Sunday, August 25, 2013

Every Bed of Roses has its Thorns

The Other Side of the Idyll

Writing this blog I sometimes worry that we only ever talk about the Good Things of life in Chianti. Although the intention is to describe the best of what's available, be it food, culture, craftsmanship or festivals, or the most interesting aspects of our garden, the seasonal changes etc., we run the risk of giving the wrong impression. Although I doubt anyone truly believes we are living in some sort of enchanted bubble.

It is true we count ourselves lucky to live in this corner of the world, but naturally we are not immune to problems, glitches, bad luck and difficult incidents just like everyone. I wrote a post on the disastrous 'rainbomb' which all but destroyed part of our road and led us to carry out roadworks earlier this month, but in this forum we generally shy away from bad news or the negative aspects of life in the country. 

For example, when my husband was bitten by a mysterious bug and had an allergic reaction, his doctor in Milan suggested that he return to the city every so often, for some much-needed R & R!

Here is a list of Unexpected Challenges over our 5+ years of living here, in no particular order:

*fire in the new chimney; the builders had underestimated the heat accumulation in our closed fireplace (fire put out by honorary firefighters);

*mildew on walls from condensation in closed, heated rooms in the winter (solution: scrub with bleach and keep the windows ajar);

*light outages in the summer when our solar panels risk overheating (have to be covered with a tarpaulin which means calling someone to climb on the roof to spread out the tarpaulins and then to remove them again, otherwise the hot water runs out);

*furnace water tank bursting, necessitating expensive replacement, although fortunately still under guarantee;

*well water, which after the yearly analysis this year turns out to be unfit for drinking, maybe due to heavy rains this spring; it is fine for cooking, washing etc but will be tested again; if it continues so, we will sadly have to chlorinate our fresh well water;

*deer ravaging our trees, pulling off fruit, breaking branches and scraping trunks; eating buds and shoots (they certainly eat shoots and leaves); shedding ticks around the place. We are about to erect a fence which should address this.

*well pump breaking down after only eighteen months;

*violent 'rainbombs' (is this our version of global warming?) which destroy the road, sweeping away the surface, create havoc with the run-off channels and pipes, knock down trees and branches;

*heavy snowfall (this only once) which cut us off from civilisation for several days with concurrent electrical outage for 36 hours which meant no water, no electricity, no heat; only the gas worked. I spent a deal of time melting snow for the loos to discover that an enormous amount of snow produces only a piffling amount of water...

*mosquitoes (not so unexpected, but annoying anywhere, anyhow);

*venomous snakes (adder and asp), not that we have ever seen one of these alive;

*horseflies in the woods (in mid August for a couple of weeks) which love nothing better than to trail the car and pester you when you get out. The trick is to stay in the parked car a minute or two; they get bored and fly off.

I guess that's about it - for now!

With thanks to Leunig, my favourite Australian cartoonist.

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