The year stared very mild reaching 26c in the sunlight almost warm enough to eat outside, then it did a complete reversal with strong cold wind and a hard frost followed by 28c and full sun again. To say we are confused is an understatement but the plants and animals don’t know either. We began with a lunch party to bring in the new year we talked mostly about selling houses as 2 friends are also on the move one thinks we’re daft engaging a PR company to promote it and paying 500 plus vat when we sell (no matter who sells it) yet she paid as much to an agent in Montipulciano ( their web site search doesn't work and they kept getting the details wrong) just to have them list her place and prominently display it in the window and on line. Who ever sells will engage the others tactics. Mike liked his funny hat it was given to him as a present and he wore it for several days as he ate left overs.

Mach1 lady friend started visiting, kept us up half the night wooing and wailing at our window for Mcah1 to come out and play, he was all ready out hiding in the woods and wouldn’t come home until a disappointed and lonely lady left haunting the house at day break. She soon gathered he wasn’t interested and went to find a new boy friend further afield but returned frequently to see if he’s change his mind.

Decided to put Ubuntu back on the computer but discovered we could load a lighter version, Lubuntu, and then we learnt about virtualbox which places a second operating system within your original so you can switch between them without having to chose which to boot up on. Sounds simple, and it probably is for the brave and those who found the ‘youtube’ simple explanation (my XP machine wont play these videos as the browser cant be updated), but trial, error and reading several sets of instructions we got so frustrated after 3 days we decided to upgrade to Windows 7. This wasn’t easy either. 3 breakout boxes, 4 hard drives and much tooing and froing to get things formatted correctly then the 1st HDD was too small to accommodate the updates, a second failed and the third got there in the end. Another 2 days importing files and preferences so we recovered our emails and saved favorites. Then downloading new security software and so on. The calamity when updating the system crashed. We tried reformatting twice more but discovered a windows security update for malware was destroying the system, it even blocked the hard drive, so no 3 was used and we turned off the updates and installed a lot of antivirus checkers. We had to recover the hard drive via another program to extract all the old folders and favorites, emails and so on. It took 2 weeks, a lot of swearing and wine to gt back to near normal working but there are still quirks we can’t resolve like no spell checker in the new O/S and no way to fix it as yet so on to open office4.

A couple who want a house like ours so they can run B&B asked if we’d discount it by 375,000.00 lowering the offer to 600k. A 3 bed property down the road is on sale at over 700k so we said no, unsurprisingly. We had been warned to expect cheeky if not downright rude offers as people think ex-pats are in a panic selling to return to the UK. We know we’ll have to negotiate the price, always downwards, but that rather took the biscuit if not the whole tin!!

We got a sudden day of high winds, stronger than we’ve had before from the West, there was some minor damage to a fence a large branch fell out of a tree by the car park but we’d had to put all the glass bottles indoors while it blustered as they’d started rolling around the front of the house. After we sawed the ivy off the branch we could trim the useful bits and carried up to the house to be cut up but the main branch was too heavy to move and had to be sawn insitue. A hard frost gave all the cobwebs a jewel like effect as if Faberge had created them but still mid month and it was hitting the mid 20’s and into the early 30’s. While spraying Bordeaux mix on the fruit trees I noticed our palm had fruit and the daffodils and tulip bulb leaves were well sprouted. These bright and sunny days were interspersed with the frosty and the misty sea’s making it a very pleasant month and we even started the strimming.

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