot less than waiting for the worse to happen and then having to deal with the consequences if the 2 trees had taken the terraces out when they eventually fell.

We taken the fence apart where he said one of the trees would fall and it hit a different section so we then had 30 feet of fencing to rebuild. The tree also hit another on the lower terrace and caused it to shift fracturing the land on the upper level slightly. Fortunately repairing the fence didn’t take as long as we feared to replace but we used thinner supporting uprights as the land is now quite fragile and we didn’t want to cause a small landslide reducing the width of the terrace.

Moved the lemons out of their winter quarters just as the weather turned but that’s life and in the wet/heat the grass bolted and the gooseberries vanished under grass twice in a single week so had to clear them before they got strimmed by accident. In the darkness we cold hear bangs and crashes. Mike working on his flight simulator thought I was moving furniture and I downstairs wondered why he was taking legs of a table and dropping them on the floor. We met at the stairs to ask was going on and the noise continued over our heads. Grabbing a torch we ventured outside and the noises stopped. The Eagle owl is back and hunting by lifting our roof tiles up to look underneath, which must a very big bird as each tile weighs over 2 lbs each and they’re fitted one under another. Now we have flipped over tiles its another job when we get the lift in to clean gutters and prune the cypress in a year or so’s time. The triffid in the lawn bloomed. Its been 3 years but in the past the poor plant has been mown so this is the 1st time we’ve seen it and it’s a sort of orchid.

We found the Ricci business in Maccie that Ann said she got her gravel from in the distant past. What lovely people. The man explained that the white from the river giving smooth pebble type stones and the white larger rougher bits from Terni were not available any more as river dredging is finished and the quarry closed. However we were looking for yellow/sand colour to set off the house and make the quadrangle look less municipal like. What he advised was a 2mm “pink” and took us to see the different sorts and explained when wet it isn't really pink but a mix including quartz and yellow and he gave us a handful so we can show Valantino our wood delivery man who said he can collect and deliver for us depending on distance and weight. This is a bigger stone to the one we found before and a little cheaper per ton but its further to collect so swings and round-a-bouts but it wont get caught in the car tyres or wellies when crossing over it. We decided to delay getting the load as the grass on the banks had been left for the poppies and when we went to cut them it took both of us to clear the growth. Mike using the strimmer and I raking and dumping the grass. This will be the last time we let it go so long as its harder work cutting longer grass once than shorter more frequently. We will miss the poppies a lot.

We have asked "Trusted house sitters" couple that were recommended, in the English news letter to cat & house sit in the 1st week of May next year ( post Bertha central heating & before pool cleaning) so we can have a peek at Malta. They have been police checked and have sat for people we know and recommended and are not awed by Llamas, nervous cats or naughty Beagles so they should cope with our spoilt moggie for 4 days......Yes we know this is a bit much in advance but if its booked we'll do it, as you know life, grass and taking the eye off the ball, -time creeps up and over takes us- so this time next year we'd be wondering "what happened?". Thus its being itinerarised = we'll get there, fingers crossed.

We had to get parents to phone UK Home shopping, (as they refused to communicate by email or skype), & said after 11 & 1/2 months the unit is out of warranty and it would cost 8.50 for parts- "p'd off of Perugia" kicked in and we emailed their PR dept's (couldn't get the MD's email) as well we know there is a minimum of a 2 year EU warranty on all items as of EU directives and gave them 48 hours before we hit the social networks and Ebay with our comments, blogs, & Money matters. Looking at the negative comments it seems they have recently become uncooperative and decline to speak to people experiencing problems with their products. We also contacted citizens advice in their area who have past on the matter to trading standards.

The gas boiler in our bathroom stopped working and the toaster packed in and then both the fridge and freezer door handles pulled off. Although we normally get the boilers serviced next month we decided to ask the engineer to come out now and so saved the cost of a call out plus we have a spare for parts in the attic and he was able to replace the failed Honeywell gas regulator and ignition system saving another 100 euros plus. The toaster was a write off but we discovered a new supplier of the thermal plates for our Dualit so ordered those to repair our older unit. The next thing to go was one of our UPS units it blew the battery and the charger unit but we had sold the Ikea daybed and so were able to cover the costs of the repairs and replacement parts for both the toaster and ups. In with one hand and out with the other.

The weather played hot, wet, windy and indecisive, we managed to catch up and cut 90% of the grass, re-varnish windows and T-cut and clean the car before we went to collect parents from the airport at Perugia. Despite the challenging conditions we were ready before they arrived and their great grandson Archie was born, not without incident, as Karen had to endure a cesarean for him to arrive.

A call out of the blue turned out to be the financial ombudsman from Dublin who had been allocated our complaint against the Prudential for miss handling the conversion of our pension funds, taking almost a month instead of 6 days causing us to lose out on over 7k in the exchange rate. As an arbitrator they are totally impartial and spoke to both sides to try to get an idea what went wrong and what, if any, redress would be agreeable to both parties. If no accord can be reached then it is possible to continue with the ombudsman to make an official ruling on the matter to determine if wrongdoing or neglectfulness had occurred and compensation required.

While doing a circuit with the mower Mike rushed over to say a massive hare had run across the area I was cutting but I had my back to it so missed it. We had a flock of 5 birds we've never seen before one morning and we've failed to get any id from on line. They were about the size of a black bird, with a long narrow beak, dark turquoise blue chest and tummy, with a bright yellow ring around the neck and dark wings. They perched on trees branches and swooped very fast like swallows. Mike said they reminded him of kingfishers but they were not as stocky. It turned out they were Bee-eaters but not the one’s we usually have visit which have bright yellow tummies with a blue band around the neck which are called blue breasted bee-eaters.

It seemed to be a fraught month of repairs, bad weather and quarrels but using the Italian “piano fa” = slowly does it, we got through without too many scars.

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