A big strimming day today. Ian came round to give us a hand clearing the bottom field and, in true Ian style, that meant an early start. But we were ready for him this time. No more dawn surprises.
By 8am there was stereo strimming coming the bottom field. It was hot work, but they both worked like Trojans. I raked whilst they strimmed. In no time at all they had the whole area cleared. What a difference! It looks like a proper orchard now, all ready for a few tents dotted around. Good job jobbed. Now all we had to do is keep it down low enough for the lawn mower to tackle. Or get a few sheep...
At midday we had our meeting with Fabio. Not particularly looking forward to it, we got cleaned up and arrived at his office on time, only to be kept waiting for over half an hour. He hasn't been on time for any of our appointments.
When he did finally arrive, the first half of the meeting was Fabio expressing his huge sadness and regret at not having had the opportunity to amend his quote. Why didn't we go back to him to so he could adjust it? By 50%?! If it wasn't so over the top in the first place, and if he hadn't taken over 2 months (and much chasing from us), to get the quote done, we may have done. But we were very happy with our decision to go with Max and the local geometra, it was just regrettable that we had clearly, but unintentionally, hurt his feelings. We apologised profusely for any hurt or offence caused, that was never our intention, but we refused to budge.
Once that bit was over, next came the question of his bill. Again, many words were used and much time was spent by Fabio in expressing his deep regret for being put into such a position. Yeh, ok ok, just get to the point, how much? I don't think it's the Italian way to get straight to the point and he was clearly thrown by having to come to a decision without going round and round the houses and covering the same old ground. Many times.
Getting a little weary by now, and very bored, we tried to help him out (and us, as we were bound to end up disputing it) by asking him to itemise his bill, detailing the time spent on the project.
I don't quite understand why this threw him into a fresh tizzy, but it did. Hands were thrown up into the air, his expression was one of great sadness and despair until he finally brought his hands back under control and put his head in them. He wrote down one item. Eight visits to our house to meet with Telecom to sort out our broken phone line.
And then it started all over again. Hands in the air, head in hands, papers picked up, flapped around, slapped down. Figures punched into calculator, head back in hands, hands back up into the air. We just watched incredulously. Was it really such a difficult request?
Eventually a figure was scribbled onto a piece of paper and put in front of us. Amazingly, and to our utter astonishment, it was a very fair sum for the works done. Greatly relieved that the matter was not going to become protracted, we shook on it, confirmed that we were still friends and were very happy to be finally on our way with a promise to drop the cash round next week. Always cash.
Very glad to be home again, we changed back into our working clothes and spent the rest of the afternoon pottering over small, but very pleasant, jobs. I got a few more veggies into my little plot and it is now full. All they need do now is grow, but there doesn't seem to be much movement in that area. Maybe, being Italian veggies, they need to have a little hissy fit first before coming to the point and into full and exciting bloom?
Our little treat of the day later, was to take the bikes out. Utterly fabulous. Sweeping winding roads, up and up and up before whizzing all the way back down again. 24km in total and an hour and a half of riding. The way up was a long, long, drag, but a full 7km without touching the pedals on the way down made it well worth the effort. And the views! A number of times I almost went over the edge. Easy to do when the crash barriers seem to stop in very odd places, ie on corners and just where you need them the most. I'm sure there's a logic there somewhere but, for the moment, it escapes me.
Great ride and we both finished together. KP easily taking me on the down hills, me taking him and making up ground on the ups. He got well ahead of me on the long 7km sweep down, I knew he was trying to gain enough advantage for me not to be able to catch him on the final killer hill before home. Not a chance. I got him just as he hit the top. Perfect. We rolled in together.