Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Other Place 07 - Furniture Assembling

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Thursday 25-May-2017.

While we were away the kitchen worktop was fitted which looks great but I forgot to take a picture. However the main feature of this trip was getting furniture into the place. Plus buying all the lights for every room so the electrician could come in and fit them.

When you are two stories up centuries-old narrow winding stairs there are two options with furniture. Flat pack that goes up the stairs or pre-assembled and winch it up the outside. Fortunately the builders scaffolding and hoist are there until the end of the month.

Most of the furniture were pre-ordered from Ikea for delivery the day after we arrived. Two wardrobes, two chest of drawers, two bedside cabinets, two hanging rails and a bed. At least I didn't have to carry all that lot up two flights of steep stairs. The poor delivery driver looked well puffed by the end.

By the end I was getting pretty slick at assembly. Thank goodness for the power screwdriver.

The sofa was a different matter. It was delivered a couple of days later and came as a piece. It had to go up the outside - a scary thing to watch.

The hoist is rated for more than the weight of the sofa but even so it is not a spectacle for the nervous.

Once on the terrace it was a bit of a manoeuvre to reverse it into the small bedroom and back out through the kitchen and dining room, across the landing and into the living room.

A week later a sideboard from Calligaris went up the same route. All very stylish and in one piece.

It was not all work, there was eating and drinking. One difference between London and Cisternino is that here you actually know the name of the person who made your Easter egg - Antonietta Pinto founder of Chocolab. We've met her and she's the sister of the brothers who run Bar Fod across the piazza. Buona Pasqua.

That's the Limoncello and Arancello started. I have made Limoncello before using Chris's recipe but this is the first time I have made Arancello.

We'll be back in a couple of weeks to complete the recipe by adding the syrup.

While we are away at least one of the bathrooms should be installed and the boiler up and working so we can actually move in. We will be driving down with a car stuffed full of all sorts on a three day road trip and now be based there for the summer.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Other Place 06 - Kitchen Fitting

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Thursday 30-March-2017.

This whole trip was planned around the installation date for the kitchen.

The basic layout is a U-shape. Key to the design is to separate the oven and hob. The hob is in the foreground facing into the room so Mary can cook and talk to our guests at the same time.

The back of the units are covered with dummy doors so that you are not looking at the bare backs of the units.

One downside of buying a non-designer kitchen was that Conforama could not supply the worktop. The walls are too irregular, they only do basic walls with straight lines and 90 degree angles. We had to wait until the units were in then get the local marble merchant round to measure up. Part of the challenge is to play Tetris with the pieces of the worktop to cut them all from a single 270cm by 325cm composite slab.

All done ready for the worktop, hob and sink.

Up on the terrace the water tank is waiting to be plumbed in. All the houses in the town have rooftop tanks as the water supply is turned off at night. It will be hidden behind a low stone wall for aesthetic reasons.

The terrace walls are below the one metre legal minimum. Our initial thought was to put trellis attached to the planters. Now we are thinking we will put a proper metal railing - awaiting a quote for that.

The next visit we plan to move in. As long as the water is connected the loos will work and we can always boil a kettle for a flannel wash and go to Trullo Azzurro for a shower later. Exciting times.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

North Downs Way 07 - Hollingbourne to Charing

Kent Tuesday 14-March-2017.

Rather than heading home after reaching Hollingbourne, we stayed over at Leeds Castle to make it a 2 day walk. Very pleasant accommodation in the stable yard. We dined in the Castle View Restaurant and were very impressed with the quality of the food and the service.

Part of the deal with staying in the castle B & B was free entry into the castle. In the morning we were able to wander the grounds before the crowds arrived which was very delightful.

Once the castle opened we did the full tour, for free. A fascinating castle.

After lunch we took a taxi back to The Dirty Habit for an afternoon's half day walk. It being spring there were flowers. No idea what these are.

But I'm pretty sure these yellow chaps are primrose.

At this point the NDW joins the Pilgrim's Way for the nine mile walk to Charing. Much easier going which was a relief after the day before but downside was that the scenery was much less stunning than previous sections.

Not for the first time a bit of a brisk walk towards the end to catch an imminent train and avoid a long wait.

This leg: 8 miles
Total so far:104 miles

Monday, March 13, 2017

North Downs Way 06 - Cuxton to Hollingbourne

Kent. Monday 13-March-2017

As we get further from London the longer the train journey to our start point. By this stage it made more sense to make it a two day trip. We chose the B & B at Leeds Castle as the venue for our overnight stop.

We were due to take the train to Cuxton. That involved a change at Strood (Kent) for a 4 minute train journey and a 1.5 mile walk. So we jumped ship at Strood into a taxi that took us to the point on the NDW where we had finished the previous leg, all of which gave us at last a 30 minute advantage. Just as well given the day we had ahead.

Almost immediately we crossed the Medway Viaducts with a fine view of Baty's Marsh, shortly followed by Fort Borstal  -  part of the original young offenders institute.

Another lovely sunken lane.

This is an ancient landscape. We passed Kit's Coty House - the remains of a Neolithic chambered long barrow constructed 3500-2800 BC.

The White Horse Stone - another neolithic relic.

A long day through varied scenery with lots of ups and downs. The last stretch was especially hard work as the ups and downs continued which put the pressure on.

We were glad we started early otherwise we would have been stumbling downhill through woods in the dark.

We made it to at The Dirty Habit in Hollingbourne at 6:30 for a well earned pint. Our destination was off-path to Leeds Castle for our overnight stay so having done 18 miles already, and it being dark, we summoned a taxi to take us to the castle.

This leg: 18 miles
Total so far: 96 miles

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Other Place 05 - Furniture Moving

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Saturday 11-March-2016.

This trip was all about furniture - moving it and buying it. In part this was caused by retro-fitting air-conditioning into Sotto-Le-Stelle. Knowing that was going to create a lot of dust we started moving as much as we could across to the new place.

The scaffolding is down at the front showing of the freshly scrubbed frontage - all repointed and freshly whitewashed. The neighbours wisely chipped in to have their middle floor walls done at the same time whilst the scaffolding and city permits were in place.

If you look carefully you can see how Saverio has picked out the pillars between arched windows - a nice touch.

It was market day while we were there. The stalls start in Corso Umberto I, past our front door and down Via Regina Margarita. We get a good view from the roof.

First up was moving stuff from Trullo Azzurro to the apartment. Saverio has an amazing, heavy-duty cherry picker which he used to grab the fridge freezer from the courtyard. We also moved a double bed which we replaced with twin beds from Conforama making the accommodation at Trullo Azzurro more adaptable.

Everything came up via the back terrace.


The fridge

Even the plant tubs from Sotto-le-Stelle

We bought a couple of Ikea chest of drawers so we could move most of our clothes over. Once we'd filled up the small bedroom Saverio sealed up the room with a plastic sheet while works continued.

It appears that there was a leak from our small terrace into the flat below so we had to have it re-tiled incorporating a waterproof membrane.

Removing the old boiler has revealed a bench which is now covered with stone slab and is a real sun trap.

The interior is also proceeding apace with the painting under way.

Next visit is timed to oversee the kitchen installation.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

North Downs Way 05 - Otford to Cuxton

Kent Tuesday 28-February-2017.

Over a year since our last leg of the North Downs Way! An early start to catch the train down to Otford. First step was in fact backwards. We had to make a detour to see England's only Grade II listed pond.

Otford Pond

It was a glorious day for walking archtypical chalk downland and deservedly an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We walked along several sunken lanes, not just on this day but on other legs of the walk. I love them, they speak to me of maybe Roman or prehistoric times and our ancestors crossing the ancient landscape. To walk in the footsteps of our predecessors is a real thrill.

Sometimes it is not such a thrill. Mostly the NDW follows the ridge but sometimes it dropped down to the bottom of the escarpment and then, of course, back up again. Here is a sight to make the heart sink.

We passed some lovely old timber-framed cottages.

The second of two milestones we passed on this day. "Farnham 71 miles, Dover 54 miles". So we are well over half way. I am not planning to do the Canterbury loop. The NDW intersects or runs concurrent with the Pilgrims' Way at several points but we are doing the NDW not the PW.

The last stretch was a mile and a half off the NDW to get to the nearest train station at Cuxton and a well earned snooze on the train home.

This leg: 17 miles
Total so far: 78 miles

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Other Place 04 - Kitchen and Bathrooms

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Friday 03-February-2017.

This trip was all about the kitchen and bathrooms - well shower rooms actually. We arrived to discover the scaffolding up and the work progressing at a cracking rate.

Corso Umberto I

Via la Fiera

For the kitchen we had options from the designer Scavolini kitchen from Euromobili, via a custom built version from a local carpenter to the cheap-and-cheerful option from Conforama (more like a B&Q kitchen). In the end we went for the latter.

The "design committee" 

A couple of days later we went back to discover that the builder's brother had preemptively started building stone walls where the units were to go. We'd been thinking of wooden carcass not stone so he had to demolish his little walls.

The new staircase and shower-room walls are replastered and the concrete steps stone-clad.

Stairs to terrace and door to shower room

Stairs to the terrace

The roof had been curved because of the two barrel vaults below. Now it is levelled with lightweight, expanded clay granules and a floor laid over that. I had been concerned about extra weight but the granules are not too heavy and provide some useful thermal insulation.

The roof terrance

Inside the two ceilings in the public rooms (living room and kitchen/diner) are now sand-blasted, re-pointed and looking lovely.

Living room ceiling

Dining room

What was the family bathroom is now the utility room. The old bath has gone and will be replaced by a laundry sink and a washing machine.

Utility room

The small bedroom was way too small so we demolished the internal non-structural walls and reinstated them further over giving us a decent sized bedroom, a shower room and reduced the wasted corridor space to a minimum. It also enabled us to repair the arches which had been mangled by the previous walls.

Small bedroom

The terrace is a bit of a building site for equipment storage but they have carved out a niche to house the new boiler. The Italians very sensibly like to install boilers on the outside - greatly reduced risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Terrace with new niche for boiler

After a major planning session we repaired to our local cafe for coffee.

As well as all that we also decided on all the shower room fittings - two of everything please. After that we headed off to Bologna for a well earned city break.