I wrote briefly in the recent posting ‘Back’ about the slightly tiring journey back to Italy. We’d been in the UK and at the wedding in Ireland for over 3 weeks and as much as we’d enoyed ourselves we were conscious of over-staying our welcome, particularly at E and S’s place. We’d also left our beautifully (and painstakingly) restored pool replenished with soft, crystal clean and very expensively-metered Italian mountain water in the hands of our good neighbour P. She was a little excited I think at the prospect of looking after it and using it in the August heat but she’d never taken responsibility for one before. I left copious instructions and we were a phone call or e-mail away if necessary, so I was fairly sure that P would be alright just topping it up with chemicals every few days. Even so, when we were invited to extend our stay by 4 more days to attend my nephew Russell and fiancee Rachel’s engagement party back uo north, we sadly declined because we really felt like we had to get back just in case. Pool’s are fickle things but nothing would go wrong, surely. Umm… we just thought let’s be fair to P and get back asap after the wedding.
The original plan was to fly back to the UK and head down to Dover straight away. However we’d have got there pretty late and decided to book a sailing first thing the next morning spending one final night at E and S’s in Brighton. However I got a call inviting me to another meeting with a potential new client in London that day. Meeting scheduled for 2pm. No problem, we managed to change the ferry time to 6pm-ish for a smallish admin fee. My business meetings whilst over in the UK were interesting but hadn’t led to any firm new commitments so I felt obliged to pursue this meeting. However mid-morning I got a message to say the meeting had been put back by the client to 5.30pm. Umm. Change ferry time again to 10pm for another smallish fee. I then got another message advising me about a change in the travel plans which caused me to detour and to be a little late. Inevitably the meeting overran a bit and I had to get back to Richmond from the East End to meet C. We left there at 8pm leaving us just 2 hours to get to Dover to catch the ferry.
You’re probably ahead of me. I drove faster than the Stig and missed the ferry by 5 minutes…Very frustrating. It was also my mum’s birthday and I’d not had chance to call her. I’d just have to call her the next day. The ferry co were very decent and offered us the next sailing at midnight (without charging a fee this time). We figured it was so late we might as well go for it and drive through the night and the whole of the next day to reach home in Italy at more or less the same time. So after a quick bite and a nap in the car we boarded the midnight ferry and tried as best as possible to catch some more shut-eye on the plastic bench seats, like everyone else. It was like a scene from steeerage class on the Titanic.
We landed in Dunkirk at 3am local time and headed out through Belgium and on to Luxembourg. I have to admit to driving significantly slower than I would have done by daylight. My eyes aren’t what they used to be. I also ended up making a number of stops at services just to take a quick nap as we all felt really tired. But it wasn’t so bad and we were making steady if rather sedate progress. We made the Saar valley by midday-ish then down to bloody Basle and through Switzerland by late afternoon. We were heading for Milan by around 4pm, knowing that we had about a 5 hour drive ahead of us through Italy. I’d left the meeting at 7pm the evening before so we’d been travelling 21 hours by this stage and feeling a little jaded. But on we pressed.
Everything was going OK until we got to beyond Bologna when we had to leave the motorway. This was a bit of a blow as the m-way runs down the Adriatic coast to within a half an hour of where we live, but we figured the A-roads would be ok as they ran parallel to the motorway. Big misapprehension. We hit delays, a gala fireworks festival in one town which caused a 2 hour log-jam, then when we got to Ancona we hit a detour which directed us (and dozens more poor saps) to the new hospital. We went round in circles for an hour trying to find the coastal road. it was 11pm by now and we were seriously whacked and tetchy and R was feeling pretty queasy by this stage and quite unwell.
Anyway I eventually trusted my own instincts and found a route out of town via the docks (nice area at this time of night) and skirting Conero peninsula. Wer landed home around 1.30pm and spent another hour or so just unpacking the car and checking all was OK with house. We’d been travelling over 30 hours and felt like death. Good old P had bought us some milk and a few things. She’d also warned us via e-mail before we left that the pool had gotten away from her and was a rather nasty green colour. She’d encountered some significant problem with the filter system and couldn’t resolve it. Groan…it was too dark to check things out and I was too tired. It’d have to wait till morning. P also mentioned that we’d had a bird in too in her message but that it had disappeared or left. It wasn’t evident when we got in the house. That could wait too. I’d also forgotten to call my mum again. Oh frig. I’d sort that next day too…if I ever awoke.
We got up at nearly 11am. The sun was blasting in through the window. After 3 weeks of constant rain and howling gales at least we were back in the land of proper weather. I went out onto the balcony to survey the garden and pool and do a damage assessment on how much we were faced with. There was our beautiful pool and P was right it was no longer turquoise or emerald green but a deep pea-green. Jesus. In earlier postings there are some shots of the pool once it had been cleaned etc. Have a look at those and compare it with this scene:
It was as bad a colour as when we landed back here in March. To be honest I hadn’t the heart to tackle it straight away. My mind was still racing with traffic signs and my eyes were on stalks. Besides the house needed cleaning – the missing bird had left it’s mark around the place and, as ever when we’re away for a bit, the place had filled with cobwebs. Italy produces the spider kings of web-spinning. So we attacked the house first. By mid-afternoon it was looking and feeling a lot cleaner when C called me to say she’d found the dead bird – it was behind our big fridge.
Regular readers will know we’ve kind of been here before with the Birds! Without thinking I jee-jawed the fridge away from the wall about 6 inches or so. It wasn’t quite enough to reach behind and get the poor little sparrow so I pulled the fridge further from the wall and suddenly Kerrashhh!! It was the big glass demi-john of our very own olive oil that I keep out of the way on top of the fridge. Aw f*ckadoodledo. Glass everywhere and more to the point oil everywhere (our bloody precious homegrown oil that we sweated over the pruning and picking and processing) seeping in to our lovely but very porous terracotta kitchen floor. And doesn’t the pine dresser base look nice with rich oil splashes absorbed into it. Have look at these shots post clear-up:
It took us 2 hours to clear it all away. C just wasn’t in the mood for me for the rest of the day. I can’t blame her; it was such a frigging dopey thing to do. But my head was hurting and I wasn’t thinking. We have two-tone kitchen floor now – one half virgin clean, the other extra virgin sealed.
So to the pool. It looks like one of the rings which holds the filter bag in place has snapped which has allowed the filter bag to drop to the bottom of the filter tunnel and blocking it from acting effectively. Over a period of a few days this will cause the water to develop algae, especially in the heat and bright sunlight. Nothing P did was able to rectify it. The problem began about a week – two weeks ago and was just getting worse the longer we were away. It was just P’s and our bad luck for the ring to break whilst we were away. I hadn’t left any notes on how to cope with that situation. Hey ho.
Anyway we threw all the appropriate chemicals we had into the system and have been changing and washing through filter bags filled with algae every hour or so for the last 5 days- though not at night of course. We’ve got it back to a milky kind of turquoise and with luck it should be pretty clear again in 2-3 more days of constant filtering and cleaning.
Well that was an interesting return. One gruelling drive, one pool full of gank again, one dead bird and his mess, one ruined floor and dresser and the end of our oil reserve for ourselves and the oil club members. And the potential new client hasn’t contacted me to say whether we’re green for go or not. But hey, the weather’s super and the pool’s recovering. We’ve caught up on our sleep and I at last got through to wish my mum a happy birthday a couple of days ago – though she didn’t sound too impressed with my explanation. Call that an excuse…hey ho!