“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Wednesday, 18 August 2021
Sabi's first day in work meant it was my official first day as a stay at home dad. Nothing terrifying about that, 60% of the time, they behave every time...
As it was a sunny, boiling hot kind of day, I decided it'd be nice to cycle into the neighbouring town (on Sabi's bike with trailer) to take the kids for ice cream, to the playground and then to the supermarket to buy some necessary food stuff.
A lovely 3.5km bike ride down the mountain to Villanova and we arrived at the Gelateria a little sweaty and ready for ice cream. The shop was empty when we arrived so I donned my mask and the three of us entered to browse the flavours. Both kids already knew they wanted ciocolato flavour, but I pretended to browse to get my order ready in my head in Italian.
Pretty sure I nailed it. "Un cono con ciocolato per favore". The nice lady behind the counter looked a little confused. asked me how many flavours I wanted. "Solo uno, ciocolato". She continued to look confused, but somehow managed to get it right. Then I had to order a second cone, the same. Hah. I just blabbered "ancora uno" which Sabi reliably informs me was correct. Nailed it. Two ice creams.
By this time, the shop behind me had filled up with several other people, all intent on not socially distancing. I shimmied around to the lady who was taking payment and gave her some money (this bit was easy as I know numbers).
Then I took a little step backwards and woahhhhhh, there is a grumpy* old Italian lady behind me with something (me) on her foot. Cue panic stations everyone. A hurried scusi and apologetic look before rushing the kids outta the door and back to the bike to hop skip and run to the playground where, thankfully, grumpy old ladies don't go.
* I highly suspect the old Italian lady wasn't grumpy prior to my foot crushing hers. Social distancing is the greatest invention and outcome of the recent pandemic and I will be ever so sorry to see it go when (if) this thing ends. I didn't enjoy close contact (she enjoyed it less for sure).
Aaaaaanyway. Lessons learnt? I doubt it. I'll very likely get flustered and cause more chaos in the future. Stay tuned.
It's been a while since I posted. I think the 'We completed' post was the last one and that was 2 weeks ago (blimey, that time flew!). A very quick run down on things that have happened since I suppose.
We moved in officially a few days after completion, once we had managed to clean and get things in place (although not a new oven (it was delivered yesterday to Sabi's parents house...)) Our beautiful retro red fridge arrived a few days after while our washing machine came at some point too.
Sabi's "part time" job turned into 8-9 hour days almost immediately (day 1 in fact) and she has been working shifts, though thankfully she is usually home in time to say good night to the kiddos. With this, I have been thrown into the stay at home dad position which I have struggled with purely because the house isn't ready, I'm not allowed to drive (Thanks Brexit, ya great goose), we don't "officially" own the woodlands here yet and I don't speak Italian.
Day 1 of "Kids with Dad" found us upsetting old ladies in the Ice Cream parlour and confusing staff at the Supermarket (I say "us" obviously, it was only me that did these things - see blog "Where Neil caused trouble" for more). Thankfully things improved after this with trips to playgrounds, and a second trip to the market both much more improved (actually saying Grazie, instead of 'you're welcome, in Italian, to the shop clerk). We also made some progress in the house, getting the kitchen and living areas cleaned and sorted (though we all knew it wouldn't stay clean...)
Sabi had a day off on Monday too so we 'explored' up the mountain, aiming for Rastello, but being blocked off at a ski resort because of some e-bike event, so turning around back to Norea and a picnic in the park.
We continue to do stuff, explore etc. Lobo continues to escape and terrorise the users of the cycle track out the front of our house. I have almost given up worrying about that though. The next big and exciting thing to happen will be on Saturday when my amazingly fantastic, adventurous explorer (Leonardo) turns 5!
We'll be having a party at Nonno and Nonna's so there can be swimming and his God mother (Manu & family) can be in attendance.
Thursday, 5 August 2021
After lunch, we were met with confirmation that Monday or maybe Tuesday would be 'meet the notario (solicitor), agenzia (estate agent) and the sellers in a meeting to sign the contract. So cue the sudden motivation to transfer our money from the UK to Italy. Haha, so unorganised. Unsurprisingly, trying to transfer £25,000 at a time via online banking to Wise (formally transfer wise) resulted in Fraud blocking first our joint account, and then Sabi's personal. Cue the 'wait on hold forever saga'.
9pm on Saturday I had a phone call from the taxi-driver at the UK border stressing because Lobo's passport didn't have my name on it, only the details for the rescue centre. Ooops. I emailed various documents (adoption contract, passport etc) and he was eventually allowed over. Hooray.
Rising early after being informed the taxi would arrive between 8 and 9, only to later discover that became 11:30, then 12:30. Still, he was on his way and we were excited to be reunited with Lobo.
Sabi drove us to collect Lobo from Cherasco, about 25 minutes from our temporary home. Lobo was excited, then went for a poo and to see some other dogs...not that excited. We were excited though. Happy times, we took him home, gave him cuddles and he quickly tried to investigate the 5 girls next door (one of whom is on heat). Happy Lobo. Stress levels medium
Cue panic - Gino and Sabi went to the bank to withdraw the cheques with which to pay for the house (cheque payment feels very 'dark ages'), I got the kids ready for the excitement of a meeting (in which we'd hopefully buy the house) followed by Ice Cream to celebrate.
Sunday, 25 July 2021
Moving day finally arrived (Thursday 22nd) and having been informed the previous day that they would be with me between 9 and 11, I arrived at the house at 06:30 for finally packing and tidying activities. At 10:05, I received an email to inform me that actually, they wouldn't arrive until between 2 and 3. Balls and Buggery. My help (brother-in-law and father) arrived about 5 minutes after this email to help load the vans. Alas, I had to break the bad news, followed by the good news that actually, one of the vans (a Mercedes Sprinter) was only 30 minutes away and we could load 1.2tonnes of boxes onto it. Hooray.
The driver told us he could stay awake for 48 hours without problem and anticipated, with no customs issues, that he'd arrive Saturday morning (image above of his truck loaded to weight limit). Excellent. A few hours and much traffic later, the arrival of the next truck (and thereafter truck 3). Both larger and ready for the furniture. The barrier here, no English was spoken by the drivers and no Romanian was spoken by my crack-team. So we bumbled our way through loading the vans and, relatively quickly we ran out of space and I was left rapidly prioritising what to take and what to leave (farewell my oak bench and outdoor dining table).
Cue a late evening in the airport trying to organise ourselves while our kids were (thankfully) being amazingly well behaved. We booked ourselves new tests at the airport for the following day (£70), found accommodation for the night (£100) and booked new flights for the next evening (£900). We then went on an adventure from Terminal 2 to Terminal 5 via the delightful (and free) Heathrow Express where we were greeted with London Airport cabbies who charged us £25 for a 4minute journey to a Covid-ripe maskless and social-distance-less hotel. Hooray.
If you need to travel abroad and need to get a test. DO NOT USE Well Pharmacy. They are a bunch of thieving crooks. Also, you can book yourself in for a rapid antigen test at most airports if you arrive early enough without any real worries.
Tuesday, 20 July 2021
Our last weekend in the UK was full of much fun, relaxation and family curry time. In the knowledge that this week, starting on Monday, was to be the most chaotic of our lives at decided to take our really easy.
Lobo has been working hard to stay out of the 🌞 although her is a bit twp and does lie in the sun at times. Here he is... In the shade.
Do you remember that time I said we were 'barrier-less' to completing in Italy, though probably not because of the 1000 other complications that were going to arise? Haha. funny how things turn out.
Sabi had a video call this morning with the current owner of the house we are buying in Italy. Apparently he speaks very well and looks cool with a giant beard. He also keeps bees, so he sounds like my kinda guy. Anyway, he called up to have a chat and tell us how angry he is with the estate agent for being pretty sh*tty. I mean, I have been annoyed at her for a while now, so I am glad I'm not alone in this.
It turns out that the notary (solicitor) in Italy is linked to the estate agent and has flagged an issue that needs fixing before we can complete. Essentially, the garage, which was built in the 70's, was built 40cm longer than the original architect planning. The notary won't allow the sale to go through until either the deed is changed or the building is fixed. This probably wouldn't be a huge issue other than the fact that in August, Italy practically shuts down for holidays so nothing will happen until September. Not a huge problem, other than we'll be living with Sabi's parents for a month - which does have some benefits (including a swimming pool and opportunity for me to finish some work I need to do without distraction) and some challenges (Sabi's parents aren't dog people....Lobo is a dog, a pretty stinky annoying one at times).
If, as we asked her to, the estate agent had started the notary off 6 months ago when we put a 10,000 euro deposit down, we wouldn't be in the position. Instead, she told us 'it'll be fine, it'll only take a couple of weeks to go through'. In hindsight, we should have forced her to start, but y'know, we are passive. So anyway. we all dislike the estate agent. But are working on ways to circumnavigate the issues with the current owner, who is willing to pay to have it all fixed and 'rent' the house to us for 1euro so we can move in during the interim. Not ideal. But maybe better than alternatives.
So, top tip for those of you looking to relocate. Put pressure on estate agents and notary to get started early so when you are 3 days away from moving to the country, you aren't being told there is a potential 1 month or more delay to completing.
In positive news, our packing is on-going. Sabi's fabric collection exceeds 180kg, which is pretty impressive, her sewing machines are packed and business is closed until we are settled in Italy. You can still pre-order for delivery, which is being bulked together for 1 or 2 deliveries to the UK per year. visit her page at Amore Mio Clothing and Zero Waste on Facebook or Amore del Mondo on Instagram.
Here is Lobo.
Monday, 19 July 2021
So, too much had been going on for me to get on and write a post over the last few days and I'll probably break it up into a couple of posts to make it less strenuous reading for you.
First up, after the joys of being informed as the last hour that I needed a 'codice fiscali' from Italy in order to complete on our purchase, and then told it could be up to 6 weeks before I get a response, I am delighted to say it came through within a week of my application and we are now barrier-less to completing (we all know that's a joke, I predict 1000 other complications yet).
In local news, I gave officially finished work in the UK and, as of 5pm today, am unemployed. The team, where I have been based since Jan 2017, threw me a lovely leaving do at over of my favourite woodlands on Thursday (my last working day). There was a lot of chat and laughter and it was lovely to see everyone in person, especially after the last 18 months.
A big thank you to everyone in NPT council, Coed Lleol and Swansea council for everything. See you in Italy!
Here's Lobo, being Lobo, by a Waterfall
Tuesday, 13 July 2021
'The Checklist' sounds like it could be a film, albeit a boring film. I'd envisage Will Smith playing the lead role, staring at his checklist. But instead of a fun or exciting checklist like in the 'Bucket list', it'd just be a standard to-do list. The film would, most probably, have Will Smith standing there on his phone, looking wistfully (and bored) out of the window while listening to hold music as he tries to cancel his home insurance before moving on his big trip. Perhaps sitting at a computer trying to navigate his accounts for various utilities contracts that they make impossible to cancel simply on their website.
Still lots left to do on our checklist and some days we achieve nothing (like today) others we achieve a little (I packed 1 box on Sunday). I finish work on Thursday this week (with a mini-leaving-do in the woods) and then it's t-minus 1 week until liftoff and 5 days of manic panic packing, weighing and organising. Right now, I am going to find and book a taxi to take the four of us to the airport next week to begin our wonderous adventure for reals.
Friday, 9 July 2021
Alright, it probably isn't a 'hobby' but I seem to spend more time thinking about, planning and subsequently ignoring my plan for packing than any other non work activities.
Today we boxed up 45kg of Sabi's fabric. It'd be fine if it wasn't less than half of her stockpile, tidied the garage a bit more (that's a slow burner), packed up a box of toys while the kids were distracted and then unpacked and repacked some boxes. Good times.
We fly 2 weeks today. I wonder if the vans will be big enough. Hope so.
Tuesday, 6 July 2021
So it has been 8 months still our journey began. We found a house in Italy that we loved, it came with land and a second property purchase option that gives us a bungalow with which we can rent out for tourists as a means of income. It is nestled in the foothills of the Italian-French Alps on the boundaries of a Nature park and within 15 minutes of the ski slopes. Only 30 minutes from Sabi's family and closer still to the forest school we have signed the kids up to, it appears fate has stepped in to make it work.
Cue a mad rush to organise everything on the Italian side (in hindsight we should have been doing this earlier, but y'know, life). Sabi is in regular contact with her dad and Italian agent, and in turn they are contact with the notary. All is going forward, though slowly.
|The Italian house|
One airline (British Airways) told us we had to use their Partner company to get him a place ticket. No problem, I went off and got a quote...£1900 for the silver package. So, plan B, AlItalia, who quoted the much more reasonable price of 75euros. We booked it up. Only to discover that Lobo is too long for the maximum sized crate allowed.
*back to the drawing board*
Ok, so I was starting to worry and stress about this. I turned to the Expats in Italy facebook group to ask for advice and was almost immediately contacted by an Italian fella (Marco) who happened to be
smuggling transporting dogs back and forth from Italy to UK and vice versa. He told me he didn't have opportunity to take Lobo until the end of July, a full week after our flight. Cue further panic (so far, Lobo has probably caused the most stress).
At this moment in time, we are reviewing our options for a week long dog sitter to look after him until he can be collected. While we do that, packing has started in earnest and the giving away and selling of crap we don't want has all but finished. The move is now 2.5 weeks away. Here's some fun things we have to do still...
- sort out our banks
- tell HMRC (probably)
- redirect our mail
- cancel insurance
- sell the van
- find the cat a new home (she isn't up for the move)
- shut down our utilities contracts
- cancel the milk
- cancel council tax
- organise a safe, secure and economic money transfer
- pack our belongings
- Covid tests
- Covid vaccines round 2 (booked for this week).
Ciao and Hello!
Welcome to our blog! The place where we'll detail all the exciting stuff around our escape from the UK and into the Italian Alps. Join us on our adventure, follow our challenges, successes and excitement as we start a new life, create new businesses, explore the country and create a sustainable life for ourselves.
Who we are
We are a family of 5: Neil and Sabi, Leonardo and Lucia and Lobo (the dog). I am sure you'll learn more about us as time goes on and I won't bother with detailed write ups now.
Where it began