catching up

Well it’s been weeks since the last posting – these blogging breaks seem to be becoming a feature of the site – so a quick catch up on recent stuff might be helpful. First off it’s been busy-ish on the work front, especially for C, but the main diversion has been a brilliant two week break over at our place in Italy. For once a holiday rather than a work camp!

We decided to drive down and it was a leisurely and, save for some heavy traffic through Italy  (it was Ferragosto, the Italian equivalent of the August Bank holiday w/e), a thankfully uneventful journey all the way. At least it was for the first 980 miles of the drive. Then 20 miles from our lovely home a warning message comes up on the dashboard telling me, in terse Teutonic tones, that  I had an engine problem and needed to go to a VW dealer for an immediate diagnostic check up. Schnell! Oh deep joy. After experiencing major engine problems en route with our two previous cars we’d rather hoped that our new Tiguan would give us trouble-free journies to Italy well into our 80’s. But the Gods of Fun always have a regular cocktail hour with our fortunes regardless of what we do to try and thwart them.

No big deal. We got settled in over the weekend  – the weather was wonderful and it was lovely to be back. Having  checked online for our nearest VW dealership I headed out on the Monday morning to Civitanova, about 40 miles away back from whence we’d come. I’d tried to call ahead but couldn’t get the gist of the voicemail message on the phone line. Ah well I figured I’d just get over there, get things sorted (hopefully inexpensively) and, as per the name of my former BT colleague, Bob Sherunkle.

Well I found the Dealership alright and there I was at the garage gates at 9am. The heavily locked gates with a big sign which even I  could translate; Closed for Holidays, for 1 week! Sigh. So off I toddled back to the house, not really knowing whether I was doing irreparable harm to the car by driving it those 80 miles, fruitlessly and frustratingly. Now I knew what that bloody recorded message was on about.

Back home it became apparent once I was online that every VW dealership in central Italy was closed that week too (note to self; when I win the EuroMillions lottery, create businesses that remain open when all the  competitors are closed and clean up). Ah well, no driving for a week would mean that we could totally relax. And we did. We caught up with our great friends and neighbours J & C and P who is sadly thinking of  selling her lovely home and moving on. Take a look at P’s restored farmhouse below – anybody interested please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with P and potentially save you a fortune in local agency fees!

But the best part of our hols was having daughter E and son-in-law S join us for a few days with our wonderful grandsons S and G. We didn’t do much beyond chilling, catching some rays and splashing around in the pool, catching up with our friends, eating well and drinking badly. My speciality of course.

I was tipped off to another VW dealership (not listed on their website) closer by in Porto san Giorgio and headed there the following Monday morning. 9 am and I was there when the gates opened. None of the guys spoke a word of English but I managed not to mangle their language totally and with a lot of lingusitic luck got them to do a full diagnostic which highlighted a significant problem on the terradestranoveilpapalucabrazi unit. Or something like that. Fact was they had a backlog of work because of the holiday and couldn’t take my car in until the Friday of that week (and only then after much pleading) ie the day before we left for the journey home. This wasn’t going to turn out to be a travel holiday.

Long story short I took the car back on the Friday, faffed around for 4 hours in the nearby town and went back to collect it and pay the outrageous bill. Only to find that the part replacement and labour was entirely covered by the car’s warranty. Woo hoo take that Gods of Fun. I kissed the garage owner and promised in fractured Italglish that I’d ensure that my next born grandson would be named after him. Thank you, thank you Luca.

And so we headed back the next day aiming for eastern France for our overnight stop. Except that that Saturday was also the day that the bulk of Italy’s population went back to their homes in the industrial north after their hols on the Adriatic. We’d normally see off Italy, Switzerland and a chunk of France before pulling over after a long day’s drive. Anyway we didn’t actually get out of Italy that day as the traffic was so heavy. It left us with a 650 mile chase the next day to Dunkirk to catch the ferry and a frigging 5 hour journey to London once we landed at Dover. But we got home safe and sound and the nuovomilleilduce bit on the car stood up beautifully.

So there you are, a lovely holiday and some weeks of working on my clients’ stuff later and here we are, back online. It’s good to be back.



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