First of all, Happy New Year. Welcome to 2021.
As I write this, we have yet another thunderstorm. The beginning of 2021 has been cold and wet. More so than last year. More so than last year. There was snow on the lower mountains as well as the high ones in the distance, which was beautiful to see. Although we did not appreciate the cold as much. The lowest temperature so far was 1.5°C. Apparently the weather was coming from Russia, but we did not come to Calabria to have Russian winter weather ha-ha. When it wasn’t icy cold it has been raining. There have been some major thunderstorms. But there have been a few days of sunshine which we were grateful for. So a mixed bag.
When the weather was good we did go to the beach so it is not exactly been a horrendous month.
As we were in an orange zone for most of January, we had to stay in Scalea, and bars and restaurants have only been open for takeaways. So, we haven’t really done a lot.
Luckily, we did see friends as we were allowed. The rules state once a day two people from the same household could visit. So, we have seen everyone a few times this month. John helped Miro and Denisa with some DIY and then they supplied us with great food. And we have also spent time with Tony E, and Angela and Tony N who also created some great food.
Obviously, no one from overseas was able to come over for new year as a few planned, which is very sad. Hopefully, we will see you all sooner or later. Scalea is still waiting for you.
More time indoors makes you do things
After the festivities, the decorations came down but we decided to leave the outside lights up all year round. Instead of them dangling like a curtain, we have tied them up. Now we have a ceiling of light. It looks amazing. We are looking forward to using them when it is warmer and we can eat outside again. Thanks Miro, for the great idea.
Fortunately, we actually have managed to eat outside a few times this month even though it is cold. Our downstairs terrace is more sheltered. This means we do not get the winds as much as the main terrace and when the sun comes out it is very warm. We have eaten a few breakfasts and lunches there, which was lovely. Although, it gets far too cold later in the day when the sun disappears behind the hill we are on. So evening meals are inside. We face east so we get the early morning sun and it stays with us until around 2pm.
Luckily, we made the good decision to replace our wooden draughty windows with aluminium double-glazed ones. Also, we changed the front door which is pretty much made of thin wood with cardboard in between. Miro and Denisa had theirs done a few weeks back. After seeing theirs and the difference it made, we thought we would too. And boy has it made a difference to us. They are nothing special to look at but our windows no longer rattle in the wind, when it thunders or even when a helicopter passes by. They are not draughty so no cold breeze through the gaps and it is noticeably quiet. The wind has to be pretty bad for us to hear it now. It also means we don’t have to close the shutters as much. Already we have noticed we are not using as many pellets for our pellet stove. All of this is great.
The guys who did the work managed to do the work quickly as the bad weather was coming. We are happy with the result. We did have a problem though. Because the windows are sealed, we were getting condensation inside. There was no air flow in the rooms especially on cold wet days. So, John had to make holes in the walls in each room with grilles to stop condensation and mould forming. Unfortunately, the external walls in both bathrooms are solid concrete. This meant he could not make holes in them. Now we must remember to open the window after we have a shower no matter the weather.
As we were inside a lot this month we looked at the house more. We decided to rearrange our lounge a little bit. It all started as we wanted storage for a bag of pellets as it was annoying seeing the bag behind the chair. One of the Chinese shops (shop owned by Chinese people) that sells a huge variety of items from clothing to toys to household items were selling storage boxes that have padded tops so you can sit on them. I think they are called storage poufs. So, we bought one and after having it in various places, we eventually put it by our TV. But we thought that the layout didn’t look right. The TV stand is made to sit in a corner but we moved it to be against the wall. After a bit of thinking, we thought we would try to see if our bookcase would look OK with a TV on top. After a bit of fiddling with the Wi-Fi router, satellite box and deciding to get rid of DVD player, it looks a lot better.
Now we have a gap where the bookcase was but watch this space, we have plans for that…
Then we had to somehow dispose of the TV stand which was in good condition. So, I advertised it as free on Facebook Marketplace for collection only. People seem to not accept that it was free. They wanted to know why and a couple asked if we would send it by courier. The point of it being free was it had to be collected. We did not want to spend time or money to pack it or the hassle of dealing with a courier and what if it got damaged. After a couple of days, we were contacted by someone originally from Norway. She questioned if it was free (of course) and quickly came to collect with her partner. We did not expect Norwegians to have it as we are in Calabria in Italy, but they have just moved to Scalea and wanted something for their TV so the timing was perfect. They did ask if we were sure it is free as it is a good one and they were happy to pay. We just said we wanted it gone as quickly as possible. And we were glad it went to a good home. Looking back, we could have made a little money there ha-ha.
Driving licences update
We decided to pop in to the autoscuola one day early this month to see if anyone had any news. We knew the owner was under house arrest so we were not expecting anything. He is the one who goes to Cosenza or wherever. When we arrived, surprisingly he was there, so obviously not under house arrest anymore. We didn’t ask why of course, we just asked if there was any chance of receiving our licences as our paper permission had expired. He told us he was going to Cosenza later in the week so we must go back the day before he goes.
Therefore, we went back. I’ve lost count how many times we have been there now. He wanted our original UK licences and permissions. We were then told to return the following afternoon after he returned from Cosenza.
So, we did and he gave us our nice new Italian driving licences. Yippee!! I had a 10 year one, John a 5 year one.
Yes, there is a but.
Mine has the wrong place of birth. Mine has the same place as John’s but we were born in difference towns. Oh no! I didn’t realise until we were home as I was so happy. So, we returned (again) the next day and gave them a copy of my old permission which has the correct place of birth and my new incorrect licence. I made sure I kept the original. Hopefully, they can sort it out soon. I have no idea how and why it happened. I can only guess they did John’s first but failed to check the place of birth when they did mine. I am not sure if it matters that much but all my other official documents say one thing and this says something else, it can’t be good.
I suppose I will have to return to check if it is actually in the system to be changed. So it is not over yet for me (sigh).
I must not give up!
That is pretty much it this month. February starts with Calabria being in the yellow zone. So, a little more freedom but can’t travel outside of the region. Also, we may look into getting this new residents’ ID card that the Italian government have created for UK citizens to prove that they moved to Italy way before Brexit deadline 31 December 2020 therefore keeping EU citizens’ rights. Although I will be using my Republic of Ireland passport, so maybe it is only John who must get it. Who knows?
See you next time. All the best and keep staying safe.