15.01.2017 Bibi decided she was going to paint the guest bedroom this weekend, while I continued with the kitchen. We were able to get the worktop on the kitchen island - although it was quite heavy. That meant I could get the sink installed. This week the electrician should do his bit, and then I can finish the kitchen. We also had time to try a new restaurant down in San Lorenzo al Mare, which was okay.
07.01.2017 After a lovely and cosy Xmas with Ken's parents and all four of the kids in Barløse, Mikkel and Nat joined us in Costarainera for New Years. It was nice to have them around and they helped in the garden as well (to keep warm, I suppose). Towards the end of the holiday the plumber turned up, and installed our new water heater in the basement, and the extractor with external motor. That meant we could eliminate the two water heaters in the utility room, and that I could fix the kitchen island cabinets in place.
11.12.2016 Last weekend Dana & Mike went with us to Costarainera; and we visited Imperia. The tradesmen had installed our new green/white front door and the three black doors in the basement. This week the blacksmith had put up the bars for the basement windows and upstairs terrace door. Now the house is secure and we can get our things out of storage (soon).
30.11.2016 There is a pattern emerging here: I work on the kitchen, while Bibi continues to clear the rest of the garden. We both made progress last weekend. The plumber also came by to look at the jobs we have for him and prepare a quote. The electrician didn't show, but promises to come on Saturday. This week the front door and the three doors in the basement should be replaced, so we're looking forward to that. Next weekend Dana & Mike are coming with us ... I think they miss their furniture already!
20.11.2016 Our new shutters has finally arrived, and they look great. We have gone for aluminium, as the wooden shutters survived less than 5 year in the harsh climate, but we kept the same traditional green colour. Bibi cleared the rest of the rear garden, while I got started on the kitchen.There is something like 33 drawers to assemble, and I got 16 done this weekend. Now the final position of the cabinets has been tested, it's time to call the plumber and electrician.
15.11.2016 My new company car arrived last week. I ordered an Opel Mokka 4x4 COSMO 1.6 CDTI in white with two-tone brown leather interior. The car came nicely spec’d; the only option I specified was a (small) electric sunroof. It is the outgoing 1st gen Mokka, but it’s a nice and comfortable car, that - like most new cars - drives comfortably and effortlessly. The biggest improvement is the multi-adjustable and ergonomic seats, which makes a significant difference when you have a doggy back.
15.11.2016 We managed to clear the entire rear garden this weekend. It wasn't as difficult as the front garden, which was full of rubbish and building debris, but still hard work. The garden has now been cleared on three sides, and the only patch left is behind the house. On Monday our IKEA kitchen arrived, and I had time to put a couple of cabinets together; the rest will follow over the next weekends. As we left Costarainera, we spotted a van with our new shutters heading for the house!
04.11.2016 Birgit was obviously keen to see our new house, and choose a good week to visit. First because there were two Italian bank holidays so we had a long weekend in Costarainera, and second because the weather was really nice. Birgit and Bibi cleared a lot of stones from the front garden, and levelled the banking off the driveway. Ken's back was playing up again, so he had to stick to light work; moving the lawn and sanding and painting our pizza table. There was also time to visit the beach and local restaurant.
24.10.2016 Our friends Dana & Mike are going back to Texas end of the year, and sold us most of their furniture. It’s getting chilly at night - although temperatures are still 23°C during the day - so it’s nice to have a comfortable sofa in front of the fireplace. Over two wekends we managed to clear another good part of the garden, it’s hard work as it’s obviously unkept and full of building debris. Saturday night we walked over to the local pizzeria in Cipressa.
24.10.2016 With the ramp down to the garage we now have vehicle access. Next step was to take down the wall between the garage and the workshop to allow me to get my motorcycle in. Unfortunately the foundation was full of reinforcement steel, which wasn't structurally save to remove, so we ended up with an indoor bike ramp between the garage and the workshop. We are now waiting for the new doors, and the iron bars to go in front of the windows, before we think it's safe to take all our stuff - including my four classic bikes- out of storage.
04.10.2016 Equipped with a new lawnmower and wood chipper - both from Stiga - we have started clearing the garden. Bibi trimmed all the bushes and trees, while I moved the “lawn” which I had previously cleared with a bush trimmer. Not only does it now look better, the views form all the bedrooms improved as well. I also got a bit further on the utility room, which I hope to finish next weekend, if only I could find the parts that I need - the hardware shops in Liguria seems to be completely out of stock!
22.09.2016 Week before last we got the driveway down to the garage laid, and it looks great. Bibi and I decided to paint our bedroom and the kitchen-diner in preparation for the arrival of our furniture and kitchen. We bought a load of furniture from some American friends, who are returning to Texas. The kitchen is in the final stages of planning and we hope to have it in by Xmas. Most of the whitegoods already arrived including: fridge, freezer, dishwasher, washer and dryer.
14.09.2016 Nicolaj and Sofie came to visit for Bibi's birthday, and to see our new house in Costarainera. The weather was nice - as usual - so we did a few little things around the house and then went snorkling to enjoy the fish. Of course we also went out for dinner in Cipressa our neighbouring town, as there are no restaurants in Costarainera
05.09.2016 We didn’t check out the beaches in Costarainera before we bought the house, but we have been pleasantly surprised to find the best snorkeling beach we have ever been to (not counting Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt). Costarainera has two sandy beaches and then further south a rock beach. This is where the water is clear (no sand to whirl up) and where the fish are. It’s absolutely amazing snorkeling, as you can see from these pictures, taken with my new Nikon Coolpix S33
05.09.2016 We spend a few days of our summer holiday in our house clearing the rest of the junk, which took four 2m3 skips. Next on the improvements agenda is the driveway down to the garage, which hopefully will get done by a local contractor this week. Then in October our new aluminum shutters, to replace to rotten wooden shutters, should arrive. In the meantime we will start on the kitchen, which will be located in the L-shaped room at the front of the house, to create a large kitchen-diner
03.08.2016 In our second weekend, we managed to clear the rest of the house of the previous owner’s possessions. The garage is full of junk from the house, and we still need to clear the basement, but we’re getting there. We also made our first visits to our local beach, which was really nice; not crowded at all, with a café on the promenade and lovely warm seawater for a swim. There was even time to clear a bit more of the front garden and to try our new solar-heated shower.
25.07.2016 After 3½ months, we finally got the keys to our house on Wednesday 20th July. Mikkel and Nathasja were in Tornio visiting, so I took the Friday off, and we had a lovely long weekend in Costarainera. It was wonderful to be back, and having two extra set of hands meant that we cleared all the ground floor rooms of the previous owners junk, and got the house nicer and cleaner. It now looks - and smells - a lot better. We even got the front garden cleared a bit; removing a few plants and cutting the long grass.
30.06.2016 Five warm nights, five cosy towns, five beautiful beaches ... that pretty much sums up our motorcycle trip to Sardinia. The island came highly recommended from our Italian friends and we certainly weren't disappointed. There are some brilliant costal roads (SP105 come to mind) to enjoy on the motorcycle, more beaches than anyone could ever need, and wonderful little towns all around to enjoy the food and the warm summer nights.
08.06.2016 We like roman monuments, and in Provence there are lots to enjoy. In Arles you have the Arena, in Orange a semi-circular theatre and a triumphal arch, in Nimes another Arena plus the well-preserved temple Maison Carrée, and in between you find the amazing aqueduct Pont du Gard. We took the motorbike and had a really nice trip there and back avoiding motorways as much as practical.
29.05.2016 Mille Miglia is one of the greatest and most famous classic car rallies. We went to Bergamo to see the 450 classic cars and 100 Ferrari's on the last day of the race. Bergamo is an interesting town divided in an older Città Alta (High Town) and a more modern Città Basso (Low Town) connected with a cable tram. On the very top of the city is an old castle with wonderful views over the surrounding landscape.
26.04.2016 Mantova is often overlooked by visitors, which really isn't fair as it a lovely place. Rich in history and full of interesting places to visit, with a lovely location with lakes on three sides (it used to be an island) it really should be in everyone's Top5 Places to Visit in Italy. The weather wasn't perfect, so we took the opportunity to see most of the palaces, churches, theatres and towers.
16.04.2016 Torino was Italy's first capital and the royal family used to live at Veneria Reale, which is a beautiful palace similar in style to Versailles in Paris with extensive gardens and ponds. It really is an impressive site and we spend a full 5 hours admiring the houses, exhibitions - which include everything from jewellery to the most expensive boat and horse carriage of its time - and the gardens.
16.04.2016 It was lovely to have Birgit visiting us, and we had a great couple of days together. Fortunately the weather was much better this time, and we could get out and enjoy the sun. I think the absolute highlight for all of us was the visit to Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) Skywalk. The views from the platform at 3.466 meters altitude, almost on the top of the Alps, are just to die for - well worth the €40 each for a retur, and highly recommended
02.04.2016 Ever since we met, Bibi and I have talked about living on the Mediterranean coast when we retire. Last fall we started looking for a house, and now we just had an offer accepted! The property is in Costrainera, a small community of 800 people, in the province of Imperia in Liguria, located about 9 kilometres southwest of Imperia. On this map our house is the neighbour to the east (right) of the red pin
The plot in around 1.000sqm, and is 1.1km from the sea as the crow flies - 2.2km following the roads. The previous owner died before he could finish the house, so there is a bit of work to be done, which is perfect for us. The house is around 140sqm, with a 55sqm attic, and a full 140sqm basement plus a 45sqm underground garage. In addition there is a great big 45sqm roof terrace, with a beautiful sea view, see (crude composite) picture above
It will be another 2-3 months before we get the keys, property deals are never quick, and in Italy it's certainly no less bureaucratic ... they love paperwork. Doesn't really matter, this is a long-term project anyway, and we have the next 10+ years to get the house sorted before we are actually going to live there full time. Here are some unsorted pictures
29.03.2016 Waking up to the sound of gondolas right outside your bedroom window - this can only be Venice, and our rented ground floor apartment, literally was on the edge of a busy canal. We spend most of our time walking around, looking at the canals and crossing some of the 409 bridges in Venice. We did go on a tour of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace) and Basilica San Marco (Saint Mark's Cathedral), and took the vaporetto (waterbus) out to the island of Murano where all the glass works are.
14.02.2016 Automotoretrò 2016 was a pleasant surprise. There were loads of interesting cars and bikes - many of them for sale - and a lot less people than we're used to from classic car shows in the UK. All the cars we were interested in (Fiat 500 and Fiat 124 Spiders) were too expensive, but there were some attractive prices as well: Ducati 996 (€5.300), Alfa Romeo Duetto (€18.000) and Maserati Sport GT (€33.900)
06.02.2016 Torino has a rich automotive history - not least in automotive design - and it's no surprise to find a beautifully presented Automobile Museum. It's also no surprise that the majority of cars are Italian, and the collection contains some rare cars, such as the gorgeous 1952 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante (6cyl, 3.5l, 246hp @ 6500rpm). There is also a wonderful display of rare Italian racing cars, and a good selection of classic mini cars.
17.01.2016 We can see Monte San Giorgio from our house, so naturally we had to go see if the opposite was true (it isn't). Monte San Giorgio is one of the “little” mountains (840m) that rarely get any snow in winter, and is in-between Torino and the Alps. We have re-started hiking quite a bit this winter, and can do a fair distance (say 15km), but we're still testing our height capacity, and this walk was 425m height-meters - easy up, a bit more difficult coming down.
09.01.2016 A week in Sicily is not nearly enough, so we focused on the Western part, as we were based in Castellammare del Golfo. Highlights of the week include the 2.500 year old temples in Selinunte, Segesta and Agrigento and walking the natural parks of Zingaro and Stagnone. This time of year there were hardly any tourists, but then again the weather wasn't perfect and a lot of places were closed.
29.12.2015 We thought this would be a good time of year to avoid the crowds at Genoa Aquarium, and although there were still lots of people - and children - it seemed a good plan. The aquarium is well worth a visit, and we spend a good 2½hour looking at all the wonderful exhibits. One of the main attractions is a dolphin pool that one can see from above and through massive underwater windows, that really is rather special and you can spend hours looking at the dolphins play.
10.12.2015 It was nice to visit Rome this time of year. We made an effort to see something new: Mercati di Traiano (Trojan's Market), Terme di Caracalla (Caracalla's Baths) and Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums), but of course there are old favourites that you just have to see again: Fontana di Trevi (newly restored), Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Fontana Le Tartarughe (Turtle Fountain) ... the list goes on.