Yesterday when we went to the hospital for the lemon of a visit, we were obliged to leave Florence behind.
She’s very heavy and while I can lift her into the back of the car once, this time she escaped and then was spooked. A struggling Florence is a different matter.
So I’ve undertaken to try to have her get into the car under her own steam.
It’s obvious she’s not agile enough to make it in one leap like Taylor, so Giovanni and I made up a light but strong box by way of a step.
She was extremely reluctant to use it, but fortunately she’s a greedy little pig.
With the help of some biscuits just out of her reach in the hatch, she eventually got up there on her own.
In the photo she cautiously places a hind leg on the box.
There’s a way to go yet, but I don’t want to leave her behind again if I can help it.
This morning we had a phonecall from a courier who was bringing a bed for Clive.
He phoned again a couple of hours later and said he was in front of a bar in Valtopina.
I directed him over the bridge in the photo (a new bridge, rather grandiose for its function) and then to the start of our road. He was to go exactly a kilometre along it before taking a turn onto a branch of the road; I told him what the sign said.
“My vehicle is green and white,” he advised me.
He was hoping I would go down and collect him. I reiterated I would give him directions.
“I’ll never make it,” he grumbled. “I can’t manage the road.”
He hadn’t even started along it and was now apparently expecting me to take the bed off him and deliver it myself. I reassured him that refuse collection vehicles, GPL deliveries, builders’ lorries and couriers of every description make it up to us without problems.
He carried on complaining under his breath. I guess he was Albanian from his accent.
To check he had the right road to begin with, I asked if he could see a yellow house on the left.
“Yes. Do I have to go any further?”
The yellow house is scarcely fifty metres from the start of the road – certainly not a kilometre, so yes, he had to go further.
I offered to stay on the line but he rang off and there was silence for half an hour when it should have taken him about five minutes to get to us. I phoned him back.
“I can’t make it to you. It’s just like I said – I can’t manage the road.”
I told him in no uncertain terms that he should at least have phoned to let me know the situation and suggested he contact his company.
“I already have,” he said.
After a while I phoned the company myself.
“Oh yes. We know. Our delivery vehicle got stuck in the mud.”
“What mud? It’s asphalted all the way till the last tiny bit and if he’d got that far I would have seen him.”
“The driver must have taken the wrong turn, then.”
That seemed the most likely explanation but shortly after, he was back on the phone, all amenability. It turned out that he’d grounded the vehicle taking the turn into the branch road. I have to say I sympathise. It’s a brute of a turn. He’d had to call the fire brigade to rescue him and they advised the delivery be made with a smaller vehicle – on Monday, we hope.
This is what living here is like!
It’s not a yellow ribbon and it’s not around the oak tree, but it was the brightest thing in the garden on a day when a lot was talked about Clive’s imminent absence. Or not.
One man from the ambulance service (a kind and sensible man we know well) and four from the fire service (three men, one woman) arrived to gauge how to get Clive into the ambulance to go to the rehabilitation centre.
The fire people immediately began casting their eyes about to find props and equipment in the environment: mattresses, armchairs, sofa cushions (which don’t detach), benches, tables, pieces of wood.
They estimated, by eye, that the passageway between the patio door and the pool isn’t wide enough, but as they’d already judged a metre-long bench to be two metres, I was sceptical. Nor did I appreciate the glance they threw at the door frame (imaginary hatchet in hand), nor the woman among them describing the whole situation as ‘dramatic’. (A conflagration might be dramatic, but surely not a patient being transported to hospital.)
No sooner had they left than I received a phonecall from the rehabilitation centre.
“What equipment will the patient be bringing?”
“You mean, like the wheelchair and hoist which I phoned up yesterday to make sure you knew he didn’t have and which you said you’d provide?”
“Yes. We thought he might have something. We’re trying to get it together.”
“Are you going to have to postpone his admission?”
“We hope not, but quite possibly.”
I don’t think I’ll tie that yellow ribbon just yet.
I had a phonecall from a courier this morning, on his way to bring us a parcel.
He didn’t find us last time, so could I meet him along the route?
This is the thin end of the wedge with couriers – the answer is ‘no’.
Ah, but he had a very big van …
The van, when it arrived shortly after, was relatively small; far larger vehicles have made it to us without difficulty.
This didn’t stop the young lad from grumbling again.
He opened his rear doors, I signed for the parcel, and he looked at me expecting me to fish it out and carry it to the house – all 20 kilos of it.
After he’d grudgingly carried it in and plonked it upside down in front of the stairs door just as someone was coming downstairs, he started to drive off with his rear doors wide open.
I ran to the cab window to tell him and he instructed me to shut the doors – “Slam them,” he called – which I did, without receiving any thanks.
I wonder if he’s like that every day?
We went to Foligno this morning and found that our usual road was still closed as a result of the landslip which happened on 2nd April.
It seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to sort it out.
We ordered some proper exterior paint for the window surrounds, bought some fruit and veg, then headed back.
Neither of us remembered the diversion this time so we missed our short cut and were forced onto the ‘standard’ route.
It was a detour of more than half an hour which took us close to the face of towering mountains and down precipitous narrow roads between olive groves, before finally abandoning us to our own devices completely off the beaten track.
If it hadn’t been for Clive following SatNav, and me recognising the site of visits to a previous doctor and a previous vet, I reckon we’d be out there still.
The best idea would then have been to park the car, stretch out in the flowery grass of an olive grove, and eat our fruit.
The photo shows our own private landslip, one of Galileo’s favourite places to play.
It’s where a gate would slide across if ever we had one, in a part of the drive widened by cutting into the bank.
The gabions (wire cages) filled with stones do a wonderful job of holding back the rest of the bank.
But landslips, including ancient ones elsewhere on our land, aren’t always predictable and contained.
On the road to Foligno last Tuesday, a landslip went right across one carriageway and carried a house with it.
Nine families were evacuated from their homes just in case.
The road is still closed today so we went in the other direction to do our shopping to avoid the traffic jams along the diversion.
I dare say there’ll be many more consequences of this extraordinarily wet spring.
We’ve at long last, after much deliberation, ordered a shed.
It was about half the price to buy exactly the same thing from Britain as opposed to Italy, so that even with greater transport costs it worked out significantly cheaper.
We ran into our first problem yesterday when I received a phonecall from the carriers at the Italian end. Would there be someone available to help unload the shed from the lorry?
I replied that there was me, and my disabled husband, so we’d try but couldn’t guarantee anything. I also added that they could leave it anywhere they wanted in our courtyard where there was ample room to turn round.
Next thing we knew there was an email from the British end saying we had to pay extra for the lorry to have a tailgate.
Elementary, my dear Watson – even 100 years ago delivery lorries had tailgates!
Needless to say, we advised them that ‘delivery’ meant actually leaving the object behind and they had better think again.